In the mid 1980’s, residents of Southern California were terrorized by a deranged rapist and murderer who came to be known as the Night Stalker. On Friday, notorious serial killer Richard Ramirez died in Prison. Lt. Sam Robinson, a spokesman for the San Quentin State Prison, announced Ramirez’s death Friday Morning.
Ramirez was on Death Row, having been convicted of 13 murders and 30 felonies. He was originally brought to trial for 14 murders, 22 sexual assault charges and various other felony charges, although he later claimed to have killed 20 people. He was sentenced to death on November 7th, 1989. After sentencing, he told reporters “Big deal. Death always went with the territory. I’ll see you in Disneyland.”
Ramirez was, possibly, one of the most deranged and frightening killers in recent memory. Originally from El Paso, Texas, Ramirez was born in 1960; the youngest of several children. His experiences as a teenager laid the foundations of his psychological disorder; drug-use, violence, head injury and the loss of someone close have all been identified by psychologists and criminal profilers as elements that lead to the making of a serial killer.
When Ramirez was 12 years old, his brother, Mike, returned from Vietnam. The two spent much time together and Mike exposed the impressionable Richard to graphic photos that depicted torture and rape. Mike was eventually imprisoned for seven years, after he shot his wife in the face, killing her. The sentence was lenient, due to his service as a Green Beret in Vietnam. Richard Ramirez witnessed the killing. By the age of 18, Ramirez was a regular drug-user and had a record of arrests on drug and theft charges.
Ramirez moved the Southern California and worked various casual jobs. He also broke into houses. In June 1984 he broke into the house of Glassel Park resident, Jennie Vincow, 79. The book ”The Night Stalker’ by Philip Carlo recounts that Ramirez, frustrated at finding nothing worth stealing stabbed Vincow, who was sleeping, multiple times, before cutting her throat. He then had sex with the corpse before leaving.
This became Ramirez’s pattern; he would break into houses – often after watching the property to ensure his intended victims were home and figuring out the best way to get it – then he would kill his victims by shooting or some other means, before mutilating the bodies. He was known to have removed his victim’s eyes on more than one occasion. Fascinated by satanic ritual, he was known, on at least one occasion, to leave a pentagram on the body of one of his victims and on the walls of their home. He also abducted several young girls, whom he sexual assaulted, before letting go.
After the murder of Vincow, Ramirez did not kill again until March 1985. On this occasion, he shot 22-year-old Angel Barrio outside her condo. He then walked inside and shot Barrio’s roommate, Dayle Okazaki, 34. Okazaki was killed instantly but Barrio survived and gave police a good description of Ramirez. He went on to kill 5 more people in Los Angeles, but moved to San Francisco after authorities announced to the public, in August of 1985, that they were hunting a serial killer whom they had dubbed “The Night Stalker”.
Later that same month, police were able to obtain Ramirez’s fingerprints from a car belonging to one of his victims. Once they had identified the killer from his criminal records, the police released a mugshot. Ramirez was now a notorious serial killer. On August 31st, whilst walking through an East Los Angeles Neighborhood, Ramirez was recognized by locals, who began to chase him. After failing to steal a car in his attempt to escape, Ramirez was cornered by a crowd of people and almost beaten to death before police arrived to apprehend him.
Richard Ramirez was a truly frightening and particularly brutal rapist and killer. His gruesome legacy inspired many books and movies. His oldest victim was 84 years old and his youngest just six. His killing spree was relatively short, but was marked by its randomness and ferocity. During his trial, Ramirez often wore sunglasses in the courtroom and would delight in tormenting the families of his victims by watching them, with a smile on his face, as details of his brutal murders were recounted.
As serial killer Richard Ramirez – the notorious Night Stalker – dies in prison, the surviving relatives of his many victims may be left with the awful knowledge that, perhaps, he escaped justice, in the end.
Written by Graham J Noble