BELTON, Texas (KWTX) – It’s a room that should not be empty. Every morning, Amanda Rios would wake up and walk to this room in her home to wake her son up for school.
“It’s where I feel closest to him,” the mother said, “I remember the morning I woke him up. I remember the exact position he was laying in. I remember exactly how he laid there. Now, I lay in that exact spot and hug the pillow exactly how he held it.”
Rios’ 18-year-old son, Jose Luis “Joe” Ramirez Jr., was fatally stabbed by a schoolmate inside a restroom at Belton High School on Tuesday, May 3.
Detectives met with the teenager’s parents before they spoke with KWTX and the parents say they believe Ramirez was ambushed and murdered over a lie.
Rios now sleeps in her son’s room at night, accompanied by the dogs he left behind. She says they stare out the window hoping he’ll come back home.
“I hope they can understand that he won’t be coming back, which is the hardest thing,” Rios said as she cried.
The mother said her daughter is also enrolled at Belton High School and called her with the devastating news.
“I could hear in her voice. She said, ‘Mom, did you hear what happened? Joe and Joshua just came running out of the bathroom and Joe’s holding his chest and blood was dripping and he got stabbed.’”
Rios and her husband said they had no idea their son had agreed to fight another student in the wake of an incident at prom. She said she has since learned the fight was supposed to be after school, off campus and weapon free.
“With my boys, I always feared that they’d get in a fight. The world is just getting uglier. People don’t just solve things and move on, they go to this extent for just the stupidest reasons, over a girl,” the mother said, “We never even knew this was a problem. Nobody talked to us. My boys didn’t tell me anything about what happened at prom.”
The parents said not only did they not know anything about a fight, they’d never ever heard of their son’s alleged killer: Caysen Tyler Allison.
“The first thing I saw was his eyes. He just, he has evil in him. I knew instantly when I saw him that he let the devil into him,” the mother said about Allison, “He was scared to fight my son. That’s why he pulled that knife out. I know it. I know it.”
The family wants to dispel rumors Joe was in a gang and threatened Allison. “Oh my gosh, no. Are there even gangs in Belton?” said father Jose Luis Ramirez Sr. when asked if his son was in a gang.
“Violence didn’t come from Joe. He’d fight you if you wanted to challenge him. He would man up, but he was never a bully,” Rios said.
“There was no threat. There was no bullying. Joe would get onto other people for bullying people,” the father said, “He would go protect [victims of bullying]. That’s who he was. I hope we can clear that up, that he was not a gang member, at all, not a bully, and he died over a lie that a girl told another kid. That’s what he died over. That’s what I know.”
Images of Joe’s final moments continue to haunt his mother. “That was eating me alive. Eating me, eating me, eating me. Just it takes my breath away. I can’t breathe. And I just wonder: did he long for me, did I cross his mind?”
Rios said she was denied access to her son when she arrived at Belton High the day of the fight. “That was my son, and I feel like that was my last moment with him, that’s when he could have heard me say, ‘here I am babe, I’m here.’ They kept me. I just wanted him to hear my voice. I just wanted to scream loud enough that he knew I was there.”
The devastated mother did not get to see her son again until he was dead at the hospital, her knees scabbed over from praying so fiercely. “I stayed on my knees and I prayed the entire time,” she said.
She was praying for it not to be true. She was praying to go back in time. “I don’t teach my kids to fight, but I do teach them to stand up for yourself. I’d give anything to just go back and save his life, just talk him out of it. Some fights aren’t worth it,” Rios said, “If I knew he was going to school to fight somebody, I probably would have kept him home, because he was about to graduate.”
Instead of taking graduation photos, they are picking out pictures for their son’s funeral.
“He’d always be smiling or he would be making others smile,” Rios said, “Joe was the most loving. He had a personality like no other. I’ve watched videos. This boy here was just the life of anything he was in.”
Joe had a passion for sports, worked at Freddy’s after school, and loved to gamble.
His brother hit the jackpot on Mother’s Day when he gifted Amanda a Build-a-Bear with a recording of Joe blowing a kiss and saying, “I love you.”
Mementos and photos will help keep Joe’s memory alive, Amanda said. “In the mornings, I struggle so bad, and this picture of Joe, it’s like Joe’s right there.”
The community’s support has also helped. “Through these people’s hearts, Joe is taking care of us and making sure we’re ok from heaven.”
Heaven and death used to scare Amanda. Not anymore. She now looks forward to the day she’ll be reunited with her son.
“God is good and my baby’s okay,” she said.
Funeral services for Joe will be held at 2:00 P.M. on Thursday, May 12, 2022 at Crossroads Church in Belton with Pastor Matt Thrasher officiating.
Following services, his body will be cremated. Services will be live streamed and recorded on his obituary page at www.crottyfh.com for those who cannot attend.
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