Stumped Detectives Close Case On Murder/Suicide

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John Puckett shot and killed fellow camper Jessica Ramirez at Child's Campground on St. Patrick's Day, then turned the gun on himself, and investigators are as clueless now about the motive as they were two months ago.

The Yavapai County Sheriff's Department closed the case because they have exhausted all possible leads, Det. Sgt. Ron Phifer said.

"It's really just a strange case," Phifer said. "We can't figure out why he would have shot her. We'll probably never know."

Ramirez, 18, and Puckett, 26, were both from Phoenix and made the trip north with mutual friends. They had just met each other that day.

Phifer said the two got along fine and people saw them chatting. That night, a band played for the 200 campers who had come up for the weekend.

Afterward, around 10:30 p.m., everyone scattered and milled about, walking toward their tents. Ramirez and Puckett were sharing a three-room tent with their mutual friends. Two of them were in the back room of the tent and heard Ramirez open the zipper to the front room. Midway through the door, she was shot by Puckett, who was lying in a sleeping bag.

He then shot himself in the chin, and then in the head.

"We're certain he meant to kill himself because he shot twice," Phifer said. "But we don't know why he shot her. Maybe she startled him and he thought she was going to rob him. We just don't know."

Puckett had been in possession of a small bag of marijuana and a marijuana pipe. His body tested free of drugs and had a blood-alcohol content of only .12, which implies minor levels of intoxication, Phifer said.

Ramirez's level was .02. "She probably only had one beer," Phifer said.

All Puckett's friends said he was a normal person, the sergeant said. He did not have a criminal record.

No one witnessed the shooting of Ramirez. Her tent was at the end of a row of tents, and was beside a tree.

"It was also very dark," Phifer said. There were no lanterns or flashlights on over there."

Dozens of people heard the shots though. A few tried to administer first-aid, but Ramirez died within 15 minutes. She could talk at first, but not very well.

"She just kept on saying she had been shot, but didn't know how or why," Phifer said. "Her family is having a hard time because (investigators) don't have answers. The murder seems so senseless.

"We'll open the case back up if anyone comes forward with new information, but for now, we don't have the slightest clue why he shot her."

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