When Richard Ramirez went out of the state to meet his brother, he had no idea what he would be coming to. Upon arrival, he walked up to a convenience store and heard a group of aged Mexican women calling him “El Matador” (the killer).
When he looked around, he found his own name as the ‘The Night Stalker” suspect. Richard Ramirez, now named Night Stalker, had nowhere to hide and, in an attempt to run away, he stole multiple cars but was eventually struck down with a metal bar by a group of bystanders and was pinned down until police arrived.
The Night Stalker who terrorized Los Angeles was finally caught, and that night there was dancing in the streets of the East LA neighborhood.
Richard Ramirez, aka Night Stalker or the Walk-in-killer had begun his killing spree a year before he was arrested for 13 murders, 5 attempted murders, and 11 sexual assaults. If this wasn’t enough to traumatize residents of California and Los Angeles he was also held guilty of burglary and theft.
Though his murder spree lasted for 14 months, his life of crime began back when he was a kid.
Twisted Childhood of Richard Ramirez
Born on February 29, 1960, Richard Ramirez was a normal boy but, similar to serial killers, his childhood was also filled with trauma.
Richard grew up in El Paso, Texas, his father was a cop, who often abused him. Growing up, he sustained a serious head injury, he was knocked unconscious twice as a child, which resulted in him having epileptic seizures. This led him hanging out with his cousin Miguel, a Vietnam veteran. Unfortunately, his presence wasn’t much better than his father’s had been.
Miguel was nothing less than a crazy creepy guy who would brag about the gruesome experiences of the Vietnam war. He would often show Ramirez polaroids photos of his victims, including Vietnamese women he had raped. In some photos, Miguel posed with the severed head of women he sexually abused.
On May 4, 1973, Miguel shot his wife Jesse in the face with a .38 calibre revolver over an argument. Thirteen-year-old Richard was also present at the scene, Ramirez became sullen and withdrew from his family and peers after the incident.
He moved in with his older sister, Ruth, and her husband, Roberto, an obsessive “peeping tom,” who would take Ramirez on night rides, and they would both peek in windows and search for women undressing.
Richard Ramirez took a job while he was in school at the local Holiday Inn. He developed habits such as stealing from people while they were asleep. He would use his passkey to get inside people’s rooms and steal.
This didn’t last long for Ramirez, as he was fired when a hotel guest returned to his room to find Ramirez attempting to rape his wife. The couple beat Ramirez senseless at the scene, but due to the fact that they lived out of state, they did not press any charges against him. At the age of 22, Ramirez moved out of school and moved to California.
The damage was already done and Ramirez developed a habit of using LSD and cultivated an interest in Satanism.
Richard Ramirez’s Reign of Terror (Timeline)
On April 10, 1984, The Night Stalker was officially born when he murdered a 9-year-old girl. Mei Leung was found murdered in a hotel basement where Ramirez was living. The girl had been beaten, raped, and stabbed. Her body was strung on a pipe.
Ramirez had no pattern of choosing his victims. After waiting for a month, he struck again on June 28, 1984, making his way into the house using a window. 79-year-old Janie Vincow was found brutally murdered in her apartment, Janie was brutally raped and stabbed while in her sleep. Her throat was slashed so severely that she was decapitated.
Ramirez didn’t kill all of his victims, some he left to live while the rest were brutally murdered, such as the scenario with roommates Maria and Dayle.
Maria Hernandez just pulled her car into the garage and luckily survived the bullet. In an attempt to save herself, she pulled her hands up and the bullet ricocheted off the key she was holding. Unfortunately, the same wasn’t the scene for Dayle Okazaki. Ramirez went upstairs and killed her.
Ramirez wasn’t done and, on the same night, he pulled a 30-year old woman, Tasi-Lian Yu, out of her car in Monterey Park and shot her twice.
Ten days later, he broke into a home and shot a 64-year-old man, Vincent Zazzara, while he slept. His wife was awakened by the gunshot and pulled her husband’s shotgun on Ramirez, but unfortunately, the gun wasn’t loaded.
Following this, Ramirez shot her thrice, and with the help of a knife, he carved her eyes out and placed them in a jewellery box. He later took the box with him.
Locals were advised by police to “Lock your doors, lock your windows. If you have the ability to provide a distant security device, by all means, do so.”
Most of the victims were elderly, he’d sneak his way in and start his violence by shooting, hammers, iron rods and sometimes using a knife to kill the victims.
On the night of May 1, 1985, Richard Ramirez drove a stolen Mercedes-Benz and killed two women, Mabel “Ma” Bell, 83, and Florence “Nettie” Lang, 81. After murdering them, he drew pentagrams on their bodies and on the walls of the bedroom. This was the first time he drew a pentagram on a victim’s body.
He left his victim alive when he beat a 16-year-old Whitney Benneth girl brutally and tried strangling her by the telephone cord. He was startled to see sparks from the telephone cord. When his victim began to breathe, he fled the house believing that Jesus Christ had intervened and saved her.
Whitney survived the beating, which required over 450 stitches.
Night Stalker’s Last night of terror
On August 24, 1985, 76 miles south of Los Angeles, he tried to enter the house of James Romero Jr. Luckily, the Romero family was back from vacation that night. Romero’s son was awakened and heard Ramirez’s footsteps outside. James Romero III went on to wake his parents, and Ramirez had to flee the scene, James noted the car’s number plate partially and contacted the police.
On the same night, Ramirez shot Bill Carnes, 30, three times and raped her fiancee, Inez Erickson, 29. Ramirez told Inez that he was the “Night Stalker” and made her swear on Satan. Before leaving, Ramirez told Inez to tell the police that “The Night Stalker was here”.
Inez Erickson gave a detailed description of Ramirez to investigators, which matched Ramirez who was described as a drifter from Texas in police documents, with a long rap sheet. Police released a mug shot of Ramirez from Dec 12, 1984 arrest for car theft.
“We know who you are and soon everyone will. There will be no place you can hide”Police confrence after his mugshot was released.
Richard Ramirez Trial
Returning to Los Angeles, he was captured by the police and after his arrest began the most expensive trial in the history of California. The trial cost $1.8million ($4 million in 2019 dollars).
At his first appearance in the trials on July 22, 1988, Ramirez raised his hand and yelled “Hail Satan!”
In August, the trial was interrupted as one of the jurors was shot dead in her house. Everyone was terrified and thought whether Ramirez was involved in the killing. However, Richard Ramirez didn’t shoot her, her boyfriend did.
The judge who upheld Ramirez’s thirteen death sentences remarked that his deeds exhibited “cruelty, callousness, and viciousness beyond any human understanding.”
Ramirez was later convicted of all charges, 13 murders, 5 attempted murders, 11 sexual assaults, and 14 burglaries.
He was sentenced to die in California’s gas chamber, on which Richard Ramirez quoted to reporters ‘Big deal. Death always went with the territory. See you in Disneyland’.
Richard Ramirez’s Wife
Before being imprisoned, Richard Ramirez was single, but like many other notorious serial killers, he received a large number of love letters while he was in jail. Doreen Lioy was one such admirer of Richard Ramirez. The two later married in October 1996 while Ramirez was still in prison.
Lioy sent him 75 letters and kept paying him visits throughout the 11-year period. Doreen Lioy always believed that Ramirez was innocent and stated that “He’s kind, he’s funny, he’s charming…“ I think he’s really a great person. He’s my best friend; he’s my buddy. “
Lioy was disowned by her family after she decided to marry Ramirez. Ramirez later died on June 7, 2013, at the age of 53 due to cancer.
Ramirez died in prison due to liver failure of complications secondary to B-Cell lymphoma at Marin General Hospital in California on June 7, 2013 at the age of 53 years.
Richard Ramirez on AHS, American Horror Story
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