Fresno, Calif. - A mystery gravestone found in a dry canal in Fresno County will now return where it belongs. The gravestone was missing for nearly a decade, but now the family of Gonzalo Ramirez has his priceless monument back. Our cameras were there as family members saw the gravestone for the first time in years.
This story is all about power of social media. Last week investigators had no idea who Gonzalo Ramirez was, or where his gravestone came from, but we continued to follow up and now that gravestone has found its way home.
Fighting back tears the family of Gonzalo Ramirez touches his gravestone for the first time in ten years.
"I don't know. I don't know what to say. It's a new year and it's a heck of a way to start a new year and thank you for everybody, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you," said Ricardo Ramirez, Gonzalo's oldest son.
The mystery gravestone turned up last week in the bottom of a dry canal in Dinuba. For years Gonzalo's widow Reyna and son Ricardo prayed they would find it.
Ricardo says his mother believes this is God's justice. She said she put it in the hands of God and let him deal with that.
Through our investigation we learned Gonzalo, a father of three, was tragically killed in a crash at an intersection near Orange Cove in 1990. This gravestone was positioned there for years until it went missing. It was a heartbreaking discovery for Reyna and Ricardo, who was just four years old when his dad died.
"We really don't have any memories of him except for this and pictures and stuff like that. This is definitely going to fill something empty inside. It's a good feeling it's a good moment," said Ricardo.
Posting the gravestone on social media the community helped investigators connect with the Ramirez family creating this special moment.
"The one thing is I didn't want to see it being destroyed or anything. I wanted to return it back to the family. So, it was just an awesome experience for me personally," said Jose Lomeli of the Fresno County Sheriff's Department.
On top of returning the gravestone, the Fresno County Sheriff's Office is working with a company to have it fully restored. The Ramirez family says the gravestone will be kept in the house this time. They are not going to put it outside and risk losing it again.