A chilling letter from the alleged killer of five people at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis said he went to the newspaper with the “objective of killing every person present.”
The letter from Jarrod Ramos, 38, written in the style of a legal filing and obtained by CNN, is addressed to the paper’s former attorney and a Maryland Court of Special Appeals judge who upheld a lower court ruling throwing out his 2012 defamation case against the newspaper.
“You were too cowardly to confront those lies, and this is your receipt,” the letter said. “I told you so.”
The letter is dated Thursday, June 28, the same day prosecutors say Ramos, stormed into the paper’s Annapolis newsroom with a shotgun, killing five employees and leaving two others wounded a few years after his unsuccessful defamation suit.
“I further certify I then did proceed to the office of respondent Capital-Gazette Communications … with the objective of killing every person present,” said the letter, which was first reported by The Baltimore Sun.
Former Capital editor and publisher Tom Marquardt said he learned of the letter during an urgent call he received on his way to a memorial for slain Capital assistant editor Rob Hiaasen.
“We thought the chapter had closed and his is the story that keeps on giving. In a very chilling way,” Marquardt said.
“We probably had the reactions that Ramos wanted us to have. It was just a sense of chill.”
The letter includes a message to Charles Moylan, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals judge who upheld the lower court’s ruling throwing out Ramos’ defamation case: “Welcome, Mr. Moylan, to your unexpected legacy: YOU should have died.”
Copies of the letter were mailed to the Baltimore Circuit Court house, the state court of special appeals and the law firm, according to Ann Arundel County Police, who are investigating the mailings.
Ramos was arrested shortly after the shooting spree when responding officers found him hiding under a desk, according to police. He has been charged with five counts of first-degree murder, according to court records.
A portrait has emerged of Ramos as an unhinged loner consumed by a years-long vendetta against the newspaper, a man whose history of menacing behavior ended with him, in the words of a prosecutor, “systematically hunting and killing” staffers in the Annapolis newsroom.
“This guy is behind bars but he continues to inflict harm from a place where we thought we were safe from this guy,” said Marquardt, who admitted to sleeping “with a baseball bat next to me for months because of this guy.”
Ramos’ conflict with the newspaper stems from a complaint a former high school classmate he barely knew filed against him in 2011. She alleged he began cyberstallking her years earlier – repeatedly sending her aggressive private messages, harassing her therapist for information and contacting her employer to tell them she was “a bipolar drunkard leading a double life,” which she said cost her her job.
When Ramos in 2011 pleaded guilty to harassing the woman – whom CNN is not identifying – a column about the case by former Capital writer Eric Hartley apparently left Ramos in a seething rage that lasted all the way up to last week’s massacre.
He sued Hartley, Marquardt and Capital Gazette Communications for defamation in 2012, and then, after a judge threw out the case, appealed. In 2015, the court of special appeals judge upheld the ruling.
“The people who were involved in that story had left the paper,” Marquardt said.
“The people who he killed practically didn’t know his name. They didn’t know what he looked like. Or what his issue was … I don’t know why you would take out your revenge against somebody who had nothing to do with what bothered you the most.”
The other shooting victims were Gerald Fischman, 61, editorial page editor; John McNamara, 56, a staff writer; Rebecca Smith, 34, a sales assistant; and Wendi Winters, 65, who worked in special publications.
Marquardt said police advised him to watch his surroundings.
“You don’t feel particularly safe … even though this guy is behind bars,” he said. “We’re watching our mailbox every day thinking that there’s maybe another trap that’s going to be sprung.”