Infamous 1980s serial killer Richard Ramirez had sat on Death Row in San Quentin for the last 24 years. Deemed the "Night Stalker" by media during his criminal rampage, Ramirez was admitted to a local hospital last week, before dying early Friday. The official cause of death has been ruled as kidney failure, but because of a lot of red tape from the prison system, further details will not be known for some time. Ramirez was 53.
Ramirez was born in El Paso, Texas in 1960. By the time he was in his early 20's the amateur thief and drifter had made his way to Southern California. He already had a criminal history and was a regular drug user. The summer of 1984 saw the arrival of fear and panic in the greater Los Angeles area, reminiscent of the Manson family atrocities in the late 1960s. Windows and doors were locked, handguns were kept by dressers in neighborhoods that had never seen such violence.
It all started with breaking into homes to support himself, and his growing drug habit. Ramirez, who had been nicknamed "Dedos", Spanish for 'fingers' as a result of his youthful thievery, made his entrance into homes through unlocked windows or doors, and usually killed any males inside, and then raping, before usually also killing, any females.
Sometimes by oversight, or perhaps on purpose, Ramirez left a few victims with their life, although they would be physically and mentally scarred forever, like Bill Carns, one of the Night Stalker's last victims, whom he shot in the head several times and was left partially paralyzed. If acts such as those committed by Ramirez can be thought of as anything similar to typical, this was a typical attack for Ramirez, as after he shot Carns and thought him dead, we won't get too graphic here, but he forced Carns' girlfriend to perform sexual acts on him after making her swear her allegiance to Satan.
From the summer of 1984 through the next year, the area in and around Los Angeles heard stories of home invasions in which the home owners were usually killed. Descriptions made by survivors led police to put out a composite sketch of the suspect. During this time, Ramirez continued his spree with no concern about the media attention he was drawing. An equal-opportunity murderer, Ramirez killed both men and women, from ages 9 to over 60, and crossed cultural boundaries as well. He appeared to be an opportunistic impulse killer rather than the typical, profile-fitting serial killer. His calling card, so to speak, were the satanic symbols often left at the crime scene; pentagrams painted with the blood of the victims, on the victims.
Scared that the picture of him on the news would get him captured, Ramirez attempted to steal a Ford Mustang from the owner's driveway. The owner, a teenager, spotted him and went outside with his dad to confront the man. Neighbors gathered, and there were reports that Ramirez was beaten by the mob. When officers arrived, they found chaos, everyone trying to explain what had happened at once. They noticed at least one impromptu mob member wielding a long steel pipe. The mob-members had already identified Ramirez from the police sketch. Ramirez begged the officers ,"Dejame en paz! Dejame en paz!" or 'Leave me in peace.' in Spanish.
Following his arrest was a media-circus trial also similar to that of Charles Manson's. Ramirez groupies, identifying with the dark, rebellious young man, showed up to court as groupies, dressed clad in black as Ramirez often dressed. Several of the groupies were young, impressionable women, who found something not only mysterious, but also handsome and lust-worthy in the defendant. Ramirez took to wearing sunglasses in the courtroom, and refused when asked to remove them.
The trial was much like a horror show, in which jurors were shown gruesome crime scene photos and heard, described in detail, how one victim's eyes were gouged out and another nearly beheaded. The trial costed LA County $1.8 million, which was not surpassed until the O.J, Simpson trial. Ramirez would often draw pentagrams on his palms for photographers to see, and would shout "Hail Satan," during the proceedings. He was convicted for 13 murders, 5 attempted murders, 11 counts of sexual assault, and 14 counts of burglary. upon hearing this, he formed the symbol of horns using 2 fingers and mouthed the word "Evil."
Days later the death sentence was handed down. Ramirez relpied, "Big Deal. Death always went with the territory," before adding, "I'll see you in Disneyland." While appearing before the judge to be officially sentenced, Ramirez said, "You do not understand me. I do not expect you to. You are not capable of it. I am beyond your experience. I am beyond good and evil. Legions of the night, night breed, repeat not the errors of night prowler and show no mercy. I will be avenged. Lucifer dwells within us all."
The story of the Night Stalker doesn't end there, however. One woman, Doreen Lioy, sat through the trial faithfully, wrote him letters, and even visited him in prison. It was there in 1996 that the two were married. In an interview, she described Ramirez as "funny, charming, and kind" and added , "I think he's a really great person. He's my best friend; he's my buddy." Friends and family have described Debbie as detached from reality and as living in a fantasy world.
|Ramirez and Doreen|
Ramirez was taken from San Quentin and admitted to Marin General Hospital north of San Francisco. The Department of Corrections reported his death early Friday, of natural causes. It has since been reported that the actual cause of death was liver failure, nothing else has yet been released. One witness reported seeing Ramirez the day before he died, and described his skin as having a green color to it, "He looked like a highlighter."
While it wasn't in a gas chamber or while strapped to a bed an a lethal cocktail injected into him, perhaps the death of Ramirez will bring closure to the victims he left, and the families of those he didn't. Not once did he show any remorse for his actions, or deny his guilt. With all the outbursts during his trial, and his self-proclaimed adherence to Satanism, surely he was tested to ensure he was competent to stand trial, but the mental health of the Night Stalker can't help but be questioned. Yes, his crimes were horrendous, some unspeakable, but surely he knew the difference in right and wrong, since he claimed allegiance with the King of Wrong, Satan himself. Of all the outrageous claims Ramirez made, we're certain that one of them came to fruition, "I have no fear of dying, Satan's waiting on me in Hell." I'm sure he was waiting...
For those of you with the stomach and twisted mind that wants to see the crime scene photos, click here. Warning - not for the kiddos!!!
|updated mugshot - 2007|