Lifestyle & Human Interest

Man Who Killed 5 Newspaper Employees in 2018 Gets Crushing Sentence


The Capital Gazette based in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, ran a story in 2011 called “Jarrod Wants To Be Your Friend,” detailing the court case and life of a man who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge for harassing a former high school classmate.

The story of what followed has become infamous, but after a years-long process, the case has come to a close with a sentencing that took place this week.

When Jarrod Ramos entered the office of the newspaper in June 2018, he was armed with not only a shotgun but extra ammunition and smoke grenades.

He had tried, repeatedly, to pursue legal action against the paper that he said ruined his reputation, but had been denied, repeatedly. After the story circulated, he’d been fired, family members separated themselves from him and he became known as a “sicko” stalker.

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By June 2018, the publisher and the writer of the piece had both moved on from the Gazette, but Ramos still took the lives of Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith and Wendi Winters.

Ramos, now 41, was charged with 12 felony counts of murder, attempted murder or assault and 11 additional misdemeanor counts. In 2019, he pleaded guilty but not criminally responsible to all counts, and his attorneys cited mental illness as responsible.

A jury rejected that explanation this July, during a 12-day trial that had been repeatedly delayed. They decided in under two hours that Ramos was not, as his attorneys claimed, unable to understand the criminality of his actions.

Prosecutors claimed Ramos’ killing spree was an act of revenge, and his detailed plans (even including plans for being arrested and incarcerated) were evidence that he was aware of the severity of his actions.

Before the sentencing on Tuesday, family members of the deceased had an opportunity to speak.

Wendi Winters’ daughter, Montana Winters Geimer, described how her mother “woke up one morning, went to work and never came back,” according to the Tampa Bay Times.

“The day she died was the worst day of my life,” Geimer continued. “The hours spent not knowing if she was alive or dead have lived in my nightmares ever since.”

John McNamara’s widow, Andrea Chamblee, said her late husband “deserved to be here,” according to the Gazette.

“He deserved to enjoy seeing his recognition, to enjoy this time in his life, and I was so hoping to see it and experience it with him,” she said.

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“My little brother was slaughtered, and the impact of that loss is indescribably unique and never-ending,” Judy Hiaasen, Rob Hiaasen’s sister, said.

Anne Arundel County Judge Michael Wachs pointed out that Ramos showed no signs of remorse, according to the Times. Wachs also revealed that Ramos warned a state psychiatrist he’d kill again if released and expressed his desire to remain in prison.

“The impact of this case is just simply immense,” Wachs continued. “To say that the defendant exhibited a callous and complete disregard for the sanctity of human life is simply a huge understatement.”

Ramos was sentenced on Tuesday to five life sentences without the possibility of parole, an additional life sentence, plus 345 years on top of the life sentences, according to what a spokeswoman for the state attorney’s office told NPR.

“Today, justice was served for the Capital Gazette attack,” Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney Anne Colt Leitess said after the sentencing.

“I know the healing for all will continue and many will struggle to move forward.”

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