Daughter, Son-in-Law, Hired Hitman Arrested in Plot to Kill 69-Year-Old Mother

TweakMurderers

Suspects Keith Phillips (left), Holly Ramos (center), and Frank Haverly (right). Photos courtesy of the LBPD.

Monday afternoon the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) announced the arrest of three people involved in a murder-for-hire plot that went awry earlier this year, charging each with attempted murder among other charges.

On the evening of October 11, 69-year-old Elizabeth Wells was brutally attacked by what was initially believed to be robbers invading her home near 69th and Ocean, on the peninsula.

The initial hypothesis of a home invasion turned out to be false, as robbery and homicide detectives discovered a plot to take Wells’ life concocted by her daughter, 40-year-old Holly Ramos, and her son-in-law, 40-year-old Frank Haverly.

According to the LBPD, Ramos and Haverly had their two children, ages 2 and 4, taken from their custody following Ramos’s arrest for child endangerment and methamphetamine-related charges in Monterey County; they had already been on probation for possession of methamphetamine. Following the two children being placed into foster care, Wells attempted to take in her grandchildren as a foster parent through the California Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).

Though their motives remain unclear as of now—it has been suggested that jealousy over Wells’ ability to obtain custody of the children could have sparked the plot—the daughter and son-in-law hired 50-year-old Keith Phillips to drive to Long Beach in order to kill Wells.

Posing as a DCFS employee, Phillips easily gained access to Wells’ house, where she claims that she and Phillips shared lengthy conversation about the foster parenting process. It was then that Phillips began to violently attack Wells with a metal bat before attempting to suffocate her. The battle eventually caused Phillips to give up on his attack, ultimately returning north to Monterey County.

After Wells expressed concern that her family could be involved, DNA evidence linking Phillips—a previous convict—to the murder attempt prompted investigators to take several trips up north in a collaboration between LBPD, Monterey County Sheriff’s Department, and the Veteran’s Administration Police in Menlo Park.

After executing 18 search warrants and surveillance of the suspects in the RV park they resided in, all three were taken into custody on November 14.

Ramos, Haverly, and Phillips are charged with conspiracy to commit a crime (residential robbery and first-degree murder), along with attempted murder and home invasion robbery.

Additionally, Ramos is being charged with two counts of forgery, and one count each of identity theft, burglary and grand theft, for allegedly drawing a $10,000 cashier’s check against checks she had forged from her mother’s account.

Phillips is also facing an additional count of first-degree burglary and special allegations that he personally used a deadly weapon and caused great bodily injury. Phillips’s 2004 conviction of assault with a deadly weapon could subject him to enhanced sentencing.

Following all three suspects’ appearances in the Long Beach Superior Court yesterday, a judge doubled their $25M bail and rescheduled arraignment for December 4.

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Brian Addison has been a writer, editor, and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food and culture to transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 16 nominations and two additional wins for Best Political Commentary for his work at KCET and Best Blog for Longbeachize, a section of the Long Beach Post. Brian currently serves as a columnist and editor for the Long Beach Post.
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