Richard Ramirez

From Academic Kids

Missing image
Police mug shot of Ramirez

Richard Leyva Ramirez (born February 29, 1960 in El Paso, Texas) is a convicted serial killer awaiting execution on California's death row. Prior to his capture, Ramirez was dubbed the "Night Stalker" by the news media as he terrorized California with a series of car and home abductions, rapes, and murders during the first half of 1985.

Criminal Career

It is speculated that Ramirez was influenced to go on his killing spree by the stories told by his cousin who claimed to have been a Green Beret in Vietnam. The cousin boasted to the thirteen year old Ramirez of torturing and mutilating Vietnamese women and showed him grisly Polaroid pictures, purportedly of his victims. Ramirez was also present when the cousin murdered his wife (blood from her shooting is said to have splattered on Ramirez's face), another possible influencing factor in his future actions.

Ramirez' first known victim was a 79-year-old woman who he sexually assualted and stabbed to death during a burglary of her home on June 28, 1984.

Ramirez committed his second known murder on March 17 and tried to kill his victim's roommate at the same time, but she was able to escape and give police a description of her attacker. Media attention increased, and started to cause general alarm after a second attack later that day of a 30-year-old woman, who was dragged from her car and shot. She died the next day. The news media dubbed the attacker, who was described as having long curly hair, bulging eyes and wide-spaced rotting teeth, "The Valley Intruder".

Three days later, Ramirez abducted an Eagle Rock girl from her home and sexually assaulted her. On March 27 he killed a 64-year-old man, fatally stabbed his 44-year-old wife, and then proceeded to carve her eyes out while she was still alive. Their bodies were discovered two days later when their worried son paid a visit.

At this point, a multi-county full-scale police investigation was in operation. They worked through the month of April with no additional attacks by Ramirez.

Ramirez then invaded the home of a 65-year-old man and his wife in Monterey Park. He shot the man in the head and was about to kill his wife when the dying man was able to scare Ramirez away by dialing 9-1-1. The man was pronounced dead when police arrived. A little more than a week later, Ramirez severely beat two women in their 80's after invading their home (one woman would later die of her injuries). Before leaving the home, he inked Satanic pentagrams on one of the women in her own blood.

In June and July, three more women were killed. Two had their throats slit, one was beaten to death, and all three had their homes invaded in the process. On July 20 he again struck twice. In Sun Valley he killed a 32-year-old man, beat and raped his wife, and proceeded to forcibly sodomize their 8-year-old son while making his bleeding mother listen. Later in the same day, Ramirez shot to death a Glendale couple aged in their 60's.

On August 8 Ramirez critically wounded a Northridge couple by shooting them in their home. The description of their attacker fit the previous ones given for "The Valley Intruder".

Ramirez then left the Los Angeles area, and on August 17, he shot to death a 66-year-old man in San Francisco, also shooting and beating his wife. The wife survived her wounds and was able to identify her attacker as "The Valley Intruder" from police sketches. Since "The Valley Intruder" no longer fit the modus operandi of the attacker, the news media re-dubbed him the "Night Stalker".

The next big break in the case came on August 24 when Ramirez shot a 29-year-old man in his head and raped his fiance. The man was able to give a description of both Ramirez and his orange Toyota station wagon. A teenager later identified the car from news reports and wrote down its license plate number.

The stolen car was found on August 28, and police were able to obtain a complete set of fingerprints from the vehicle. The prints belonged to one Richard Ramirez, who was described as a 25-year-old drifter from Texas with a long rap sheet that included many arrests for traffic and illegal drug violations. Two days later, his mug shots were broadcast on national television and printed on the cover of every major newspaper in California.

The next day Ramirez was recognized, and then mobbed and beaten by residents of a Latino neighborhood in East Los Angeles as he was trying to steal a car. Police had to break up the mob to prevent them from killing Ramirez.

Trial and Conviction

Jury selection for the case started on July 22, 1988, and on September 20, 1989, he was found guilty of 13 counts of murder, 5 attempted murders, 11 sexual assaults and 14 burglaries. During the close of the penalty phase of the trial on November 7, 1989, he was sentenced to die in California's gas chamber.

The trial of Richard Ramirez was one of the hardest and longest criminal trials in history. Nearly 1,600 prospective jurors were interviewed, and some of the over one hundred witnesses had a difficult time with memory recall four years after the crimes. However, others were quite certain of their identification of Richard Ramirez.

On August 3, 1988, the Los Angeles Times reported that jail employees had overheard a plan by Ramirez to shoot and kill the prosecutor with a gun that someone was going to smuggle to him in the courtroom. A metal detector was installed outside the courtroom and even the lawyers were searched.

On August 14, the trial was interrupted because juror Ms. Phyllis Singletary did not arrive. That day she was found dead in her apartment. The jury was terrified; they could not help but wonder if Ramirez had somehow directed this event from inside his prison cell and if he might have something similar done to another of them. The next news was that she was shot and killed by her boyfriend, who later killed himself with the same weapon in a hotel. The alternate juror who replaced Singletary was so afraid she couldn't even walk to her place.

By the time of the trial, Ramirez had many female fans who were writing him letters and paying him visits. Starting in 1985, freelance magazine editor Doreen Lioy wrote him nearly 75 letters during his incarceration. In 1988 he proposed to her, and on October 3, 1996, they were married in California's San Quentin State Prison.

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