Richard Ramírez was born on February 29, 1960, in El Paso, Texas. he is an American serial killer awaiting execution on California's death row
at San Quentin State Prison. Prior to his arrest, the media dubbed the unknown serial killer active in Los Angeles, California, the "Night Stalker"
following his arrest, reporting of his apparent interest in the occult and Satanism was common.
Ricardo (Richard) Muñoz Ramírez was, the youngest of five children to working class Mexican immigrants Julián Ramírez and Mercedes Muñoz.
As a child, he was quiet and a loner. When Ramírez was two, he developed a contusion in his head after a dresser fell on him, and he had to
receive over 30 stitches. He also suffered from grand mal seizures and was diagnosed with temporal lobe epilepsy when he was six. By the
age of 10, Ramírez reportedly began to spend nights in cemeteries.
When Ramírez was 13 years old, he began to spend a great deal of time with his cousin Mike, a Special Forces Vietnam War veteran. Mike
fascinated Ramírez with Polaroid photographs of Vietnamese women whom he boasted of killing and torturing. The two spent time smoking
cannabis and driving around and, according to Ramírez, during that time Mike taught him to shoot and cut people for "maximum effect".
Mike murdered his wife while Ramírez was 2-3 feet away. After that, Ramírez started skipping school, and he
continued smoking cannabis and began sniffing glue by the seventh grade. He soon took to stealing, in part to
support his drug use. He attended Thomas Jefferson High School in El Paso, Texas, dropping out before completing
even one year. During this time period, Ramírez was arrested twice for possession of illegal substances.
He thereafter lived the life of a slacker, smoking cannabis and living on junk food, according to UPI reporters Aurelio
Rojas and K. Mack Sisk. Because of his poor hygiene and sugar-rich diet, Ramírez' teeth eventually started to rot,
which made his breath foul and offensive. His habitual drug use, which had by this time progressed to daily use of
cocaine, led to several arrests for possession as well as a charge for misdemeanor theft. Ramírez was arrested
twice for auto theft in California, in Pasadena in 1981 and in Los Angeles in 1984.
Michael D. Harris, reporting for UPI, wrote that years later Ramírez' father would maintain that Richard was a "good
associated with Satanism, on his own body. At his trial, he would shout "Hail Satan!" in open court. Ramírez was a
boy" whose drug use "put him out of control". Richard often drew the five-point pentagram, a symbol sometimes
associated with Satanism, on his own body. At his trial, he would shout "Hail Satan!" in open court. Ramírez was a
big fan of hard rock and heavy metal bands that sang about hell and the devil. He was said to be a fan of AC/DC
and, in particular, their song "Night Prowler".
On June 28, 1984, following a night of shooting cocaine, Ramírez removed a screen and entered the window of 79-year-old Jennie Vincow, of
Glassell Park, Los Angeles. Vincow's son, Jack, discovered her body the next afternoon. She was sprawled out on the bed, stabbed repeatedly,
her throat slashed so deeply she was nearly decapitated. Ramírez also ransacked her apartment. Fingerprints were recovered from the
Maria Hernandez and Dayle Okazaki
On March 17, 1985, 22-year-old Maria Hernandez was assulted as she left her car in the garage of the condominium that she shared with a
roommate, Dayle Okazaki, age 34, in Rosemead. Hernandez described Ramírez as tall and dressed entirely in black, with a baseball cap pulled
low over his brow. He was holding a gun. Ramírez shot at her face as she raised her hands in self-defense. The bullet hit Hernandez in the
hand, having been deflected by her keys. She fell to the ground and Ramírez pushed Hernandez aside and entered the condominium.
Hernandez lay still for some time until she heard the door closing, whereupon she went outside. As she approached the front door of the
condominium, Ramírez was leaving. She ducked down behind a car as Ramírez raised the gun at her. Hernandez asked him not to shoot her
again and he lowered the gun and ran away.
Hernandez entered the condominium through the front door, and found Okazaki lying dead on the kitchen floor. She had been shot through
the forehead from a short distance. Her blouse had been pulled up. Hernandez then called the police. Later an autopsy retrieved a .22-caliber
bullet from Okazaki's skull.
Outside police found a blue baseball-style cap with the name AC/DC on the front. At trial, a witness later testified that the cap looked like one
Ramírez wore. Hernandez also identified Ramírez as her attacker at a police lineup and later at trial.
That same night after the assault of Maria Sophia Hernandez and the murder of Dayle Okazaki, a car driven by Tsia-Lian Yu was forced to a
stop by a car driven by a man later identified as Ramírez, near Monterey Park. Ramírez approached Yu's car and pulled her out.
Joseph Duenas stepped out onto the balcony of his second-floor apartment after hearing a woman screaming for help. Duenas went inside and
called the police, then stepped back onto the balcony. Duenas observed the scene as the man pushed Yu away, got into her car and drove
away. As Ramírez drove, he passed a car containing Jorge Gallegos and his girlfriend. Gallegos saw the driver’s profile and noted the number of
the license plate of the car. Both men later testified at trial.
Yu crawled a short distance away and lay still. Police found Yu breathing but unconscious. Yu stopped breathing and CPR was administered
until the ambulance arrived. She was pronounced dead at the Lake House Inn. The autopsy revealed that she had been shot twice in the
chest at close range, and the bullet recovered was found to be fired from the same gun used to kill Dayle Okazaki.
Vincent and Maxine Zazzara
, two more victims were discoveredOn the morning of March 27, 1985. Vincent Zazzara, age 64, was a retired investment counselor who
operated his own pizzeria. He was found by his son Peter, who had come to visit. After ringing the bell several times he let himself in. Vincent
was on the sofa in the den, shot through the left temple. He appeared to have died instantly. His wife, Maxine Zazzara, age 44, was found
stretched out in her bed, face up and naked. Her eyes had been gouged out and she had been stabbed repeatedly around the face, neck,
abdomen, and groin areas. There was a large T-shaped knife wound in her left breast. An autopsy later revealed that, like her husband, she
had first been shot in the head and most likely died instantly, and the stabbing and mutilation occurred after death. The house had been
ransacked and burglarized.
William and Lillian Doi
On April 15, two weeks after the murders of Vincent and Maxine Zazzara, Richard Ramírez returned to Monterey Park and broke into the home
of William and Lillian Doi, ages 66 and 63 respectively, waking them from their sleep. Ramírez first shot Mr. Doi right above the upper lip,
causing the bullet to go through his tongue and become lodged in his throat. Then Ramírez beat him into unconsciousness. After doing this he
went into Mrs. Doi's room, slapped her, and warned her not to scream, saying "Shut up or I'll kill you, bitch." He bound her hands behind her
back with thumbcuffs to keep her still as he searched the house. After he found what he wanted, he returned to the bedroom and raped Mrs.
Mr. Doi, however, was not dead. Despite his severe head wound, he managed to crawl to Mrs. Doi's room where he dialed 911. He was unable
to tell the dispatcher what the problem was, but the call was traced and an ambulance and patrol car were dispatched to the Doi's address.
William Doi was rushed to the hospital but died in the ambulance. Lillian Doi was treated for her injuries and was able to give the police a
description of the couple's attacker.
Malvia Keller and Blanche Wolfe
The attacks continued, throwing the city of Los Angeles into a state of panic. One police official referred to the killer-rapist as the "Valley
Intruder". Several area newspapers dubbed him the "Midnight Stalker". In the spring of 1985, the frequency of his killing escalated, and by
that summer reached its peak.
On May 29, Malvia Keller, 83, and her invalid sister, Blanche Wolfe, 80, were found in Keller's Monrovia home. Both women had been beaten
severely with a hammer. When the police found the hammer later, the handle was discovered split. Wolfe had a puncture wound above one
ear. An inverted pentagram with the tip pointing down had been drawn in lipstick on Keller's inner thigh. A second pentagram was found on
the bedroom wall over Wolfe's body. Ramírez had raped Keller, the older sister. Police experts estimated that the sisters had been there about
two days after the attack before being discovered. Doctors were able to revive Wolfe, but Keller died soon afterwards.
On May 30, Ruth Wilson, 41, was awoken in the middle of the night by a flashlight shining in her face. Ramírez had silently broken into her
Burbank home and was holding a gun to her head. He ordered her to get out of bed and go to her 12-year-old son's room. Ramírez put the
gun to the child's head, warning Wilson not to make a sound. He then handcuffed the boy and locked him in a closet.
Assuming that he was only a burglar, she offered to give Ramírez her most valuable possession, a gold-and-diamond necklace. She led him to
the dresser in her bedroom where she kept it, hoping it would placate him. After rummaging through the house, he ordered Wilson to put her
hands together behind her back, tying them with pantyhose. He then pushed her onto the bed and raped her. She told Ramírez that he must
have had a "very unhappy life" to have done this to her. He reportedly told her that she looked "pretty good" for her age and said he was
going to let her live although he had killed many others. When she complained that the pantyhose around her wrists were cutting off her
circulation, he loosened them and brought her a robe before releasing her son from the closet and handcuffing them side by side. He then left
Afterward, the boy was able to get to a phone and call 911. When the police asked Wilson to describe her attacker, she told them that he was
a tall Hispanic man with long dark hair.
Mary Louise Cannon
On July 2, the body of 75-year-old Mary Louise Cannon was found in her home in Arcadia. She had been beaten, her throat slit, and her home
had been ransacked.
On July 5, Ramírez returned to Arcadia and savagely beat 16-year-old Whitney Bennett, a junior at La Cañada High School, with a tire iron.
Identified in some later accounts under the pseudonym "Deidre Palmer", she needed 478 stitches but survived her injuries. According to Philip
Carlo's 1996 biography, Bennett later married Mike Salerno, the son of Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Sergeant Frank Salerno, the
lead detective in both the Night Stalker case as well as the case of the Hillside Stranglers, after meeting the younger Salerno while waiting to
testify at trial.
Joyce Lucille Nelson
Two days later, on July 7, the body of Joyce Lucille Nelson, age 61, was found beaten to death by a blunt object in her home in Monterey Park.
Nelson was employed at Coast Envelope in Los Angeles, California.
Later that same night in Monterey Park, Sophie Dickman, a 63-year-old registered nurse, was awoken at around 3:30 a.m. by a "tall, skinny
man dressed in black". The man, who fit the description of the "Night Stalker", was pointing a gun at her. He ordered her out of bed and into
the bathroom, warning her to be quiet. After ransacking the house, he returned to her, forcing her back onto her bed. He attempted to rape
and sodomize her but could not maintain an erection. He was frustrated and humiliated, and she was sure he would kill her. He screamed at
her furiously, but then gathered the valuables he wanted and left. She was astounded that he had spared her life.
Lela and Max Kneiding
Less than two weeks later, on July 20, Ramírez went to a new location in the Los Angeles area, Glendale, to the home of Lela and Max
Kneiding, both 66. He also brought along a new weapon—a machete. Although all the windows and doors were locked, the killer cut a screen
on the French doors, reached in and unlocked them. The machete was used on Max's neck and then the killer attempted to slash Lela, but
missed. Ramírez pulled out his .22 pistol and attempted to shoot but the gun jammed. As the victims begged for their lives, Ramírez cleared the
gun and shot them to death. Then, he mutilated them after death with the machete. The house was ransacked. Ramírez had a police scanner
with him and fled the scene when a "shots fired" call came over the radio.
Christopher and Virginia Petersen
Two more victims were discovered on August 6. Christopher and Virginia Petersen, ages 38 and 27. Ramírez broke into the couple's Northridge
home through a sliding glass door. Before he entered their bedroom, he cocked his .22 automatic pistol. Virginia was a light sleeper and awoke
to a metallic "click". Ramírez advanced towards her with both hands on the gun. She yelled at him and he told her to shut up as he shot
Virginia under the left eye. The bullet went through the roof of her mouth and down her throat; exiting out the back of her neck. Chris awoke
and in the initial confusion thought it was some kind of game. He looked at his wife's face and was shot by Ramírez in the right temple but the
bullet did not pierce Chris's skull. He jumped up and attacked Ramírez only to be shot at two more times. Both shots missed. As they wrestled,
Chris was flung over the killer's back and onto the floor. Ramírez fled out of the house the same way he gained entry. Chris and Virginia
survived the brutal attack.
Elyas and Sakina Abowath
Two nights after he attacked the petersons, Ramírez lashed out again, Elyas Abowath, 35, was shot in the head and killed while he slept. With
Elyas dead, Ramírez molested Elyas Abowath's wife, Sakina, 29. He raped her, sodomized her, and forced her to perform oral sex on him.
Experts who profiled him believe that this was the way he preferred to attack, by killing any men and raping the women.
Peter and Barbara Pan
Los Angeles County was in a state of disarray; the Night Stalker's crimes were becoming more frequent. The off-periods between his crimes
were shortening, and his severity was escalating. There was little doubt that he would strike again. But as it turned out, Ramírez decided to
abandon his familiar territory. After the attack on the Abowaths, he headed north.
On August 18, 1985, Peter and Barbara Pan were found in their blood-soaked bed in Lake Merced, a housing development in San Francisco.
Both had been shot in the head. Peter, a 66-year-old accountant, was pronounced dead at the scene. Mrs. Pan, 64, survived but would be an
invalid for the rest of her life. Scrawled on the wall in lipstick were an inverted pentagram and the words "Jack the Knife". Local police
determined that the killer had come in through an open window. Fearing that Los Angeles's Night Stalker had moved to their precinct, homicide
investigators sent a bullet removed from Mr. Pan to a forensic team in Los Angeles. The bullet matched others recovered from two of the Los
Angeles County crime scenes.
Panic spread through the city of San Francisco. To quell fears, Mayor Dianne Feinstein talked publicly about the hunt for the Night Stalker, but in
so doing angered detectives by giving away too many details of his crimes which, they felt, impeded their investigation. Specifically, Ms.
Feinstein announced that the authorities now knew what type of firearm the Night Stalker used, and had copies of his footprints. The next
morning, after reading the newspaper, Ramírez tossed his gun and shoes off the Golden Gate Bridge.
But the San Francisco police caught a break when the manager of the Bristol Hotel in the Tenderloin district came
forward and claimed that a young man who fit the Night Stalker's description had stayed at his establishment
from time to time over the past year and a half. The manager remembered that the man had rotten teeth and
pentagram. The man had checked out during the day on August 17. The night that Mr. and Mrs. Pan had been
Investigators then located a man from El Sobrante (east of San Francisco) who said he had purchased some
jewelry—a diamond ring and a pair of cufflinks—from a young man who fit the Night Stalker's description. Further
investigation revealed that these items had belonged to Mr. Pan.
William Carns and his fiancée
On August 24, while the police in San Francisco were scrambling to find the mysterious young man with rotten teeth, the Night Stalker had
found another couple whom he planned to make his victims. However, this couple was not in the Bay Area but in Mission Viejo, 50 miles south
of Los Angeles.
Bill Carns and his 29-year-old fiancée had just drifted off to sleep when they were suddenly awakened by loud gunshots in the room.
Instinctively, she reached out to her fiancé, but he had already been seriously wounded. Before she realized what was happening, the intruder
grabbed her by the hair and pulled her into another bedroom where he tied her ankles and wrists with neckties. The man then asked her if she
knew who he was, admitting that he was the killer who was getting all the coverage in the press and on television. He rummaged through the
raped her twice.
Afraid of what he might do next, she told him to look in a drawer where she knew her fiancé kept some money. "Swear to Satan", he told her.
Ramírez found the money, and as he counted it, he allegedly mocked her, telling her that this was what she was worth. She hoped that this
was the end of it, that he would leave now that he had the money. But he was not through with her. "Swear your love for Satan", he
demanded. Afraid of what he might do next, she did as he asked. "I love Satan", she mumbled. He ordered her to say it again and again. He
yanked her by the hair and made her kneel, then forced her to perform oral sex on him. When he was finished, he stepped back and stared at
her. Still bound by the neckties, she was certain that he was going to shoot her just as he had shot her fiancé. However, Ramírez suddenly
laughed at her and fled. She quickly worked herself free of the neckties and called 911.
On October 22, 2009, San Francisco Police announced that Ramirez had been linked to the 1984 death of 9-year-old Mei Leung. Homicide
detective Holly Pera submitted DNA evidence from the crime to CODIS, which yielded a cold hit to Ramirez's DNA profile. At the time of Mei
Leung's death, Ramirez had stayed at two different neighborhood hotels.
number. The next morning, he called the police about the car. With the plate number, the police were able to determine that the 1976 orange
later it was located in the Rampart section of Los Angeles. The police kept the car under surveillance for nearly 24 hours in the hope that the
Night Stalker would return for it, but he did not. A forensics team scoured the car for evidence and came up with one good fingerprint which
they sent to Sacramento for analysis. Hours later the computer had found a match. The print belonged to Ricardo "Richard" Leyva Múñoz
Ramírez. Further analysis revealed that this print matched a print taken from a window sill at the Pans' house near San Francisco.
On August 31, Ramírez arrived in the downtown Greyhound bus station in Los Angeles, after coming back from his brother's home in Tucson,
Arizona. As Ramírez was leaving the bus station, he noticed that the area was flooded with cops, but managed to slip away unnoticed,
unaware that he was identified as the Night Stalker. As he walked into a corner store, the owners noticed his face from the mugshots, and one
of them shouted out "El Matador" ("The Killer"). Ramírez turned to the side, saw the newspaper rack with his face on several front covers,
Ramírez ran two miles in 12 minutes, heading east from downtown Los Angeles. Ramírez then tried to steal Faustino Pinon's red Ford Mustang.
Ramírez, who was wearing a black Jack Daniel's t-shirt, had been hopping fences between yards, searching for a car he could steal easily. He
had been chased off the property next door to Pinon's home and wound up in Pinon's yard. Ramírez saw that the Ford Mustang parked in the
driveway was unlocked and the keys were in the ignition. He jumped in and started the engine, but had not noticed that the car's owner was
underneath it, working on the transmission. As soon as Pinon, 56, heard the engine starting, he rolled out from under the car. Angry that
someone was touching his prized possession, Pinon reached through the window and grabbed Ramírez around the neck. Ramírez warned
Pinon that he had a gun, but Pinon ignored him. Ramírez put the car into gear and tried to drive away, but Pinon would not let go of him. The
car crashed into a fence, then into the garage.
Pinon got the door open, pulled Ramírez out, and threw him to the ground. Ramírez scrambled to his feet and ran across the street just as
28-year-old Angelina de la Torres was getting into her Ford Granada. He ran up to her car and stuck his head through the driver's window,
demanding that she give him the keys, threatening in Spanish to kill her if she did not. She screamed for help, and her husband Manuel, 32,
came running from the backyard. According to Nancy Skelton in the Los Angeles Times, he grabbed a length of metal fence post as he passed
through the gate along the side of the house. In the meantime, Jose Burgoin, who had heard the struggle in Faustino Pinon's driveway, had
called the police. He ran outside to help Pinon, and when he heard Angelina scream, he called to his sons (Jaime, 21, and Julio, 17) for
assistance. As the brothers ran to help Mrs. De la Torres, they saw the stranger scrambling across the front seat of her car. Jaime recognized
him from photographs in the newspapers and on television and yelled that this was the killer, and the men made a mad dash to catch him.
Ramírez ran, but Manuel de la Torres caught up with him and hit him across the neck with the metal post he was still carrying.
Ramírez kept running, but de la Torres followed, hitting him repeatedly from behind. Jaime Burgoin caught up with Ramírez and punched him.
Ramírez stumbled and fell but quickly got up and continued running with de la Torres and the Burgoin brothers on his heels. Finally, de la
Torres swung hard and hit Ramírez on the head. The Night Stalker collapsed to the ground. Jaime and Jose Burgoin closed in on him to keep
him down until the police arrived.
One day after Ramírez's face was made public, the Night Stalker was in custody and behind bars. Upon his arrest, Ramírez, 25, was charged
with 14 murders and 31 other felonies related to his 1985 spree. He was also charged with a 15th murder in San Francisco and rape and
attempted murder charges in Orange County.
Trial and conviction
Jury selection for the case started on July 22, 1988.
The Los Angeles Times reported that some jail employees overheard Ramírez planning to shoot the prosecutor
installed outside of the courtroom and intensive searches were conducted on people entering. On August 14,
the trial was interrupted because one of the jurors, Phyllis Singletary, did not arrive to the courtroom. Later
that day she was found shot dead in her apartment. The jury was terrified, wondering if Ramírez had directed
this event from inside his prison cell, and if he could reach other jury members. However, Ramírez was not the
same weapon in a hotel. The alternative juror who replaced Singletary was too frightened to return to her
On September 20, 1989, Ramírez was found guilty of 13 counts of murder, 5 attempted murders, 11 sexual
assaults, and 14 burglaries.
During the penalty phase of the trial on November 7, 1989, he was sentenced to death in California's gas chamber. The trial of Richard Ramírez
hundred witnesses testified, and while a number of witnesses had a difficult time recalling certain facts four years after the crimes, others were
quite certain of the identity of Ramírez.
By the time of the trial, Ramírez had fans who were writing him letters and paying him visits. Freelance magazine editor Doreen Lioy wrote him
nearly 75 letters after his capture. He proposed to her, and on October 3, 1996, they were married in California's San Quentin State Prison.
Copyright 2012 More Than Horror. All rights reserved