Murder Investigation Focuses on Critical Commentary, While Suspect Walks Free
Last updated 9/6/2023 at 7:13pm
SPRING HILL – Christmas will never be the same for the Ptarcinski family, after their 18-year-old daughter Ariana Ptarcinski was murdered on the night of December 24, 2021, inside their Sterling Hills home. Click Here for Full Story
Ed and Judy Ptarcinski trusted that investigators would charge their daughter's alleged murderer, Ramon Calderon Durst, with her death but last month they were told that because he "remained silent" they couldn't make an arrest.
The unexpected response baffled the family and the community who all expected the suspect to be charged. Durst was with Ariana when her throat was cut, he dragged her to her parents' bedroom, and even made statements that he was at fault, according to Ed Ptarcinski. While Durst was being held inside a patrol car at the scene, he stated to Deputy Dowdell, "...what's the crime rate in the area, and how many federal prisons in Florida?" At one point Durst told Dowdell that he was concerned he was going to "get raped" [in prison]. He then asked Dowdell to pray with him.
Devastated by the news and frustrated with the Hernando County Sheriff's Office, Ed and Judy rented billboard space on US-19, in an effort to raise awareness about their daughter's murder. The billboard reads:
Our Daughter was killed in 2021.
We know who did it.
We told the authorities.
It was ruled a homicide.
No Arrests. Please Help Us.
With the case now officially closed, R News acquired the full report from the Fifth Judicial Circuit. After reviewing 373 documents, R News discovered several elements of concern and one very disturbing fact that should concern every resident of Hernando County.
Prefacing every investigator and responding deputy's report is the following paragraph: SYNOPSIS: For an unknown reason Ramon Calderon Durst slit Ariana Ptarcinski's throat while in Ariana's bedroom and then took her into Edward and Judy Prarcinski's master bedroom by her hair and stated to Edward and Judy, "I did this". At this time the investigation is ongoing.
That statement is the initial conclusion drawn by the first law enforcement officers on the scene, so why wasn't Durst placed into custody for suspicion of murder? That's what the Ptarcinski family wants to know.
At the onset of the investigation, Ed, Judy, and their 12-year-old daughter, at the time, were all separated but not immediately interviewed. Deputies transported Ed Ptarcinski and Ramon Durst to the Sheriff's Office to be questioned, but Durst refused to speak and only provided his name, date of birth, and address. Durst was driven back to his car and allowed to leave the scene.
Homicide suspects are arrested, prosecuted, and convicted all the time, many times without a confession or even a body. That's why the Ptarcinski family is so perplexed by the refusal to charge Durst when all evidence points to Durst committing the crime. Ed and Judy suspect investigators believe Ariana killed herself, but there is no mention of that in any report and no evidence leading to that conclusion. Additionally, the Medical Examiner ruled her death a homicide at the hands of another person. If Durst is innocent, the Ptarcinski family asks why Durst didn't allege that Ariana killed herself.
We spoke with Ed Ptarcinski today and he claims the report makes no mention of deputies tasing Durst before he was detained. Ed believes the information is being intentionally concealed from the public, to avoid criticism over the investigation. R News has requested that HCSO produce the documents and video if they exist, but we have yet to receive a response from officials.
It should be noted that Hernando County Sheriff Maj. Phil Lakin has made requests in the past to illegally "hide" information from the public, in an effort to protect Sheriff Al Nienhuis and even a current judge from public criticism. There are current lawsuits underway that involve several constitutional and civil rights violations against various complainants.
During our review of the Ptarcinski report, we made a very disturbing discovery that stands out above all else within the 373 documents, and it has nothing to do with solving the crime or making an arrest.
Out of the 373 documents, 215 are screenshots of social media posts, citizen comments, news articles, and direct messages regarding Ariana's murder. It's not unusual for detectives to use social media and other electronic media to help solve a homicide, but what stands out among this evidence is that it was entered long after the incident occurred, specifically after Ed and Judy Ptarcinski became publicly critical about HCSO and ASA, Pete Magrino. What is even more disturbing is that investigators highlight, draw circles, and use asterisks to notate any critical comment and the person who made it. For example, on the Justice for Ariana Ptarcinski Facebook page, Mich LaRo writes, "It sucks that neither the Hernando S.A.O, nor the Hernando Sheriff's Office will meet with the family of the victim and advise them of the investigation into the suspect's impending arrest." On the Adventure Coast Journal page, Denise Laufenberg writes, "This is absolutely disgusting that the Hernando County Sheriff's Office has done nothing to seek justice for this poor soul that was taken way too soon. Then they wonder why people take the law into their own hands. Praying for peace and justice for this girl and her family." Susan Ortiz writes in part, "...Shame on the Hernando County Sheriff's Department for letting a murderer walk freely. Who will be his next victim? Great Job HCSO." Many other comments were highlighted, and every article published this year was included in the investigative report.
If the only thing missing is a confession from Ramon Durst, what does public sentiment posted on social media have to do with solving Ariana's murder? Sadly, the Ptarcinski family may never know, because, to them, the investigation into their daughter's murder effectively closed the moment deputies removed the crime scene tape from their home.
R News will continue to report on any major developments involving the murder of Ariana Ptarcinski.