Ronald Miranda: 30 years on the run

It was 3 a.m. when the car roared into the long driveway at 13343 Johnson Rd. A short man in his mid-30s with shaggy, dark hair and a Fu Manchu mustache slammed the driver side door and strode to the house. Lights flickered on in neighbors' homes as he struggled to unlock the door with one hand. In the other, he clutched a shotgun.

He burst inside and violently threw a woman to the floor. She screamed. Next he walked into the living room and found 45-year-old Mitch Arambel. A single blast rung the small house like a bell. Moments later, Arambel was dead and the man gone.

The next morning, the small town of Los Banos, California, awoke to news of the murder. The only suspect was 33-year-old Ronald Miranda, a local bartender who had lived at the house until a messy separation from his wife a few months before.

Accused murderer Ronald Miranda, AKA Richard Gamble, hid out in South Florida for decades.
Courtesy Miami-Dade Corrections
Accused murderer Ronald Miranda, AKA Richard Gamble, hid out in South Florida for decades.

A few days later, Miranda called police and agreed to turn himself in.

But he never showed. That was November 1980.

"He just disappeared," says Tom MacKenzie of the Merced County Sheriff's Department. "We had no idea what happened to him."

Thirty-one years later and 3,000 miles away, cops nabbed Miranda earlier this month after a dustup at a seedy Florida City restaurant. Few criminals have evaded authorities for so long, particularly those whom the FBI has listed among its most wanted. His capture and the sparse available facts of his underground life reinforce South Florida's reputation both as an outlaw haven and a mecca for shoddy law enforcement.

Miranda grew up in Los Banos, worked as a young man in the best restaurant in town, and got married, authorities say. Soon, though, his wife complained of domestic abuse and they separated. Six months later, on Friday, November 14, 1980, he drank at a bar until early the next day. Then he grabbed the pump-action shotgun and drove to their house on the edge of town. After he kicked in the door, his wife tried to grab the gun. Then he shot Arambel in the living room just as the man turned to run.

Police searched for Miranda after the murder. No one — except for him, of course — knows where he was for at least a decade.

Around 1991, he turned up in Kendall, calling himself Richard Gamble — a name weirdly similar to the star of the '60s television show The Fugitive, Richard Kimble.

William Bowers is the owner of Captain's Tavern Seafood Market and Restaurant, a busy and well-known eatery on South Dixie Highway near Kendall Drive. He recalls hiring Gamble/Miranda to work in the market.

Even back then, Captain's Tavern was a neighborhood institution, the best place for cheap fish and good conversation. "He was a fish cutter and a damn good one," Bowers says, adding that the then-44-year-old also held down a job at the Riviera Country Club in Coral Gables. "He was the hardest-working man I ever had."

Soon Gamble met Bridget Hyman, a tiny woman several years his junior who already had a shock of snow-white hair and spectacles. Her husband had just died. He introduced himself as a Vietnam War veteran from out West with three purple hearts and a Silver Star. In winter 1995, Gamble moved into her Pinecrest home. Around the same time, a set of trading cards describing the FBI's most wanted criminals was issued. Miranda was number 55. Apparently no one noticed the resemblance to Gamble.

"He was always a good man to me," says Hyman, an overly polite woman who looks like Sophia from The Golden Girls. Gamble, she says, never told her about his past in California. "He helped me emotionally after my husband passed away."

The pair lived together on and off for ten years. Gamble did well at the restaurant, and Bowers promoted him to waiter. Gamble drank, but mostly after work, and stayed out of trouble with the law. "He was pretty nice — you know, an average guy," remembers Dale, a Captain's Tavern employee who also knew nothing of his co-worker's past. "He was quite the golfer and sure knew his wines well."

Around 2006, Gamble was given even more responsibility. Bowers hired him to manage Captain's Restaurant, a smaller, shabbier version sandwiched between Krome Avenue and South Dixie Highway in Florida City.

Hyman followed, eventually moving into a tiny white trailer with rusty axles that Gamble paid $350 per month to park in spot G-14 of the Florida City Camp Site & RV Park. He kept to himself among the park's eclectic mix of Canadian tourists, Cuban refugees, and washed-out Anglos.

Gamble's ruse almost came to an end two years ago, however. On May 13, 2009, Miami-Dade Police Officer Phillip Hall pulled him over just outside Florida City for driving his Captain's Seafood van without the proper markings. Gamble didn't have a driver's license on him, but the cop believed him when he gave his fake name, said he was born in Brownsville, Minnesota — a real town on the Mississippi River — and listed a nonexistent local address. After giving a right thumbprint and promising to appear in court for the misdemeanor, he was allowed free.

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18 comments
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lishuzheng
lishuzheng

../..../...../ˉ\........('(...′...′....ˉ~ /').........\.................'../..........\................../............\..............(.......

Google in the input: = tntn.us ==you can find many brand names, even more surprising is that he will sell you the unexpected o(∩_∩)o

Los Banos Tiger
Los Banos Tiger

I knew Ron in high school. One point of fact, those were actually battle scars from Vietnam, I remember visiting him after he was wounded. If treatment for PTSD had existed in those days possible none of this would have happened.

Bill
Bill

Well he worked hard and never called in sick, and who knows maybe Obama is really Osama and we have elected a terrorist to the White House. We now know that they both have taken life for the wrong reason.

JOELOVEDO
JOELOVEDO

Stop smoking that meths Bill, where are you from to F you a$$...

Rdallas
Rdallas

republican mantrakeep them down and keep them dumbthey did well with you

bienvenidosamiami
bienvenidosamiami

"His capture and the sparse available facts of his underground life reinforce South Florida's reputation both as an outlaw haven and a mecca for shoddy law enforcement."What a classic line. Truer words have never been spoken in Florida's journalistic reporting.

frank
frank

THEY GAVE HIM A REASON TO DO WHAT HE DID....

Brigitte
Brigitte

He was young when he killed that man having sex with his wife. Its a sad story and like he said he's glad its over.

Serving and still caring
Serving and still caring

"Do us all a favor" . . . .For those of us who work there... work is work, that is what I am there to do. I am an employee, I have chosen not to get involved. I enjoy working there for the past years and plan to continue to do as I have all along: clock in, work, make money to pay my bills, etc etc and let's move on already. I am totally excited on the quick changes the owner has made since all has happened. The patio is amazing with the new outdoor fans blowing a light vapor, all the way to the refurbished flooring. The new G.M.s have accomplished so much as well as other staff members that have made time to help clean and make this business look and run smother and so much easier. I do mean to sound shallow, about the situation at hand...I will not disclose ANY information I know, I have a caring soul and I count my blessings every day that no one else has been hurt physically since the initial happening so many years ago. I appreciate Mr. Bowers hiring me, as well as his quote above.If it has been a while since you've eaten at either establishment, come visit, food is excellent!I know someone will be commenting that I took the liberty of choosing to speak about the "now" instead of the case at hand. Well, that is who I am. I do my best to deal with life one day at a time. My prayers are with all.

Fancy17402
Fancy17402

this is the most impression statement made to date I agree We allowed our emotion to get in the way and it became an attack on each other.we now have management that cares about the employee and the customers.And now We have the future to look forward to We all learn by our mistake and We have said things out of anger but now We all have the same goals and that's to help each other and move forward.

Quennlinpos
Quennlinpos

My husband and I knew Richard for 3 years and found him to be one of the nicest people we knew he was always very cordial and respectful. I am so sad that a man has to resort to killing another human being all for the sake of love. We are just in shock.. My prayers are with the victim's family and also for a man who was traumatized by the war......

Serving and caring
Serving and caring

Typo: "I DO NOT mean to sound shallow" I should have proof read my comment. Sorry.

LivvyK_rac
LivvyK_rac

i've lived in miami for 60 yrs...have eaten at the restaurant,seen that man..would never have known he was a fugitive....

Fancy17402
Fancy17402

I'm. Ruth dipasqua and let me inform you from the time I meet Ronald aka Richard he has been violent and a drunk and as far as the statement made about anyone would kill if they caught the one they loved with another is nuts and you stayed he abused his wife that's not love. And I guess it would be acceptable for Mrs hyman whom loved "Richard "Ronald to kill the server he had intercourse with and will call it crime of passion and then let's see how the family excepts it. ..I'm so sick of people saying crime of passion like it's okay .come on how would you feel it was you're family member he's where he belong And if people would be honest with you they would have described a drunk violent racist man . I pray that the victims family And his family can Now have closure

Carlos
Carlos

If I caught my wife in bed with another man I wouldnt shoot him. I'd thank him,smile and pack my shit and leave. This guy always looked half whacked. I frequent Captain's Tavern and remember telling my wife that he looked like a nut job and a killer waiting to explode. Little did we know. Now we have to foot the bill for keeping him locked up for the rest of his life.

Fancy17402
Fancy17402

I agree with you. I'm glad you didn't honey coat him.but since all this has happened Becka And I are the assholes for going to the police station but it's kinda funny how quick people forget what he said And done to thembut I would rather be known as an ass them to be know as an ass kisser. I stood up for all of the employees and a murder was captured because of it .And yes if I had it to do over again I would

 
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