By Patrick Newell
Editor’s note: The following is my personal interactions with accused murderer Ganesh. R. Ramsaran from Sept. 2009 through May, 2013. Ramsaran was tried in Chenango County court and convicted of second degree murder on Sept. 23, 2014.
It was the fall of 2009 that I first met Remy Ramsaran. It wasn’t until a year or two later that I learned his first name was actually Ganesh.
He was initially a casual acquaintance, one I met through the Norwich YMCA. At that time, I worked a late-afternoon, early-evening shift in the fitness room before walking across the street to the Evening Sun office to perform my night time sports writing duties.
‘Tis the expectation of a fitness room employee to interact with the members, so I struck up a conversation with Remy. This dark-skinned man was on the recumbent Expresso bike peddling his ass off, and I noticed he was wearing a Buffalo Bills ball cap. “Ah, I thought to myself, another long-suffering Bills fan.”
So I asked him about his hat and if he really was a Buffalo Bills fan, or was it his fifth-string hat, and the only one left that was clean. Perhaps I didn’t ask in those specific words, but Bills fans understand the comic futility of the team, especially the ignominy of losing four straight Super Bowls.
Indeed, Remy was a Buffalo Bills fan, and a die-hard one most of his life – just like me. In our conversation, I learned he was an avid sports fan, and in particular, he loved the UFC and mixed martial arts.
In 2009, mixed martial arts was in the midst of an astronomical growth phase, but had yet catch the public’s fancy. Remy asked me where I read up on MMA news, and I told him my go-to site was sherdog.com. He suggested that I take a look at mmajunkie.com.
Remy extolled the voluminous MMA news and updates from mmajunkie.com, so the next day I gave it a look. Since that day, I visit the sherdog.com AND mmajunkie.com sites on a daily basis.
Remy was a personable, helpful guy upon first impression. We parted ways that day knowing – at least I did – that we would likely become friends.
What I gleaned from my first meeting with Remy Ramsaran was that he had brought his two oldest children to their karate class that was being held in the room adjacent to the fitness room on the mezzanine level of the YMCA.
Remy had decided to utilize that hour-plus time to get back into shape. He told me that he used to be a pretty good athlete while in high school, and he was the starting goalie on his high school lacrosse team. Later on, he posted images of newspaper clippings on his Facebook page that showed him with his team. There was also an image of a box score with Remy’s name (Ganesh Ramsaran). I had no idea how good an athlete Remy was, and I really didn’t care.
Remy was working out on the YMCA equipment to shave off some pounds, and by shave, it was more like gouge. Remy is a stocky individual, about 5-foot-5, and he told me he had ballooned to over 225 pounds.
That type of weight on any 5-foot-5 frame looks horrible, and I’m sure Remy had that moment in front of the mirror where he resolved to make a change. I have the utmost respect for anyone who dedicates themselves to fitness and diet in order to reclaim the body they once had, and I encouraged Remy’s efforts.
What was plain to see was the vigor with which Remy attacked his machine. Not only that, it looked like he was wearing three layers of garbage bags. What Remy told me was that he was wearing a sauna suit that wrestlers often use to cut weight. Below the sauna suit there was at least three or four more layers of clothes including sweatshirts and t-shirts.
Remy told me he had 12 pounds of clothing on, and he wasn’t kidding. Honestly, I did not understand the need for so many clothes. I suppose he was trying to expedite the weight loss process. Combined with his voluminous clothes, he was cranking out the miles on the Expresso program on the most difficult settings, and on one of the most difficult preset courses.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that Remy would go to extremes to shed his unwanted pounds.
For months, I had no idea how much weight Remy had lost or what he actually looked like underneath his 12 pounds of workout clothes. Whenever I saw him, he gave me an update on his weight loss and his current weight. Starting at 225-plus pounds, Remy’s weight came off quickly.
Within three or four months, he finally shed all of that clothing, and appeared in regular workout clothes – always a compression shirt for his top, and loose- fitting shorts. In the months I had watched him grinding on the Expresso bike, I had not actually witnessed him lifting a weight.
I asked him if he was augmenting all of that cardio with weight training. He told me he had a small workout room at his house, and that is where he did the majority of his weight training. Around that time, he told me he had started running. He said that in his early 20s, he had run in two or three marathons, and it was his goal to run in another one.
I didn’t say this to him, but Remy did not look like a distance runner. He was determined, though. Remy was always resolved in his goals, and in his life. He threw himself 100 percent into whatever he was doing. He was like that with his workouts, with his actual work, and with his family. He loved his kids dearly – passionately – and was passionate and emotional about everything HE believed in.
He is and was the definition of a “Type A” personality, goal-oriented, and focused on the end result. What I gathered, too, was that patience was not his strong suit.
Having worked in fitness for over a decade and trained hundreds of people, I had never seen anyone employ the methods Remy used to drop weight. My biggest concern, and I addressed it gently with him, was the health implications of wearing a sauna suit to work out intensely for an hour, and then head to the actual sauna for another 20 to 30 minutes. He had a reasonable explanation, and he seemed to know what he was talking about.
Remy is a smart guy, so who was I to question his judgment?
Such was Remy’s work schedule – he worked from home – he often had the freedom in the day to take care of personal tasks. Instead of just Monday nights, he became a frequent visitor of the YMCA in the late morning and early afternoon.
Soon, he made many acquaintances with the YMCA’s daytime workout junkies. The morning was also my preferred workout time, and I continued to build my friendship with Remy during his visits. He was a gregarious fellow with lots of stories to tell, and really, his presence was almost dynamic.
I recall many times he was working out upstairs, and during breaks between sets, there were several people in an informal circle, and Remy was always holding court. He was positive, always encouraging, and once he got himself in shape, was willing to help anyone else trying to get back in shape.
He didn’t give me any personal advice on workouts, but he did offer me helpful cost-saving hints. One time he told me about a boneless chicken special at KFC and how he loaded up on that special. Not only was the chicken delicious, but it was low-fat and high protein.
Every time I saw Remy in the gym, he had a compression shirt on – usually long-sleeved. He told me about the various sales and where he picked up his shirts. It wasn’t my fitness fashion style, but I certainly appreciated the advice.
Throughout the first two years that I knew Remy, I never thought of him other than a chatty, friendly guy who was passionate about fitness, his family, and eventually running. That he became an avid marathon runner…I didn’t see that coming.
Like any growing friendship, it is built one small block at a time. From late fall in 2009 when I first met Remy until at least the middle of 2010, I saw him once a week – Monday nights – as he churned out the miles on his bike, while his kids attended karate class.
As he started his running regimen, the frequency with which I saw Remy increased, and so did our closeness. We moved from acquaintances to good friends – not quite best friends – who exchanged phone numbers and had one another in our cell phone contacts list.
Remy, though, told me he did not have text messaging on his phone back in 2010. So our away-from-the-YMCA interaction was the sparse phone call. We often spoke of hanging out to watch the (MMA) fights. We were both passionate fans, but due to the night hours I kept with my job, we never did connect on that front.
Remy often told me of his progress as a runner. He was piling up the miles, and soon was planning to run a half marathon. The words that he spoke about himself would probably come off as boastful to someone who did not know him. But “Remy is Remy,” as Eileen Sayles testified to on the stand in Remy’s murder trial.
He is an “all-in” type of guy, and as much as he seemed to crow about his accomplishments, I didn’t take it as the words of a braggart. He was so excited about what he was doing, and whenever another person mentioned his own accomplishments, Remy was effusively complimentary.
One might interpret this as facetious behavior, but that is the real Ganesh Remy Ramsaran. He is that flame that always burns hot; he is gregarious and thrives in company, and really loves to be around people. His manner is so severe, that it seems insincere. That observation is what we’re all trying to figure out about Remy Ramsaran.
Remy was a huge sports enthusiast, and he was well aware that I made my living reporting on sporting events in Chenango County. He told me a little bit about his work, but I never delved too deeply into that.
I knew he worked for IBM from home, and held some sort of management position. He had a sizable home – one previously owned by former Norwich resident and businessman Mike Frech – and at this point, I knew that Remy was the sole breadwinner of his household.
As the months passed and we became more congenial, Remy introduced me to his two oldest children – Cara and Glen – who were taking karate classes at the YMCA. As verbose as Remy could be, his kids exchanged pleasantries and greetings with an economy of words.
I remember Remy introducing me as “Mr. Newell,” and from that point, his kids addressed me as Mr. Newell. They were exceedingly polite, demure, and occasionally smirked at their dad’s comments. But they never interjected or went beyond the boundaries of staid behavior.
Remy, by now, had completed a couple of half marathons, and had his sights on full marathons. I remember thinking that his times were fairly slow – around 10-minute miles – but again, he did not have the physique of the world’s best marathoners who hailed from Ethiopia or Kenya.
After Remy completed one marathon, he signed up for another.
Soon, he regaled me with his itinerary of stops all over the country. He was most moved by the marathon that recognized the Wounded Warriors. He described it as an amazing experience in which he met so many combat veterans suffering from permanent disabilities. He was so taken by his experience that he implied that he would make it his cause to raise funds by running marathons with the hope of raising money for worthy charities.
I know he traveled all over the country for these races, and I know he often left his family behind for several days. What I didn’t know is if he actually did raise any money for charity. He never revealed that fact to me.
It wasn’t my business to judge Remy’s country-wide traveling to participate in marathon runs. He didn’t speak much of his wife, Jennifer, and I remember thinking it a tad excessive that he took so many trips leaving his family for extended periods of time, but who was I to judge? Remy was always upbeat and positive every time I saw him, and his kids seemed happy, too.
Remy obviously loved his kids, and it was important to him that they continue to participate in their martial arts classes. Whether the kids shared their father’s enthusiasm, one can never know. What I do know, for sure, is that no matter the circumstance or situation, if Remy was enthusiastic about it, no one was more enthusiastic.
By no means was I psychoanalyzing Remy during the first couple of years of our friendship, but in retrospect, so many things about his personality now make more sense. Roughly two years after meeting Remy for the first time, I ran into him on the weekend at the YMCA.
He came to me with a question about sports coverage, and he asked me if I covered youth soccer tournaments. I told him that as a rule, I did not attend youth sporting events not affiliated with schools, but I always welcomed information submitted from the public.
Remy was excited to tell me that the Unadilla Valley youth soccer team he was coaching recently won the 12-and-under Chenango Cup. I told him I would be glad to publish a story, and to please send me all the information he had.
The next day, a Monday I believe, I received a team photo with all of the kids cheering, and about a 350-word submission. I did some fine-tuning of the piece, rewrote some things, and pulled quotes out of his various statements.
One section of his piece, though, I found quite peculiar. Along with touting the kids, Remy spent a couple of sentences touting his own athletic accomplishments. I’m not sure what purpose that served other than to validate his credentials to coach young kids, or to simply give himself a pat on the back.
Either way, I deleted those parts from the story, and told Remy I had done so. I didn’t want to rub him the wrong way by deleting his personal shout-out, so I told him I focused the article solely on the kids. He seemed okay with my reasoning, and was ecstatic with the press coverage when the article and photo appeared – with Remy and team – in the paper the next day, Oct. 25, 2011.
Remy’s name would not appear in The Evening Sun again until the day after he reported his wife missing.
By the early part of 2012, I had a familiar relationship with Remy. I was no longer working the early evening shift in the YMCA fitness room, but I would still see Remy infrequently during the day and occasionally in the evening if I was trying to squeeze in a quick workout.
I might go two or three weeks without seeing him, but in every instance, it was as if we had paused the previous conversation and hit play again. In late January, he asked me to come into the sauna to tell me something in confidence. It was early in the evening and I was about to walk back over to my office, but I told him I had a few minutes.
Remy spoke in a more subdued, quiet tone, and he was unusually serious. He told me he had kissed another woman. He felt guilty about it, but was also excited at the same time.
I knew Remy had been married for a long time to his college sweetheart, and in the three years I had known him, had never had a cross or negative word to say about her. He told me he had always been faithful to his wife, and had never done something like this.
As Remy was speaking, he mentioned the first name of this other woman: Eileen. Immediately, the wheels in my head started to spin, and I quickly responded with the obvious question: “What did you say her last name was?”
Remy told me: “Sayles.”
I wish I had a mirror – or someone snapping a picture – because I can only imagine how large my pupils became when he said, “Sayles.”
Just to confirm, I asked him if she had a daughter Sadie, and another younger daughter. Remy said “yes.”
That information piqued Remy’s interest right away, and he asked me how I knew Eileen and her kids. I told him that I didn’t know her as a close friend, but I had met her many times over the previous seven years. I told Remy that Eileen was my three kids’ aunt by marriage. My ex-wife married Eileen’s older brother in 2005, and our paths crossed many times as I was visiting my kids or saw her at mutual family functions.
From that day, I went from a pretty good friend, to Remy’s confidante at the Norwich YMCA.
The frequency with which I saw Remy decreased from our once-a-week reunions on Monday evenings. Even when I did see him during the day – unlike the early evenings – the men’s locker room at the Y was chock full of men.
We caught some private time about two or three weeks after he first told me he had kissed Eileen. Again, Remy became strangely subdued, and I say strange because he was usually upbeat, positive, and spoke with a level of enunciation that grabbed your attention.
He told me that he and Eileen had consummated their relationship. He didn’t describe the experience in any detail, and it was the only time he ever mentioned his sexual relationship with Eileen.
Instead, over the next few months, he spoke about running with Eileen, helping her quit smoking, and he occasionally mixed in a rant or two about perceived mistreatment Eileen was receiving from her husband, Pat.
Remy broached the topic of a long-term future with Eileen, although he never mentioned their spats and brief break-ups over the course of their nearly 11-month relationship in 2012.
I asked Remy several times if he thought his wife Jennifer was suspicious of the affair. He adamantly stated that there was “no way Jen knows.” He repeated a similar mantra every time I asked.
I thought that either Jen was either the first woman with zero “cheating husband” radar, or Remy was just kidding himself.
After Remy was arrested in 2013, I asked my wife and I polled multiple women about Remy’s declaration, and they all said, “a woman knows.”
Eileen Sayles’ own relationship with her husband grew more and more contentious, according to Remy, and he regularly updated me on that front. At one point, Eileen’s husband presumably accused Eileen of having an affair, and tossed all of Eileen’s clothes out on to the front lawn of their residence.
Perhaps it was a touch of masochism, but Pat contacted Remy and asked for a person-to-person meeting. Remy consented, and assumed the meeting would be under confrontational circumstances.
Pat and Remy met in a public place, although out of earshot from the “public.” Pat was direct in asking Remy if he had f**ked his wife. Remy summed up his answer, and he prefaced it with a machismo statement in which he had to “man up” and speak the truth. Remy replied with a “yes” to Pat’s inquiry.
The Pat Sayles-Remy Ramsaran confrontation occurred just a few weeks before Jennifer Ramsaran was reported missing, Dec. 11, 2012.
I wasn’t familiar with Remy’s work schedule, but he seemingly found a way to work in all of his races. He was running distance events several times a year out of state, and I don’t believe I saw him more than once or twice in the month of November, 2012, and I had definitely not seen him during the first 11 days of December.
He was someone who was always on the go, be it his own endeavors or his kids. On Wednesday, Dec. 12, our office heard a report of a missing woman from the New Berlin area. It was that same day that I first heard the name of the woman reported missing, Jennifer Ramsaran.
Our Evening Sun crime reporter at the time did his due diligence on Thursday checking with local authorities, and an article and photo of Jennifer Ramsaran appeared in the Friday, Dec. 14 edition.
Some time on Wednesday of that week, I contacted Remy by text message (he now had texting), and he replied shortly thereafter, not with a text, but by phone call. The connection was choppy, but I gathered there was a search, and he briefly went over the details of that day. We resolved to speak again the following day.
On Thursday, he gave me the condensed version of the morning of Dec. 11. He said his wife had plans to shop in Syracuse, she kissed him on the cheek goodbye, and he went for a run down to the YMCA. He said he sat in the sauna for a few minutes next to Mike Layman – a trooper with New York State Police.
He then went to the front of the building and was picked up by Eileen. I didn’t question his story at the time, although I did wonder to myself why he decided to take an 8- or 9-mile run in cold weather.
He said that Eileen dropped him off at his house, and that they passed a NYSEG meter reader as he approached his residence.
I stayed in contact with Remy with inquiries by text message about how he was doing. By this time, Jennifer’s maroon van had been found, and the investigation into Jennifer’s disappearance was heating up.
It was the weekend before Christmas, after an exchange of texts, that Remy suggested that we get together at his house to discuss what had transpired in his wife’s case.
After a confirmation phone call, I agreed to meet Remy on Christmas Eve, 2012 at his home on Sheff Rd. Upon quick reflection, I decided it was in my best interest to not go alone.
In the days leading up to my meeting with Remy at his home, he broached a topic he rarely spoke about: Comments about his wife. For whatever reason, he rarely mentioned his wife’s name during our three-year friendship, and the gist of what I knew about her was that she and Remy had met at SUNY New Paltz while in college. They were college sweethearts who married, settled in Arizona, and had three kids – the last one, Nicole, after the couple moved back to New York.
In the time after I scheduled the meeting with Remy, but before I left for his house, my friends joked about being in a house alone with a potential murderer. I can’t lie, those comments shook me.
So I contacted my wife, Aida, and asked her if she could take a couple hours off from work, and ride with me to Remy’s house. It was the day before Christmas, so she decided to take the afternoon off. For one, there was obvious safety in numbers, and two; there would be an extra set of ears as Remy told his story.
We arrived at his house, and Remy gave us the nickel tour. I looked at his workout area, and it really wasn’t particularly impressive. There were some weights, a bench, a treadmill, and a mounted TV. It wasn’t a lavish setup, but it was enough to cover the basics of a workout.
The children were all in the house that day, and they all came out to greet us before retreating to their respective play areas. We sat on Remy’s couch and he told us everything he knew about the investigation, while also disclosing Jen’s changes in behavior over the past few months.
I had only met Jen twice, the last time the previous year for the opening of a Little League field in New Berlin. If you were to look up a picture of “soccer mom,” Jen’s picture would fit perfectly.
She was overweight, wearing non-descript jeans and a t-shirt, no makeup, glasses, and was relentlessly happy to be with her husband and kids. I wasn’t a member of Facebook, but my wife and Remy friended each other at some point, and I occasionally looked at Remy’s family pictures on Facebook. Jen looked the same in every picture. For that matter, so did Remy.
He was always hamming it up, and his kids joined in his zaniness.
Remy spoke of the various pills Jen was taking, and if true, it did seem a bit excessive. He also pulled out a phone that had many “selfies” that Jen had taken of herself.
Remy was right, Jen’s appearance had changed from the dozens of pictures I saw on the Internet. Her face was slimmer, her hair was longer, she was wearing a more form-fitting top, and she was wearing makeup.
Summing up: Jen Ramsaran was a much more attractive woman.
For whatever reason, Remy took offense to Jen glamming herself up. But he took more offense to her behavior in family situations. In the months leading up to her disappearance, Jen spent more and more time on her phone playing the game Knights of Camelot, and Remy said she was increasingly inattentive to the kids. Remy even said that there were times that the kids came to her, for whatever reason, and Jen snapped at the kids and shooed them away.
Remy said he told Jen that things had to change, or he would seek a divorce.
There were some tears that day, and after 2 ½ hours, Aida and I left. I asked Aida what she thought of Remy’s story. She said that he was saying all of the right things and she felt his pain, but something seemed off about the way Remy overexplained everything.
I told her that’s how Remy is with everything, but still, on the whole, she found Remy to be somewhat disingenuous.
A woman just knows.
I saw Remy at the Norwich YMCA few times after the holidays and up to the point where Jen’s body was found on Feb. 26, 2013. I knew Remy was indeed a person of interest if not the primary suspect as to Jen’s disappearance. While it wasn’t official at that point, the police were treating the entire situation as if it was a homicide.
Remy told me of the countless meetings and phone calls with police. I suggested a couple of times that he should seek out legal counsel. Remy cast that suggestion aside. He told me he had nothing to hide. Remy also told me he had a lawyer friend who worked in the prosecutor’s office in another county. Remy said his friend told him that the moment a potential suspect retains counsel, in the minds of law enforcement officials, that implies guilt.
I didn’t say this to Remy, but the police already had him pegged as the primary suspect. Remy was my friend, but his decision to not retain counsel was a bad one; most likely an arrogant choice.
Despite the nature of the investigation and the obviousness that Remy was a primary subject, he continued to visit the YMCA, and regularly chatted up the members. The conversations almost entirely revolved around his current situation with the law.
Remy told me that he had a falling out with Jen’s parents, and was no longer speaking to them. Surprisingly, Remy was almost completely mum on his relationship with Eileen, and it surprised me when he told me he had suggested that Eileen move in with him just a few weeks after Jen’s body was found.
Remy was a wreck emotionally, he said Eileen was a wreck, but he wanted to be strong for his kids and create some sort of normalcy in the face of the tragic death of Jen.
I wasn’t the only one Remy spoke to at the YMCA, and at one point he was speaking with retired Chenango County Court justice, Howard Sullivan. During a particular conversation in the YMCA’s sauna, Judge Sullivan essentially told Remy to stop talking.
Perhaps that is and always will be Remy’s biggest downfall: His mouth. It was apparent that Remy was the focal point of the police, and even though he was roaming free, he was a marked man. I consciously pulled away from Remy, and I remember one instance where I saw him in the hallway of the YMCA. He had not seen me yet, so I quickly scooted out of sight to avoid a conversation.
As much as I liked Remy as a friend, the heat was on, and he was becoming persona non grata. In the month before he was arrested in May of 2013, I did not speak to Remy once.
Remy was formally charged with second degree murder, and was remanded to the Chenango County Correctional Facility pending bail. He remained in the custody of police officials until his trial began Sept. 2, 2014.
At no point since Jennifer was reported missing had I come to a definitive conclusion that Remy was the murderer. After three weeks of testimony and jurists’ arguments, the case went to the jury, and I still do not know if Remy killed his wife.
The only question I have, and I believe it’s the golden one for those sitting on the fence: If Remy didn’t do it, who did?
We may never get a truthful answer to that question.