‘Things I Regret' Journal Entry Key in Cracking 29-Year-Old Cold Case

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Law enforcement in Oklahoma investigating a separate case stumbled onto a key piece of evidence in the 1993 slaying of a store owner in San Carlos. NBC Bay Area’s Investigative Unit has learned they found the private journal containing a written confession by the alleged killer.  

“This was a cold case for nearly three decades,” San Mateo County Sheriff Carlos Belanos said in announcing last week the arrest of Rayna Hoffman-Ramos, 61, in the slaying of Shu Ming Tang, who was gunned down during an attempted robbery of Devonshire Little Store on April 26, 1993. “Justice for Mr. Tang’s family is at hand.”

The family had been waiting 29 years for a break in the case. Back in 2018, the long cold case – which had been featured on “America’s Most Wanted’’ – was reopened, but investigators made little headway over nearly three decades.  

Recently, Oklahoma law enforcement, probing an unrelated case in their state, knocked on Hoffman-Ramos’s door in Dewey, a rural town an hour north of Tulsa. According to her booking paperwork, Hoffman-Ramos was living at the time in a home off US Highway 75.

Sources with knowledge of the investigation said that during a subsequent search of her residence, authorities found a personal journal with an entry under the heading “Things I Regret.” On the list of regrets was the slaying of a Korean man the author detailed, which took place at a store robbery in San Carlos in 1993.

While Tang was Taiwanese, not Korean, the journal entry matched details investigators had of the case. Investigators said a woman was seen fleeing the scene. They also confirmed Hoffman-Ramos was living in a home in nearby San Mateo at the time.

At the time she was arrested in Dewey, Oklahoma, on March 16, authorities in California searched a residence in Sacramento. Records show that Hoffman-Ramos had been arrested repeatedly in that 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.

Hoffman-Ramos remains in custody in Washington County jail in Oklahoma, but has waived a hearing on extradition and is expected to be brought to California, where authorities say she will face murder charges based largely on the content of her private journal musings about regrets.

San Mateo County sheriff’s officials on Tuesday declined to comment on the details surrounding the case, citing the ongoing nature of the investigation.

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