State Closes Investigation into Christmas Eve Murder of 18-Year-Old Woman
Last updated 8/24/2023 at 9:43pm
BROOKSVILLE – Devastating news to report for a family who hoped justice would be served and their daughter's killer would be held accountable.
18-year-old Ariana Ptarcinski was murdered on December 24, 2021, at the hands of her boyfriend Ramon Durst, according to her parents Eddie and Judy Ptarcinski (See previous R News Report).
Since their daughter's murder, Ariana's parents remained silent, just as they were told to do by the Hernando County Sheriff's Office and Assistant State Attorney Peter Magrino. Judy and Eddie say they were told several times that Durst would be arrested and to be patient, but that day never came.
Earlier this month, R News met with Ariana's parents who said it was time to finally speak out about their daughter's murder and discuss what they said was a botched investigation. Less than a month later, ASA Magrino mails a letter to the family, closing the investigation into their daughter's murder.
Magrino writes the following:
The above case which was presented to this office by the HCSO has been reviewed and criminal charges will not be filed. This filing decision is not based on the lack of quality of the investigation or lack of investigative effort by the sheriff's office. The decision is a legal one dealing with criminal intent and the lack of evidence thereof with regard to your daughter's death and the application of Chapter 782 FSS.
As I had discussed with you on prior occasions the subject was not arrested at the time the sheriff's office responded to the scene as there was no probable cause to believe a crime was committed by Ramon Durst. Although the Medical Examiner listed Ariana's death as a homicide, Florida courts have historically held that acts of negligence cannot be made criminal regardless of loss of human life without Mens Rea. To date, Mr. Durst through his lawyer has exercised his constitutional right to not provide a statement concerning the incident. Thus, there is insufficient evidence to sustain any criminal charge as it relates to the death in this matter.
Should the sheriff's office or any other person provide this office with additional and/or new information I will review the matter again, but at this time there is insufficient evidence to proceed further in criminal court.
The Ptarcinski family is devastated by the news, and they say the decision to close the case is more than a coincidence. They believe investigators were just delaying an announcement because they knew it was "botched," and Sheriff Al Nienhuis needed to protect his political career.
Nienhuis is expected to run again in 2024 but he has not formally announced his candidacy. Two other candidates, including former Major James Terry, are considering a run against the current sheriff due to his "failed leadership."
R News has requested a full report from the State Attorney's Office and will provide more on this story as it develops.