As he was administered a lethal injection in Texas today, death row inmate Robert Moreno Ramos asked God to send him “a chariot” and declared that he was ready to go.
But given the brutal manner in which he murdered his wife and children 26 years ago, should heaven and hell exist, there’s little doubt about which he’s now heading to.
The Mexican national was convicted in 1993 of using a sledgehammer to bludgeon to death his wife Leticia and their children Abigail, 7, and Jonathan, 3, at the family’s home in the small town of Progresso, Texas.
Just days after burying their bodies in the ground beneath the bathroom floor, Ramos married the woman he’d been having an affair with for several months.
It would be more than a month before details of his barbaric crime began to emerge, and almost three decades until he paid the ultimate price for his crimes.
Ramos was pronounced dead at 9.36pm local time (2.36pm AEDT) after exhausting his final avenue of escape, with the Supreme Court having hours earlier denied his application for a stay of execution.
“I am thankful for the humane treatment that I was given here at the two prisons that I was at,” he said moments before his death.
“I am getting my gold watch that it took the governor 30 years to forge. Thank you, God. Lord, send me a chariot. I’m ready.”
The 64-year-old also thanked Mexican authorities, who had petitioned against his death sentence on the basis that due process had not been followed.
For the family of his late wife, it was the bitter end of a long road for justice.
At some point on February 7, 1992, neighbours heard a woman’s scream and swearing coming from the family home. Suspecting it was nothing more than a fight, no one intervened.
Ramos brutally beat his wife, who was 42, and their young children with a small sledgehammer, with investigators later finding evidence of blood in the bedrooms and hallways.
Autopsies determined the three died from blunt force trauma to the head, which inflicted severe skull fractures.
He buried the bodies beneath the floor of the bathroom and tiled over the top, before driving to his native Mexico to hide the murder weapon in a property he owned there.
Three days later, he married Marisa Robledo after proposing to her in February, just months after their affair began.
Ramos told her his family had been killed in a car accident and their remains cremated, although he told his in-laws and members of his church different stories, including that his wife had left him and moved to California.
His new bride moved into the home where he had brutally murdered his family and buried their bodies.
In March, Leticia’s sister grew increasingly concerned and went to the police to file a missing person’s report. Officers interviewed Ramos and he gave several conflicting explanations.
A search of the home on April 6 revealed extensive evidence of blood throughout and investigators found all of his wife and children’s clothes, as well as toys, hidden away in the attic.
Initially, Ramos told police he had found his wife and children dead and panicked, deciding to hide the bodies to avoid upsetting his surviving son.
In another version of events, he claimed Leticia had murdered the children and attempted suicide, saying his wife was still alive when he came home and he delivered the fatal blow to end her life.
However, forensic evidence presented at his trial determined her injuries could not have been self-inflicted.
His son, then a teenager, testified against him and described a childhood filled with physical and emotional abuse inflicted by Ramos.
He pleaded with jurors to return a guilty verdict, fearing his father “would continue to commit criminal acts of violence” if freed.
On May 6, 1993, Ramos was convicted of three counts of murder and sentenced to death.
It came after various appeals, which were turned down by two courts and the Board of Pardons and Appeals in Texas, as well as attempted interventions by Mexican authorities.
His lawyers claimed Ramos was bipolar and had a brain injury that impaired his cognitive function. The Mexican consulate also claimed Ramos had not been informed of his rights to seek legal help from the government in his home country when he was arrested.
Originally published as Last words of sledgehammer killer