H-GOLETA

Jun 15, 2011 8:56 PM by Ariel Wesler

Investigators follow new leads in 50-year-old cold case

Investigators believe a young Santa Barbara girl, who disappeared nearly 50 years ago, was killed and buried beneath the Winchester overpass in Goleta.

7 year old Ramona Price vanished near her home on Oak Avenue on September 2, 1961. The case ran cold until an author told detectives about 42-year-old Mack Ray Edwards, a serial killer from the L.A. area. He turned himself in and later committed suicide at San Quentin prison in 1971 shortly after learning he would receive the death penalty.

Edwards' description and background makes him the prime suspect.

Santa Barbara police say cadaver dogs discovered an "area of interest" as they sniffed out human remains on and around the Winchester overpass in Goleta.

"It most likely won't be a small area like two 2 feet square, but more like 10-20 feet square," said Detective Jaycee Hunter with the Santa Barbara Police Department.

Investigators say Mack Ray Edwards admitted to killing at least six kids. He used his skills as a heavy equipment operator to dig holes and bury his victims in freeway projects. Then, he bragged about it.

"One of the comments that he made was that they're never going to find them because no one's ever going to tear up freeways," said Santa Barbara Police Chief Cam Sanchez.

Investigators say Ramona disappeared just a few weeks before the overpass was completed and they say her killer helped build it.

"He had a friend that was living in a housing tract adjacent to this bridge," Hunter said.

Charlie Meraviglia was just 11-years-old when police questioned him and a friend in his neighborhood.

"They asked us if we had scene a girl walking. We hadn't. I'm afraid she was already picked up," Meraviglia said.

The renewed hope for this cold case would not only mean closure for Ramona's family, but the entire community.

"We lived it for a period of weeks and months and hearing this again just brought it all back. It kind of takes your breath away," said John Ahlman, who was in high school when Ramona disappeared.

Ramona's parents are no longer alive. She has an older sister who does not live in the area, but says what happened to Ramona was devastating for the entire family.

Investigators say it's just a coincidence construction is being done right now on the overpass. Detectives say they first learned about the connection involving Edwards four years ago, but it took time to confirm information before moving forward.

The Santa Barbara Police Chief and Caltrans will discuss the findings from the cadaver dogs before deciding whether to dig for possible human remains.

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