‘Dateline: The Alibi’ details the death of PFC Karlyn Ramirez, 24, who was slain in her Maryland apartment in August 2015. The Dateline program features interviews by NBC News’ Andrea Canning of the key players in the case, including the investigators and prosecutors, Karlyn’s friends, and her family. The episode aims to provide a concise and chronological view of the heinous crime. If you’re interested in finding out what happened, including the alleged killer’s identity, we’ve your back. Let’s begin then, shall we?
How Did Karlyn Ramirez Die?
Karlyn Serane Ramirez Kearney was born to Susan Garcia-Ramirez in Texas on April 10, 1991. She grew up in Del Rio, Texas, and had joined the military after obtaining an associate’s degree — doing justice to her long line of military women predecessors, including her mother and aunt. Her sister, Roxanna Ramirez, remarked, “She went to college for a few years, got an associate’s degree, and then decided that the military would probably be a better fit for her.” She was stationed in South Korea when she met Sgt. Maliek Kearney in 2013.
Roxanna recalled how her sister “fell completely head over heels” for the 32-year-old chemical weapons specialist and became pregnant with his baby within months of their dating. The pair eventually got engaged, with Karlyn then being assigned to Fort Meade in Maryland, and her fiancé was sent to Fort Jackson in South Carolina before the baby’s birth on April 23, 2015. They got married three months later. Retired Sgt. 1st Class Leroy McDaniels explained, “Their rush to get married was because she was a lower enlisted soldier and he was a senior.
McDaniels added, “They had a timeline where they had to put something on paper before it was not allowed anymore.” Several months later, Karlyn would be found dead in August 2015 with her child, who was still alive, in her arms. A maintenance worker at her Severn, Maryland, housing complex discovered her back door open and notified the Anne Arundel County Police Department on August 25. The first responders entered the apartment to find the 24-year-old Private First Class dead on the floor of her master bedroom.
According to court documents, Karlyn was shot at point-blank range twice in her chest and once in her side with a .357 caliber revolver. FBI Special Agent Jonathan Shaffer stated how her sweatpants and underwear had been pulled down her ankles. Anne Arundel County Police Detective Kelly Harding recalled, “There was slight bruising on her as well as scratches. We do have to consider the possibility that this was a sexual assault.” Forensic evidence indicated Karlyn likely died on the evening of August 24, 2015.
However, the first responders weaved sighs of relief to find the 4-month-old baby cradled in her mother’s arms showed signs of life. Assistant U.S. Attorney for Maryland James Warwick said, “When the officer moved closer to the individuals, the baby made some movement and some sound, and the officer was relieved that the child was alive.” But Karlyn’s autopsy would undermine the assumption of a sexual assault. James clarified, “The post-mortem made clear that there was no sexual assault immediately before her death.”
Who Killed Karlyn Ramirez?
The homicide investigators would soon learn Karlyn and Maliek had a rocky marriage. Leroy McDaniels told the authorities how she had reported an extramarital affair with a fellow soldier — a violation of the U.S. Armed Forces’ Uniform Code of Military Justice — a month before the murder, at Maliek’s behest. Yet, reports stated he had also been unfaithful to his wife and was allegedly verbally and mentally abusive. Karlyn had ultimately asked for a divorce and petitioned the Army for a no-contact order.
Anne Arundel County detectives traveled to South Carolina for an interview with Maliek on August 27, 2015. He claimed he had attempted to reconcile with his estranged wife, who allegedly showed no interest. Besides, Maliek vehemently denied involvement in her assassination and alleged he was alone in his South Carolina apartment on August 24. He readily cooperated with the investigators, handing them his cell phone, allowing them to search his vehicle, and voluntarily providing a DNA sample.
Though the vehicle search provided nothing of evidentiary value and Maliek’s GPS data showed his phone had not made the 500-mile journey to Maryland on August 24, the officers discovered he had recently installed an application that permanently erased confidential data. Nevertheless, forensics retrieved some erased data, which showed he had repeated communications with a woman named Dolores Delgado, another fellow soldier who had served in Iraq. She was traced to be living in Florida and agreed to an interview with the detectives.
According to Dolores, she and Maliek had an on-again, off-again relationship, which started in 2008 when they were deployed together overseas. She told the detectives she was with him on August 24 at his South Carolina apartment, thus contradicting his statement that he was alone. The investigators went through Dolores’ phone to find a message from Maliek — “That gun is so damn loud” — sent shortly before the murder. The authorities examined her social media accounts to find she had recently sold ammunition for a .357 caliber gun.
The officers tracked the ammunition back to the original seller, who had also sold Dolores the .357 handgun. Maliek, 35, and his mistress, Dolores, 31, would eventually move together to San Antonio, Texas, where they were arrested in October 2016. Moreover, the FBI retrieved the murder weapon after a witness claimed to have seen Dolores disposing of a gun in a Florida waterway. When the authorities confronted her with all the evidence, she broke down, confessed, and agreed to testify against her lover.
Dolores pleaded guilty to federal charges of crossing state lines to commit domestic violence resulting in death in September 2018, and was sentenced to 17 years. Maliek was convicted of interstate travel to commit domestic violence resulting in death in November 2018. He was sentenced to life without parole plus an additional ten years on firearms charges. In addition, the court ordered him to pay almost $500,000 in restitution.
Read More: Maliek Kearney: Where is the Killer Now?