A Florida teenager has been charged with first-degree premeditated murder after strangling his mother in her sleep sometime Friday evening. The 15-year-old apparently turned to matricide after getting into a heated argument with his mother over a failing school grade.
“There was a D in one of the subjects is what the story is, and mom was furious at him,” said Volusia County Sheriff Michael Chitwood.
Gregory Ramos confessed to killing his mother, 46-year-old Gail Cleavenger, but only after staging a burglary at his home with the help of two 17-year old friends and reporting his mother missing. Each of the three youths appeared in juvenile court on Sunday, and the two accomplices were charged with accessories after the fact to first-degree premeditated murder.
Sometime early Friday morning, Mrs. Cleavenger called her husband and the boy’s stepfather to report her son’s “D” grade and their subsequent argument. Mr. Cleavenger was away on business in Washington state.
“Apparently there was a dispute about [grading] marks with his mother, and after an argument that occurred around 11 o’clock, around 12:30 he went into her room and woke her up and began to strangle her until he killed her,” Chitwood said during a press conference.
When asked what could have inspired the shocking murder, the sheriff simply answered, “Rage.”
Staged crime scene
However, the juvenile’s depravity did not end there. After strangling his mother with a rope, Ramos reportedly enlisted the help of his boyhood friends, identified as Dylan Ceglark and Brian Porras, to bury his mother at a local church. Using a wheelbarrow to move her, the trio took the woman’s remains to River City Church and buried her under a fire pit.
“These guys helped him bury his mother back here,” Chitwood said. “They helped him stage a burglary, and they helped hide all the electronics that w[ere] stolen from the house.”
Police arrived at the Florida home to find the scene ransacked and with Cleavenger’s truck idling in the driveway. Ramos said that the intruders took a PS4, computers, a rifle, and several other items out of the home.
However, the boy’s story began to unravel during questioning. “He believed he was the smartest person in the room and he continued to tell us his theories of what he believed and why: what happened to his mom and where we should be focusing our attention,” Cleavenger explained during Saturday’s press conference.
Ramos has trouble explaining some gaps in his story. “He went to school, left school early, which is where his story began to fall apart,” Chitwood said. Once investigators were able to expose the holes in his story, Ramos told them the truth and implicated his accomplices.
“I have a feeling this is a case we’ll be hearing about for years to come,” Chitwood said, calling the murder one of the saddest cases he has ever encountered. “All our hearts break for this family.”
The sheriff described the deceased as committed to her family and loved by many. “She was a mom. She was a wife. She was a sister. By all accounts she was an amazing human being,” he said.