Va. Man Charged in 2003 Killing of Girlfriend

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MANASSAS, Va. — A father already facing a potential death penalty in the slaying of his 15-month-old son has been charged in the decade-old killing of an ex-girlfriend.

A grand jury indicted Joaquin Shadow Rams, 41, of Manassas on murder and lesser related charges for the 2003 shooting death of Shawn Mason, Prince William County Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul Ebert said Monday.

Ebert said Rams also remains under investigation in the 2008 death of his mother, Alma Collins, which was initially ruled a suicide.

Rams’ son, Prince McLeod Rams, died on an unsupervised custody visit. Authorities believe Rams drowned the boy to collect on more than $500,000 in life insurance. Rams told authorities he merely gave his son a cold bath in an attempt to arrest a fever-induced seizure.

The boy’s mother had warned that her son would be in danger if left alone with Rams. But a judge in Montgomery County, Md., awarded unsupervised visits to Rams, even though McLeod presented evidence that police at the time considered Rams a suspect in Mason’s death.

Prince Rams died in October 2012, on his fourth unsupervised visit with his father.

The mother, Hera McLeod, said Tuesday that while it’s good that Rams has finally been charged in Mason’s death, that it should have occurred long ago.

“It doesn’t feel like true justice when it ends up that justice can only be served at the expense of an innocent child,” she said in an email interview. “If this man had been taken off the streets years ago, a lot of people wouldn’t have had to suffer. … Prince shouldn’t have had to die.”

Another son of Alma Collins and Joaquin Rams’ half-brother, Joseph Velez of West Palm Beach, Fla., said he sees the charges in the Mason killing as a sign that authorities are investigating thoroughly and that charges will eventually be filed in his mother’s death. He never believed that his mother committed suicide, and he and other family members tried for years to convince police that Collins was killed.

Rams’ court-appointed attorney, Daniel Morissette, declined comment Tuesday.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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