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Manhunt subject had threatened wife before, court document says

Posted November 13, 2007
Updated October 17, 2008

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— Authorities Tuesday continued their search for a man accused of shooting his estranged wife outside a Dunn hospital, and her application for a protective order against him revealed that he had threatened her and, “I believed him because he has hurt me in the past before.”

Sampson County District Court Judge Louis Foy signed an extension until Dec. 10 of the domestic-violence protection order that said Joaquin Rangel Ramirez, 31, has to stay away Azucena Del Rio, 28. Police identified her as Azucena Diaz.

Ramirez was supposed to drop off the couple’s two daughters, 1 and 2 years old, at Betsy Johnson Regional Hospital, where his wife worked, at around 8 p.m. Saturday.

Instead, he approached Diaz, 28, in an employee parking lot and shot her twice in the chest and once in the head, Dunn police said.

She remained in critical condition at UNC Hospitals.

Sheriff’s deputies in Cumberland County found an SUV that Ramirez had been driving, Dunn authorities said. It was at Ramirez’s brother’s home, they said, adding that they were persuaded the brother knew nothing of the incident when Ramirez came by his house Saturday night and left sometime before Sunday morning.

The protective-order application that carries the Del Rio name, filed with county officials Oct. 8, said Ramirez had threatened suicide if she left him.

The application states that on Oct. 7, “My mother and I are standing in the yard and he approached and said, ‘I’m bringing your daughter back and I don’t want her in my house and if I see her around another guy I will kill her.’ I believed him because he has hurt me in the past before. I feel very scared."

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Ramirez is asked to call the Dunn Police Department at 910-892-2399 or 910-892-2345.