Woman pleads no contest to 1993 murder of San Carlos store owner

Shu Ming Tang’s killer remained at large for decades until authorities found a written confession

SAN CARLOS, Calif. — Prosecutors say a 61-year-old Oklahoma woman faces 18 years to life in prison for fatally shooting a San Carlos store owner during a robbery more than 30 years ago.

According to the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office, Rayna Ramos, also known as Rayna Hoffman, pleaded no contest Wednesday to one count of second-degree murder and admitted to using a firearm in the commission of the crime.

The plea agreement, which called for her to serve 18 years to life in prison, was approved by the court.

According to prosecutors, the case was only solved last year when detectives obtained a journal in which Ramos expressed regret for killing Devonshire Little Store owner Shu Ming Tang.

According to the district attorney’s office, Ramos entered the business at 20 Devonshire Blvd. on April 26, 1993, at the direction of her husband, who instructed her on how to use a handgun to commit the robbery. Ramos’ husband was waiting outside in his car.

Tang resisted and fought Ramos, who fatally shot him during the struggle, according to prosecutors.

The plea bargain, which allowed Ramos to plead no contest to second-degree murder rather than first-degree murder, was a just outcome, according to District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe, for two reasons.

Firstly, Ramos “completely confessed to what she had done and expressed great remorse for what she had done,” Wagstaffe stated, and second, she was “working under the complete domination of her husband who was outside the store in the car ordering her to do something she did not want to do.”

According to the district attorney’s office, there was insufficient evidence to charge Ramos’ husband.

“This plea bargain holds her accountable for murder but gives her a chance at parole after several years,” Wagstaffe stated. “Justice was accomplished in this case.”

Tang’s murder shocked the city and was featured on “America’s Most Wanted,” but his assailant evaded capture for decades. The San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office reopened the investigation in 2018 and identified a person of interest in Washington County, Oklahoma.

According to NBC Bay Area, authorities in Oklahoma were investigating an unrelated case when they discovered Ramos’ journal. Ramos, a former San Mateo resident, was living in Dewey, a small town about 46 miles north of Tulsa at the time.

On March 16, 2022, detectives from the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office apprehended Ramos. She was booked into Washington County jail on a first-degree murder charge and later extradited to the Bay Area.

According to the San Mateo Daily Journal, Tang’s wife sold the Devonshire Little Store shortly after his death, and it remained open until May of this year.

Ramos is scheduled to be sentenced on November 16. She is still being held without bail.

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