Local News

Monday, Jun 17 2013 06:33 PM

Her closest friends are stricken by teen's death

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    By Autumn Parry / The Californian

    Jo Amy Balderas and Hope De La Olla sit with family and friends to talk about their deceased cousin, Mia Ramirez, outside of Higher Ground Church on Monday afternoon. Their family is having a carwash to raise money for Ramirez's burial after Ramirez was found dead in a garage in southeast Bakersfield June 11.

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    By Autumn Parry / The Californian

    Mia Ramirez's father, Geffory Lowe, and her cousin, Ravae Barajas, 5, stir soap in a bucket to use for the carwash outside of Higher Ground Church on Monday afternoon. Lowe's family has raised about $1,000 from the carwash to pay for his daughter's memorial after Ramirez was found dead in a garage in southeast Bakersfield June 11.

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  3. 3 of 10

    By Autumn Parry / The Californian

    Family and friends of Mia Ramirez wash cars outside of Higher ground Church on Monday afternoon to raise money for Ramirez's memorial.

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  4. 4 of 10

    By Autumn Parry / The Californian

    Family and friends of Mia Ramirez wash a car outside of Higher ground Church on Monday afternoon to raise money for Ramirez's burial.

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    By Autumn Parry / The Californian

    Helen Balderas, 12, and Mercidies Vela, 14, advertise the car wash by yelling out, "Car wash! Dontaions! Anything will help!" while holding a sign of Mia Ramirez outside of Higher Ground Church on Monday afternoon. Ramirez's family has raised nearly $1,000 with the car wash to help pay for Mia Ramirez's memorial after she was found dead in a southeast Bakersfield garage June 11.

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  6. 6 of 10

    By Photo courtesy of the Lowe family

    A picture of Mia Ramirez from November 2012. Ramirez was found dead in a southeast Bakersfield garage June 11.

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    By Photo courtesy of the Lowe family

    Mia Ramirez with her father Geffory Lowe on Dec. 31, 2011.

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    By Photo courtesy of the Lowe family

    A photo of Mia Ramirez took of herself in April 2013.

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    By Photo courtesy of the Lowe family

    Mia Ramirez, right, with her mother, Marica Garcia, center, and her sister, Miranda Lowe, left.

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  10. 10 of 10

    By Photo courtesy of the Lowe family

    A photo Mia Ramirez took of herself in January 2013.

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BY LAURA LIERA Californian staff writer lliera@bakersfield.com

With a hair brush in hand, 18-year-old Mia Ramirez would sing her lungs out to her favorite Miley Cyrus song, "The Climb." She wouldn't care who was around. She would just sing loudly, giving her listeners goosebumps.

The spur-of-the-moment songs sung by her are no longer heard. Her voice now only lives in the memories of her family and friends. The thought that she no longer alive still shocks those who knew her.

"I can still picture her with my daughters, singing and dancing to the radio, just having the time of their lives," Celia Helms, a close family friend, said Monday as she fought tears at a car wash at Higher Ground Church to raise funds for Ramirez's funeral.

Ramirez's body was found June 11 in a southeast Bakersfield garage after Kern County Sheriff deputies received a call from the neighborhood reporting a foul odor.

Twenty-year-old Eddie David Rivas was arrested on suspicion of homicide in connection with her death, deputies reported. He is being held without bail in county jail on a felony count of violating felony parole, according to the Kern County Sheriff's Office website. He has not been charged in Ramirez's death.

Ramirez's family does not know of any connection between Ramirez and Rivas.

For now, they're focused on raising money for Ramirez's burial. They hope to raise $1,500 to pay for flowers and other needs.

Helms considered Ramirez to be like a daughter who grew up with her two daughters. All three were in the same schools, from elementary school through Highland High School. Countless times, Ramirez would go over to Helms' home to help tutor her son in math.

"She was a math wiz and whenever my son asked me for help, I would just tell him to wait until Mia got home because I am not good at math," Helms said with a smile.

Michelle Lowe described the heartbreak Ramirez's death has caused her and her husband, Geffory Lowe.

Geffory is not Ramirez's biological father but after years of Ramirez being in foster care, he became a father figure in her life.

"I asked him what he wanted for Father's Day and he said he wanted his daughter and knowing that I can't give him that just breaks my heart," Michelle said as she held a picture of Ramirez in her hand at the car wash.

Michelle met Ramirez in 2009 when she married Geffory and said things the first day were a little quiet between them. But a day later, they started sharing stories to get to know each other and at that moment Michelle's love for her new daughter started to grow.

"We started talking about foster care and since I had a similar story, I think that is what made us create a bond and just click," Michelle said. "She was a good kid who simply had been through tough times in life."

Michelle and Geffory found out about Ramirez's death Friday morning. They couldn't believe it. At one point Michelle thought the deputies were wrong because the thought of someone killing Ramirez was crazy and her name had not yet been released, she said.

A month and a half ago, Ramirez was laughing and acting silly with Tiffany Lowe, her aunt, and Lowe can still remember what they did the last time she saw her.

"We were taking silly pictures and listening to music and she would start singing so I would video tape her and we were just having such a great time," Lowe said. "I can't belive my baby girl is gone."

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