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Murderer Monday: “Night Stalker”

I love researching these cases but they are all so gruesome. On the whole I try and avoid really graphic ones but I’m actually running out of cases. I think next week I’ll talk about BTK but his case sounds very gruesome so I’ll psych myself up to research him for a few days. This week it’s another satanic ritual killing case. This guy is also a more chatty serial killer so there will be lots of quotes included from him as well.

“You don’t understand me. You are not expected to. You are not capable. I am beyond your experience. I am beyond good and evil. I will be avenged.” 

Early Life:

Ricardo Leyva “Richard” Muñoz Ramírez was born in Texas in 1960, the youngest of 5. His father, as in many of these cases, was abusive and prone to violent outbursts. As a child he sustained 2 serious head injuries. When he was 2, a big dresser fell on him and required him to have 30 stitches in his forehead. At the age of 5, he was knocked unconscious by a swing at the park which caused him to suffer epileptic seizures until he was a teenager.

There was one particular person that influenced Richard as a youngster, his older cousin Miguel who served in the U.S Army. Miguel would boast about the gruesome things he experienced in the Vietnam war. He would show the young Richard polaroid photos of women he had raped and attacked. Some photos showed him posing with the severed heads of unidentified women. They would smoke marijuana together since Richard was 10 and he idolised his cousin and his stories. Miguel taught Richard some of his military skills such as how to kill people quickly.

Teenage Years:

When Richard was 13 he witnessed Miguel shoot his wife at point blank range during an argument, killing her instantly. After this event, family noticed he became sullen and withdrawn. He eventually moved in with his older sister and her husband Roberto. Roberto’s hobby was to stalk and watch women through their windows at night, and he would take Richard with him. It was around this period in his life that he developed an interest in Satanism. Miguel was deemed not guilty by reason of insanity and released after 4 years. He continued to have an influence over Richard.

Richard had a couple of jobs when he was young. He worked at a Holiday Inn where he used his access key to rob people. This job also allowed him to test his sexual fantasies. His employment ended after a guest returned to their room and found Richard trying to rape his wife. The guest beat him almost senseless for this but criminal charges were dropped as the couple decided not to testify. After he dropped out of High School, he moved to California.

His upbringing seemed the typical Molotov cocktail to produce a serial killer.

Murders:

On April 10th 1984, when Richard was 24, a 9 year old girl was found murdered in a hotel basement in the district Richard was living in. She was found hanging from a pipe and had been attacked and sexually assaulted. This case wasn’t found to be part of his killing spree until 2009, when DNA left at the crime scene was eventually linked back to him.

In June of 1984, a 79 year old woman was found stabbed to death in her bed. Richard’s fingerprint was found on the mesh window screen that he prised open to gain entry. Over the nest 2 years he killed 13 people and attacked loads more who survived. We would literally be here all day going through all of the gruesome crimes he committed. He killed 3 girls in one day in March 1985, shooting them all in the face.

In May of 1985 he changed weapon and used a hammer and an electrical cable on a pair of old ladies. It seems he had no modus operandis and only wanted to kill. It was this killing of the elderly ladies that made the police realise a serial killer was at large as he left bullets and footprints that matched those left at other crime scenes.

At this scene, Richard had also used lipstick to draw pentagrams on the ladies thighs and the walls of their bedrooms. His other weapons were irons, knives, his own fists. He also stole jewellery and valuables from nearly all of his victims. He killed several more people before he drew his next pentagram. In August 1985 he killed a 62 year old woman and again scrawled a pentagram and “Jack the Knife” on her bedroom wall. Many surviving victims also confessed that he made them “swear to Satan”.

“I love to kill people. I love to watch them die.”

Discovery:

Stupidly, the Mayor released police knowledge that they were looking for a serial killer, to the press. This infuriated the police as they were worried that the killer would be following the news. They were right. It was now public knowledge that the police knew exactly what type of shoes and shoe size the killer had. This led Richard to throw his trainers over the Golden Gate Bridge. A special task force was then set up to solely focus on capturing him.

Richard stole a lot of cars to get away with his crimes. Once he realised the police were potentially on to him, he stole an orange Toyota and drove 76 miles south for his next murder. He targeted a family with a 13 year old son. Richard’s footsteps outside the property woke the boy who believed it was a burglar and woke his father. Richard fled the scene but not before James was able to run outside and see the car and the number plate.

Straight after this near-miss he attacked another couple in their house. He shot the male then told the terrified female that he was “The Night Stalker” and making her swear allegiance to Satan before brutally attacking her. When he left he told her to “tell them The Night Stalker was here”. She managed to get help and was able to give police a detailed description of their attacker.

The stolen car was found a couple of days later. It had been completely wiped down, all except for a partial fingerprint found on the rearview mirror. This led them straight to Richard as he had a history of theft and drug violations. Police decided to release their findings to the press, giving The Night Stalker a face. They announced at a press conference that, “We know who you are now, and soon everyone else will. There will be no place you can hide.”

Capture:

2 days later, Richard was on a bus to Arizona to visit his brother. He had no idea that he was the lead news story at the time. He returned the day later and walked straight past officers who were looking for him at the bus stations should he attempt to flee. On his way out, a group of elderly Mexican women referred to him as “El Matador”, meaning “The Killer”. Richard fled and noticed his face on the front of every newspaper in a passing stall. The car chase included over 7 police cars and a helicopter. He attempted to carjack a woman but was chased away by bystanders. He hopped over several fences and made 2 more attempts at a carjacking, but was eventually subdued by residents. One man hit him over the head with a metal pole. Police arrived and took Richard into custody.

Trial:

There were lots of issues surrounding the jury in July 1988, even before his trial began. At his first appearance he raised his hand with a pentagram drawn on it and shouted “Hail Satan!”. In jail, some inmates reported overhearing him planning to smuggle a gun into the courtroom and shoot the prosecutor. This led to a metal detector being installed as well as rigorous searches of everyone who entered the room throughout the trial.

On August 14th the trial was interrupted because a female juror didn’t show up. She was found shot to death in her apartment later that day. The jury were all terrified that somehow Richard had orchestrated this from his prison cell and that the same could happen to them. However, it turned out that she had been murdered by her boyfriend who had later committed suicide.

He attracted a cult-like following of supporters during the trial, many of whom were black-clad Satan worshipers. Richard often dressed in black himself, along with dark sunglasses, for his courtroom appearances. The trial took months because there were over 50,000 pages to go through.

Richard was convicted of 13 murders, 5 attempted murders, 11 sexual assaults and 4 burglaries. He was sentenced to death via the gas chamber. After this announcement, he stated to reporters; “Big deal. Death always went with the territory. See you in Disneyland”. This trial was the most expensive up until the O.J Simpson trial, costing $3.55 million dollars.

“We are all evil in some form or another, are we not?”

Relationships and Appeals:

When he was in prison, he received many fan letters from women with hybristophilia – attraction to serial killers. One fan in particular was Doreen Lioy, who wrote him nearly 75 letters. In 1988, Richard proposed to her and in 1996 they were married in the California State Prison. She had always stated that she would commit suicide when Richard was executed, however they separated in before this could happen.

Richard had a very skeletal appearance that he was renowned for. His years of drug use also had a degrading effect on his teeth. Not long after his arrest, taxpayer money paid to have his rotten teeth replaced. He still looked scary afterwards though, it didn’t do much.

In 2006 his first round of appeals was refused and his death sentence was upheld. Some estimate that due to California’s lengthy appeal process, Richard would be in his 70’s when he was eventually executed. His further requests for appeals were also denied.

Death:

Richard died in hospital on June 7th 2013 due to complications with secondary B-Cell Lymphoma. He had suffered with chronic substance abuse and hepatitis C as well. He was 53 years old and had been on death row for more than 23 years of his life.

“Even psychopaths have emotions. Then again, maybe not.”

Richard Ramirez has fascinated so many people that he has been made the subject of many books and films. His blatant disregard for all humans meant he will remain one of the most prolific serial killers ever.

Sources:
  • https://www.ranker.com/list/serial-killers-with-nicknames/ranker-crime
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Ramirez
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MC5huwZoPZA
  • https://www.cbsnews.com/news/james-romero-helped-capture-night-stalker-richard-ramirez/
  • https://www.biography.com/people/richard-ramirez-12385163
  • https://serialkillershop.com/blogs/true-crime/richard-ramirez-night-stalker
  • http://allthatsinteresting.com/richard-ramirez-night-stalker
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