Teen accused of killing, burying mother 'definitely a sociopath,' sheriff says

Mike Chitwood says 15-year-old carried out crime that was 'cold, calculating'

By Anna Johnson - Digital Journalist, Jerry Askin - Reporter

DEBARY, Fla. - A 15-year-old boy from Debary accused of murdering his mother Friday will remain in juvenile custody for now.

Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said Gregory Ramos is one of the "top three sociopaths" he has ever encountered. 

The boy confessed to murdering his mother, 46-year-old Gail Cleavenger, and then burying her body, according to Chitwood. But it's more than the act itself that brought Chitwood to call the teenager a "soulless individual."

"To watch how cold and callous and calculating he was, I think was probably the most shocking thing for all of us," Chitwood said. "No sign of remorse whatsoever."

Volusia County Sheriff's Office

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

On Sunday morning, Ramos and two co-defendants appeared before a juvenile court judge in Volusia County. Per a judge, Ramos remains in juvenile custody for 21 days or until a further court order.  At this time, it's unclear if Ramos will be charged as an adult.

A judge ordered Dylan Ceglarek and Brian Porras, both 17, to be on supervised home detention.Their families testified in court and said they believe home detention is the best option, but the prosecutors questioned if home detainment is a heavy enough punishment.

They're both charged with acting as accessories to first-degree murder.

Ramos was a police explorer with the Orange City Police Department, which is a program in which young people work with deputies as volunteers, Chitwood said. He said the boy was also studying criminal justice and crime scene investigation at University High School in Orange City. Chitwood said the boy told deputies that he wanted to be a homicide detective as a career.

Authorities were first alerted of a crime when Ramos called 911 Friday after he got home from school. He claimed to have arrived home to find his house burglarized and his mother missing, with her car running.

This phone call is something Ramos would later call "award-winning" due to his "performance," according to Chitwood.

When deputies arrived, they began to realize that things were off, Chitwood said. He said Ramos had scratches on his face consistent with wounds inflicted in self-defense and that the scene seemed suspicious.

After gathering evidence and interviewing Ceglarek and Porras, deputies confronted Ramos. Chitwood said Ceglarek and Porras had confessed to helping Ramos stage the burglary scene and bury his mother's body.

(From left:) Brian Porras and Dylan Ceglarek.

Deputies said Ramos was initially unfazed by his friends' confessions, asking Sgt. A.J. Pagliari, who was interviewing him, if that meant his friends killed his mother. Upon further interrogation, Pagliari said the suspect confessed.

"Wasn't very emotional about it at all," Pagliari said. "He used some expletives and said, 'I'll tell you what happened.' Very cold, calculated and very proud of what he did."

Chitwood said Ramos attempted to strangle his mother to death around midnight Friday after the two had gotten in an argument over a "D" grade he had received at school. Believing he had killed her, Ramos went outside to retrieve a wheelbarrow, realizing she was still alive when he returned, according to Chitwood. 

Ramos then proceeded to spend 30 minutes strangling his mother again, this time actually killing her, Chitwood said. He said Ramos then dragged his mother's body to her car and called Ceglarek and Porras to help him bury her. Porras initially hung up on Ramos, while Ceglarek didn't answer his phone, but eventually the two picked up Ramos' calls and agreed to help him, according to Chitwood.

Authorities said the three boys were a tight-knit friend group; Chitwood compared them to the shooters of the Columbine High School massacre in 1999. Deputies said the three worked together to bury Cleavenger's body at a fire pit where they often spent time drinking and doing drugs and then staged the crime scene, including hiding the "stolen" electronics.

The fire pit was chosen because Ramos believed the ground was "malleable," according to Chitwood. Pagliari said when investigators later returned to the scene with Ramos, he admitted to using his knowledge of crime scene analysis from school to disguise the scene, which was put back together and looked undisturbed.

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

"He said 'I did a really good job staging everything,'" Pagliari said.

Ramos told authorities that he killed his mother as a "preemptive strike," believing she would one day kill him, Pagliari said. He said deputies have found no evidence that indicated an abusive relationship between the two.

 Chitwood is recommending that Ramos be tried as an adult. Ramos, Ceglarek and Porras are all scheduled to appear in court Sunday.

Click here if you would like to donate to the family of Cleavenger.

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