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61-year-old murder victim remembered as ‘neighborly’

No new leads in investigation

Published: Friday, March 17, 2017 9:53 a.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, March 17, 2017 10:24 a.m. CDT
Caption
(File Photo)
The Jasper County Sheriff's Office is investigating the murder of a 61-year-old man who was found inside of his rural Jasper County home March 6. The Jasper County Crime Stoppers is offering up to a $500 reward for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of the suspect or suspects.

A homicide investigation into the death of a 61-year-old Newton man who was found inside his home nearly two weeks ago hasn’t cultivated any new leads for investigators.

Jose Luis C. Ramirez Berber lived in a two-story white farmhouse at 4252 Maple St. in rural Jasper County. Berber had many chickens that roamed his backyard, and he had several gardens he tended to.

According to Berber’s neighbors and friends, Berber was a faithful neighbor of four and a half years.

“We got to know Jose pretty well,” one neighbor who asked to remain anonymous said. “He was very quiet and super friendly.”

Berber was also described as very educated and as someone who traveled a lot when he was younger.

Berber was the definition of neighborly.

“We would check in with him and he would check in with us,” she said. “He made us burritos and taquitos.”

Berber planted three big gardens every year that were treated as community gardens for the neighborhood. According to neighbors, Berber was retired and lived alone unless his family was visiting.

One family who has lived in the neighborhood for 13 years is struggling with why they lost their neighbor so suddenly.

“My husband and I can’t figure out why this happened — he was such a nice guy,” she said.

The family said the incident has made them more alert and they try to keep an eye out when they are home.

“I do have faith in the sheriff’s office, and I do think something will be solved soon,” the neighbor said.

Officials received a 911 call to a Newton residence in the afternoon March 6 in reference to an unresponsive individual.

When law enforcement and Newton Fire and EMS arrived at Berber’s residence, they found him lying on the floor unresponsive.

It was determined the death was suspicious, and that following Wednesday, the sheriff’s office and Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation ruled the death a homicide.

The Jasper County Crime Stoppers is offering up to a $500 reward for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of the suspect or suspects.

Authorities declined to release the cause of death, citing the ongoing investigation.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Jasper County Sheriff’s office at 641-792-5912.

Information can also be submitted to Jasper County Crime Stoppers by calling 641-792-8362, or texting Jasper followed by the tip to 274637, or online at www.jaspercrimestoppers.com. All tips are completely anonymous.

Contact Kayla Langmaid at 641-792-3121 ext. 6513 or klangmaid@newtondailynews.com

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