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Parole denied for Ranzo murderer
Ronald Ray Anderson will stay behind bars longer for brutal murder of couple
parole board

Ronald Ray Anderson, 58, formerly of Modesto, will stay behind bars longer for a brutal 1979 set of murders after being denied parole during a May 29 hearing of the State Board of Parole Hearings at the Correctional Training Facility in Soledad.

Former Stanislaus County Deputy District Attorney Elizabeth DeJong – she is now with San Joaquin County – attended the hearing along with members of Ranzo family members to argue against Anderson’s release.

Last year another participant in that murder, Jeffrey Maria, was denied parole by then Gov. Jerry Brown.

Along with then teenagers Marty Spears, Jeffrey Maria and Darren Lee, Ronald Anderson was involved in the brutal killings of Philip and Kathryn Ranzo in June 1979. The teenage suspects showed up at the couple’s door, pretending to be out of gas and needing to use a phone. Philip Ranzo, 30, was a pharmacist and Kathryn, 29, owned her own beauty salon. Acting as a Good Samaritan, Mr. Ranzo directed them to his garage to retrieve a can of gas. Maria and Spears then forced Mr. Ranzo at gunpoint into the garage and hogtied him. Prosecutors say they used his 10-year-old son’s baseball bat to brutally beat him. The killers tortured Mr. Ranzo with a hatchet – slicing his throat and eyelids. He died from his wounds.

Spears then forced Kathryn Ranzo to an upstairs bedroom where he and others raped and killed her by stabbing and bludgeoned her with an axe. Spears then fatally stabbed Mr. Ranzo in the neck and face. Before the four left the murder scene, they ransacked the house and helped themselves to cash and jewelry.

Twenty-three hours before the Ranzo murders, Anderson and accomplices robbed and assaulted a caretaker of a home in Newman. Anderson carried along a shotgun in case he needed to kill someone, said prosecutors. The accomplices told caretaker Leonard Luna they had run out of gas. Once inside the house, Anderson and others hog-tied Luna, beat him in the head with a revolver, cut his scalp and knocked him unconscious. They ransacked the home, stealing multiple guns and weapons, which were used in the Ranzo home invasion robbery, rape and murder. Luna survived the Newman attack.

Kathryn Elaine Moore Ranzo was the daughter of Turlock Police Officer Joseph Moore. She graduated from Turlock High School in 1967.

Philip Ranzo was the son of Marie Kathryn Rhodes Ranzo who worked as a nurse’s aide at the Memorial Hospital Ceres and who attended St. Jude’s Catholic Church in Ceres.

Each defendant was convicted of double murder and sentenced to life in prison.

Recent changes in the law allow these killers to accelerate their parole hearings so that they occur once every year instead of no sooner than every three years. Each time, Ranzo family members and next of kin suffer the repeated emotional pain of having to travel to various prisons to speak out against their release.

At the end of Anderson’s hearing, commissioners denied parole, citing inconsistencies in his version of his involvement in the two crimes, leaving many unanswered questions. They determined he remains an unreasonable risk to public safety if released.

Parole was denied for three years but the date may be advanced earlier due to Anderson being under 25 years old at the time of the crime. 

This was the tenth parole consideration for Anderson. He was granted parole on December 27, 2017, but that decision was later overturned by then Gov. Brown.

Philip Ranzo, 30, and wife Kathryn Ranzo, 29, were murdered in 1979 by a group of four suspects which included Jeffrey Maria. - photo by Contributed