A San Mateo County cold case from 1993 may finally be reaching the justice phase after what appears to have been a happenstance discovery of a confession by investigators probing a separate case in Oklahoma.
San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Jacob Trickett gave a news conference last week announcing a major break in the case of the April 26, 1993 murder of Shu Ming Tang, the owner of Devonshire Little Store in San Carlos. A witness at the time had seen a female suspect fleeing the scene just after Tang was fatally shot in the chest, and the sheriff's office has long believed this to have been a case of a robbery gone wrong.
The murder was featured on America's Most Wanted in the 90s, but the case remained cold until just recently. As the Associated Press reports, San Mateo County Sheriff’s detectives assigned to cold case investigations reviewed the case back in 2018, and thanks to advancements in DNA technology, and some undisclosed evidence, they were able to determine that a suspect by the name of Rayna Elizabeth Hoffman-Ramos had been living in San Mateo at the time. She would have been around 32 years old in 1993.
It's not clear what happened after that, or if detectives were unable to locate a current address for Hoffman-Ramos. Because as NBC Bay Area reports, it was law enforcement in Oklahoma that ended up at Hoffman-Ramos's door, inquiring about another case entirely. Hoffman-Ramos, now 61, was living off Interstate 75 in Dewey, a rural town an hour north of Tulsa. Perhaps, after determining her identity, these cops connected her with the San Mateo County case — that hasn't been made clear — but a search warrant was executed and they ended up finding a journal with a page in it titled "Things I Regret."
Among the items on that list: the killing of a "Korean" man in San Carlos in 1993. Tang was an immigrant from Taiwan, but other details about the crime matched up — and it seems like Hoffman-Ramos was already on the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office radar via her DNA.
Hoffman-Ramos was arrested on March 16, and she remains in jail in Washington County, Oklahoma. She has waived an extradition hearing, and is expected to arrive in San Mateo County to face trial soon.
Another search was recently executed at a home in Sacramento that is also connected to Hoffman-Ramos. Per NBC Bay Area, "Records show that Hoffman-Ramos had been arrested repeatedly in [the Sacramento] area for drug related and other nonviolent offenses years after the San Carlos slaying. Authorities say they recovered unspecified new evidence in the recent searches."
San Mateo County sheriff's officials have so far declined to share any further details in the case, pending the ongoing investigation.
But San Carlos Mayor Sara McDowell said last week, "Mr. Tang was a husband, a father and a friend who came to the United States to provide a better life for his family. His death shook the community of San Carlos and has remained a topic of discussion over the years." And San Mateo County Sheriff Carlos Bolanos said in a statement that he hopes Mr. Tang's "family will finally get the justice and closure that you deserve."