Home » Episodes » Episode 64 – Los Angeles, CA (Richard Ramirez – Baby Psychopath)

In Episode 64, Emily goes solo and tells the story of Richard Ramirez, the Night Stalker.  She details the whole gruesome story AND Emily and Rachel were in PERSON for the horrific tale. 

Richard Ramirez

Ricardo Leyva Munoz Ramirez was born on February 29, 1960 in El Paso, Texas. He was born to Julián Ramirez, his father, and Mercedes, his mother. Julian was a Mexican national and former Ciudad Juárez policeman who later became a laborer on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railways. Julian was a very volatile man… not only was he prone to fits of anger that often resulted in physical abuse but he also was just kind of on edge. He would get angry and bash his own head against the wall. So, not a great example for his kids. And, kids of which he had five: Ruben, Joseph, Robert, Ruth, and, finally, the youngest Richard.

Sadly, Mercedes’s pregnancy with Ramirez was very difficult because the chemical fumes she inhaled at her job at a boot factory caused her body to try and reject the fetus. Luckily, or maybe not luckily, Richard survived and was born. His life was pretty normal for a couple of years… until he hit two years old and had his first head trauma.

He was home with a babysitter one night and he was asking the sitter to turn on the radio but she didn’t want to because she was watching TV. Richard Ramirez was a headstrong kid and so he decided he was just going to climb up on the dresser and turn that damn radio on himself. Unfortunately, his weight caused the dresser to topple over on top of him and hit him in the head. Not only did it cause a gash in his head that required 30 stitches, but it also knocked him out fully for 15 minutes.

Richard Ramirez as a child

He recovered, but his trauma free life only lasted 3 more years. At five he was at the park and ran past his sister swinging and she couldn’t slow down and the swing bashed him in the head – same spot as the previous injury. Needless to say, double head injuries are not great for the brain’s development and by the time he hit fifth grade he had his first bout with epilepsy.

Doctors did that doctor thing where they were like “oh, it’s not a big deal. You’ll probably grow out of it.” But, it still impacted his life greatly. He would have seizures at inopportune times – at school and once while he was on the football field. This was especially terrible because he had a pretty decent football career in his youth – and this was something he and his father bonded over. And he didn’t have many ways to bond with his dad, unfortunately. So, when he had an epileptic seizure on the football field his coach basically said, Sorry Charlie. I am not about to be liable for you dying on my watch. And kicked him off the team.

By seventh grade, his grades began slipping and he started sniffing glue. At the age of ten, he began spending nights at cemeteries and also began smoking weed pretty heavily. And then… the infamous years of life under Mike’s influence happened. If you want to hear all about those, check out episode 63 of Horrible History. But, ultimately, the key thing to know is that Richard was exposed to Mike’s violent acts at a time in his life when he was also becoming… a man, physically… which meant that violence and murder got associated with physical excitement and intrigue during early sexual development. This eroticized them.

Pretty soon, Richard Ramirez begun burglarizing people’s homes, committing petty theft, skipping school, and smoking even more weed.

During burglaries, he took great pleasure in walking around and going through people’s personal shit. This was only escalated by a trip to Los Angeles to see his brother Ruben. I’m sure his parents thought, “oh good, Richard is going to see his older brother, that will straighten him out!” But Ruben was actually a petty criminal so instead of shaping up, Richard Ramirez got an education on being a sneaking mother effer.

Once he returned to El Paso, he dropped out of high school and started doing that second leg of the triad… hunting animals. Stabbing and gutting them. He also liked watching horror movies. And then, oddly, he began attending Jehovah’s Witness meetings, and THAT is actually where he became interested in Satan. The more he heard about this handsome devil the more intrigued he was.  

So, fun fact… devil-worshipping actually started up majorly in California in 1966. How? Well, a former carnival performer named Szandor Anton LaVey established a church of Satan and exploited the growing interest in occult matters and took advantage of people searching for religion. He even published a satanic bible that contained a mixture of rituals taken from different sources.

Of course, Richard read the Satanic bible joined the cult briefly; but he decided he was a one-man wolf pack. Nonetheless, he had a deep belief in the power of Lucifer and truly thought that he was powered and protected by him.

As he said, “Satan is a stabilizing force in my life. It gives me a reason to be, it gives me an excuse to rationalize. There is a part of me that believes he really does exist. I have my doubts, but we all do, about many things.”

Anywho, back to Richard’s life. By the age of fifteen, he had a job at the Holiday Inn. One night he slipped into the room of a woman who was sleeping. He attacked her and attempted to rape her, but the woman’s husband came in at an opportune time and was able to pull Richard off of his wife. He then proceeded to beat the living shit out of Richard.

Richard did get fired from his hotel job, but he didn’t go to prison or anything because the people were from out of town and they didn’t want to go through the hassle of having to come back to town for a trial.

In 1973, Richard Ramirez moved in with his sister Ruth and her husband Roberto. Once again, living with an older sibling didn’t do much to positively influence Richard. Roberto taught Richard how to be a peeping tom, learn more about Satanism and experiment with LSD.

Then, Richard decided to move to Los Angeles permanently. During his first weeks in L.A., Ramirez mostly lived as a transient. He sold weed that he bought cheaply in El Paso and brought with him and spent the money on food and stays in hotels. Also, he stole cars, slept in them and then ditched them. And, he became addicted to cocaine. One night in the summer of 1978, he committed the first known rape of his career (well, successful rape) when he bound a woman with whom he smoked PCP and raped her repeatedly.

His transient days were when he stopped giving two shits about hygiene and focused his diet on cocaine and junk food. Notoriously, his teeth started rotting.

It was April 10, 1984 that Richard Ramirez committed his first murder. This was actually one of the last murders that was associated with Richard – it only got found out decades later in 2009 when DNA got more specific and they were able to test some cold cases. But, we know now, so I’m going to start there.

Richard was in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco when he spotted Mei Leung, a precious nine year old girl. He took her to the basement of the hotel she lived in with her family and raped, stabbed and beat her to death. When her body was found she was hanging from one of the building’s pipes and police described it as reminiscent of a crucifixion.

Then, 2 months later, after snorting cocaine, Ramirez entered the home of 79-year-old Jennie Vincow. Not only did he stab and sexually assault this woman, but he also slashed her throat so deeply that she was nearly decapitated.

He ransacked her house and stole items out of the house. Sadly, her body was found by her son, who lived above her ground-floor apartment

A number of months later, the Night Stalker came back to life on the evening of March 17, 1985. Maria Hernandez, a pretty dark-haired woman, drove her car into the parking garage of her new Rosemead condominium.  She shared the condo with another woman, thirty-five-year-old Dayle Okazaki, a traffic supervisor for L.A. County she was originally from Hawaii.

Dayle Okazaki

She pushed the button to shut the garage door and found her key. Then suddenly she was looking at the barrel of a .22-caliber revolver. It was, of course, Richard Ramirez.

She screamed and begged him not to shoot her, but he kept walking toward her.

The garage lights automatically went out as they were programmed to do, leaving Maria alone with a gun pointed at her head.  She reflexively raised her hand to protect her face.  The gun fired and she fell down, but luck was with her and the keys in her hand deflected the bullet.  She played dead while he took her keys and entered her condominium.

Dayle heard the shot and saw someone coming into the apartment, so she ducked down beneath the kitchen counter and waited.  A few minutes later, she peeked and he shot her right in the forehead.  

Maria saw him, all dressed in black, escaping down the front walkway.   He happened to see her and pointed the gun at her again.  She begged him not to shoot her again and she was lucky a second time.  He ran back to his stolen car and left her alive.

Maria ran back in her house and tried to revive her roommate Dayle. Then she called 911 and two L.A. County sheriff’s deputies came her house, confirming that Dayle was dead.

Maria was able to give the police a description of the attacker and the police found a dark blue baseball cap with the letters AC/DC on the floor of the garage.

In the same evening Richard pulled Tsai –Lian Yu, 30 a law student, out of her car in Monterey Park and shot her twice with a .22 handgun. She was dead upon arrival at the hospital. With 2 murders and 1 attempted murder in one night his he gained a lot of media attention. The media called the murderer with the rotten teeth, and bulging eyes “The Valley Killer and The Walk in Killer and The Screen Door Killer” because he broke in through screen doors.

Three days later he abducted a young girl from her home in Eagle Rock and sexually abused her, surprisingly he then let her go.

The Night Stalker took an eight-day vacation before he began the hunt again.  This time in the early morning of March 26, he visited the well-to-do community of Whittier.  At two in the morning he silently pulled up to the home of Vincent and Maxine Zazzara in his stolen Toyota.  From the outside of the house, he could see the middle-aged Zazzara sleeping on the couch in front of the television.   Through another window, he saw Maxine asleep on her bed.

He tried to get the screen off, but everything was locked up.   Eventually, he hoisted himself up to the laundry room window and pried open the window.  Once inside, he went straight to the den and shot Zazzara in the head with his .22 caliber revolver.  Vincent tried to get up, but the .22 had already done its damage to his brain and he fell over onto the floor.

Then he went right to the bedroom.  The shot had awakened Maxine, but by the time she could collect her thoughts, he had tied her hands together with a necktie.   While he was ransacking the bedroom, she did something very bold.  Knowing that there was a shotgun that her husband kept under the bed, she quietly and quickly rolled off the bed and grabbed the shotgun.

By the time he saw her, he was looking down the barrel of a shotgun.   He reached for the gun in his pants and she immediately pulled the trigger.   No big boom, just a little click.  Vincent had taken all the ammunition out when the grandkids had come over for the weekend.

He shot her three times with the .22.  Then he beat her and kicked her, but it wasn’t enough to vent his fury.  He raced into the kitchen, brought back a carving knife with a 10-inch blade, and tried to cut out her heart.  But he couldn’t cut through her rib cage so he cut out her eyes and put them in a jewelry box.  Then, he pulled up her nightgown with the idea of sexually assaulting her, but he was too keyed up by the episode with the shotgun.  Finally he stabbed her stomach, throat and pubic area.  He took everything he could fence and left by the front door, his clothes drenched in Maxine’s blood.

This would become his killing style by first killing the husband or men and then taking his time raping and stabbing the women to death.

The only evidence the police found was the bullets of the handgun that matched the other crimes and a shoe print from his Avia sneakers found in the flowerbed. The autopsy of Maxine revealed that most of her stabbed wounds occurred when she was already dead. The bodies of Maxine and Vincent were found by their son Peter.

After these murders, the police realized they were dealing with a serial killer and launched a full-scale investigation into the murders.

Certain things matched. Collected fingerprints, recovered cartridge shells (.22 caliber) and even a distinct method of breaking and entry – all the same. Imprints of the same design tennis shoe (identified as Reebok high-tops, size 11) told a startling tale. But, more revealing still, the description of the killer himself was nearly identical in each case where a living person had been left to talk: tall, gaunt, dark, Hispanic, in his late 20s/early 30s. Downright ugly.

At first, it looked like the reactions of most people was to ignore the murders and burglaries and thought that in a city with millions of people they would be safe statistically. As the crimes progressed people were terrified and would lock their doors, some people had insomnia as they were so scared to become the killer’s next victim.

According to sources, Richard would travel every month to San Pablo which was near San Francisco to Donna Meyers, a friend of him to launder his stained clothes.

For months, Ramirez would continue to stalk and murder more victims in California — striking fear in the hearts of people all throughout the state.

Richard Ramirez broke into the house of Bill Doi and his disabled wife Lillian Doi in Monterey Park. He shot Bill in the face and beat him unconscious and then bound Lillian with thumb cuffs while he ransacked their home. After he collected their valuables he raped Lillian repeatedly. Lillian survived the attack, but Bill died of his injuries in the hospital.

On the evening of the 29th of May, 1985 Richard stole a Mercedes Benz and drove to Monrovia and broke into the house of Mabel Bell (83) and Florence Lang (81). Both women were beaten with a hammer that he found in the house and he used an electric cord to shock and torture Mabel. He raped Florence and used Mabel’s lipstick to draw a pentagram on her leg and bedroom walls. Mabel and Florence were both in comas when they were discovered and Mabel died because of her injuries.

Richard Ramirez traveled to Burbank and broke into the house of Carole Kyle.

The house he selected was locked up tight, so he reached through the dog door and was able to reach up and unlock the back door. 

He saw the sleeping woman and shined a flashlight in her eyes.   “Wake up, bitch!  Don’t scream or I’ll kill you.”  When he asked who else was in the house, a terrified Carol Kyle told him that her eleven-year-old son was in the next room.  He made her lead him to the boy’s bedroom door and then lie down on the floor.

He astonished her and her son when he opened the boy’s door, turned on the light and jumped on the sleeping boy, putting a gun to his head.  Carol ran into the room and put herself between the killer and her son.  “Please don’t hurt him.   Take whatever you want, just don’t hurt him, please!”

“Don’t look at me,” he commanded her while he handcuffed the mother and son together.  He took the two of them and closed them in the hall closet.   Just as he shut the door, he opened it again and said, “You don’t have any guns in here, do you?”

She told him that she didn’t own any guns, but he went frantically searching the house just in case.  Then he demanded her jewelry.  She promised to give it to him as long as he didn’t hurt her children.  He uncuffed the two of them, and then cuffed the son’s hands behind him and shut him back up in the closet.   He tied her hands together with pantyhose and threw her on the bed. 

“Do what I say and you’ll both be all right,” he said as he ripped off her nightgown and panties and forced her to go down on him.  He sodomized her several times roughly.  The more she hurt, the more he was turned on by it.   She described his eyes as absolutely demonic, so she was careful not to do anything to resist him or make him angry.  He was like a bomb ready to explode.

After this assault, he went to get a soft drink from the kitchen and told her that she wasn’t bad sexually, considering her age (forty-two).  “You’re lucky I’m letting you live.  I’ve killed a lot of people you know.”

Finally, he gave her a nightgown to cover herself and brought her son in the room where he cuffed them both to the bed.  The key to the cuffs he left on the mantel so that when her daughter came home, she could free them.

“You say anything about who I am and I’ll have my friends come back here…I know where you live, remember.”

When they were finally rescued, nobody at the Burbank police department linked the assault on Carol Kyle to the other attacks and consequently, Carrillo at the sheriff’s homicide unit was not called.  The next day, Carol worked with an artist to capture his features, but the composite was not a successful rendering of the man who attacked her.

Richard broke into the house of Elaine Higgins in Arcadia, California and slashed her throat killing her.

Mary Louise Cannon (75) was killed while she was sleeping. He beat her unconscious with a lamp and stabbed her repeatedly with a 10-inch butcher’s knife that came from her kitchen.

Three days later in the suburb of Sierra Madre, he entered the home of Whitney Bennet (16). While she was sleeping he beat her with a tire iron and when he could not find a knife in the house he attempted to strangle her with the telephone cord. There were sparks emanating from the cord when she started to breathe. He was so scared and thought it was a sign from God who intervened and saved her that he fled the house. Whitney survived the attack but needed 400 hundred stitches to close the lacerations on her scalp.

Joyce Nelson was a youthful 61-year-old grandmother who lived in Monterey Park the area in which Richard liked to kill. Richard entered her home while she was sleeping on the couch in the living room. He beat her to death by using his fists and kicking her in the head, his Avia shoe print was found on her face, and before he left he ransacked the house and took her valuables.

On the same night, he entered the house of Sophie Dickman a 63-year-old nurse. He handcuffed her at gunpoint and repeatedly raped her. He stole all her jewelry and she swore to him that he has taken everything of value he then told her to “swear on Satan.”

Richard Ramirez stole a Toyota and drove to Glendale to the house of Lela Kneiding (66) and her husband Maxon (68). Maxon had a heart condition and owned three garage stations. His employees described him as a gentleman.  While they were sleeping he hacked them with a machete and killed them both with a gunshot to the head. After he killed them he mutilated their bodies and stabbed Lela repeatedly with a knife, the police said that the stab wounds were frenzied attacks. He slashed her throat so deep her head was almost severed. Before leaving the house he takes their valuables. (Source – Real Life Crimes and how they were solved volume 6)

Richard Ramirez’s victims

He then went to Sun Valley and broke into the home of Chainarong Khovanath and his wife Somkid. While Chainarong was sleeping Richard shot and killed him, he then raped and beat Somkid in front of their 8-year-old who was screaming. Ricard dragged her around the house to give him all their valuables and made her swear to Satan that she was not hiding any money from him. Before he left the house he bound the 8-year-old and according to sources stole 30 thousand dollars and jewelry.

By now the citizens of the Los Angeles suburbs were filled with terror. Fearful for their lives the citizens bought guns from vigilante groups and bolted their doors and windows at night.

The police have worked the case and have already linked 6 murders by matching the bullets, description from two survivors and fingerprints.

Richard drove to Northridge to the house of Christopher and Virginia Peterson. While they were sleeping he came into their bedroom and startled Virginia which caused him to shoot her, he shot Christopher but he fought back and Richard fled the house. Both of them survived.

Richard stole a car and drove to Diamond Bar. He broke into the house of Sakina Abowath (27) and her husband Elyas (31). While Elyas was asleep he killed him with a shot to the head and handcuffed and beat Sakina and forced her to tell him where all the valuables are in the house.

While he brutally raped her he told her she has to “swear on Satan” that she would not scream while he raped her. When her 3-year-old son came into the bedroom Richard bound him and made him watch while he sodomized Sakina. After Richard left the house Sakina untied her son and told him to go to the neighbors for help.

The LA Police Department with the help of the FBI put together a dedicated task force of 200 hundred people to hunt for the killer. They started to build a profile of the killer and one of the witnesses gave a good enough description and by the following day, all the newspapers in Southern California published the image of Richard Ramirez in the hopes that someone would recognize him. At that time he made his regular trip to San Francisco to wash his clothes. Donna looked at one of the sketches that were published and he asked her “Do you think it could be me?” She said no and said he did not have the guts and he laughed at her saying nothing.

When Richard saw all the media coverage of the crimes and the task force hunting a serial killer and more of his victims coming forward to give descriptions of him he decided to leave and went to San Francisco.

When he continued his killing spree in San Francisco, Bay Area police said in the docuseries that he killed an accountant named Peter Pan and raped his wife Barbara, ate everything in the fridge, threw up on the kitchen floor and masturbated on the living room floor — and then wrote a satanic symbol on the wall.

Richard Ramirez went to Lake Merced and broke into the home of Peter Pan (66) and his wife Alberta (62). He killed Peter in his sleep with a .25 caliber handgun. He beat and raped Alberta before shooting her and leaving them dead.

When the Pans’ son visited his parents the next morning, he walked into the aftermath of doomsday. His father was dead in bed, his mother next to him, seriously injured. The walls of the home were etched with lipstick diagrams of devil worship, cursing and alien messages such as “Jack the Knife.” Drawers were ransacked. A side window had been pried open and dirty footprints, bearing a Reebok design, trailed hastily from the windowsill across the carpet, in and out of the parents’ bedroom.

Mrs. Alberta Pan survived, but remained an invalid; her husband Peter was pronounced dead at General Hospital.

According to the sources when the mayor of San Francisco Dianne Feinstein realized it was the killer from Los Angeles she held a press conference and said they had matching ballistic and shoeprint evidence. When the task force heard about it they were furious as they knew the killer was following the news and that it gave him the opportunity to destroy evidence. Richard Ramirez did indeed follow the news and that night he threw his shoes over the Golden Gate Bridge.

On August 24, while the police in San Francisco were scrambling to find the mysterious young man with rotten teeth, the Night Stalker had found another couple whom he could use to play out his violent fantasy? Except this couple was not in the Bay Area. They were asleep in bed in Mission Viejo, fifty miles south of Los Angeles.

A computer engineer and his 29-year-old fiancé had just drifted off to sleep when they were suddenly awakened by loud gunshots in the room. Instinctively she reached out to her fiancé, but he had been seriously wounded. Before she realized what was happening, the intruder grabbed her by the hair and hauled her into another bedroom where he tied her ankles and wrists with neckties. The man then asked her if she knew who he was, admitting that he was the killer who was getting all the coverage in the press and on television. He rummaged through the house, looking for valuables, but there was nothing small enough to steal easily. Angry that the couple had so little, he returned to her and raped her, not once but twice. The horrible stink of his breath made her gag.

The man was still angry that there was nothing worth stealing. Afraid of what he might do next, she told him to look in a drawer where she knew her fiancé kept some money.

“Swear to Satan,” he bellowed at her.

Out of fright, she did what he wanted and swore to Satan that she was telling the truth. The Stalker found the money, and as he counted it, he mocked her, telling her that this was what she was worth. It was what saved her, he said.

She prayed that this was the end of it, that he would just leave now that he had the cash. But he wasn’t through with her yet.

“Swear your love for Satan,” he demanded.

Afraid of what he might do next, she did as he asked. “I love Satan,” she mumbled.

He ordered her to say it again and again. He yanked her by the hair and made her kneel, then forced her to perform oral sex on him. When he was finished, he stepped back and stared at her. Still bound by the neckties, she was certain that he was going to shoot her just as he had shot her fiance? But he didn’t. He laughed at her, then suddenly he was gone.

She quickly worked herself free of the neckties and went to the window in time to see him getting into an old orange-colored Toyota station wagon. She immediately called 911.

On the same night, Richard drove to the house of William Carns (30) and his fiancée Inez Erickson (29). Richard Ramirez shot William three times in the head and told Inez “I am the Night Stalker” and forced her to swear to Satan while he beat and raped her and bound her with neckties from their closet. Before Richard left the house he told her “Tell them the Night Stalker was here” he then flees the house with cash and valuables.

Inez untied herself and went to the neighbors for help and to phone the police. William survived the attack and they could remove some of the bullets but according to sources he has permanent brain damage and resides in a caring home.

Inez gave the police a detailed description of Richard and the police found a footprint at the house of Romero that matches the other crime scenes. Some people believe that he wanted to be found as he was callous about the evidence at the crime scenes.

Investigators were close to apprehending Ramirez several times. One time, he attempted kidnapping but it failed, and while he was driving away he committed a traffic violation and a cop saw it happen. While being pulled over, Ramirez heard a broadcast of his kidnapping attempt on the cop’s radio — and drew a pentagram on the hood of his stolen car and began running.

Ramirez is now known to have had extremely bad teeth, and in the stolen car, they found a business card for a dentist’s office. Upon investigation, they found a man named Richard Mena had been in and had gotten X-rays done, which showed he had an infected tooth — so he would be back. Investigators put two officers in the dentist’s office to be ready. But as time went on without a sign of Ramirez, the dentist’s office suggested installing an alarm that employees could press when Ramirez came back, directly alerting the cops, which they did.

However, when Ramirez did come in and the alarm was pressed — it didn’t go off.

“We missed him,” detective Gil Carrillo said. “How many more people are going to die?”

But ultimately, it was Richard Ramirez’s own mistakes in August 1985 that led to his capture. After he was spotted outside a witness’s home, he accidentally left a footprint behind — and he also left his car and license plate in plain sight.

When the police tracked down the vehicle, they were able to find just enough of a fingerprint to make a match. By that point, they had already received tips that someone with the last name of Ramirez was involved.

Sure enough, the LAPD was able to identify Richard Ramirez thanks to their new computer database of fingerprints. And even though the records only included criminals who were born after January 1960, it just so happened that Ramirez was born in February 1960.

Authorities soon found Ramirez’s mugshots from his prior arrests, and one of his surviving victims came forward with a detailed description that was quite similar to the photos. By the end of August 1985, police decided to release the Night Stalker’s image and name.

When Ramirez was identified as the chief suspect, authorities debated whether to release his name and picture to the public, fearing that it might give him the chance to escape. Nonetheless, they decided to take the risk, and Ramirez, who was actually traveling back to Los Angeles at the time, arrived to find his face and name on the front of every newspaper.

On the 30th of August 1985 Richard took a Greyhound bus to Tucson Arizona and according to sources he went to visit his brother and buy cocaine, when he could not get hold of his brother he took the bus back to Los Angeles on the 31st of August 1985. According to sources, he arrived back and at around 8:30 am he went into a Liquor store to buy Pepsi and a packet of doughnuts. After a group of women looked at him and yelled “killer” he saw that all the newspapers had his photo on. He then fled the store in a panic.

Richard Ramirez ran across the Santa Ana Freeway and attempted to carjack a woman but was pursued by bystanders. He ran for nearly two miles and paused as he struggled to breathe when he heard more people chasing him and a police car.

On Percy Street, he beat on the door and screamed help me but Bonnie Navarro who lived there slammed the door in his face. On Indiana Avenue, Richard tried to pull a woman from her car and as passer-by ran to her help he jumped over the fence and ran into Luis Munoz while he was making a barbeque.

Luis struck Richard with his tongs and Richard jumped into another yard.

Faustino Pinon was working on his Mustang’s transmission when Richard tried to climb into the driver’s seat of his car, Faustino had him in a headlock and Richard broke free and ran into Hubbard Street followed by Faustino.

Angelina de la Torres was about to get into her gold Granada when she saw Richard Ramirez coming towards her screaming “I’m going to kill you” she then hit him with the car door, her husband Manuel who heard her screams came out of the house with a metal rod and ran towards Richard. From the other side of the street Jose Burgoin and his two sons, Jaime and Julio all ran after Richard. Now 5 men were chasing him.

Manuel caught up to him and struck him 3 times with a metal rod, Richard fell to the ground, and Jose, Jaime, and Julio jumped on top of Richard just as the police car screeched to a halt. (Source – Real Life Crimes and how they were solved volume 6)

When Richard saw the policeman he screamed “Save me, please! Thank God you came!” After his arrest, he was held in a cell at Hollenbeck police station. Outside of the police station, there was a crowd of people shouting “Hang him!” The streets were full of people when the police motorcade took Richard Ramirez to the county jail.

Richard was only too happy to tell Deputy Sheriff Jim Ellis “I love to kill people. I love watching them die. I would shoot them in the head and they would wriggle and squirm all over the place, and then stop. Or I would cut them with a bread knife and watch their faces turn real white. I love all that blood. I told one lady one time to give me all her money. She said no. So I cut her and pulled her eyes out.”

A poll that they took showed 93% of the community had heard about Richard and most of them thought he was guilty.

According to sources one of the reasons for the delay of the trial is because of the bickering by the defense attorney and prosecutors. Since Richard’s crimes were so widespread there were some issues with the jurisdiction, and some of the charges were dropped against him in order to expedite the journey to justice.

Richard’s trial was one of the most expensive trials in California at the time and although it looked like an open and shut case it took two years for the first preliminary hearing and another two years before he was found guilty.

Richard Ramirez could not decide who he wanted to represent him in court and changed his mind constantly, after a while he got two attorneys whom he was happy with but he did not give them any cooperation. The two attorneys had very little time to prepare for the case and the prosecution was concerned that any conviction might get reversed on appeal.

On the 2nd of July, 1988 jury selection began, over 1600 jurors were scanned before both sides decided on 12 people that were unbiased. Before his trial started there were rumors that Richard would bring a gun to the courtroom to shoot the prosecutor. After the threat, they installed metal detectors in the building.

After three and a half years Richard Ramirez has changed from when he was the Night Stalker, his hair was groomed, his teeth had been capped and he wore a grey pin-stripe suit when his trial started in January 1989.

According to sources Richard looked like an LA Showbiz superstar when he entered the court with his sunglasses and he enjoyed all the attention. He refused to testify in his own defense and his attorneys had to work hard to make the jury believe that it was someone else who murdered all the victims.

Richard Ramirez flashing a pentagram in court

During the trial, Richard had a following of people who were Satan worshippers and who dressed in black for the trial. Richard would sometimes dress in black and had a pentagram drawn on his hand which he would show everyone in the courtroom.

He had lots of fans who were writing letters and paying him visits. Doreen Lioy wrote 75 letters to him while he awaited trial and in 1988 he proposed to her. Young girls flocked to the courtroom just to get a glimpse of Richard.

On the 14th of August 1989, there was a disruption in the courtroom as Phyllis Singletary, one of the jurors did not arrive at the courtroom. She was found shot to death in her apartment.

According to sources, the jurors were terrified and some could not sleep as they thought Richard Ramirez had connections in jail and someone that he knows on the outside killed Phyllis.

Judge Tynan called them into court the next day and told them that Ms. Singletary had been shot by an abusive boyfriend. He assured them the incident was unrelated to the case. An alternate was chosen to replace her, although the woman was so overcome with fear she could not walk to her place. Yet more news was forthcoming. Ms. Singletary’s boyfriend used the same weapon with which he’d killed her to commit suicide in a hotel. He left behind his written confession. They had been arguing over the Ramirez case and he had become enraged by her disapproval of Ramirez’s lawyers.

The defense team tried hard to get a mistrial declared, which Halpin opposed. “The case must not go down the drain,” he insisted. Debates emerged in the newspapers over the issue, with one psychologist believing the shooting would unconsciously influence the jury against the defendant. However, the jury foreman assured the judge that they could continue. When Ramirez heard this in court, he shouted that it was all “fucked up” and had to be restrained. He continued to act out during the rest of the deliberations, saying that the trial had not been fair, and he was allowed to waive his right to be present in court. Whenever brief hearings were needed, the proceedings were piped into his holding cell.

On the 20th of September 1989, Richard Ramirez was found guilty on 13 counts of murder, 5 attempted murders, 11 sexual assaults and 14 burglaries. The trial cost 1.8 million dollars the most expensive trial prior to the OJ Simpson trial. Richard’s sentencing was on the 7th of November 1989, where he received the death penalty by gas chamber.

The judge declared Richard Ramirez demonstrated “cruelty, callousness, and viciousness beyond any human understanding.”

When the judge asked Richard Ramirez if he has something to say he said “I have a lot to say, but now is not the time or place. I don’t know why I am wasting my breath. But what the hell, I don’t believe in the hypocritical moralistic dogmas of this so-called civilized society. You maggots make me sick. Hypocrites one and all! You don’t understand me. You are not expected to. You are not capable of it. I am beyond your experience. I am beyond good and evil.” 

After the judge imposed a death sentence, Ramirez said, “Big deal. Death always went with the territory. Ill see you at Disneyland.”

He was held in San Quentin State Prison for the rest of his life — but he was never put to death. 

Due to the complicated nature of his case — which included a 50,000-page trial record — the state’s Supreme Court wasn’t able to hear his appeal until 2006. And even though the court rejected his claims, additional appeals would’ve taken several more years.

Richard Ramirez and Doreen Lioy

During this extended delay, Richard Ramirez met a female admirer named Doreen Lioy who had struck up a correspondence with him. And in 1996, he married her while he was on death row.

“He’s kind, he’s funny, he’s charming,” Lioy said one year later. “I think he’s a really great person. He’s my best friend; he’s my buddy.”

For years she claimed that she would take her own life if Richard was executed, however, they divorced after a few years when she found out about the nine-year-old.

Ultimately, Richard Ramirez died of complications from B-cell lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system, in 2013. He was 53 years old.

While he was alive, Ramirez never expressed remorse for any of his crimes. In fact, he often appeared to take pleasure in his infamy.

“Everybody has got good and evil in them. I’d like to be 100% evil but, I can’t. I’m too easy-going sometimes. Then again, while anger and hate are two things some people can cope with, I cannot. My anger and hate grow to a level that I cannot live comfortably with it.”

“It’s just evil. It’s just pure evil,” said Peter Zazzara, the son of victim Vincent Zazzara, in 2006. “I don’t know why somebody would want to do something like that. To take joy in the way it happened.”


1 comment

  1. Glad I found these Podcasts – you both do an excellent job digging into the detail, as awful as some of it may be to hear. This one hits close to home I grew up in LA and was a young boy during Ramirez’s killing spree and lived in the heart of a lot of his killings the San Gabriel Valley. Brings back some not so good memories and some good ones too in terms of bonding with my dad, a single father, who taught me how to safely handle and use a firearm at this time. Even though I was probably younger than he would have hoped to teach me how to handle a firearm he travelled a lot and wanted my older brother and I to be prepared. My dad was (ex Navy) who lost his father very young so he really doted on my brother and I. Despite the awfulness of this crime spree it did a lot to gel my Dad, my brother and I in what were tough/thin money times for us as he was making his way alone with a couple of boys in tow in LA. I guess the point is that while sometimes bad circumstances lead to a killer like Ramirez it also hardens good people, like my father, to turn it into something good / positive for his kids. We were scared but not helpless because of my Dad and there is a difference. My dad is still with us and now doting on my children. For all the hatred Ramirez experienced in his life there are so many more good people out there like my father. Like Rustin Cohle says at the end of True Detective: “If you ask me, the light is winning.” Damn straight.

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