Born on February 29, 1960, in El Paso, Texas, Richard Ramirez haunted Los Angeles with his grotesque satanic murders until his death on June 7, 2013, from complications related to B-cell lymphoma, a rare Lymph Node cancer. Throughout Ramirez’s reign of terror in Los Angeles, he was convicted of thirteen murders, five attempted murders, eleven sexual assaults, and fourteen burglaries(Helling, 2017). He was sentenced to death in San Quentin State Prison. Ramirez remained in San Quentin State Prison until his death from B-cell lymphoma at age fifty-three.
As a child, Richard Ramirez suffered two head injuries. In 1962, at the age of two, Ramirez was knocked unconscious when a dresser fell on top of him, and received thirty stitches. In 1965, at the age of five, Ramirez suffered another severe head injury when a swing at a local park struck him in the head, after which he experienced frequent epileptic seizures and was diagnosed with temporal lobe epilepsy that persisted into his early teens(Richard Ramirez, n.d). Julian Ramirez, Ramirez’s father, was a former Juarez policeman, who later on became a worker for the Santa Fe railroad. Because of the hard labor brought by his job, he was often prone to fits of anger that resulted in physical abuse with his wife and five children(Richard Ramirez, 2017). To escape his father’s rage, Ramirez would often sleep in a nearby cemetery, which only helped fuel his drug addiction(Richard Ramirez, n.d).
In his early teens, Ramirez frequently hung out with his older cousin Miguel(“Mike”), a decorated U.S. Army Green Beret combat veteran who often boasted of his gruesome murders during the Vietnam War. In 1972, at the age of twelve, Miguel started showing Ramirez pictures of women performing oral sex on Miguel at gunpoint, and became sexually aroused by these photographs(Richard Ramirez, n.
d). On May 4, 1973, Ramirez witnessed Miguel shot his wife Jessie in the face with a .38 caliber revolver. He was thirteen at the time(Richard Ramirez, 2017). After the shooting Ramirez became sullen and completely withdrawn from his family and few friends. Without Miguel’s gruesome Vietnam stories, Ramirez quickly switched to prostitutes where he bound and raped his victims to sustain his needs(Richard Ramirez, nd). In 1977, Ramirez failed 9th grade and dropped out of high school at age seventeen. After his dropout, Ramirez soon after moved to Los Angeles, California, where he began his murders.
Richard Ramirez believed that his satanic beliefs made him murder the thirteen victims. In an interview with Mike Watkiss, Ramirez stats that all men, including himself, are pure evil. On June 28, 1984, Ramirez began his “Night Stalker” persona with his first victim Jennie Vincow, a seventy-nine year old women who was found brutally murdered in her apartment in Glassell Park. Her neck was sliced so deep she was nearly decapitated(The Night Stalker rapes and kills first victim, 2017). After Jennie’s death, Ramirez had sex with the dead victim’s corpse. Ramirez’s fingerprint was later found on a mesh screen that he removed to gain access through an open window.
His next four victims were twenty-two year old Maria Hernandez, thirty-four year old Dayle Okazaki, thirty-year old Tsai-Lian Yu, and an eight year old girl from Eagle Rock. Maria was the only one to survive. On March 17, 1985, at age of twenty-five, Ramirez attacked Maria Hernandez outside her condo in Rosemead, California, shooting at her face with a .22 caliber handgun. She survived when the bullet ricocheted off the keys she was holding to protect herself. Inside the condo was her roommate, Dayle Okazaki, who heard the earlier gunshot and hide behind a kitchen counter.
When she raised her head he shot her once in the forehead, killing her instantly. An hour after the incident while trying to flee, he suddenly attacked Tsai-Lian Yu in her car. Ramirez pulled her out from her car and left her dead on the side of the road. Three days later he killed an eight-year old girl from Eagle Rock(Richard Ramirez, 2017). In 1985, Ramirez Shot sixty-four year old Vincent Zazzara in the head. his forty-four year old wife Maxine was bound and beaten by Ramirez. While he ransacked the room, Maxine escaped her bonds and retrieved a shotgun from under the bed, which was not loaded.
An enraged Ramirez shot her three times with the .22, then fetched a large carving knife from the kitchen. Maxine’s body was found mutilated, a T was carved on her left breast, and her eyes were gouged out by the knife.
Vincent and Maxine’s bodies were discovered by their son, Peter. Two months later, Ramirez killed eighty-four year old Malvial Keller and severely hurt her sister Blanche Wolfe with a hammer. Ramirez drew a pentagram on her thigh and on the wall in the room. The next day he bound, raped, and sodomized Ruth Wilson while her twelve year old son was locked in a closet.
Ramirez’s actions on his final night of terror, on August 24, 1985, soon led to his capture. Spotted outside a Mission Viejo home, where he unwittingly left behind a footprint, before the witness took note of his car and license plate. Later, after Ramirez raped another woman at her home and shot her fiance, the victim provided a detailed description of her assailant, who had forced her to swear her love for Satan. On August 30, 1985, Ramirez took a bus to Tucson, Arizona, to visit his brother.
Unaware to Ramirez, he had previously become the leading story in virtually every single major news outlet across the country. After failing to meet his brother, he returned to Los Angeles early on the morning of August 31. After noticing a small group of elderly Mexican women fearfully screaming “El Matador” (or “The Killer”). Ramirez saw his face on every newspaper rack and quickly fled in a panic. He attempted to steal a woman’s car but was chased away by bystanders, who pursued him.
He was eventually stopped by a group of local residents, one of them had struck him over the head with a metal bar. The group held him down, relentlessly beating him until police arrived and took Ramirez into custody.