Dr. Patricia Esparza, the well-respected college professor who was called the mastermind in the death of a man who allegedly raped her 20 years ago, will be the subject of the latest Dateline NBC episode on Friday. Patricia Esparza, also known as Norma ‘Pati’ Esparza, took a plea deal in 2014 that allowed her to spend about six years in prison, instead of a life sentence.
The case of Patricia Esparza began in April 1995, when 25-year old Gonzalo Ramirez, of Riverside, was killed in California out of revenge for raping Pati. According to Patricia Esparza, she was raped inside her dorm room by Ramirez after she rejected his sexual advances.
After the rape, Esparza tried to move on but often felt depressed by what happened to her that awful night. Things took a turn for the worst after Pati confided in her ex-boyfriend, Gianni Anthony Van, about the rape. According to court records, Gianni Anthony Van, became so enraged by the rape allegations that he was dead set on killing Gonzalo Ramirez.
Patricia Esparza stated that she in no way orchestrated the murder, and that she had no idea that her ex bofriend had planned to kill Gonzalo that night. However, out of fear, she agreed to point out the rapist at a nightclub when Gianni Anthony Van demanded that she show him who it was that raped her that night.
That’s when prosecutors say Gianni Anthony Van left the club with two other men and a woman and followed Gonzalo Ramirez. After rear ending Ramirez car, he was attacked by the group of men when he exited the vehicle. A man who had been riding with the victim witnessed the beginning of the attack, but fled the scene to get help, according to Slate.
The badly hacked up body of Gonzalo Ramirez was later found wrapped in part of a blue towel and discarded on the side of the road between Sand Canyon Avenue and the I-405 freeway, according to a 1995 article in the Orange County Register. An autopsy report showed that Ramirez had multiple gashes to his body and two badly cut fingers that were slightly detached from the hand. The report concluded that the weapon used in the attack was a meat cleaver.
After his death, Patricia Esparza moved away, got married, had a child, and was working as a professor at Webster University Geneva. Her past came back to haunt her when police arrested her in 2012 at Boston’s Logan Airport. Supporters for Dr. Patricia Esparza believe that she is an innocent victim who has been falsely accused of murder, and they will stop at nothing to see her freed.
Tonight’s Dateline NBC episode will highlight her arrest and the media frenzy surrounding the case. Her arrest sparked debate over whether she should be charged in the killing of the man who had raped her. Tune in tonight at 9/8c.
Here is the tease for Dateline NBC episode, “The Secret.”
“Patricia Esparza believed she had escaped poverty and abuse, attending elite schools and becoming a respected psychology professor. But a dark secret comes back to haunt her when a determined investigator and prosecutor in Orange County work to solve a 20-year-old murder case.”