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Coroner: Murdered Princeville Couple Fought Attack

Bradley University

The Princeville couple found Tuesday in the Spoon River fought for their lives. Peoria County Coroner Jamie Harwood announced the autopsy findings of Susan Brill de Ramirez and Antonio Ramirez Barron Wednesday.

He says the couple died from blunt force trauma and multiple sharp object injuries.

“The stab wounds were pretty significant throughout their body. (There) were multiple defensive wounds as well on their upper arms. So they, bluntly, did not go down without a fight,” says Harwood.

Credit Peoria Public Radio/Kristin McHugh
Peoria County Coroner Jamie Harwood, right, and Peoria County Sheriff Brian Asbell, left, brief media on October 31, 2018, on the murders of Dr. Susan Brill de Ramirez and Antonio Ramirez Barron.

The Bradley University employees, both 63, went missing late last week from their North Maher Road home. Their bodies were discovered in Peoria County Tuesday north of Laura near the Route 78 Spoon River bridge.

Harwood says it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact time of death, but he says the couple may have been in the water for up to four days.

“Most likely after the assault occurred, the bodies were probably dumped within hours of that time,” says Harwood.

The couple’s adopted son, 21-year-old Jose Ramirez, confessed and is charged with two counts of first degree murder.

20-year-old Matthew Roberts of Princeville is facing the same charges after initially being detained for lesser offenses. Peoria County Sheriff Brian Asbell says Roberts confessed he was an active participant in the homicides.

Roberts made his first court appearance Wednesday. He, like Ramirez, is being held on $3 million bond.


Kristin McHugh is an experienced radio journalist and nonprofit manager. Most recently, she served as executive director of the Peoria Area World Affairs Council.