We talk about Richard Ramirez, The Night Stalker

Episodes

This is part of a series of episodes on Serial Killer Files.

The Night Stalker

Richard Ramirez was a serial killer nicknamed The Night Stalker who terrorized LA area in the 1980s. He was convicted and sentenced to death for 13 murders, 11 sexual assaults, 14 burglaries and 5 attempted murders.

In Shankar’s words:

The first time I heard about Richard Ramirez was in 2007. My school library had this book on serial killers which I happened to take home for a week. It detailed the antics of serial killers such as Ted Bundy (of course), BTK, Gary Ridgeway, Jack the Ripper, and more.

The fact that the book got through the censorship of the school escapes me. As a parent, I would not want my kid to read a book as such at the age of 16. But as a kid, though it was gruesome, I kind of enjoyed reading about these people who murdered and raped mercilessly.

I had already read about Ted Bundy, BTK, and most of the other well known serial killers from the Ann Rule article in the Reader’s Digest. So, reading about them in this book just refreshed my memories.

But Ramirez was someone I had never heard about. His story caught my attention. A tall, dark, Hispanic man who went on raping, killing, and stealing from everywhere for the kicks and to feed his addiction. He was convicted for 13 counts of murder, 11 counts of sexual assault, 14 counts of burglary, and 5 counts of attempted murder.

But how did he end up there? What were the reasons which lead him to commit such heinous crimes? Let us dig deep.

Modus Operandi

He did not have a particular motive most of the time. He attacked and killed the men first. Sexually assaulted the women and brutally killed them. One motive was to grab hold of valuables to fuel his substance abuse.

Family and Childhood

Born in El Paso, Texas, on 29 February 1960, he was the youngest in the family of five children. He had two brothers with disabilities and a sister. He had a Catholic upbringing attending church and services on a regular basis. His father was a former policeman and was abusive in the way he treated his children.

His mother worked in a factory. She kept breathing in the harmful fumes produced by the factory, day in and day out. This is attributed to her two children being born with disabilities. Richard was born without any disabilities. He used to protect his brothers from bullying in school. He had a good name and was popular among the girls in school.

Factors which might have shaped his psychopathic behaviour

  • Abusive father who beat him and his brothers up.
  • Accidental head injuries during childhood leading to epileptic seizures.
  • Cousin Miguel who introduced him the gruesome details of the Vietnam war and the crimes the veterans committed
  • Substance abuse leading from marijuana to cocaine and heroin.
  • The Peeping Tom.

Crimes

Holiday Inn incident 10 April, 1984 - First murder. Mei Leung, 9, was found murdered in a hotel basement where Ramirez was staying. 28 June, 1984 - First murder as The Night Stalker.