Offshore worker Evangelisto Ramos told New Orleans police in December that he had been with Trinece Fedison the night before her body was discovered in an out-of-place trash can in Central City, so they knew to expect his DNA on her body.
But when laboratory testing confirmed that the 42-year-old man’s DNA was also present on the outside of the trash can, police secured a warrant on a murder charge and arrested him in Port Fourchon on Wednesday night.
A city building inspector found Fedison’s partially clothed body around noon Nov. 26 in a trash can in an alley behind a residence in the 3300 block of Danneel Street. The 43-year-old woman’s body showed that she had suffered a combination of physical blows and stab wounds, police said.
Nicknamed “Mona,” Fedison was well known and well liked in her neighborhood, those who knew her said. She had struggled with hard times in the past, but her life appeared to be on an upswing with a new job at a nursing home.
Several days after the discovery of Fedison’s body, Ramos showed up at his job at an oil-rig supply company based in Houma appearing nervous, said NOPD Homicide Detective Bruce Brueggeman. His supervisor asked him what the problem was, and Ramos confided that he had slept with a woman the night before her dead body was discovered, and that he was scared, Brueggeman said.
The supervisor urged Ramos to speak to police to “get it off his chest,” and they contacted Brueggeman. When the detective arrived in Houma, Ramos told him that he and Fedison had an on-again, off-again relationship, and that he had been with her the night of Nov. 25.
Later that night, however, he and Fedison parted ways, Ramos told Brueggeman. As she left, an SUV pulled up with two men inside who called to her, and she jumped in the vehicle, Ramos told the detective. He didn’t recognize them but thought she knew them, so he thought little more of it until hearing the news reports of her death, Ramos told police.
After that conversation, Ramos agreed to a DNA swab, and homicide detectives were left to wait on the results of it while Ramos worked a 28-day rotation offshore, Brueggeman said.
When Ramos’ DNA turned up on the outside of the trash can, it suggested that there was more to the story than Ramos admitted, Brueggeman said. Sought on a warrant for second-degree murder, Ramos was arrested in Port Fourchon with the assistance of U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Greater Lafourche Harbor Police.
The trash can with Fedison’s body had been taken from a nearby church, and when Ramos was confronted with that information and the fact his DNA was on the can, he explained that he had thrown something away in the can as he walked down the street that night, Brueggeman said.
His story still didn’t match the evidence, however, Brueggeman said: Ramos specified that the trash can where he threw the item away was at a different church from the one where the can was actually taken. Further, his DNA was on the handles used to wheel the trash can around, not just on the lid that someone would lift to dispose of something, Brueggeman said.
“He actually had the church confused. He didn’t have the right can,” Brueggeman said. “And we found the DNA on the two handles because it was a big dumpster that you grab the handles, you tip it and you wheel it.”
Even with the abundance of DNA evidence and the suspect in custody, one question left open in Fedison’s death is the motive.
While he admitted to being with her, Ramos refused to discuss any aspects of their relationship that might have led to friction that night, and ultimately he ended his interview with police when they when pressed him on the topic, Brueggeman said.
“When I started getting more specific on her and the relationship, he was getting angry,” Brueggeman said.
Assistant District Attorney Phil Costa outlined the case against Ramos during an initial appearance in Orleans Parish Magistrate Court on Friday morning. Ramos stood quietly while the prosecutor spoke, listening intently. The murder count is the first criminal charge against him in Orleans Parish, court records show.
Ramos told Magistrate Judge Harry Cantrell that he does not have a lawyer and that he makes $1,500 every two weeks at his job working offshore. Based on that salary, Cantrell did not immediately appoint a public defender to represent Ramos, but he said he would do so next week if Ramos does not hire a lawyer himself.
At the prosecutor’s request, Cantrell set bail for Ramos at $350,000.