Episode 32 | A Pro Boxer Fakes own Murder to Bust his Wife
The police standing outside the shallow grave clicked away with their cameras. Each snap shattered a silence brought on by Houston's suffocating summer heat.
At the bottom of the freshly dug grave lay a man in his late 40s with quickly drying blood running from a gunshot wound to his right temple. More blood trailed from his nose. The flies were starting to buzz around excitedly. The man, wearing nothing but his boxer shorts, appeared to have his hands bound behind his back.
Detectives from the Montgomery County Constable's Office already knew his identity: Ramon Sosa, one of the best-known boxing trainers in southeast Texas. A former professional fighter, he'd taught pros and Olympic hopefuls how to spar the fast-paced Puerto Rican way. Dozens of kids from gangs and troubled backgrounds had funneled through his nonprofit Young Prospects Boxing program, looking for a new start and receiving this mentorship.
He also owned a successful gym less than two miles from this spot, surrounded by heavy forest on all sides and well-hidden from the bedroom community known as The Woodlands.
Gangs and money. That's what might have been behind this grim scene. But this wasn't what it seemed, not at all. Once the cameras stopped clicking, the lead detective spoke: “Alright Mr. Sosa, come on out of there.”
And with that, the dead man lying in the grave opened his eyes.
Ramon Sosa, was a former pro boxer and was on top of the world — until he learned someone was trying to hire a hit man to kill him. He came out fighting, and collaborated with the police to set up a very ingenious and elaborate sting which would mean he'd go down for the count in a most unusual way. We’ll go inside this most twisted case of a man whose murder was ordered and delivered and who died but lived to tell his wild tale. I know this all sounds confusing, and too good to be true, but it IS true and it’s right out of a Hollywood movie script. Let me explain.
Ramon Sosa appeared to have the perfect life -- from rubbing shoulders and god knows what else with celebrities like Hugh Hefner and Mike Tyson. He owned a couple of successful boxing gyms in Houston. And he had found the love of his life, Lulu.
Ramon's zest for life started early. He was born with a fighting spirit. Originally from Carolina, Puerto Rico, he grew up boxing with his father.
From the time he was little he fell in love with the sport of boxing. There were world champions that trained at the gym he frequented with wis father and he saw how disciplined the fighters were. He was mature beyond his years and took to that drive he saw.
After training for more than 10 years, Sosa took a shot at the pro boxing circuit. He was known as the Puerto Rican Express. When he turned 17, he went pro. And a whole lot of his opponents went down for the count. KO after KO after KO. He was a devastating force in the ring.
Eventually, the Puerto Rican Express ran out of steam and Sosa hung up his boxing gloves and decided to pursue the American dream.
He went back to school and got his education meanwhile keeping a big toe in the boxing arena, it was his roots.
Life rolled on and he got married and had three children. They settled in Houston, Texas, where he opened his own boxing gym, where he could continue to teach his passion.
By 2000 Sosa’s marriage was coming apart at the seams and ended. After years on the dating sites and no lasting romance he was turning 40 and feeling out of shape and over-the-hill. It was high time to get back in the ring. But this time, he was looking for a different kind of knockout.
A friend of his told him about a bar with live music that was all the rage and and where a lot of beautiful Latinas gathered. Sosa was game. He put on a Versace sweater and one of his most expensive watches to get inside the trendy Latin club in The Woodlands. He got a beer. Then someone walked in that made all the heads turn like sunflowers to the sun. A real beauty that knew how to shake her money-maker. He kept an eye on her all night. And man could she dance. Eventually they got acquainted when she deliberately walked by and stepped on his toe in her stiletto heels. There was an instant connection.
Enter Lulu Dorantes. A divorced mexican immigrant who had relocated to Texas with her 2 children. She worked illegally as a maid and masseuse to support she and her family.
The two didn't get off the dance floor the entire night. Sosa fell immediately under her spell which lends irony to the salsa song they boogied to and what became their song. “Brujaria." Spanish for Witchcraft.
Spellbound, they went home home together and the rest was history.
Lulu doted on him like a king. Making Sosa breakfast every morning, bringing him coffee. To those looking in they were a very happy couple. … Ramon sponsored Lulu, her mother and her two teenage children to help them obtain U.S. citizenship. After less than a year of dating, Ramon dropped to one knee near Christmas and proposed. They were giddy in love and Lulu Dorantes became Lulu Sosa in March of 2009.
The following year Sosa opened his second boxing gym. Lulu kept the books and became a personal trainer
…Everything was going great it seemed. Sosa had a beautiful wife and now a combined family of 5 kids, the gym was going gangbusters, membership was up.
Little did Ramon know, he would soon be in the fight of his life.
To Sosa’s children from his first marriage, life after Lulu arrived was not as harmonious as ads for the gym would depict, a smiling and welcoming Ramon and Lulu.
She wanted nothing to do with Sosa’s biological children. …They found Lulu not just cold, but ominous. As though she knew that at some point they weren't going to be in her picture.
Add to that, the spell Lulu seemed to cast over Sosa early in the relationship started to eat away at his relationship with his own children. Voicing displeasure at him spending money on his kids and even seeing them.
But there was a focus- Ramon and his new bride were growing their gym into a powerhouse. Profiting a cool 20 grand a month. Life was good. Money was free-flow. But after six years of marriage, the Sosa spell began to break. Lulu began confiding in her friends.
Accusations of Ramon's laziness were just the beginning. She spoke of physical altercations and unwanted sexual aggression. He denied it.
Around that same time that Lulu was complaining to her girlfriends about Ramon, Ramon says another problem suspiciously appeared: missing money. Lulu was handling the books but the bottom line was not adding up. There were a lot of new faces at the gym but the cash flow wasn't right.
Sosa became worried that she was dipping her hands into the til. He also wondered what she was doing with all that money. It wasn't long before he found out.
In March 2015, Lulu hired a divorce attorney -Julio Joglar.
According to Joglar, Lulu was in fear for her safety.
She brought pictures of scratches that Sosa inflicted on her arms, legs, shoulders.
According to Lulu, this was caused by Ramon at one time when he wanted to force himself to her. And there was an altercation and Ramon grabbed her and scratched her. Sosa claims the images were all fabricated. But there was one photo Sosa couldn’t deny, a damaged door that he punched a hole in.
He readily admits to the punch. …She was accusing him of, according to Sosa, unwarranted lies and took his frustrations out on the door. But, insists he never laid a hand on her ever.
Despite allegations of physical abuse, and Lulu’s fear of Ramon, they remained in the same house even after she filed for divorce, living on separate floors.
It was around this time that one day at the gym a friend of the couple overheard a conversation between Lulu and her 16-year-old daughter. Known simply as Mundo, he was like a son to Ramon Sosa. He had grown up on the tough streets of East Houston and had a very rough background. …Gangs, drugs and fighting in the streets.
Mundo joined his local gang when he was 12 and was shot six times in three incidents before he went to jail. When he got out, his future wife gave him an ultimatum: Pick her or pick the violent neighborhood where he grew up. He chose her and moved to the other side of the tracks.…He wanted a new life and Ramon Sosa Took him under his wing.
The conversation he was eavesdropping on was about a customer claiming to have connections to a hitman. But what really made his ears perk up was towards the end of the conversation when Ramon’s name came up.
Stunned, Mundo said nothing and went home. He was in disbelief. He back back to the gym the next day and confronted Lulu about what he heard. She told him that Ramon was physically abusing her. Then, she said something else that sent chills down his spine. She told him she was tired of him and just wanted him to disappear. She had a hollow look in her eyes, soulless.
Disappear? What do you mean, disappear? Like how ? He put his finger to his head gesturing with the pistol sign. She nodded.
Mundo was convinced that Lulu had murder on her mind and that his friend, Ramon, was in grave danger. So to speak.
Knowing Lulu was dead serious, Mundo had to think fast. He came up with a plan to stop her. Mundo offered to get involved and hire the hit man himself.
He gave Lulu the impression that he was going to reach out to a hit man, that he had connections that were just a phone call away. A killer named Paco.
Mundo convinced Lulu he believed her claims of abuse and would help her. But it was actually all a ploy to protect his pal Ramon Sosa, who he called immediately after he left the gym.
Dude, listen to me, ”Lulu wants to have you killed.”
As shocking as the news was, Ramon instantly knew why. According to the will he had, if he died AFTER the divorce was finalized, she wouldn’t have access to to his retirement money. the value of the gym, the value of the home.
Sosa immediately contacted police, but was told nothing could be done based only on conversations with an angry wife, as threatening as they sounded.
The sheriff's department needed more. They needed more evidence.
So the two old boxing buddies forged a plan: they would launch their own sting operation. Using his street smarts, Mundo would pretend to hire a hit man. He'd send texts to this fictitious killer with details about the hit -- details he'd share with Lulu.
Mundo knew that to pull this off convincingly, she would need to see conversations going back and forth with somebody. That somebody was the fictitious Paco played by Ramon Sosa.
Ramon and Mundo bought two disposable cell phones. Little did Lulu know that the target, her own husband, was holding that second phone.
Sosa wasn’t sure they pull this off. They were good with their fists but neither of them were skilled detectives. But Mundo had all the confidence in the world.. He started recording his daily conversations with Lulu:
MUNDO: What's up Lulu? Hey they just want to know based on what you're offering … To know you are serious that you want him killed.
LULU SOSA: Yes, yes, yes. Definitely. That they do it? They should do it. I don't give a damn. I'm going to pay. And pay she would. $1,000 cash, along with Ramon's pickup truck.
Later, as Lulu watched, Mundo texted the burner phone back with her offer
Mundo: "Paco im here with the Patrona ... y'all guys take a truck and 1g after job done? it’s 2007 white single cab 20 inch rims Si o No?”
Paco’s reply text read: "I talked with johnboy n its all good homi just need the tools”
Mundo's choice of the name "Paco" wasn't random. He was a character in the 1993 crime drama Blood In Blood Out, the story of three Chicanos navigating gang life in Los Angeles. Paco, played by Benjamin Bratt, was so admired and feared that another character paints his portrait on a concrete wall alongside the Los Angeles River. At the end of the movie, Paco, it turns out, is an undercover cop.
The fishing expedition was off to a great start. But as the days passed, both men worried Lulu might have another hit man waiting in the wings.
What if her patience runs out? Ramon ends up dead at the hands of another assassin eager to collect an easy wad of cash.?
Ramon told no one about what he and Mundo were up to, and living in fear over what Lulu might be up to took its toll. He started carrying a gun.
Whenever he was his car he kept a gun on the seat between his legs. Looking left and right stopped at any traffic light. The fear became all-consuming, especially at night. Under his pillow, he kept a loaded pistol.
Mundo kept the pretend negotiations on track, acting as the middleman between the fake hit man Paco and Lulu.
In one recorded call Lulu says to also offer the killers some jewelry and an additional $500 bonus once she has proof of the hit.
Mundo recorded at least 12 conversations, all in Spanish, over the course of three weeks. In one, Lulu tells Mundo that Ramon might sign divorce papers on July 22. "Mundo, I'm desperate. I can't stand this anymore. I have a giant headache," she says in the recording. "I have everything to lose. I'm sick, sick, sick of all this paperwork."
She complains that she won't get any alimony, that Ramon is no longer paying the mortgage and that she's running out of cash. "That f---er hasn't given me a single penny since February," she fumes. “Nothing!"
She adds: "They better kill him before the 22nd. That way I'll have insurance for life, a pension for life. My life will be all figured out. Mundo, do you know what I'm saying? He has worked hard all his life for his retirement. Well, now it's time for me to work hard on my retirement. This is my retirement, Mundo. His life is my retirement.”
Mundo asks, "So from here until the court date, do you want to have him killed?”
On the recordings, Mundo tells Lulu several times that she can abandon her plan. "If you changed your mind, you changed your mind. Nothing happens. Nobody's forcing you to do it.”
Lulu replies: I've made my decision. "If I say it, I do it.”
In one final attempt, Mundo texts Lulu- Just remember, once he's dead, there's no coming back from that.
Lulu wrote back: "Mas claro que el agua." It’s clearer than water.
All this time, Ramon and Lulu were still living under the same roof. That is until a heated altercation between Lulu’s son and Sosa led to a citation for assault and Ramon getting booted out of their home.
Ramon was ordered to move out of the house and stay away from the Woodlands branch gym where Lulu spent most of her time. Sosa was OK with this as he kept his eye on the bigger prize: exposing Lulu's plot to have him murdered.
Lulu thought she had him on the ropes, but the boxer was about to make a comeback. Ten days after launching their sting, Ramon, posing as "Paco" the fake hit man, texts Mundo that he picked up a “ glock 9 millimeter for 200 bucks.
When Mundo received the down payment for the gun from Lulu to shoot Ramon Sosa, that’s when the armchair Sherlock holmes and his dear Watson felt they now had enough evidence to take it to the police.
Lieutenant Mike Atkins works for the Precinct Three Constable's Office in Montgomery County, Texas.
He took got a call on a Sunday from an individual claiming there was a murder-for-hire against him. An extremely unusual case, the first hired-hit case of his storied career.
Impressed with the amateur sting, the professionals were now ready to take over. But they needed a streetwise rookie in their corner -- Enter El Mundo.
Atkins knew it was important not to alter the investigation; they had to keep Mundo in the thick of it so as not to raise any alarms.. Mundo kept stringing Lulu along, assuring her he was trying to "get things done as soon as possible.
Finally, he let her know "everything is a go" for a meeting on July 20 with the hit man. Lulu agreed to a night meeting in a parking lot not far from the gym.
Mundo, wearing a hidden camera, had Lulu get out of her car to meet Paco, the hitman who was sitting in a pickup parked nearby. Lulu never suspects that Paco is actually an undercover officer as she climbs into the front seat of the officer's truck. Just as Mundo gets into the back seat, the officer's deep voice asks in Spanish, "What's up?"
Lulu vents in Spanish: "Well, what hasn't he done to me? That SOB. I mean, I just can't deal with all of this."
The undercover officer replies, "This guy, do you want him to be pretty beaten up? Do you want us to beat him up or what?”
"No. No beating," "I want him dead.”
"Do you want to talk to him? Give him a last message?" the undercover officer asks.
"No. I don't want to talk to him," Lulu says.
"You just want him really f---ed over? You want him dead?"
"I want him dead," Lulu affirms. "For me, it is better if he is dead than for him to continue screwing up my life.”
Lulu handed over several watches and jewelry as a partial payment. Then went to an ATM machine and withdrew $500, which she brought back to the parking lot to seal the deal. Detective Atkins was watching from an undercover vehicle as Lulu handed over the cash. She showed no emotion.
She had crossed the threshold of no going back.
By paying the the undercover agent, it showed her level of intent. Her goose was cooked. When Mundo got out of the truck with Lulu, he was numb. He felt like he had betrayed her as a friend. When she pulled him in for a hug he became nauseous.
Police had enough to arrest Lulu right there on the spot. But they had concerns; namely, Lulu's claims of Ramon's abuse.
Lulu had no prior convictions or trouble with the law, and being a beautiful woman, a mother… they were concerned a jury trial may work in her favor. Their fear was jurors may feel sorry for her. So police told Ramon what they needed to do next. They needed PROOF that the hit had been carried out.
Their plan was simple in execution and macabre in nature. They needed to take a picture of Sosa -- dead.
For Ramon Sosa, the police sting to bring down Lulu seemed to be taking a cue from "Witchcraft," the first song they ever danced to. One of the lyrics: "You want to send me to my cold tomb.”
The fake hit could've been simpler but they wanted to ensure it was believable.. They had to show Lulu proof that the hit man did the job and did it well. They would document Ramones dead body in a shallow grave taking a dirt nap for the cameras and the court.
At first Sosa was dumbstruck. But then as it was explained to him, he was well onboard.
In order to get Ramon camera-ready, police first had to consult some experts. On Youtube! Makeup tutorials.
Being a bunch of middle-aged men, they weren't exactly skilled at applying makeup. So naturally they did what any inexperienced make up artist would do, go on YouTube and learned how to apply makeup from -- teenage girls ..
But they also had some deadly examples to follow.
Luckily they had no shortage of real awful crime scene photos to use as references.
The assistant D.A. was in attendance at the makeup session and brought out some pictures of the dead. People with bullet holes through their head. …They picked out one that they thought that was gonna be the (ahem) money shot.
Sosa was horrified when they showed him the picture. But he remained steadfast, after all it was just a make-believe death.
Makeup to do list.. Check. Pale skin pallor? Bullethole in the temple. Check. fake blood running down his face from the hyper- realistic-looking bullet hole in his temple. Check. RIP Ramon Sosa.
Next, on the to do list, they had to find Ramon a grave. The county owned a plot of land in a rural area not far out of town which gave them the privacy they needed. A mini back hoe went to work digging a 4x6 x 6 foot deep hole where Sosa would soon be posing as a freshly executed corpse.
When all was set, Ramon hopped down into the hole. When he brushed the dirt from his clothes they all had an uncomfortable fit of laughter- the absurdity of it. He posed as though he had his hands tied behind him down in the corner of the grave.. … Then they threw some dirt on his head for good measure. …it was perfect- like a scene out of the Godfather. They took many shots of the grisly scene. Some with flash some video. They had to get it perfect. There were no do-overs.
For Sosa it was a very emotional moment. It was hot. It was -- scary. He thought about how happy his life once was with the woman of his dreams and now this. Is this really what Lulu wanted? This is what she wanted.
Now it was showtime. Time to show Lulu that the hit was made. Time for the police to get their woman and time for Ramon Sosa to get on with his life.
A second meeting was arranged between Lulu and the hit man in the same parking lot. But this time, it was all caught on a hidden camera. It was July 23, 2015:
Lulu with her dark, glossy hair done up nicely pulled into the parking lot in a car with "Woodlands Boxing" emblazoned on the door. She got out and jumped into the Undercover agents vehicle.
Paco then proceeded to tell her what she wanted to hear. It’s done. Everything good. We got him today, this morning. He won’t be showing up at the gym anymore. Lulu shows no visible reaction and simply states, "I've got $1,000."
Paco then held out a phone, showing her a photo of Ramon cold and dead in the grave. "What do you think?" he asks. She pauses a moment and then says, "He won't get up anymore."
And then she starts to laugh.
Then, she wanted details of the actual hit. Where. What did he say if anything. Paco gave her just enough. Ramon fought for his life. The truck is at a chop shop. Lulu then calmly suggested they use FaceTime going forward to prevent the police from tracking their communications.
The next day was the final act of this morbid tale.
The police went to the gym under the guise of a wellness check on Ramon Sosa. Lulu was there with her mother and teenage daughter. The detective asks if there's somewhere they can talk in private. They go into the office and the detective tells her that apparently Mr. Sosa hasn't been in at work today.
Lulu claims she has no idea where Ramon might be and that they are going through a divorce.
DETECTIVE: When's the last time you saw Mr. Sosa?
LULU SOSA: We saw him on Wednesday, the 15th. That's the last time I saw him, my mom and my daughter.
DETECTIVE: So he hasn't contacted you in the last 24 hours?
LULU SOSA: No, no. Was her reply.
The officers let Lulu's performance go on a few minutes longer, then lower the boom:
The detective then says what the team had been waiting anxiously for ‘Ms. Sosa. Stand up please. You're under arrest. for the solicitation to murder of Ramon Sosa. Lulu was handcuffed in front of those closest to her the mother and daughter that she left Mexico with for a better life in America, and was led away to jail.
The police had a very strong case against Lulu Dorantes. …They had video. They had a down payment. They had a confirmation to her that the murder had taken place.
As Lulu awaited trial, the assault charge that resulted in Ramon being evicted from their home was dismissed. And Lulu agreed to a divorce settlement that handed Ramon the gym and the house.
After 15 months in jail awaiting trial on the murder-for-hire charges, Lulu gave up the fight. In October 2016, as Ramon looked on, she pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of second-degree solicitation of murder -- avoiding trial and a possible life sentence. She never made eye contact with Ramon as the judge sentenced her to 20 years in prison. Lulu, now 47 is housed in a state prison for women in Gatesville, Texas.
Lulu Dorantes went to America for the American dream, and although she achieved it temporarily, ironically she also lost it thanks to Ramon Sosa. Ramon's last image of Lulu was of her leaving the courtroom in a pink jumpsuit and handcuffs, swishing and swaying just like that night so many years before when she stepped on his toe and changed his life forever.
Ramon, who continues working his day job while also training fighters, eventually was forced to file bankruptcy and has moved out of his house and the gym he and Lulu once shared. He lives in a small apartment and drives his white pickup, the one with the 20-inch rims.
Ramon Sosa published his incredible story in a book called "I Walked on My Own Grave.