WARNING: The following story contains graphic details not suitable for all readers

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Ildefonso Casares still talks to his son.

His son, his best friend, the boy he would always joke with, telling him how old he was and then expecting the child to tell him how old that made him. The boy could always work out the math.

J. Trinidad Ram

A little game they had, even as the boy grew into a man.

He still does this.

Tombstones, though, do not talk back.

“To hear my son’s voice, I have to go into my phone and play a video,” Casares said. “I have one, he says, ‘Hey dad, I love you.'”

“That’s all I have left.”

The man convicted of shooting and killing 37-year-old Marco Ildefonso Casares – and then setting a housefire that caused the death of two others – received a 150-year-prison sentence in Allen Superior Court on Friday.

Barring a longshot appeal – which he plans to do – 33-year-old J. Trinidad Ramirez II will spend the rest of his life in prison.

The details of the deaths are grisly:

Investigators accused Ramirez of shooting Marcos Casares at least eight times in a home in the 1800 block of Rosemont Drive on April 10, 2020, according to court documents.

He then used a blanket to set the house on fire, court documents said. Two others – 51-year-old Doak Stanley McBride and 32-year-old Kyle Gregory Call – were pulled from the fire.

McBride died from asphyxia from the fire while Call died of smoke inhalation.

Ramirez was charged with murder, felony murder, arson causing serious bodily injury and using a firearm to commit an offense. He maintained his innocence throughout, and the arson charge was eventually vacated, according to court documents.

A jury, though, found him guilty on the other charges last month.

“This is the worst of the worst,” said Allen County deputy prosecutor Tasha Lee during Ramirez’s sentencing hearing.

Ramirez’s daughter and ex-wife spoke on his behalf, saying that he was an upstanding father and was always there for his children. His defense team tried to convince Allen Superior Court Judge Fran Gull those were mitigating circumstances for his sentencing.

Gull, though, heard from the families of Casares and Call before handing down 65 years on the murder count, 65 more for the felony murder charge and another 20 for using a firearm in commission of an offense.

She heard how Call had troubles with alcohol, but he was sober when his father was dying from cancer, and there to place a necklace with a cross over his old man’s neck during his final hours.

She heard how Marcos Casares was the apple of his mother’s eye, a mother who can no longer come into the Allen County Courthouse or even cross into the Fort Wayne city limits due to the memories of what happened here.

Now she cries every night.

She’s no longer the same woman he married, said Casares father, and neither is his granddaughter, who he can hear cry whenever she visits.

He hears the cries.

And there is nothing he can do.

“You can’t comfort a child going through that,” he said. “There are no words to comfort her.”

“A death like this, it destroyed the whole family. Even when we’re together, we’re not all there,” he added.

“It changes everything.”

There are days Ildefonso Casares will begin to drive. Sometimes, he forgets where he’s going. Sometimes, he doesn’t know where he’s going. Wherever he was supposed to go vanishes in his head.

He still talks to his son.

He goes to the cemetery, and he speaks to his Marcos.

His only son.

His best friend.

But the tombstones remain silent.

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