Six months after he was , Ronald Wayne Paoletto, 41, has committed suicide while in custody, according to the victim’s family and the San Bernardino District Attorney’s Office.
Greg Jacques, Petro’s older brother, said a detective on the case and the DA’s Office called his family today to confirm the suicide.
Christopher Lee, spokesman for the San Bernardino DA’s Office also confirmed the suicide through an email to Patch Monday evening. More details surrounding the suicide are expected tomorrow. FOR THE UPDATES.
“We don’t know how he did it,” Jacques said of the suicide. “There is no justice in this at all. He bypassed what was coming to him.”
Paoletto was a registered sex offender who on Jan. 14 in Joshua Tree Superior Court to the first-degree murder charge in the Petro case.
According to Jacques, his little sister, who was 33 at the time of her death, was murdered with a shovel.
“He (Paoletto) beat her with it,” Jacques said. “They (investigators and the coroner’s office) don’t know if she was still alive when she was buried."
buried in a remote area of San Bernardino County known as Pipes Canyon Wash in Landers.
"Her jaw was broken, her throat was slit with the shovel, and the back of her head … It was horrible. There can be no justice. He got off because now there can be no conviction," Jacques said.
The mother of two was last seen Jan. 4 leaving her Lake Elsinore apartment complex with Paoletto, who police and friends described as her boyfriend.
According to a Riverside County Sheriff’s Department report, Paoletto and Petro planned to travel to Yucca Valley that first week in January to pick up his children, but Paoletto arrived alone, telling his family he argued with Petro along the way and dropped her off at an unknown location.
Also according to the report,
in connection with the case.
Jacques said Paoletto should have been on suicide watch. At press time, details of Paoletto’s custody at West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga have not been confirmed.
Jacques said his family has suffered immeasurably since the killing.
“My mom is totally gone,” he said. “And my sister has been very affected by this.”
Jacques said Petro’s two small children are now living in Arizona with their biological father.
“They are doing ok. As well as can be expected,” Jacques said of his niece and nephew, who were ages 7 and 8 at the time of their mother’s murder. Jacques’s wife, Gizelle, said Petro was a loving mom who didn’t take drugs and never would have dated Paoletto if she had known he was a registered sex offender.
“Tanya didn’t have a computer. There’s no way she knew,” she said. “We miss her terribly.”
According to the Megan’s Law website, Paoletto had been previously convicted of lewd or lascivious acts with a child under the age of 14.
The same week that Petro’s body was found, The Jan. 14 evening gathering was held at the Mountain Ridge apartment building on Morro Way at Grand Avenue in Lake Elsinore where Petro lived with her children.
“She had a beautiful heart,” said Lake Elsinore resident Michele Jackson during the vigil. “I would see her in Walmart, always buying something for her kids. I am going to miss her very much.”
“Tanya was a sweet girl,” said Jackson’s husband Scott, who was Petro’s onetime coworker at Circle K on Grand Ave. “She was always doing for her kids and for animals. Over at Circle K, she would find lost dogs and put them out back -- give them food and water. She loved those strays.”
Mary and Ray Kuhns of Lake Elsinore were also at the vigil to remember Petro.
“She was such a sweet, tender person,” Ray said. “Always smiling.”
Petro’s older sister, Tracy Romo, fought back tears as she spoke of her sibling during the vigil.
“I raised her for the first two years of her life,” said Romo, an Orange County resident. “She was the baby. Now she’s gone.”
A memorial fund has been established for Petro's children. for more information.