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.
— Crime On This Day (@Iain_McDougall) July 4, 2017
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.
— 𖤐Haley (@weworshipdeath) August 22, 2017
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.
James Romero’s harrowing brush with the Night Stalker led to the killer’s capture https://t.co/nZ53LjLwPb
— Angela Allan (@MissSoot) May 23, 2017
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.
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.
— Crime On This Day (@Iain_McDougall) August 31, 2017
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.
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.
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.
“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.'”
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.
— AlcatrazEast (@AlcatrazEast) August 31, 2017
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.
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.
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.
— Crime On This Day (@Iain_McDougall) October 3, 2017
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.