Ricardo Serrano was sentenced to death by the State of Oregon for the murders of a woman and her two children. According to court documents Ricardo Serrano found out that the victim’s husband and father had an affair with his wife so he decided to get his revenge by killing Melody Dang, 37, and sons Steven, 15, and Jimmy, 12. Ricardo Serrano would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to death.
Ricardo Serrano 2021 Information
|Oregon State Penitentiary
|Hispanic Or Latin American
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A Washington County jury sentenced Serrano to death for the 2006 shooting of Melody Dang, 37, and sons Steven, 15, and Jimmy, 12. Prosecutors said Serrano was seeking revenge against Mike Nguyen, Dang’s partner. Nguyen had an affair with Serrano’s wife, Melinda, and got her pregnant.
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Defendant was married to Melinda. After she discovered that defendant was having an affair with another woman, Melinda decided to end their marriage. Around that time, Melinda became romantically involved with a coworker, Nguyen, who lived with Melody Dang and her two sons, Steven and Jimmy. Melody was aware of Nguyen’s relationship with Melinda.
During their relationship, Nguyen taught Melinda various phrases in Vietnamese, which Melinda wrote down in a check register. Melinda kept the check register in her vehicle, to which defendant did not have a key. In July 2006, Melinda discovered that she was pregnant. She believed that Nguyen was the father. In September, Melinda left defendant and moved into her sister’s apartment. When that living arrangement failed to work out, Melinda moved back in with defendant.
As those events were unfolding, defendant became acquainted with two sisters, Madriz–Mendoza and Miranda–Mendoza. Miranda–Mendoza worked with Melinda and Nguyen, but she did not know that Melinda was married to defendant. Defendant asked Miranda–Mendoza questions about her coworkers, including what they looked like, whether any of the women were pregnant, and whether she knew a curly-haired man named “Mike.” On one occasion, as Melinda was leaving work, she stopped to talk with a group of fellow workers—including Nguyen, who was the only person in the group with curly hair. Defendant drove up and angrily told Melinda that she was disrespecting him by talking to the group.
On the evening of November 2, 2006, Melody, Steven, and Jimmy were at Nguyen’s house. Nguyen was at work, as was Melinda. Melody and Nguyen had a phone conversation at about 8:30 p.m. Melody sometimes visited Vietnamese-language internet chat-rooms and often had phone conversations with men whom she had met in those chat-rooms. At about 9:00 p.m., Melody called Tran, a Florida resident whom she had met online. As they were talking, Tran heard dogs barking in the background and heard Melody yell, “Oh my God, Oh my God.” Then the call was disconnected. When Tran called back, there was no answer; he then sent text messages to Melody, but there was no reply.
The next morning, Nguyen returned home from work. The lights were on, and his dogs were barking. Nguyen entered the house through the garage and saw that the house was messy. Then he saw Melody’s body in the hallway. Steven was lying next to her. Their bodies were cold. Nguyen then called 9–1–1. The police arrived within minutes. They observed Melody and Steven lying in the hallway, and they found Jimmy inside a bathroom off the hallway. All three victims had been shot to death.
Three additional noteworthy discoveries were made at the scene. First, when he looked around the living room, Nguyen noticed that a laptop computer was missing. Second, the investigating officers recovered two spent .380 caliber shell casings near the victims’ bodies, along with a live .380 caliber cartridge. Third, there was blood on the hallway floor where the victims were found. Using a chemical test, the officers found shoe impressions in the blood.
Melinda returned to defendant’s house that same morning after her work shift. Defendant was not home and his vehicle was gone. Later that same day, Melinda saw defendant’s vehicle parked down the street. Defendant returned home at 4:00 p.m. He told Melinda that he had not gone to work that day, but he did not appear to be ill.
On November 27, police officers searched defendant’s brother’s house. The officers found two handguns, one a .380 caliber pistol. They also found several magazines for a .380 caliber pistol, along with boxes of .380–caliber ammunition. The .380 pistol was later tested by an Oregon State Police firearms examiner. It appeared to have been recently cleaned. The examiner test-fired the pistol and compared the markings on the test bullets to the markings on the bullets recovered from the crime scene. The markings matched. The examiner concluded that the pistol seized from defendant’s brother’s house had fired the bullets found at the crime scene.
On November 28, police officers executed a search warrant at defendant’s residence. Among other items, they found defendant’s shoes and, in the back of his vehicle, a partially-full bottle of bleach. The shoes were later tested for blood. None was found, but the shoes appeared to have been recently washed. The officers also found Melinda’s check register with the Vietnamese phrases written inside, and they found a key that fit the ignition of Melinda’s vehicle. Defendant was arrested the same day. Later, prior to trial, the state compared the shoe impressions found at the crime scene to the tread of defendant’s shoes. The impressions matched defendant’s right shoe.
Melinda moved out of defendant’s house after the search and his arrest. From time to time, she returned to retrieve belongings but, in the meantime, she left the house unlocked. On January 3, 2007, an employee of a property management company cleaned the garage. Underneath a couch, the cleaner found a laptop computer wrapped in a towel inside a garbage bag. When the computer was shown to him, Nguyen recognized that it was similar to the computer that was missing from his living room.
Defendant was indicted on ten counts of aggravated murder. In Counts 1, 2, and 7, which charged defendant with the murder of Melody Dang, the indictment alleged that defendant had murdered her in the course of the same criminal episode that resulted in the death of Steven (count 1); that he had murdered her in the course of the same criminal episode that resulted in the death of Jimmy (count 2); and that he had murdered her in the course of and in furtherance of his commission of first-degree burglary (count 7), ORS 163.095(2)(d); ORS 163.115(1)(b). The counts pertaining to Steven Dang (counts 3, 4, and 8) and Jimmy Dang (counts 5, 6, 9, and 10) were charged in the same manner, except for count 10, which alleged that defendant had murdered Jimmy, who was a person under the age of 14. ORS 163.095(1)(f). A jury found defendant guilty on all counts. In a separate proceeding, the jury answered the relevant death penalty questions, ORS 163.150, in the affirmative. The trial court merged the convictions into three and sentenced defendant to death.