Woman sentenced to life in prison for murdering 3-year-old stepdaughter

PITTSBURGH, PA – A life sentence has been handed down to a Pittsburgh woman, Laura Ramirez, 31, for the horrific murder of her three-year-old stepdaughter, Bella Seachrist. The toddler was found lifeless in a bathtub in June 2020, weighing less than 30 pounds, a result of starvation and physical abuse at the hands of Ramirez.

Ramirez was convicted of first-degree murder among other charges, including aggravated assault, child endangerment, unlawful restraint, and conspiracy to commit homicide. She was sentenced to life in prison without parole, with an additional 37 to 74 years, on Wednesday.

Bella’s father, Jose Eduardo Salazar-Ortiz, was also found guilty of third-degree murder, aggravated assault, child endangerment, and conspiracy to commit homicide. The 32-year-old received a sentence of 33 to 66 years in prison.

Alexis Herrera, 23, Ramirez’s sister, is also implicated in the case. She is accused of participating in the abuse and is set to stand trial in January. Evidence of the abuse, including videos and pictures, were found on her cell phone.

When Bella was discovered in June 2020, first responders noted the child appeared severely bruised and malnourished. Despite their efforts, Bella was pronounced dead at a local hospital. The cause of death was determined to be malnutrition, failure to thrive due to chronic illness, hypoglycemia, and neglect.

During the sentencing, Common Pleas Judge Bruce Beemer expressed his shock at the level of malice displayed in the case. He stated that the child’s death was inevitable given the consistent abuse she suffered.

Bella’s biological mother, Nicole, had sent her daughter to live with her father and Ramirez due to financial struggles. She believes her daughter was targeted by Ramirez because she was the product of an affair.