Editor’s note: The contents of this story are graphic in nature.
An illegal alien has been sentenced to life in prison for breaking into an 83-year-old woman’s home, grabbing her by the throat, smashing her head into furniture, saturating her with gasoline and setting her body on fire while she was still alive – all to cover up his check-fraud scam after she hired him to cut her lawn.
Ramon Alvarado, 33, and his cousin, Jose Alvarado, 37, were hired to do yard work for Lila Meizel at her home in Wheaton, Md. They worked for the woman for two years, and Meizel often gave the men soda, food and extra tips.
Jose’s wife, Ana Rodas, 33, was also arrested in connection with the murder that took place the day before Thanksgiving last year. Ramon was convicted of murder, arson and conspiracy in October. On Monday, he was sentenced to two consecutive life terms – one without parole – plus an additional 30 years for arson.
A Montgomery County jail official confirmed that all three were illegal aliens. According to reports, they are from El Salvador and have lived in the United States for more than 10 years. The Gaithersburg Gazette reported Immigration and Customs Enforcement had detainers on all three defendants, flagging them for possible federal charges and deportation proceedings.
According to prosecutors, Meizel gave the men a $75 check for landscaping work. Jose added two zeros to the number, agreeing to give his cousin $1,200 and Rodas $1,000. They used the $7,500 to buy a car, computer and clothes. Ramon and Jose pre-emptively conspired to kill Meizel when the two believed they might be caught.
Lila Meizel, 83
Firefighters found Meizel in her burning home and pulled her outside, but they were unable to resuscitate her. A firefighter and two police officers sustained injuries in the blaze.
Both Ramon and Jose Alvarado had previous criminal records in Montgomery County. Jose had a history of check fraud, according to the Washington Examiner. Ramon had a warrant out for his arrest for driving a car without a license or registration. Rodas had no criminal history.
Montgomery’s top prosecutor called the murder case the most horrific he has seen since taking office, according to the Washington Post.
An autopsy revealed Ramon caused Meizel to suffer a brain hemorrhage and fractured seven of her ribs. She had soot in her lungs and burned tissue in the back of her throat, indicators that she was alive when he set her on fire. Most of her body was charred and her face was unrecognizable.
“The inhumane manner you chose to exterminate a lady well into the autumn years of her life strongly suggests that you are sadistic,” Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Terrence J. McGann told Ramon Alvarado. “A civilized society demands that you be in prison for the remainder of your life.”
During Ramon’s trial, Judge McGann said he could not look at the autopsy photos “very long without gagging.”
“I’m going to put these in the envelope so they don’t turn anyone else’s stomach,” he said.
According to the report, Ramon Alvarado spoke only about his concern for his mother.
“I am thinking about what my mother is going to think of me after I get sentenced,” he said through an interpreter. “I’m concerned about my mother. When she finds out what happens to me, she can get quite ill.”
Jose Alvarado pleaded guilty to first-degree murder on June 3 and faces up to life in prison. Rodas pleaded guilty June 3 to accessory after the fact and faces up to five years in prison.
“I lost my head,” Jose Alvarado told the Washington Post, speaking from a pay phone last year inside the Montgomery County jail. “I don’t know what to say. It just happened suddenly. I was tempted by demons.”
Meizel’s daughter described her mother as “a very trusting woman,” saying she was satisfied with Ramon’s services.
“When it came to hiring people for her lawn, she was happy with this man,” she said.
“May God forgive me for what I did,” Ramon Alvarado reportedly told police shortly after the murder.
Just after Meizel’s murder last year, WND reported another case where an illegal alien fatally beat a 64-year-old woman who gave him a home. In December, Julio Cesar Ramos – who had been deported more than a dozen times – was charged with first-degree murder after allegedly beating Paulette Locklear to death when she took him in, built a small house on her property for him, gave him work and treated him like family.
She called 9-1-1 just before being beaten to death with a blunt object outside of her home.