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The execution of Ramiro González will be ‘joyful’

The execution of Ramiro González will be ‘joyful’

The execution of Ramiro González will be ‘joyful’


Bridget Townsend was just beginning her life as a young woman in the small Texas town of Bandera when Ramiro Gonzales raped and killed her. Her mother says she was “a beautiful person.”

Bridget Townsend was planning for the future. The 18-year-old from Texas was working full-time at a resort and was anxiously waiting to hear back about an application for nursing school.

But on January 14, 2001, a man named Ramiro Gonzales stole all that and all the other moments and milestones that make up a life when he kidnapped, raped and murdered Bridget.

“She was a beautiful person who loved life and loved people,” her mother, Patricia Townsend, told USA TODAY on Saturday. “Every time she was with someone she hadn’t seen in a long time, she had to hug him…. She didn’t deserve what she got.”

Now, more than 23 years later, Gonzales will be executed for the crime in Texas on Wednesday, when Bridget would have turned 41. Patricia Townsend said the execution will be a “joyful occasion” for her and her family, who have been waiting for justice for so long.

As Gonzales’ execution approaches, USA TODAY remembers the tragic crime, who Bridget was and what her family lost.

a terrible night

Bridget was at her boyfriend Joe Leal’s house that terrible night.

Leal was dealing drugs and Gonzales went to his house to steal cocaine, finding Bridget there alone.

After Gonzales broke in and stole some cash, Bridget began calling Leal. That’s when Gonzales overpowered her, tied her up and took her to her grandfather’s ranch, where he raped her and shot her before dumping her body in a field, according to court records.

When Leal got home later that night, Bridget’s truck, purse, and keys were in their usual places, but he couldn’t find her anywhere and called the police.

For almost two years, no one except Gonzales knew what happened to Bridget. One day, while serving a life sentence for the rape and kidnapping of another woman, Gonzales decided to confess to killing Bridget, leading authorities to find her remains in a field in Bandera, a small town 40 miles northwest of San Antonio.

Gonzales was convicted of Bridget’s murder in September 2006.

‘Thank God I was able to see it’

Patricia Townsend last saw her daughter the same day she was murdered. Townsend was working at a video store and had asked Bridget to come by and return a video.

“Thank God I got to see her and I told her I loved her and I hugged her,” Townsend said.

Bridget left shortly after, saying she was going to bed because she had to drive to work in the morning. Townsend said goodbye to her daughter and reminded her that he loved her.

After Townsend closed the video store and went home for the night, she said she couldn’t shake the feeling of hearing Bridget call out to her, “Mom.” She tried calling Bridget but there was no answer.

“And I said, ‘Well, don’t worry, Pat.’ “He said he had to get up early and go to work, so he’s probably sleeping,” Townsend said. “But I should have known because he always slept with her phone next to her in case someone called her.”

She thought about going to see Bridget, but talked herself out of it.

“And to this day I regret not going there,” he said. “Maybe I would have arrived in time to stop him.”

Patricia Townsend receives the worst news of her life

For nearly two years, Townsend spent most of her time placing flyers on her daughter and searching for clues.

Until one night, a Bandera County sheriff asked her to come to the station. Although she had held out hope that her daughter was alive despite the odds, she received the worst news of her life.

The sheriff told Townsend that Gonzales had confessed to Bridget’s murder, had led police to her body, and had some things he hoped she could identify.

“And I continued walking down the street. “I couldn’t hear him anymore,” she said.

Towsend says he didn’t even have a body to bury on October 16, 2002 because Gonzales “wanted to see his body decompose.”

Townsend rejected Gonzales’ arguments that a childhood filled with trauma and abandonment helped him down a path that ended with the murder of his daughter.

“He deserves no mercy,” she said. “And his childhood should have nothing to do with it. I know a lot of people who had a difficult childhood… He made the decision for him.”

It is Gonzales’ own fault that he no longer has a life.

“I could be going to school or have a wife and kids,” he said. “I don’t feel sorry for him at all and I don’t want other people to feel sorry for him. Some people he feels sorry for are his grandmother and his grandfather who raised him.”

What has also comforted Townsend in the midst of pain is that Gonzales will leave the world the same day Bridget came to him.

“When they told me it was June 26, I started crying and crying and crying,” she said. “That’s her birthday.”

Instead of celebrating his daughter’s 41st birthday, he will drive four hours from his home in San Antonio to the Texas State Penitentiary in Huntsville and watch Gonzales die.