Alamance authorities shed light on tragic killings

Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson speaks during a press conference regarding a recent double murder in Graham on November 11. Surrounding the Sheriff are (left to right) Haw River Police Chief Toby Harrison, Alamance County District Attorney Sean Boone, and Alamance County Commissioner Chair Amy Scott Galey.

On Wednesday, November 13, the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office held a press conference to provide critical new details on the murders of Jerry Darrell Williamson and Steven Bryant Somers, who were found murdered on Mr. Williamson’s property in Graham on Monday. 

“This investigation not only included our patrol officers, our criminal investigation division, and our crime scene investigators, but most of our staff rolled out and participated in the investigation of these two tragic murders,” Alamance County Sheriff’s Office official Byron Tucker stated. 

On Tuesday, less than 24 hours after the double murders, the prime suspect in the case - 31-year-old Justin Lynn Ramirez, was apprehended in Asheboro, driving the truck of one of the murder victims. 

“This event was so fluid, things were changing so quickly. Because of your (the media’s) quick action, and our social media posts, the public responded very quickly. We received calls throughout the day from citizens who shared reports of what they believed to be suspicious activities that could have been related to this case. Whether it be a possible sighting of the suspect, or the vehicle that was stolen,” Tucker explained. “What this told us is something that we already know about this community. This community will mobilize, and will be on the lookout and share information when we ask them to. Because they are not going to tolerate acts such as this. They want to live in a community and a county where they feel protected. We want our citizens to say something if they see something, and give us the opportunity to investigate.”

Onhand at the press conference was Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson, Alamance County Commissioner Chair Amy Scott Galey, Alamance County Manager Bryan Hagood, District Attorney Sean Boone, and Police Chief Toby Harrison of the Town of Haw River.  

“I want to say a hearty thank you to the Randolph County Sheriff’s Office, the Asheboro Police Department, and our District Attorney’s office for all the assistance provided in this particular case,” Sheriff Johnson said. “Without you folks getting the information out, and us being able to talk to the Randolph County Sheriff’s Office, this individual may have never been taken into custody. Thank you for your efforts. This was a very, very serious crime when we lose two citizens here in Alamance County. The Alamance County Sheriff’s Office worked extremely hard on this case. As a matter of fact, our District Attorney was up with us until 5:00 a.m. (Tuesday evening) on this case, and then came back shortly thereafter - as our officers did.”

According to the Sheriff, on Monday morning, November 11, the Alamance County Central Communications received a call at 10:21 p.m. that reported Jerry Darrell Williamson, a local man in his sixties, had been found dead lying in a field near his residence, located at 2120 Payne Road in Graham. This particular call was dispatched to officers at 10:26 p.m., and the first officer arrived on the scene at 10:31 p.m.. 

After checking the deceased body that was originally reported, officers continued and searched two buildings nearby. That is where the second individual was found, shot to death. That was Mr. Steven Bryant Somers, who was in his early thirties. The Sheriff indicated that both individuals had been shot in the head and killed with what was believed to be a high-powered rifle. Mr. Somers was the grandson of Mr. Williamson. 

The suspect, Justin Lynn Ramirez, was at the time supposedly living with Summers at a building on the property of Mr. Williamson. 

It was learned that Mr. Williamson’s1996 Dodge Dakota Sport, white in color, with North Carolina registration, was missing from the premises. Mr. Ramirez was not found on the premises following the shootings. 

“Through quick interviewing and investigating by our officers, a suspect was developed. It was learned that the victim Steven Bryant Somers and Justin Lynn Ramirez, the suspect, were allegedly shooting a rifle near the residence of Mr. Williamson on this day. Mr. Williamson had left his residence briefly to tell them to stop firing the rifles, because they were scaring his dogs,” Johnson explained. 

A short time later, after reprimanding the two men, Williamson returned to his residence, and a short time later, returned to where Mr. Ramirez and Mr. Somers were supposed to be. This occurred Monday evening. Several hours later, Mr. Williamson had not returned home. A family member was called to look for Mr. Williamson, and the relative found Mr. Williamson dead in a field near his residence. 

Once the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office officers were on the scene, they found the second victim, Mr. Somers, shot and deceased in a small-frame house where Summers and Ramirez lived together. 

Immediately a statewide broadcast was made to be on the lookout for Mr. Ramirez and Mr. Williamson’s truck. At 9:25 a.m. on Tuesday, November 12, Mr. Williamson’s truck was spotted at a convenient store in Asheboro by an Asheboro Police Sergeant, who detained Mr. Ramirez upon his exit from the convenient store because of the stolen truck put out through the broadcast. At the time of his detention by Asheboro authorities, Ramirez was in possession of a rifle that authorities believe was the weapon used in the double murders. 

The Alamance County Sheriff’s Office was immediately notified, and traveled to Asheboro, where Mr. Ramirez was taken into custody. Ramirez was arrested and charged with two counts of first degree murder, in addition to one count of larceny in relation to the theft of the pickup truck belonging to Mr. Williamson. Ramirez is currently being held in Alamance County Jail under no bond. 

“We are still continuing in this investigation. This investigation is not fully complete at this time,” Sheriff Johnson stated. “Mr. Ramirez was caught in Asheboro. He had the rifle with him. The rifle is in our custody at this time. We are doing a trace on the rifle to find out who the firearm actually belonged to.”

Sheriff Johnson indicated that Ramirez had outstanding warrants in Haw River, and was considered a fugitive from justice as he was living on Williamson’s property with Somers. The official booking of Ramirez by the Sheriff’s Office lists him as homeless. 

“They (Haw River) have outstanding warrants (on Ramirez),” Johnson said. “Mr. Ramirez was a fugitive for these warrants for breaking and entering, and larceny in the Town of Haw River. He was on the run from Haw River warrants, and was living with Mr. Somers there on the property. They were supposedly friends. It was in August when he didn’t show up in court and was on the run. We have no idea at this point how long he was staying there. We do know, were told by the family, he was staying there in a little shack with Mr. Somers.” 

The Sheriff mentioned that Mr. Williamson’s body was found approximately 50 to 60 yards from his home, and approximately 40 to 50 yards from the shed where Mr. Somers and Mr. Ramirez was living. 

“At this point, we are still studying what the motives would be,” Sheriff Johnson said. “I can tell you, in talking with family members of the suspect, there were drugs involved in this young man’s life. The family says that he had problems with drugs in the past. In talking with the other family, Mr. Somers, he had been put out of the house because of his behavior. That’s why they were living next door in the other building. We’re going to be on that property looking until we find every possible piece of physical evidence we can.” 

District Attorney Sean Boone mentioned that Ramirez had his first court appearance at Graham’s J.B. Allen Courthouse on Wednesday, November 13 at 2:00 p.m.. Ramirez appeared before a District Court judge, where he was advised of his rights regarding an attorney. 

“After speaking at length with the investigators in this case, we have a good idea as to the direction where the case will go,” Boone said. “The next step in the process will be to prepare indictments. We expect this matter may go to the Grand Jury. The next Grand Jury (in Alamance County) is set for January 6, 2020. Should the Grand Jury indict Mr. Ramirez on these charges, then within ten days of that indictment, the state of North Carolina DA’s office has to apply for a pre-trial conference, to determine whether or not this matter will be a capital or non-capital case.” 

“I can assure you that before that time comes, we will consult with law enforcement, the family, and also with all the homicide prosecutors in our office, to determine whether or not we have the required capital aggravating circumstances to proceed capitally or not. No decision has been made at this time,” the District Attorney added. “Once Mr. Ramirez is in court, everything that goes on in this case will be in the court system, and will be for public consumption. We would expect those matters to be handled by the early part of the year.”