Five-hundred and seventy haunting links exist on the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s website.
For some, the crime behind those links is the ghost that lives with the families of murder victims. For others, they are a record of the last words spoken by a loved one before the state of Texas executed them.
Since 1982, TDCJ has executed 570 people, 13 of whom are from Hidalgo and Cameron counties.
Here is a look at their crimes and what they said as they prepared to die.
The most recent execution is that of Robert Ramos, of Progreso, who was executed on Nov. 14, 2018.
Ramos killed his two children, Abigail Ramos, 7, and Jonathan Ramos, 3, along with his wife, 42-year-old Leticia Ramos, in 1992.
“All three were beaten with a blunt object and died of skull fractures. Their bodies were found more than a month later buried beneath the bathroom floor after Mrs. Ramos’ sister reported them missing. Abigail’s hands had been bound by tape and her mouth gagged prior to her death,” TDCJ says in his file.
When he went to the chamber, he said he was ready.
“I am very thankful for all the hard work the Mexican consulate put in a fight over my death sentence if there was a reason or not. I am thankful for the humane treatment that I was given here at the 2 prisons that I was at. I am getting my gold watch that it took the Governor 30 years to forge. Thank you God, Lord send me a chariot. I am ready,” his last statement reads.
In February 1997, 47-year-old Edinburg resident Ruben Cardenas and a co-defendant kidnapped a 16-year-old girl, tied her up, raped her and beat her before strangling her to death.
He promised to come back for justice.
The state of Texas executed him on Nov. 8, 2017.
“My final words. First, I want to thank my family for believing in me and being there with me till the end. I love you all very much! And I know that you love me too! Life does go on.
“Next, I would like to also thank my attorneys Maurie Levin, Alicia Amezcue Rodriguez and Sandra Babcock for all their hard work they have done to help me out. I am so thankful. I would also like to thank the Mexican Consul for all their help too, and every government official that was trying to help me out too. Thank you Maricela Luna and Julia Thimm for being such good friends! Now! I will not and cannot apologize for someone else’s crime, but, I will be back for justice! You can count on that! Thank you.”
Pablo Vasquez, 38, murdered a 12-year-old boy with his co-defendant, by hitting the boy in the head with a piece of pipe and a shovel. They buried the him in Donna and Vasquez took a ring and necklace. Vasquez and his co-defendant had met at a party.
He said death was his only way to forgiveness before he was executed on April 6, 2016.
“I just want to tell my family thank you, my mom and dad and sister and Sabrina. I love you Mercedes. I am sorry to David’s family. This is only way that I can be forgiven. You got your justice right here. That’s it. My trust in Jesus,” his last statement reads.
Arturo Diaz, 37, and a co-defendant, stabbed a McAllen man 94 times during a drug robbery in 1999.
Before he died, he told his loved ones that he was an example for the youngsters about what happens when bad decisions are made.
He was executed on Sept. 26, 2013.
“I don’t know if you remember back in 2000, you were happy the way it happened. You were looking for me yourself and would have taken care of me yourself. I am glad it happened this way. I wouldn’t want to see you in my shoes. You would have probably been here, not me. I wouldn’t wish this on you. I hope this can bring some relief to you and your family. I have no hate for you.
“(In Spanish) Grandmother, Lilia, and Robert; have hope for me. I am with God. Thanks for being with me and all of you love. Mom, take care of my daughter. Many kisses, Mom.
“Robert don’t forget what I told you, I hope that this serves as an example for the youngsters. Think about it before you make a bad decision.
Let’s go, Warden. I’m ready.”
Robert Garza, 30, killed four women with his co-defendants when he shot into their car. Garza, a Tri City Bomber gang member, was carrying out orders to murder one of the women who had witnessed the gang’s weapons activity.
He asked his family not to fight with each other before he was executed on Sept. 19, 2013.
“I want to thank all of my family and friends for supporting me. I love you and I’m glad that ya’ll are by my side through this whole thing. I know it’s hard for ya’ll. I love you Jennifer, mom, Jaime, Cory, David. Thank God for you being there for me. It’s not easy, this is a release. Ya’ll get to move on with your lives. Take care of my kids and stay strong, life has to go on. We’ve all lost grandpas, brothers, and sisters. Support and love each other. Don’t fight with each other. I love you,” his last statement reads.
BURN A CANDLE
Robert Lookingbill, 27, beat his grandmorther to death with a metal pipe in 1989 and stole $568 to buy cocaine.
He thanked his loved ones before being executed on Jan. 22, 2003.
“I would like to thank all my loved ones that are standing over there for all the kindness and support you have shown me over the years. Be strong. Do not hate, but learn from this experience. Just because it happens, do not think that God doesn’t care. He will be with you. I will be there with all of you. I love you all and appreciate all of you. You won’t be forgotten and there are a lot of people out there that love you. It has been a blessing to know all of you. This is not easy for any of us. Don’t be upset about my situation, because I am not. I am still faithful and I am still strong. Just give my love to everyone out there. Don’t forget me and burn a candle for me when you can. I love you all,” his last statement reads.
THE GOOD WITH THE BAD
David Castillo, 43, stabbed a liqour store employee to death in 1983 during a robbery.
Before he was executed on Sept. 23, 1998, he said the little people always get squashed.
“Keep it brief here. Just want to say, uh, family, take care of yourselves. Uh, look at this as a learning experience. Everything happens for a reason. We all know what really happened, but there are some things you just can’t fight. Little people always seem to get squashed. It happens. Even so, just got to take the good with the bad. There is no man that is free from all evil, nor any man that is so evil to be worth nothing. But it’s all part of life, and my family, take care of yourselves. Tell my wife I love her. I’ll keep an eye on everybody, especially my nieces and nephews. I’m pretty good. I love ya’ll. Take care. I’m ready,” his last statement reads.
ARE YOU HAPPY?
Jesus Aguilar, 42, executed a husband and wife in Harlingen during a drug killing. The couple’s 9-year-old child hid under a table during the killing while a 22-month-old child slept in another room. The children were not harmed.
He was executed on May 24, 2006 and wanted his family to be happy.
“Yes sir. I would like to say to my family, I am alright. (Spanish) Where are you Leo; are you there Leo? (Spanish) Don’t lie man. Be happy. Are you happy? Are you all happy? (Spanish),” his last statement reads.
Irineo Montoya, 29, was convicted in 1985 of stabbing a South Padre Island man 21 times in Brownsville after that man offered him and his co-defendant a ride as they were hitchhiking. The motive was robbery and Montoya threatened to have the judge and prosecutors killed.
He said he will be waiting in heaven, before he was executed on June 18, 1997.
“I will wait for you in Heaven. I will be waiting for you. I love my parents. I am at peace with God,” his last statement reads.
IF IT MATTERS TO ANYONE
David Losada, 32, raped and killed a San Benito teen in 1984.
He proclaimed his innocence before he was executed on June 4, 1997.
“Yes, I do.
“If it matters to anyone, I did not kill Olga.
“Brian, thank you for caring.
“Dee Dee, you have been a good sister to all of us.
“Ana and Chico (not sure of name he said), trust in God.
“I will always love you, Lynn. I will always love you.
I AM INNOCENT
Leonel Herrera, 45, killed a Los Fresnos police officer and a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper in 1981. He maintained his innocence and his case went to the Supreme Court after two people signed sworn affidavits that his brother actually killed the officers. His brother was murdered in 1984.
He used his last words to proclaim his innocence before he was executed on May 12, 1993.
“I am innocent, innocent, innocent. Make no mistake about this; I owe society nothing. Continue the struggle for human rights, helping those who are innocent, especially Mr. Graham. I am an innocent man, and something very wrong is taking place tonight. May God bless you all. I am ready,” his last statement reads.
TELL MOM I LOVE HER
Jesus Romero Jr., 27, was executed on May 20, 1992, for the 1984 rape and murder of a San Benito teen.
When his attorney came into the witness room, he said, “Tell Mom I love her.” The attorney said back to him, “I love you, too.”
There’s not a lot of information on 54-year-old Jerry Bird, who was executed on June 17, 1991.
A New York Times news brief says he murdered an antique gun collector.
Bird didn’t have much to say before the state of Texas killed him.
“I don’t think so. That’s all. Go ahead. Start things rolling. (Mouthed ‘Hi, Mom’ to his mother),” his last statement read.