By Jan Schultz
The Imperial Republican
“A lovely little girl” is how Fr. Bernard Lorenz will remember 10-year-old Julissa Ramirez, a third grader at Chase County Schools.
Fr. Lorenz presided over her funeral Mass at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Imperial Monday as family and friends gathered to say good-bye.
Fr. Lorenz and her catechism teachers enjoyed supper last Wednesday night, Jan. 7, with Julissa following her grade school religious education classes at St. Patrick’s.
“She was happy,” Fr. Lorenz said.
Questions of “why” surround her death last week, which has been confirmed a suicide by hanging in the preliminary autopsy report received by Imperial Police Chief Ryan Wisnieski.
Last Wednesday night at 11:30 p.m., police officers were summoned to Chase County Community Hospital, where Julissa was brought by her family, parents Eleazar and Dominga Ramirez and brother Adolfo, a senior at CCS.
Officer Kelly Pearson was on duty and arrived first, then called in Chief Wisnieski. Officer Chad Ostmeyer also responded to the hospital.
Wisnieski said they interviewed the family at the hospital, then officers went to their home in Capitol Mobile Home Court to further investigate.
Wisnieski said young Julissa was found by her brother in the bathroom after he gained entrance through the locked door.
The police chief said the evidence they found and their interviews from the beginning all indicated she took her own life. No other injuries were present, according to the preliminary autopsy report.
The autopsy was performed at Regional West Medical Center in Scottsbluff.
Julissa has been a student at CCS since her kindergarten year, but in each of those years, returned to Mexico with her mother, usually during second semester.
Her third grade teacher, Melissa Wallin, said Julissa always had a smile and was friendly to her classmates. She was well-liked, Wallin said.
“And, she always wanted to help me. She couldn’t wait for her time to be Helper of the Week,” she said.
She also enjoyed reading, and as an English Language Learner (ELL) student, wanted to learn more of the English language, her teacher added.
Wallin said they have talked about Julissa’s death in her classroom and the school’s crisis team members were available for students to talk to if needed immediately last Thursday morning and since then. Letters from the school were also sent home to parents concerning her death.
At Tuesday night’s school board meeting, Supt. Brad Schoeppey, visibly emotional about the death, commended the school’s counselors, principals and ESU psychologist for their handling of the situation.
Fr. Lorenz indicated the family had planned to take her to Mexico after the funeral to be buried next to other family members.