The first red flag in Ramon Sosa’s relationship with his Mexican wife was on their wedding day when her mother walked up to him and whispered: “Now she’s your trouble”. Sosa was in shock but happy to be married. He had met his wife, Maria Durantes, a personal trainer also known as “Lulu”, on the dance floor at a nightclub in Houston in 2007. After dancing all night, they started a relationship.
Sosa, a former boxer, married Lulu in 2010. Lulu was then a mother of two. She was born in Mexico and living in the US on a short-term visa. She became an American citizen when she got married to Sosa. It was exciting from the start as Lulu was very supportive, even helping Sosa operate his boxing gym where he coached young people.
But after some years, they started having problems in the marriage. According to Sosa, Lulu went round to say he was abusive and an alcoholic. Then they began having financial trouble, which made things worse for the two. In 2015, Lulu told Sosa she wanted a divorce. As the arrangement for that continued, Sosa stayed on one floor of their two-story home while Lulu and her mom and children lived on the other. Sosa was already ready to live with the consequences of their divorce. Unbeknown to him, Lulu was trying to have him killed.
Sosa later got to know about it from a friend, who had walked in on Lulu as she talked about hiring someone in Mexico who murdered and “chopped up” people for cash. Sosa’s friend, whom he has called Mundo, told Lulu that he would help her. But right after, he warned Sosa about his wife’s intentions. Sosa thought it was a joke when he was told that his wife was willing to pay a hitman £1,500 ($2,000) to murder him.
“When he told me I didn’t want to believe him. I thought he was just joking around,” Sosa said. “But I knew he was serious when he said, ‘look, I have seen that look in people’s eyes when they want to kill somebody, and they were serious’.
“‘This lady wants to kill you.’”
Sosa had to go back to the home he still shared with Lulu after hearing the shocking information. “I think I went into a room and closed the door and laid in bed, just staring at the ceiling and thinking, ‘what am I going to do?’”
“Do I approach her, knowing this person under my roof wants to kill me?”
Mundo later told Lulu that he had found two hitmen and gave her the phone number of someone he made her believe was a contracted killer. She didn’t know that the person who would be texting her back was her husband, Sosa, playing his own hitman. By that time, Sosa had already gone to the police, who had a plan to catch her. The police told Sosa to fake his own murder to make his case stronger in the eyes of a jury or judge. Sosa agreed.
The police, after looking at crime scene pictures of past murder victims, applied make-up on Sosa to make it seem as though he had been shot in the head. They then drove him to the Texan desert, took off all his clothes leaving his underwear, and asked him to climb into a shallow grave they had dug as they took photos of him. The plan was to show Lulu a photo of his body and use her reaction as evidence against her.
As Sosa went into hiding for three days, an undercover FBI agent pretending to be a hitman met with Lulu and told her Sosa was dead. He then showed her photos of the body in a grave. She laughed when she saw the photos and gave the man an extra $1,000, the police said.
When officers visited the gym the following day to ask Lulu of Sosa’s whereabouts, she claimed she did not know where he was. She was subsequently arrested. Lulu pleaded guilty to solicitation of murder at the District Court in Conroe, Texas, and was jailed for 20 years in October 2016. In court, Sosa told his wife, then aged 42, that he forgave her.
“I stood up there in a packed courtroom. A lot of people were surprised when they heard me say that I forgave her. She never looked at me. She never apologized. I said ‘there’s not a perfect person in this courtroom, we have all made mistakes’.
“‘But now the mistake that you have made, you’re going to have to pay the consequences now’.”
55-year-old Sosa, who has two grandchildren now, has since written a book called I Walked on My Own Grave to urge men to speak up when they become victims of domestic abuse. Sosa said of his staged photos that were published in newspapers around the world: “It was chilling. Utterly and indescribably chilling.
“That picture, to this day, reflects one of the most difficult things I have ever done in my life. The thought of me lying in a shallow grave in my underwear with a bullet hole through my temple is mind-boggling.”