‘Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer’ is a Netflix original true-crime documentary series that, as the title suggests, chronicles how the nocturnal attacker, who terrorized the state of California from June 1984 to August 1985, was hunted down by law enforcement officials. But within that time period, he still managed to brutally attack men, women, and children of all races, aged between 6 to 83, mostly within their own homes. The most chilling part about him, though, was the fact that he had no MO and nothing that connected his crimes, his means, or his weapons: guns, knives, hammers, handcuffs, thumb cuffs, electrical wires, he used them all. So, let’s find out exactly who the “Night Stalker” was and how he died, shall we?
Who Was The Night Stalker?
Richard Ramirez or Ricardo Leyva Muñoz Ramirez, born in El Paso, Texas, on February 29, 1960, was the “Night Stalker.” As the youngest of Julian and Mercedes Ramirez’s five children, Richard, known as “Richie” by his family, was the most impressionable. So, the fact that he saw his father’s anger and outbursts firsthand and was close to a cousin who often boasted about his gruesome exploits during the Vietnam War shaped his future actions. Moreover, the army veteran cousin not only showed a pre-teen Richard graphic pictures of the women he had allegedly raped, tortured, and killed in Vietnam, but he also fatally shot his wife in front of Ramirez.
Richard, who had started smoking marijuana at the age of 10, subsequently began using LSD and cultivated an interest in Satanism. Then, he used the tricks his cousin taught him about stealth to break into homes and the rooms of the Holiday Inn that he worked at to see if he could play out his sexual fantasies involving violence, force, and bondage. Richard Ramirez escaped his father’s violence by sleeping in a cemetery, and he dropped out of high school in the ninth grade and eventually moved to California at the age of 22. There, he continued committing a series of small crimes, getting jail time for grand theft auto, before taking things to the next level.
In June of 1984, Richard committed one of his first known murder as the “Night Stalker,” raping and stabbing a 79-year-old widow in her LA apartment. In 2009, though, he was implicated in the April 1984 San Francisco murder of a 9-year-old girl whose body was found hanging from a pipe. However, although his DNA was matched to a sample left at the crime scene, he was never charged in connection to the matter. From then on, Richard went on a spree of brutal murders, violent rapes, and armed robberies, leaving dozens of victims in his wake, along with a few Satanic symbols. Eventually, a fingerprint led to Richard’s identification and arrest.
How Did Richard Ramirez Die?
On August 31, 1985 – seven days after his last known murder – Richard Ramirez was apprehended by the authorities after his name and photograph were released to the public. When he had tried to run after finding his identity blown, attempting two separate carjackings, he was surrounded by angry East Los Angeles residents, who beat and held him down until the police arrived. Three and a half years later, he stood trial for most of the known crimes he committed. And on September 20, 1989, Richard was found guilty of 43 charges – 13 counts of murder, 5 counts of attempted murder, 11 counts of sexual assault, and 14 counts of burglary.
Almost two months later, Richard was sentenced to death in California’s gas chamber, with the judge stating that his crimes showed “cruelty, callousness, and viciousness beyond any human understanding.” While on death row at San Quentin State Prison, Richard was diagnosed with cancer. Thus, after spending more than 23 years on death row, the “Night Stalker” died on June 7, 2013, from complications related to his B-cell lymphoma at the Marin General Hospital in Greenbrae. At the age of 53, the Marin County coroner’s office stated, Richard had also been affected by “chronic substance abuse and chronic hepatitis C viral infection.”
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