This is the last Saturday of September. This month I have showcased some of the bigger names in true crime, Charles Manson, Ted Bundy, and Jeffrey Dahmer. This week we are jumping into the Night Stalker, Richard Ramirez.
Richard was born in 1960 in El Paso, TX. He was the youngest of five kids, and his father was an alcoholic who would often break into fits of rage and physically abuse his wife and children. This abuse caused Richard to sleep in the local cemetery.
At 12 years old, the young Richard was influenced and looked up to his cousin, Mike, who was a Green Beret and served in Vietnam. Now Mike was rather sick on his own, but sharing his sickness with his younger cousin is even more reprehensible. Mike had many polaroid photos of him in Vietnam, raping women who were both Vietcong, and communist sympathizers. He would then decapitate them with a machete, all recorded in his twisted scrapbook. Mike also shared with Richard some of his military skills which would be used in his future crimes. Richard would later say that these pictures fascinated him. Mike was committed to a hospital for the crime, as he was not guilty by reason of insanity, and was released in 1977.
In 1973, Mike was sentenced to prison for murdering his wife, while 13 year old Richard was in the room to witness the crime. Afterwards, Richard went to live with his sister, Ruth, and her husband, Roberto. Roberto was a peeping tom and took his young brother-in-law along with him on his nightly tours.
By the time Richard was 14 years old, he was taking LSD and showed an intense interest in Satanism and the occult. Mike would continue to influence Richard over drug use and by joining in on the nocturnal visits with Roberto.
Richard worked at the Holiday Inn where he would steal from sleeping guests, he had sexually molested two children in the elevator, and would eventually attempt to rape a woman in her room. Charges weren’t pressed, as the couple didn’t return to the state to testify against him.
After dropping out of high school in the ninth grade, Richard moved to California.
Richard began murdering in April in 1984. Mei Leung, 9 years old, was looking for a $1 bill that she had lost. Richard approached her and told her he knew where it was, and told her to follow him. In the basement where Richard led her, he beat, strangled, and raped the child. He then stabbed her to death before hanging her partially naked body from a pipe near her house. This crime wasn’t attributed to Richard Ramirez, until 2009.
His crimes began first as The Valley Intruder, he later became the Night Stalker:
- June 1984, Jennie Vincow, murdered in her apartment. She had been stabbed and nearly decapitated. His fingerprint was left on the mesh screen. This murder set the pattern for Richard’s crimes; breaking into homes, violently attacking and murdering the occupants and frequently burglarizing the homes to support his cocaine habit and pay his rent.
- March 1985, Maria Hernandez was attacked outside her home, she was shot in the face when entering her garage. Her roommate, Dayle Yoshie Okazaki, heard the gunshots and when she looked over the counter she too was shot in the head, dying instantly. Maria survived her attack.
- An hour later, Tsai-Lian “Veronica” Yu, was pulled from her car, and he shot her twice. She died at the hospital.
- March 1985, about 10 days after attacking the last 3 victims. Richard re-entered a home he burglarized a year before. He shot and killed Vincent Charles Zazzara. Vincent’s wife, Maxine, was woken from the shots. Richard bound her hands, and asked where the valuables were. Maxine was able to escape her bonds and grab a shotgun from under the bed, it was unloaded. Infuriated, Richard shot her three times, and then grabbed a kitchen knife and stabbed her several times, and removed her eyes. Keeping them in a jewelry box that he took from the home, and kept until his arrest.
- May 1985, Richard entered the home of Bill and Lillian Doi. Bill was shot and beaten into unconsciousness. Lillian was disabled and was in a separate room, Richard restrained her, raped her, and demanded the valuables. Bill died at the hospital, Lillian passed away later from her injuries.
- May 1985, Mabel “Ma” Bell and her disabled sister Florence “Nettie” Lang, were attacked in their home. Nettie was bound and beaten with a hammer, Mabel was shocked with an electrical cord. Nettie was raped. A Satanic pentagram was on the walls and Nettie’s thigh. Both women were found two days later, they were alive but comatose and critically injured. Mabel would die later from her injuries.
- The next day, while driving the same stolen car, Richard entered the home of Carol Kyle. Carol and her 11 year old son, were bound, and then Richard had Carol lead him to the families valuables. He repeatedly raped her, instructing her to not look at him or he would cut her eyes out. He then tied both the mother and son together and fled the scene.
- July 1985, driving another stolen car, Richard stabbed to death Mary Louise Cannon. She was found dead at the scene.
- Three days later, Richard broke into a house and bludgeoned Whitney Bennett with a tire iron. Unable to find a knife in the kitchen, he attempted to strangle her with a phone cord. Seeing sparks from the cord, Richard noticed Whitney was still breathing, and he fled. He thought that Jesus Christ has saved Whitney. She survived but needed almost 500 stitches to close the lacerations on her scalp.
- Two days later, Joyce Lucille Nelson’s home was burglarized. Richard found her asleep on the couch, and beat her to death by stomping on her face repeatedly. A shoe print from an Avia sneaker was found on her face.
- The same night he arrived at the home of Sarah Dickman. He assaulted and handcuffed her attempted to rape her, stole her jewelry and asked if he had everything of value. He told her to “Swear to Satan.”
- About 2 weeks later, still in July of 1985, Richard purchased a machete, before stealing another car before entering the home of Maxon and Lela Kneiding. He entered their bedroom and hacked them to death before also shooting them in the head. He then stole the valuables from their home.
- A few hours later, Richard entered the home of Chainarong Khovananth. He shot him in the head and then repeatedly raped and beat Somkid Khovananth. He bound their 8 year old son, before dragging her around the house to point out any valuables which he stole. Again he had her “Swear to Satan” that she wasn’t hiding any money.
- August 1985, Chris and Virginia Peterson, Richard shot Virginia in the face, he then he shot Chris in the neck before he fled the house. The couple survived their injuries.
- Two days later, another stolen car, Elyas and Sakina Abowath, were attacked. Elyas was shot and killed immediately. Handcuffing and beating Sakina, he forced her to tell him where the jewelry was. He repeatedly raped her; he also demanded that she “Swear to Satan” that she won’t scream during her attack. Her 3 year old son, came into the room, Richard tied up the child and continued to rape Sakina. After Richard left, Sakina untied her son and had him go to the neighbors for help.
- 10 days later, August 1985, watching the news coverage of the now dubbed Night Stalker, Richard went to San Francisco and entered the home of Peter and Barbara Pan. Shooting Peter in the temple, killing him instantly. He beat and sexually assaulted Barbara before shooting her in the head and leaving her for dead. He again drew a pentagram, and an Avia shoe print was found at the scene of the crime. When it was discovered of the similarities the then Mayor of San Francisco shared the ballistics, shoe print evidence and the caliber of bullet with the media. This infuriated Los Angeles investigators. In fact Richard had seen this broadcast, and immediately tossed his shoes over the side of the Golden Gate Bridge.
- A week later, August 1985, Richard arrived at the home of James Romero Jr. James’ son, heard something outside and went to wake his parents. Richard fled. The son noted the car, color, and make and a partial license plate number.
- After leaving the scene, Richard entered the home of sleeping couple Bill Carns, and Inez Erickson. He shot Bill three times in the head. Richard admitted he was the Night Stalker, and bound her with ties from the closet, and beat her with his fists. After stealing what he could find, he pulled Inez into another room and raped her. Inez untied herself after he left and went to the neighbors for help. Both victims survived their injuries, Bill has one bullet still inside him.
Inez provided a detailed description of the attacker. Police also were also able to get a shoe print from the Romero home. The stolen car was found in Koreatown, and one fingerprint was found in the vehicle. The print was identified as Richard Ramirez, a 25 year old drifter from Texas. He had a long rap sheet for traffic and illegal drug violations. Police released a picture of Richard Ramirez to the media on August 29, 1985.
On August 30, Richard boarded a bus to Tucson, Arizona; he was unaware that he was the main story on all newspapers and news stations in the area. Reaching Tucson, and not seeing his brother, Richard returned to Los Angeles. The police in the bus station missed seeing Richard. He didn’t even realize he was identified until he went into a convenience store. After realizing he was identified, he attempted to carjack a woman, but didn’t succeed. He was subdued by residents and beat him mercilessly until police arrived.
September 20, 1989 the trial was over, and Richard was convicted of all 13 counts of murder, 5 counts of attempted murder, 11 sexual assaults, and 14 burglaries. His trial was the most expensive in California history, until surpassed by OJ Simpson in 1994.
Richard Ramirez was sentenced to death. While on death row, the fans wrote to Richard, including Doreen Lioy who wrote 75 letters to him starting in 1985. Eventually the two would wed, and Doreen said she would commit suicide when he was executed. However in 2009, when the DNA came back that he was responsible for the rape and murder of Mei Leung.
Richard Ramirez died in 2013 from complications from B-Cell Lymphoma. He was 53, and it was predicted that he would have been in his 70’s before he was executed due to the lengthy appeals process in California.
A committed Satanist during the majority of his life, I hope that Richard is happy in the afterlife in hell. He didn’t show remorse in any of his crimes, and his crimes are disgusting and portray the worst of human society. I hope the victims of his crimes have been able to heal and move forward with their lives.
Be strong, make good choices, stay safe