15-year-old killed mother, buried her at Volusia church, deputies say

Gregory Ramos arrested on murder charges in the death of Gail Cleavenger

By Daniel Dahm - Digital Manager, Anna Johnson - Digital Journalist
Volusia County Sheriff's Office

Gail Cleavenger (photo courtesy of the Volusia County Sheriff's Office)

DeBARY, Fla. - The body of a missing 46-year-old Volusia County woman was found buried under a fire pit at a church early Saturday after her 15-year-old son confessed to killing her, sheriff's officials said.

The Volusia County Sheriff's Office said Gregory Logan Ramos was arrested on murder charges in the death of Gail Cleavenger.

According to detectives, Ramos confessed to strangling his mother Thursday night at the family's home on Alicante Road in DeBary. Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said Ramos was motivated by rage after the two got in a dispute about Ramos' grades at school.

Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood shows a photo of Gregory Ramos.

Deputies said Ramos told them he spent around 30 minutes killing his mother, after she survived a first strangulation attempt. Ramos used a wheelbarrow to load her body into a van and he buried her at River City Church on Highbanks Road early Friday, authorities said.

Chitwood said the case was "one of the most disturbing and saddest I've seen in my career." 

Ramos told detectives he enlisted the help of two friends to bury the body and stage a burglary scene at the Alicante Road house. The friends, Dylan Ceglarek and Brian Porras, both of whom are 17, are charged with acting as accessories to a first degree murder.

Deputies said Ramos reported that he returned home from school Friday and discovered that the house had been burglarized, his mother was missing and her van was running in the driveway. He then made a 911 call to report the alleged burglary.

According to officials, Ramos later confessed to killing his mother. Chitwood said the teenager's confession was "cold and calculated" and lacked emotion.

"He is a soulless individual who thought he was gonna outsmart everyone in the room," Chitwood said.

Deputies said they have recovered the items, including a Playstation 4 and rifle, removed from the home in the staged burglary. Ceglarek and Porras were the ones who led authorities to the items as well as the body, according to officials.

Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood shows the fire pit where Gregory Ramos is accused of burying his mother's body

Deputies said they also recovered a shovel and broom used to bury Cleavenger and straighten up the scene around the fire pit.

Ramos' stepfather, who lives at the home, was away on a business trip during the incident, Chitwood said. He returned home Friday night.

According to Chitwood, detectives knew the story was suspicious even before Ramos confessed.

"Just the whole scenario, the whole thing, the crime scene, when you start interviewing the kid -- things were just not adding up," Chitwood said. "Things were missed from the very beginning."

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