Colusa County

JLWOP Inmate Nathan Ramazzini

Nathan Ramazzini and Leo Contreras brutally murdered their friend, Erik Ingebretsen, 16, on July 15, 1997, leaving his battered and bloodied body near the Sacramento River.

Ramazzini, widely believed to be the driving force behind the killing and considered among some circles to be sociopathic, was  16 years old at the time. “I think what was said was, ‘We caught a serial murderer on the first one,'” Colusa County District Attorney John Poyner recalled. Ramazzini was convicted of the murder and is serving life without the possibility of parole.

Ingebretsen had just gotten off work at Holiday market in Colusa on July 15, 1997, when he saw his friends, Ramazzini and Leopoldo J. Contreras Jr., waiting in the parking lot. Ramazzini drove the three out to a secluded spot north of town, claiming he wanted to show them something. When Ingebretsen didn’t return home, a communitywide search ensued complete with county, state and federal investigators. Ingebretsen’s body was discovered July 17, 1997, in a wooded area along the Sacramento River. That night, Ramazzini and Contreras were detained by authorities for questioning in the teen’s death. Ramazzini was convicted April 30, 1998, by a Sacramento County jury of first-degree murder with a special allegation of lying in wait and an enhancement for use of a deadly weapon, an aluminum baseball bat and a butcher’s knife.

Judge Abel said the life term was warranted under law because the “crime was so serious and the circumstances were as heinous as imaginable.” The appellate court backed Abel’s decision, saying there was no evidence that Ramazzini was immature for his age or that he did not fully appreciate the nature of his actions in killing “an innocent boy.” “The record reflects no self-defense nuances or indications of uneasiness or panic on the part of Ramazzini …,” the decision said. “One of the most frightening aspects of this murder was that Ramazzini apparently had little or no motive to kill his best friend. … We must conclude that a person of any age who would participate in the brutal and violent slaying of his best friend for no apparent reason presents a danger to society.” Valorie Ingebretsen, who called Ramazzini a “ruthless, cold, evil person” in a statement at his sentencing, said the appellate court’s affirmation of his conviction and prison term is another big step in favor of her son.

“I believe this appeal was selfish, hurtful and indicative of the true nature of Nathan Ramazzini. I would like to re-emphasize that there was only one victim that dreadful night,” she said Tuesday. “Erik was not given an appeal or a second chance. Worse than that, he was denied the basic right of life.”

Todd R. Hansen / Colusa County Sun-Herald