manuel-ramirezCourtesy Sioux City Schools
Manuel Ramirez

Manuel Ramirez


Manuel Ramirez
1417 Virginia St.
Sioux City, IA
Woodbury County
March 7, 2011

On Monday night, March 7, 2011, Sioux City police responded to a 911 call from 1417 Virginia Street, where they found 6-year-old Manuel Ramirez dead in the bathtub. Officers administered CPR but were unable to revive the Irving Elementary School first-grader.

Manuel’s stepmother, Maria Miranda, told investigators she was watching television with other children downstairs while Manuel was bathing alone upstairs.

Authorities said Ramirez’s 12-year-old sister called 911 about 9 p.m. Monday night.

Officers at the scene were told Manuel had drowned, but Sioux City Police Chief Doug Young said evidence did not point to drowning.

Woodbury County in Iowa
Woodbury County in Iowa
Sioux City in Woodbury CountySioux City in Woodbury County

Manuel’s cause of death was listed as being consistent with asphyxia, or lack of oxygen, though the manner of death could not be determined.

Sioux City police Lt. Mark Kirkpatrick said unexplained deaths like Manuel’s are investigated as homicides until proved otherwise, and the Sioux City Journal cited a DHS report noting a “long history of unexplained injuries to Manuel and the family’s expressed dislike for him.”

Manuel’s father, Jose De Los Santos, was in jail at the time of his son’s death, held on federal immigration charges. Following Manuel’s death, De Los Santos was deported, and investigators believe Miranda also returned to Mexico.

In a Journal story dated March 6, 2013, crime reporter Molly Montag wrote about the questions that remain in Manuel’s short life and the newly donated bronze marker for the young boy’s unmarked grave.

NOT FORGOTTEN: 2 years later, cause of Sioux City boy’s death still a mystery

By Molly Montag, The Sioux City Journal

March 6, 2013

SIOUX CITY | Manuel Ramirez was 6 years old when he was buried in an unmarked grave.

Police call the Sioux City first-grader’s death two years ago Thursday “suspicious” and are still investigating the unsolved case.

manuel-ramirez-plaque-montag-scjCourtesy photo Molly Montag, Sioux City Journal
This plaque commemorating Manuel Ramirez hangs in the media center of Irving Elementary School in Sioux City where the 6-year-old first-grader was enrolled.

His body is in the Marian Section of Calvary Cemetery, placed there free of charge by the Catholic cemetery. The section, dubbed Babyland by the cemetery staff, is for young children, stillborn infants and abandoned fetuses.

Cemetery caretaker Walt Peterson said visitors frequent the Marian Section to remember children lost too soon and those who never took a breath.

Those who watch over the graves say Manuel’s burial spot doesn’t get many visits.

Over the Christmas holidays, someone placed stuffed toys and figurines on the boy’s grave. The gifts were left anonymously.


Manuel lived in the 1400 block of Virgina Street with his father, Jose De Los Santos, and stepmother, Maria Miranda, and four siblings. Police responding to a 911 call from the house on March 7, 2011, found the boy unresponsive in the bathtub. Officers administered CPR.

Born in El Monte, Calif., on July 3, 2004, Manuel came to Sioux City to live with his father and stepmother in 2009, according to an investigation by the Iowa Department of Human Services. He attended Irving Elementary School.

De Los Santos was in jail when Manuel died, held on federal immigration charges after being stopped for a traffic violation. Miranda was home with the couple’s children, according to the DHS report.

Miranda could not be reached for comment on this story. Investigators believe she moved to Mexico after Manuel died and De Los Santos was deported.

In the DHS report, investigators report Miranda was watching television with other children downstairs while Manuel was bathing alone upstairs. Investigators were told the door to the bathroom was shut because Manuel didn’t like anyone else in the room.

Police say he was dead when they arrived.

Manuel’s cause of death is listed as being consistent with asphyxia, or lack of oxygen. The manner of death could not be determined.

Unexplained deaths like Manuel’s are investigated as homicides until proved otherwise, Sioux City police Lt. Mark Kirkpatrick said.

Police Chief Doug Young said evidence doesn’t point to drowning, which is what officers at the scene were told.

“It’s a suspicious death as far as we’re concerned, and that’s why it’s still open,” he said. “We’re not satisfied with the explanations that we’ve received.”

Asphyxia is a medical term for when a person stops breathing, said Dr. Tom Benzoni, staff physican at Mercy Medical Center.

It can happen as a result of many traumas or conditions, Benzoni said, including drowning, strangulation or even being in an oxygen-poor environment.

Benzoni thought it would be unusual for a healthy 6-year-old child to drown in a bathtub. The victims he’s tended to over the years are usually infants too small to help themselves.

“They can’t crawl out,” Benzoni said.


Investigators with DHS placed blame on Miranda, saying in the report she denied Manuel critical care, the agency’s term for neglect. The report also cites a “preponderance of evidence that she is responsible” and says information suggests she was “either overtly or covertly” involved in his death. Miranda didn’t have a reasonable explanation for the boy’s death and was the person supervising him at the time, and medical reports showed he did not drown, according to the DHS report.

The report also notes a long history of unexplained injuries to Manuel and the family’s expressed dislike for him.

No one, including Miranda, has been charged in the case. Police and prosecutors won’t say if she is a suspect.

Young, the police chief, said Manuel’s case appears to be one in which one member of a family is viewed as an outsider.

Manuel doesn’t have any relatives or other advocates pushing the police department, which Young said is rare but sometimes happens when an outsider is brought into a family.

“Usually there’s somebody wanting to know what’s going on,” Young said. “There’s nobody.”

Investigators would like to talk to anyone who knows anything about Manuel’s death or believes they have information detectives should know, Young said.

“We’re not going to push this under the rug,” Young said. “We’ll do whatever we can to solve this. And if it remains active forever, that’s the way it’ll be until we can successfully bring it to some type of conclusion. We take these matters very seriously. Unfortunately, sometimes crimes aren’t solved.”

manuel-ramirez-bronze-marker-scjCourtesy photo Dawn Sagert, Sioux City Journal
This donated bronze marker for Manuel Ramirez will be set in place in Calvary Cemetery when the weather warms.


Peterson said the toys left on Manuel’s grave over Christmas likely were from people moved by a segment on KMEG-TV. The station aired a story about Manuel’s death in November. Viewers later raised money for a bronze grave marker, which will be placed when the weather warms.

Someone’s making occasional trips to Babyland, Peterson said, and showing the boy is remembered.

“That’s kind of good to know he won’t be completely forgotten,” he said.

© Copyright 2013, Sioux City Journal

About Manuel Ramirez

Manuel Ramirez was born July 3, 2004, in El Monte, California. Services were held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 12, 2011, at Cathedral of the Epiphany. Visitation was two hours prior to Saturday’s services, with arrangements under the direction of Meyer Brothers Colonial Chapel. Burial was in Calvary Cemetery in Sioux City.

In addition to his father and stepmother, Manuel was survived by four siblings.

Information Needed

Anyone with information about Manuel Ramirez’s unsolved death is asked to contact the Sioux City Police Department at 712-279-6440.



23 Responses to Manuel Ramirez

  1. Kellie Marie says:

    I don’t understand why she wasn’t investigated more or at least brought up on charges. Maybe there’s more to this story than I read but just don’t add up :(

  2. I remember when this happened. Such a cruel world. Pobresito. God bless his little soul!

  3. any time I heard about a innocent child being murdered it breaks my heart to know all they had to do was bring the child to a safe haven if they didnt want them. they will get whats coming to them on judgement day.

  4. I hope they catch the person, if they did not like the boy they need to give him to DHS or someone who would care for him, killing an innocent baby what a monster

  5. Lynn Elaine says:

    This was one of my daughters friends in school. So sad she has not been found. she needs to rot for what she did.

  6. Poor boy I can’t believe it’s been 5 years already

  7. Omg so Sad ! They better reopen that case! That makes me Mad!

  8. This makes me sick! Poor baby rip

  9. Theresa says:

    He was pulled from the wreckage.

  10. Alina says:

    Excuse Me? Im His Sister And I Do Not Apppreciate This Bull. I Was There The WHOLE Time And Said all The Truth Any Concerns?

    • Maria says:

      Umm yeah no ur not his sister! And if you were really there you would of been part of this but ur not okay soo no dont take credit in being his “sister” cuz he only has 3 sisters which is me and my too little sister! Any concerns ?

      • Jazminne Mendoza says:

        Maria I am sorry for your lost and Manuel is a little angel that is watching over you and you sisters I love you guys and I am always here for you okay – Jazminne (aka) Liz

    • velvette says:

      So U were in the home when he died? Then u certainly know the truth. U know SOMETHING! Tell the police! This woman needs to pay! This lil guy deserves justice!!

    • Magdalena says:

      Girl you ain’t shit i don’t care how long ago this was HE ONLY has 3 brothers and THREE sisters ! You are nothing to him ! Your momma gonna rot in HELL

    • Magdalena says:

      Any concerns ? Hit my line 9095825908

  11. nellyramirez says:

    I’m this little angels aunt. I’ve recently found out about this. My sister is so heartless I wish I was able to qo visit him.
    I wish that lady goes to hell. ! She deserves nothing but the worst. !

  12. Kristina says:

    This makes me sick to my stomach.. RIP baby boy

  13. Mike says:

    Where is Manuel’s biological mother?Doesn’t she wonder how her child is faring?Or did she consider him to be a pain in the ass,too?With a family like this,Manuel didn’t need any enemys.He was doomed from the start.

    • nellyramirez says:

      His mother is living peacefully. I’m his aunt. & not all his family os like you say we cared & LOVED him but we couldn’t do anything his mom made the worst decisions. & this is what happened :(

  14. Lori says:

    Now Manuel sleeps with angels and will always be loved. God bless you little one.

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