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The Murder of Bridget Townsend; South Texas Crime Stories

MEDINA COUNTY – Bandera County is nestled in the Hill Country, just northwest of Bexar County.

It’s home to the Townsend family—Patricia and her three children: two sons and the baby of the family, Bridget.

On January 14, 2001, Bridget was at the home of her friend Joe, who was a drug dealer at the time.

In later testimony, Joe said he last spoke to Bridget that evening around 7 p.m.

When he got home around midnight, her car and wallet were there, but she wasn’t, he said. He also noticed that some of his money was missing.

He began calling friends and family to look for Bridget, but no one had seen or heard from her.

Joe then called his friend Ramiro Gonzalez. Bridget had told Joe that Gonzalez had stopped by earlier in the day to look for him, but Gonzalez denied ever going there.

Eventually, Joe called the police and reported Bridget missing.

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She had disappeared and the police had no clue as to what might have happened to her.

Confession from prison

Two years passed without much movement on the case.

Ramiro Gonzalez, then 20, was convicted of raping and kidnapping a Bandera real estate agent. For this crime he was sentenced to two life sentences.

While waiting to be transferred to the jail, he asked to speak with Sheriff James McMillan.

Gonzalez told the sheriff that he knew what happened to Bridget Townsend, the teenager who had been missing for two years.

Gonzalez said he knows where Bridget is because he killed her.

Sheriff McMillan didn’t believe him at first, but when Ramiro told him he could take him to her remains, McMillan took Gonzalez’s words more seriously.

Ramiro would eventually lead the sheriff and his deputies to a ranch in neighboring Medina County.

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They walked across the ranch to a remote hill, got out of the vehicle and walked another hundred yards when Gonzalez said that was it. This is where he had left Bridget’s body.

He describes the jewelry she was wearing and where she was standing when he shot her.

After a short search, authorities were able to find Bridget’s remains and even her jewelry that Gonzalez had described to them.

On the ride back to the jail, Gonzalez told them what happened to Bridge on the night of January 14, 2001.

Pictured is Ramiro Gonzalez, on death row in Texas. (Texas Department of Criminal Justice via AP/KSAT)

The crime

Gonzalez had visited the home of his drug dealer Joe asking for cocaine, Bridget answered and said Joe was at work and not home.

He said he took advantage of the situation and decided to go to Joe’s house to steal either drugs or money, knowing Bridget was alone.

When she opened the door, he burst in and began searching for drugs and money.

Gonzalez didn’t find any drugs, but he did find money. Then he noticed that Bridget was trying to call her friend.

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She says he pushed her down and tied her up. Gonzalez put her in his truck and drove to a ranch in Medina County.

He only made one stop to pick up his grandfather’s 243 deer rifle.

Gonzalez then went deep into the wooded area of ​​the ranch.

Bridget begged for her life and offered him money, drugs and sex.

Gonzalez raped her, then took her to some bushes and shot her.

He then said he went back to his grandparents’ house and put the rifle back in his grandfather’s truck.

The rifle was later found at his grandfather’s home and matched the description of the one Gonzalez said he used.

He was charged with capital murder and in 2006 was found guilty and sentenced to death.

After the sentencing, Patricia Townsend told the media: “My little girl can rest in peace now.”

“I believed she deserved to know”

Gonzalez agreed to a sit-down interview at the Polunsky Department in Livingston.

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He says he confessed to the crime because Bridget’s mother deserved to know what happened to her.

“It was her mom,” Gonzalez said. “A guy had told me about his mother and it affected me really, really badly. I believed she deserved to know.

At the time, Gonzalez was scheduled to be executed on August 10.

“I’m not worried about dying, you know that doesn’t matter to me,” he said. “It’s just my way out of jail.”

Delay in performance

According to Bridget’s brother, Gonzalez’s execution has been delayed six times.

One was about the COVID-19 pandemic.

Another delay came in 2022, when a federal judge ruled that Gonzalez could not be executed without religious accommodations, including permission for his spiritual adviser to hold his hand as he received a lethal injection.

Gonzalez recently made national headlines for requesting a stay of execution to donate a kidney.

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His lawyers wrote to Gov. Greg Abbott asking for a 30-day delay to donate his kidney “to someone who urgently needs a kidney transplant.”

This request was denied.

Most recently, his execution was stayed because of false testimony from a forensic psychologist.

In 2006, Dr. Edward Grippon testified that Gonzalez was likely to sexually assault again and was a future danger to the public.

Gripon has since re-examined Gonzalez and changed his assessment, saying his sentence should be commuted to life in prison.

What’s next for Gonzalez?

Gonzalez’s case will now return to Medina County to go through the sentencing phase again.

At that time, it will be determined whether he will remain on death row or be sentenced to life in prison without parole.

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After a stay of execution earlier this week, Ramiro Gonzalez’s case will now return to Medina County Circuit Court.

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The Murder of Bridget Townsend; South Texas Crime Stories

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