Richard Ramirez Biography

Richard Ramirez, also known as the ‘Night Stalker’, was an American serial killer, rapist, and burglar who terrorized the residents of Los Angeles and San Francisco. Born into a troubled childhood, Ramirez was influenced by his sadistic cousin and embarked on a brutal spree of burglaries, rapes, and murders. With a staunch belief in Satanism, he showed no remorse for his crimes. Despite his notoriety, Ramirez had fans, one of whom married him while he was imprisoned. After a long trial, he was convicted of 13 killings and sentenced to death. He ultimately passed away from an illness while on death row.

Quick Facts

  • Nick Name: The Night Stalker, The Walk-in Killer, The Valley Intruder
  • Also Known As: Ricardo Leyva Muñoz Ramírez
  • Died At Age: 53
  • Family:
    • Spouse/Ex-: Doreen Lioy (m. 1996)
    • Father: Julian Ramirez
    • Mother: Mercedes Ramirez
  • Born Country: United States
  • Murderers
  • Serial Killers
  • Height: 1.85 m
  • Died on: June 7, 2013
  • Place of death: Kentfield, California, United States

Childhood & Early Life

Richard Ramirez was born Ricardo Leyva Muñoz Ramírez on 29 February 1960, in El Paso, Texas, USA, to a Mexican-American railway worker. He was the youngest among seven children. His father was an abusive man.

As a young boy, he began smoking marijuana and fell under the influence of his older cousin Mike, a decorated U.S. Army Green Beret combat veteran, who fascinated Richard with gruesome stories of how he raped and tortured women during the ‘Vietnamese War.’ Richard was also present when Mike murdered his wife.

Brutalized by his early experiences, he became increasingly drawn towards macabre things. He also started using LSD as a teenager and delved deep into Satanism. With his interest in violence mounting, he dropped out of high school and embarked on a life of crime.

Crimes and Incarceration

Richard Ramirez had started stealing and engaging in petty robberies by 1977, and it did not take long for the police to place him in juvenile detention. In 1982, he received a probationary sentence for marijuana possession.

With time, his crimes became more serious and he was arrested in 1983 for car theft. By the time he was released in 1984, he had become a callous individual with no prospects of leading a respectable life.

He committed his first known murder in June 1984. He broke into the house of 79-year-old Jennie Vincow, sexually assaulted her, robbed her, and stabbed her to death. The brutality of the attack shocked the police.

He struck again in March 1985, this time attacking Maria Hernandez. The terrified girl managed to escape, but her roommate was not so lucky and was murdered by the frenzied killer. The same evening, Ramirez also shot and killed Tsai Lian Yu.

A few days later, he broke into the house of 64-year-old Vincent Zazzara. He killed Vincent and then tortured his 44-year-old wife Maxine Zazzara, before killing her. He also gouged out her eyes.

By now, the police were sure that these murders were committed by a deranged serial killer. But they were unsuccessful in tracking him down. Meanwhile, Ramirez continued his spree by brutally attacking an aged couple named William and Lillie Doi in 1985.

Over the ensuing months, the number of his victims escalated rapidly and the police was facing immense pressure from the public to capture this psychopathic killer. Thus, a dedicated force of several law-enforcement officers was established to track the serial killer, and the FBI stepped in to assist.

A concerned Ramirez left the Los Angeles area and headed towards the San Francisco Bay area. On 18 August 1985, he attacked and killed an aged couple named Peter and Barbara Pan, and left some satanic symbols at the crime scene. The San Francisco Bay police realized that this could be the work of the same killer responsible for the Los Angeles murders. The unidentified killer was now dubbed the ‘Night Stalker.’

A few days after attacking the Pans, he attacked Bill Carns, 30, and his fiancée Inez Erickson, 29, on 24 August 1985. Both his victims survived and helped the police in their investigation. The hitherto unidentified killer was now identified, and his prison photo was splashed across leading newspapers and television channels. The elusive ‘Night Stalker’ was finally arrested on 30 August 1985.

Trial & Conviction

Richard Ramirez initially claimed innocence despite the overwhelming evidence against him. He was charged with 14 murders and 31 other felonies associated with his killing spree. However, the trial was a long and complicated one as Ramirez changed his legal counsel a number of times. The geographical spread of his crimes also complicated the trial.

The trial dragged on for four years and he was finally found guilty on 43 charges, including 13 counts of murder, five counts of attempted murder, 11 sexual assault charges, and 14 burglary charges. He received 19 death sentences in November 1989.

Major Offences

Richard Ramirez was a sadistic serial killer who terrorized the residents of the Los Angeles area, and later the residents of the San Francisco area with his spree of brutal sexual attacks and vicious murders. He was finally convicted of 13 counts of murder. The police later found proof linking him to another murder.

Personal Life & Legacy

He spent a long time in prison after his conviction. As a Satanist, he became popular among other followers of the cult, and had several fans who were fascinated with him. One of them, freelance magazine editor Doreen Lioy, fell in love with the killer and married him in California’s ‘San Quentin State Prison’ in October 1996.

He became ill with B-cell lymphoma while spending time on the death row. He died of the disease on 7 June 2013, aged 53. At the time of his death, he had been on death row for more than 23 years.

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