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Here’s How An East LA Neighborhood Brought Down One Of America’s Most Notorious Serial Killers

In the mid-’80s, Richard Ramirez left residents of Los Angeles, Orange County and San Francisco paralyzed with fear. He entered the homes of at least 38 people through an unlocked door or window. He then raped, tortured, assaulted and/or murder his victims, striking fear into millions of Californians. This is the story of the man known as “The Night Stalker.”

From April 1984 until his capture in August 1985, Richard Ramirez claimed at least 28 victims, killing at least 13 of them.

Ramirez’s youngest victim was 9-year-old Mei Leung and his oldest victim was 83-year-old Malvial Keller. The connection between The Night Stalker murders and Mei Leung wasn’t discovered until 2009 when Ramirez’s DNA matched DNA recovered from the 1984 crime scene, according to the LA Times.

While Ramirez didn’t target anyone in particular, choosing his victims randomly, there was one common thread linking them: an unlocked door.

CREDIT: Inside Edition / Hye Nuv / YouTube

He would either access the home through an open window or unlocked door in the early hours of the morning while occupants were still asleep. Once inside, Ramirez would kill any males in the house before brutally raping and attacking the woman in the home. Some victims survived the attacks either by sheer will or because Ramirez inexplicably chose to let them live.

According to International Business Times, Ramirez used a wide array of weapons for his attacks.

During his killing spree, Ramirez used knives, a gun, a hammer, a tire iron and his own fists to attack his victims. In some instances, there were children who witnessed the brutal acts committed on their parents by Ramirez, according to International Business Times.

During the attacks, Ramirez would talk to his victims about Satanism.

CREDIT: Inside Edition / Hye Nuv / YouTube

According to International Business Times, Ramirez, who was raised Catholic, told one of his last victims to swear her love to Satan before leaving her alive but beaten and raped.

It was because of a 13-year-old boy that police began to make some headway in the case.

Los Angeles Magazine profiled James Romero about the time he encountered Ramirez. Romero, then a teenager, had just come home from vacationing with his family in Rosarito Beach, Mexico. He was up late the night they returned. Unable to sleep, Romero went outside to get a pillow he forgot in the family camper when he heard a noise coming from behind the house. He didn’t see anything at first so he started to work on his bike in the garage. That’s when he heard footsteps on the gravel walkway by the garage.

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Rosarito Beach, Mexico. Credit: desalination.biz

Romero told Los Angeles Magazine that he rushed into the house and went to his bedroom window just in time to watch a tall man dressed in black walk by. Romero was able to get back outside in time to see the man get into an orange Toyota hatchback with a chrome roof rack. He was able to get a partial license plate as the car sped off. He relayed the information to the police, who finally got a break in the case they needed. With this information, police were able to locate the car and get a fingerprint that traced back to Richard Ramirez. Police had a suspect.

But it wasn’t the police that caught Ramirez. It was a group of citizens that detained him.

According to Los Angeles Magazine, Ramirez was in Arizona visiting his brother when police released his name and photo to the public. He was unaware that the police were closing in on him and had already identified him as The Night Stalker

Image result for the night stalker la times
credit: LA Times

It wasn’t until he arrived in the Hollenbeck neighborhood of East LA around 8 a.m. on August 31, 1985, that he first noticed a photo of his face on the front page of a newspaper. The LA Times reports that Ramirez made his way to Hubbard Street, where he tried to carjack two women. However, the commotion of the carjacking caught the attention of the neighbors.

Night Stalker Crime Scene
credit: YouTube

Before he knew it, he was being chased by a hoard of people, who tackled him to the ground and beat him. It wasn’t until more neighbors started coming outside to see what was happening that people realized that they had captured Ramirez, according to the LA Times.

Image result for the night stalker
credit: LA Times

“He was saying, ‘Hey, let me go, c’mon, let me go,'” Julio Burgoin, one of the people who chased Ramirez down, told the LA Times. “I said, ‘No, you’re not going anywhere.'”

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credit: giphy

Police arrived and arrested the 25-year-old serial killer, taking him to the local jail where a large crowd of people surrounded the cop car and cheered for his arrest.

Ramirez’s trial took four years before he was formally convicted and sentenced.

It took three years before jury selection for the case began and another year to hear the case, according to Biography. During the trial, a juror was found murdered on August 14, 1989. However, it was proven that Ramirez didn’t orchestrate the murder.

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credit: The Orange County Register

The trial also became a major spectacle due to Ramirez’s wild outbursts and a moment in which he held up his palm to show a pentagram drawn on it to the cameras.

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credit: LA Times

On Sept. 20, 1989, Ramirez was convicted on 43 charges. Those charges were 13 counts of murder, 5 counts of attempted murder, 11 counts of sexual assault, and 14 counts of burglary. On Nov. 7, 1989, Ramirez was given 19 death sentences for his crimes, to which he responded, “No big deal. Death always comes with the territory. I’ll see you in Disneyland.”

Seven years after his conviction and sentencing, Ramirez married Doreen Lioy, who was a magazine editor at the time.

Lioy and Ramirez were married at the San Quentin State Prison despite her family’s objections to the marriage.

Ramirez died in 2013 as a result of B-cell lymphoma.

CREDIT: San Quentin State Prison, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

Ramirez was at Marin General Hospital in Greenbrae, Calif., receiving treatment for the lymphoma when he died. It was also found that he had suffered from liver failure due to chronic substance abuse and hepatitis C.


READ: This Latino Serial Killer Was Once A Winner On “The Dating Game”

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The Dine and Dash of $11 Worth of Chalupas Left One Woman With Almost $500 in Fines and a Felony Conviction

Culture

The Dine and Dash of $11 Worth of Chalupas Left One Woman With Almost $500 in Fines and a Felony Conviction

tacobell / Instagram

With the advent of cuisines like Tex Mex or “Latin-Fusion” cuisines, it can be difficult to find good, authentic Mexican food out in the wild. Especially when so many non-Latinx Americans considers “authentic” Mexican food to be fast-food joints like Taco Bell and Del Taco. It’s practically a universal right for Mexican abuelas to grumble about how disgusting Americanized Mexican food is. And can we blame them? Sure, we love a Crunch Wrap Supreme as much as the next person, but the fast-food twists on Mexican classics give non-Mexicans a warped perception of what true Mexican food actually tastes like. 

And apparently, this problem has become so bad that one particular argument over the authenticity of a certain Mexican food item went all the way up to the Indiana Court of Appeals. The seedy story involves a chalupa, an argument, and an unpaid bill.

Credit: @hotforfood/Instagram

Los Amigos, an Indiana restaurant specializing in “authentic” Mexican food, took a woman named Jennifer Peru to court because she refused to pay for a chalupa that she claimed wasn’t a real chalupa.

On its surface, we can understand why Culver was confused. The chalupas that are sold at Taco Bell are described as  “a fried tortilla shell, in the shape of a small boat, filled with lots of flavorful ingredients”, and Culver may have been used to that version. But according to Los Amigos’s menu, their chalupa is “a flat tortilla with refried beans, topped with cheese and guacamole salad”. To no one’s suprrise, there is quite a stark contrast between the way a fast food joint approaches making Mexican food in comparison to the way a local, mom-and-pop store would make one. 

Credit: via GoogleMaps

The conflict, which happened on February 6, 2018, became a lot dicier after the restaurant’s manager intervened to attempt to alleviate Ms. Culver’s distress. According to court documents, the manager did everything he was supposed to do according to American standards of customer service. He offered to replace the chalupa, he offered to give Culver something different, and he offered to remove the dish and refund her money. Culver refused his offer and continued her meal with her two children (who had ordered a quesadilla and two drinks, in case you were wondering). 

Credit: via GoogleMaps

But things between Culver and Los Amigos took a turn for the worse after Culver finished her chalupa and quietly tried to leave the restaurant without paying her bill.

According to court records, Culver tried to sneak out of the restaurant by walking “briskly” past the cash register with her two children in tow. But the restaurant manager caught up to Culver in the parking lot before she could make her great escape. After being asked to pay her $11.73 bill, Culver responded that she’s “not paying for that [expletive]”. Because the manager wasn’t one to mess around with, he called the cops on the dine-and-dasher and reported her for theft. 

According to the local police, they called Culver five times asking her to pay for her stolen chalupa, and assured her that if she coughed up $12, the restaurant would not pursue legal action. But apparently, Culver was convinced that she was in the right in this situation. As promised, Los Amigos decided to press charges and Culver was convicted for theft. The charge was then elevated to felony theft after the courts discovered she had a prior conviction for the theft on her record. 

Credit: @livingkool_/Instagram

Ultimately, a jury convicted Culver of a level 6 felony theft, resulting in 120 days on electronic monitoring, and 14 months of probation, and fined a cumulative total of $485.

Culver wasn’t happy with this decision, however, and appealed the conviction in the Indiana Court of Appeals. But the Court of Appeals held up the original conviction, unanimously deciding that Culver had, indeed, unlawfully dined and dashed, veritably stealing from Los Amigos. As of now, the saga has ended. It’s safe to say that Culver learned the lesson of not messing with the manager of an authentic Mexican restaurant. 

According to some brief internet research, this isn’t the first time that Los Amigos has resorted to teaming up with law enforcement in order to combat difficult customers. One particularly salty 2019 Google review of Los Amigos claims that the restaurant stated they “were going to call the cops” if a woman attempted to not pay for her meal after she complained of its quality at the cash register. While the woman claimed she had no intention of doing so, she was still annoyed that the matter was on the verge of being escalated so abruptly. Considering this altercation happened a full year after The Chalupa Incident of 2019, it’s no wonder the staff was on edge. If there’s one thing Los Amigos doesn’t stand for, it’s claims that their food is inauthentic. 

Eight New Witnesses Implicate Stites’ Fiancé, A Former Cop, Pointing To Rodney Reed’s Innocence

Things That Matter

Eight New Witnesses Implicate Stites’ Fiancé, A Former Cop, Pointing To Rodney Reed’s Innocence

FreeRodneyReed.com

Rodney Reed is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection on Nov. 20, but eight new witnesses have come forward to corroborate Reed’s claims that the victim was in an abusive relationship with convicted felon and former cop Jimmy Fennell. Nineteen-year-old Stacey Stites was murdered in April 1996 in Bastrop, Texas. A year later, a 29-year-old black man named Rodney Reed was arrested and charged with capital murder. The prosecution argued that the presence of Reed’s semen in Stites’ body was evidence of her brutal sexual assault and murder. The all-white jury sentenced Reed to die by lethal injection, currently scheduled for Nov. 20, 2019.

Now, eight witnesses have come forward to testify to Stites’ fear of fiancé, Jimmy Fennell, who was the initial person of interest in the crime. The witnesses believe that when Fennell learned that Stites was having a consensual affair with Reed, Fennell strangled her to death.

Rodney Reed is being represented by the Innocence Project.

Rodney Reed has always claimed his innocence, and that he and Stites were in a consensual relationship. Now, witnesses have come forward to prove it.

Credit: FreeRodneyReed.com

At the time of Reed’s trial, nobody would testify to their consensual relationship. Now, two witnesses have come forward to recall Stites’ own account of her relationships with Reed and with her abusive fiancé, Fennell. One of those witnesses is Rebecca Peoples, who worked with Stites at an H-E-B grocery store. As any friendly co-workers do, Stites and Peoples confided in each other. Stites told Peoples that “she was having a relationship with a black man,” and that “she was afraid of her fiancé,” according to the most recent Writ of Habeas Corpus. Peoples never shared her testimony because she “did not realize that it was important and no one ever approached [her].”  

In addition, Stites’ own family and friends, Alicia Slater, Lee Roy Ybarra and Calvin “Buddy” Horton, have come forward to attest to the knowledge of a relationship between Stites and Reed.

The prosecution portrayed Stites’ engagement as “happy,” but new sworn testimony reveals that Fennell was abusive to Stites.

Credit: @S_PaceXM / Twitter

Former Bastrop County Sherriff’s Office Deputy, Richard Derleth, has come forward to recall what other H.E.B. employees shared with him at the time of Stites death. “Members of the [H.E.B.] staff would keep a lookout for Jimmy Fennell to see if he would come into the store,” Derleth said during sworn testimony. “They told
me that if they saw Jimmy coming into the store, they would tell Stacey
and she would run and hide from Jimmy” for fear “he would start a fight with her.” Derleth shared the information with “some members of the
Sheriff’s Office” but is “not sure what was done with the information.”

William Sappington lived below Fennel and Stites’ apartment. His son, Brent, has testified that he overheard “screaming and banging” upstairs. Brent’s wife, Vicki, recalled that her father-in-law “expressed concern that Mr. Fennell was verbally abusive toward Ms. Stites, that he feared Mr. Fennell was also
physically abusive, and that he had reported his concerns to local
law enforcement, but officers dismissed his concerns.”

Jimmy Fennell served a 10-year sentence after kidnapping and sexually assaulting a woman while on duty as a police officer.

Credit: @MutantLifeForce / Twitter

In 2008, Fennell pled guilty to kidnapping and sexually assaulting a woman he had been dispatched to protect. He also pled guilty to attempting to cover it up by threatening to kill the woman if she told anyone. While he was imprisoned, he sought protection from Arthur Snow, a member of the “whites-only” Aryan Brotherhood at the prison. “Jimmy said he needed protection from the blacks and Mexicans at the
prison,” Snow said in sworn testimony. 

Fennell traded commissary for protection, and later, while in the rec yard, Snow recalls a troubling conversation. Fennell started talking about Stites “with a lot of
hatred and resentment. Jimmy said his fiancé had been sleeping around
with a black man behind his back. By the way Jimmy spoke about this
experience, I could tell that it deeply angered him. Toward the end of the
conversation, Jimmy said confidently, “I had to kill my n****-loving
fiancé.”

Nearly 3 million Americans have signed a petition calling on Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to delay Reed’s execution.

Credit: FreeRodneyReed.com

Reed has maintained his innocence since day one. The murder weapon, a belt used for strangulation, has never been tested for DNA, despite multiple requests by Reed’s attorneys, all of which have been denied. Reed has been imprisoned for 21 years.