Ramon Escobar: Serial killer suspected of murdering new cellmate

Ramon Escobar is accused of killing cellmate Juan Villanueva (Photo: California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation via AP)

A convicted serial killer is suspected of murdering his new cellmate in a California prison.

Ramon Escobar, 51, is serving life in prison without parole for killing seven people, including his aunt and uncle, and wounding seven others in a series of attacks in 2018.

He was sharing a cell at North Kern State Prison in Delano with Juan Villanueva, 53, a fellow prisoner sentenced to life in prison for aggravated sexual assault of a child under 14.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said Villanueva was found unresponsive shortly before 9 am on Friday and, despite efforts to save lives, was pronounced dead a short time later.

Escobar is suspected of killing Villanueva and has been placed in restricted housing pending an investigation, the agency added.

The Kern County coroner will determine the official cause of death, officials said. Other details were not immediately provided.

Escobar was serving a life sentence with no chance of parole after pleading guilty last year to killing five men and injuring seven others.

He also pleaded guilty to killing his aunt and uncle in Houston, Texas in 2018.

This December 5, 2022 photo released by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation shows inmate Ramon Escobar.  Authorities say inmate Juan Villanueva, a convicted serial killer, is suspected of killing his new cellmate, Ramon Escobar, on the morning of Friday, February 24, 2023, at North Kern State Prison in Delano, California.  sexual assault of a child under the age of 14 in Los Angeles County.  Villanueva arrived at the prison on February 2.  Escobar was serving a life sentence after pleading guilty last year to killing five men and injuring seven others in 2018 in Southern California.  (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation via AP)

Ramon Escobar, convicted serial killer, is suspected of killing his new cellmate (AP Photo)

This February 2, 2023 photo released by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation shows inmate Juan Villanueva.  Authorities say Villanueva, a convicted serial killer, is suspected of killing his new cellmate Ramon Escobar in a Central California prison.  State prison officials say Ramon Escobar shared a cell at North Kern State Prison in Delano, Calif., with Villanueva, who died on the morning of Friday, Feb. 24, 2023. Villanueva was serving a life sentence for aggravated sexual assault of a underage child.  out of 14 in Los Angeles County.  He arrived at the prison on February 2nd.  Escobar was serving a life sentence after pleading guilty last year to killing five men and injuring seven others in 2018 in Southern California.  (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation via AP)

Juan Villanueva died on Friday morning (Photo: AP)

FILE - In this September 26, 2018 file photo, Ramon Escobar, with an unnamed attorney, appears at a Los Angeles County Superior Court hearing.  Police will seek a fourth murder charge against Escobar, suspected of a series of brutal and deadly beatings in the Los Angeles area, after another victim died, officials said Wednesday, Oct. 3.

Escobar, with an unnamed attorney, appears at a Los Angeles County Superior Court hearing.

Prosecutors said Escobar fled Texas after killing his relatives and was homeless when he began attacking people in Los Angeles and Santa Monica over the course of about two weeks.

Escobar would beat his victims with pliers or a baseball bat while they slept in the streets or on the beach. All but one were homeless.

He arrived in prison custody last December. Villanueva arrived on Feb. 2, officials said.

The two men were housed at the Reception Center, which processes prisoners admitted to California counties.

Inmates can be held there for up to 90 days while it is determined where they should be placed within the state prison system.

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