Man charged in Butler Co. girlfriend's death appears in court

Man charged in girlfriend’s death appears in court; victim’s family in attendance

BUTLER, Pa. — A man accused of killing his girlfriend was in court Thursday morning for a preliminary hearing.

Ishemer Ramsey is one of four people arrested in connection with the death of Melissa Barto. Police said Ramsey, who is charged with homicide, was jealous and shot Barto inside a car before dumping her body.

Barto’s family was at the courthouse for Ramsey’s hearing, which was continued. They wore purple shirts in memory of Barto, who was reported missing when she failed to show up to her daughter's kindergarten graduation.

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Police said Ramsey's motive was jealousy.

Barto's family said they knew Ramsey and never saw any warning signs.

"Every time we saw her, she was Missy. (There were) no signs. If they were there, we missed them. (We were) not quite nebby enough," said Barto's father, Dan Barto.

As they deal with the tragedy, the Bartos have started to help other people by raising awareness about domestic violence.

"I can't have her life wasted this way," Dan Barto said. "There had to be a reason."

Police said Ramsey got three friends to help him with the crime.

One of the men, Howard George, waived his preliminary hearing. He is accused of helping to move and dispose of Barto’s body.

Police said Joshua Bowser loaned his car to Ramsey to move the body and helped clean up the crime scene. Justin Johnson is charged with hindering apprehension and giving false reports to law enforcement.

Stay with Channel 11 News and for continuing coverage.