The stabbing of a 27-year-old may have resulted from a "love triangle" dispute, a law enforcement official said.
The Ramirez sisters, identical twins, had a problem: They were both involved with the same man, a law enforcement official said.
Just before sunrise last Saturday, they started arguing, then screaming at one another. The dispute spilled outside. Then, in the heat of the argument, one sister, who had grabbed a knife during the fight, stabbed the other in the chest, fatally wounding her.
That is the early hypothesis of how Amanda Ramirez, 27, came to kill her sister, Anna Marie, outside an apartment in Camden, New Jersey, according to a law enforcement official who was not authorised to speak publicly because of the ongoing investigation.
The law enforcement official said it seemed that a "love triangle" was the catalyst for the "tragic" killing, and that it was a "fight that turned ugly." The official added that the man who was the subject of the sisters' argument was not involved in the fight and that he was cooperating with the police.
An aunt of the sisters, Blanca Class, said Wednesday that the twins' mother had told her a similar story about a fight over Anna's boyfriend, though Class did not know if Amanda was also in a relationship with him. The sisters, Class said, were normally close, and they and their daughters often spent time together: Anna had three girls and Amanda had one.
"They went to a party, they came home, they were drinking, they were arguing about a boyfriend," Class said Tuesday, standing a few yards away from where Anna was killed. "She just went on a crazy trip, stabbed her and killed her."
"It's heartbreaking," she said. "I couldn't believe it, it was like something you would see in the movies. You couldn't believe she would do that to her own sister."
Law enforcement officials said the events on Saturday unfolded in the early morning hours, when the police received two 911 calls from the 1200 block of East State Street, at a large complex of two-story units where Amanda lived.
Responding to a report of an unconscious woman on the street, police arrived at 5:38am, and found Anna Ramirez still alive, but bleeding from a chest wound. She was transported to Cooper University Hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 6:19am, the Camden County prosecutor, Mary Eva Colalillo, and the Camden County police chief, Scott Thomson, said in a news release.
According to charging documents submitted by prosecutors, Amanda Ramirez first told the police that she did not know how her sister had been hurt. Later, she acknowledged that they had been hanging out and drinking at their cousin's house, and then they had returned to her apartment with a friend. But she denied having a fight with her sister.
When asked about the fresh scratches on her face and lacerations on her left hand, Amanda eventually acknowledged that she and her sister had exchanged multiple blows, according to the charging document. But she said the fight had been initiated by Anna, and she said it was Anna who had grabbed a knife. She said she had stabbed Anna in a struggle for control of the weapon, the document said.
On Monday, prosecutors charged Amanda Ramirez with first-degree aggravated manslaughter in the death of her sister, officials said. She is being held at the Camden County Correctional Facility, pending a pretrial detention hearing on Thursday at Superior Court in Camden. The investigation, officials said, is continuing.
"Anna worked for many years in the medical field as a certified nursing assistant," according to an obituary submitted by the family to a funeral home. "She loved to spend time with her family and was a devoted mother. Anna had a special bond with her grandparents and enjoyed family dinners and weekly time hanging out with her sisters."
A GoFundMe page set up by a relative to help with funeral expenses called Anna's death "an extremely painful and unexpected tragedy."
The sisters were frequently together, neighbours and family members said, and the night of Anna's death was no different. Early Saturday morning, about two hours before she died, Anna posted on Facebook a picture of herself and Amanda, along with a female cousin and an unidentified man, sitting together and smiling on a stoop.
The cousin also posted a video of the scene on her Facebook. The women were acting silly, sticking out their tongues.
On Tuesday, in front of the apartment where Amanda Ramirez lived with her daughter, about 40 candles bearing handwritten messages of condolence were arranged in a letter A on the small, concrete porch. Flowers and balloons were tied to the porch railing above the memorial.
There have been several high-profile cases of twins killing each other in recent years, in fights that went too far. In 2017, Shawn Wachter, a 17-year-old in Coulee City, Washington, fatally stabbed his twin brother, Shane, in an act that prosecutors ultimately determined was self-defence. In 2013, in Hampshire, England, Robert Cerqua, 31, was found guilty of stabbing his identical twin brother to death with a kitchen knife on New Year's Eve during an argument. He was sentenced to life imprisonment.
Written by: Sharon Otterman and Jon Hurdle
© 2019 THE NEW YORK TIMES