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May 18, 2013

Ramsaran faces murder charge

By Joe Mahoney Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — More than five months after his wife, Jennifer, mysteriously vanished, Ganesh “Remy” Ramsaran of New Berlin was jailed Friday after he was charged with second-degree murder in connection with her death.

Although an autopsy was completed after her body was discovered Feb. 28 off Center Road in the town of Pharsalia, authorities were tight-lipped on the precise cause of death of the 36-year-old stay-at-home mother.

“That’s evidentiary in nature,” Chenango District Attorney Joseph McBride said. “We know the manner of death, and that is homicide.”

Sources familiar with the investigation have told The Daily Star that Jennifer Ramsaran’s unclothed body was disfigured when it was found as a result of exposure to wildlife and the elements.

Chenango County Judge Frank Revoir Jr. set cash bail for Ganesh Ramsaran, 38, at $150,000. The judge also set a real estate bail for Ramsaran in the amount of $300,000.

The suspect, arrested at his home Friday morning by Chenango County Sheriff’s Department officials, was wearing a T-shirt, shorts, sneakers and handcuffs when he was brought to the courthouse by deputies. He was unable to immediately post bail, and was ordered held at the Chenango County Correctional Facility.

“I had asked that he be remanded without bail,” McBride said.

Acquaintances of Jennifer Ramsaran’s family said the three children of Ganesh and Jennifer Ramsaran are staying with the victim’s parents, Carol and Thomas Renz, and her sister, Joann Buff.

McBride said he plans to present the case to a Chenango County grand jury next week. When asked if there are any other suspects, he said: “He’s the only one being charged.”

In interviews with The Daily Star in February, Ganesh Ramsaran admitted he had an affair with his female running partner, who had also been a close friend of Jennifer Ramsaran.

Keith Wilcox, a stroke patient who had briefly employed Jennifer Ramsaran as a home health aide, recalled her as a kind and generous woman who was devoted to her children and enjoyed art as a hobby. He said Ganesh Ramsaran is “self-centered” and was responsible for the pain in the couple’s marriage.

In recent months, he said, Ganesh Ramsaran has been “constantly” inviting his female running partner into the home while the children were present.

“He wouldn’t even let the children go to church on Sunday with their grandparents,” said Wilcox, a New Berlin resident. “He would have the children stand on one side of the driveway while the grandparents stood on the other. That’s the only way he would let them talk to each other.”

At one point, said Wilcox, Ganesh Ramsaran deeply upset his 13-year-old daughter “by running down her mother right in front of her.”

Wilcox said he was disappointed the judge would allow Ganesh Ramsaran to be released if he posts bail, arguing that he should be held without bail because of the gravity of the alleged crime.

Law enforcement sources told The Daily Star that Ganesh Ramsaran was considered a potential suspect in the suspicious disappearance of his wife soon after he reported her missing the night of Dec. 11. He had told investigators that she had taken the family minivan that day for a Christmas shopping excursion to a mall near Syracuse.

On Dec. 12, Ganesh Ramsaran reported that he found his wife’s iPhone near Moon Hill Road in Plymouth. A work-at-home project manager for IBM, he claimed he used GPS tracking technology to locate the device. The minivan was located Dec. 17 in Norwich by Jennifer Ramsaran’s father.

The body was found Feb. 28 by Richard Hayner, who operates a nearby sawmill and is the father of Chenango County Deputy Sheriff Kelly Hayner.

Ganesh Ramsaran responded with exasperation in February when a reporter questioned him about his affair with his wife’s friend.

“What does that have to do with anything?” he asked. “The police know everything. I have nothing to hide from anybody.”

He added: “I’ve been totally open and honest with you from the beginning, and you’ve treated me like some nitwit.”

At the same time, he pleaded with a reporter not to publish the name of the then married woman with whom he had the affair.

“She’s going to get beaten” if her relationship with him becomes public, he claimed. “I don’t want that (expletive). She’s been beaten before.”

He also confirmed in that interview that investigators had advised him that a substance appearing to be blood was found in the van when it was located outside a Norwich apartment complex. He explained in response to questions that the blood could have come from nosebleeds of his wife or son, both of whom, he explained, have allergies.

Ramsaran also said the only life insurance policy he has for himself and his wife “was taken out many, many years ago” through his employer, IBM, and that no changes have been made in recent years.

Cynthia Caron, president of a New Hampshire-based organization called LostNMissing Inc., was retained by Ganesh Ramsaran in January to assist in the search for his wife. Ramsaran had told The Daily Star he believed his wife’s disappearance could be related to what he said was her habit of playing online games with strangers.

“I am pretty shocked here,” Caron said Friday afternoon, admitting Ramsaran had her convinced he had nothing to do with the death of his wife. “He’s the first person I know of who went out and hired a nonprofit to help in the search for a spouse or a child and ended up getting charged by the police.”

“My heart aches for those children,” Caron said. “My heart aches for her family.”

She said she has met with several of Ganesh Ramsaran’s close friends, including his female running partner, noting it was her belief that none of them had suspected he would have harmed his wife.

“He did not present to me anything that was eyebrow-raising,” Caron recalled.

Shortly after police notified him the body located in Pharsalia had been identified as that of his wife, Ganesh Ramsaran said in a statement: “I would like to thank all those who gave up many precious hours of their own lives to help look for Jennifer.”

For several weeks after his wife turned up missing, Ganesh Ramsaran actively posted comments on social media, describing the ordeal he said he and his children were going through as a result of his wife not returning to the household.

In a detailed posting on his Facebook page in December, Ganesh Ramsaran said he and his wife first dated at a Halloween bonfire celebration Oct. 29, 1994, while both were students at the State University College at New Paltz.

Nearly five years later, the two married at Tempe, Ariz., on the campus of Arizona State University. Thirteen years ago, the couple’s first child, Cara, was born. Nearly three years later, the couple’s second child, Glenn, was born at the same hospital. Six years ago, the couple had a third child, Nicole, who was born in Albany.

“As the last few days have been blurred into one long nightmare I have finally let myself reflect upon the past a bit, something I normally don’t allow myself to do,” the husband, an avid running enthusiast and marathon competitor, wrote on Facebook.

“Jen would NEVER EVER leave our kids and I willingly,” the December posting continued. “She has never left home and not keep in contact within 2-3 hours via phone or text. She would never miss our daughters’ Winter Concert last night or her birthday tomorrow. I hate to say this but I have given up hope that she’ll be found safe and sound. The kids and I miss her so much, her laugh, her quirkiness, just everything. Today I went to Walmart and I grabbed my cell to call home and ask her a question about which item I should purchase and reality smacked me in the face and I started crying uncontrollably! That was rough! I am strong and I know the kids and I will get through this.”

He added: “All I want is for Jen to come walking through our front door safe and sound and giving us all hugs, but I have lost all faith that will be the case. The helplessness and the not knowing is an additional nightmare which I can’t escape from right now. The lack of sleep, the loss of appetite, the stress of not knowing, the worrying where and how she is doing is a burden that I never thought I would have to carry but life comes with some curve balls.”

The Chenango County Sheriff’s Department, which led the investigation, expressed thanks to the state police, the New Berlin Police Department and state forest rangers for their assistance during the probe. Ganesh Ramsaran filed the missing person report with New Berlin police.