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Los Angeles slept with windows locked tight and guard dogs sleeping at the door, fearing one of the most wreckless and violent killers since the Manson Family.  The boy that became the man that became the celebrity....



            Richard Ramirez was born February 29, 1960, in El Paso, Texas.  His father, Julian, and mother, Mercedes, had both been born in Mexico.  Julian had worked as a policeman in Mexico and was a proud man.

            Richard was the youngest of five children.  During some of her pregnancies, Mercedes was exposed at work to dangerous chemicals in the air.  Her second son, Joseph, had a problem with his legs that required surgery and braces.  Richard had a minor seizure disorder.  The disorder faded with adolescence, but it kept him from playing on the football team as a child, much to his dismay.

            Julian was quite abusive, and Richard made a practice of fleeing his home and sleeping in a nearby cemetery.

            As a boy, Richard idolized his older cousin, Mike, who was a Viet Nam war veteran.  Mike allegedly had several shrunken heads under his bead (which were at one time available via mail order), and showed Richard pictures that had been taken during the war depicting Mike raping Viet Namese women at gun point, and then holding their severed heads.

            Worse than his cousin's stories however, were his actions.  While Richard was at Mike's apartment, Mike got into an argument with his wife, and shot and killed her.  Mike was found guilty but insane, and served less than five years in a mental institution.  When he died, he received a soldiers burial, and a twenty-one gun salute.

            When he was old enough to be on his own, Richard moved to Los Angeles, where he developed an addiction to cocaine.  To feed his habit, Ramirez robbed homes, sometimes with an accomplice.  His work was sloppy, however, and soon he was left on his own

            It wasnt until June 27th, 1984 that the breaking and entering turned violent.

            A pattern developed quickly: the killer broke into a home, killed any men immediately, then raped and battered any women, often ravaging a woman in the same bed that her dead husband lie on.  The house was robbed.  Some of the women were murdered, others were spared.  Children were spared, with the killer angrily demanding that they be kept quiet, leaving the trembling mother helpless and terrified for the lives of her offspring.

            Age did not matter to the killer that the press originally called the "Valley Intruder".  Victims ranged in age from teen aged to elderly women.

            Pentagrams were found at several crime scenes.

            As the body count grew, Los Angeles experienced a fear it had not known since the Manson Family was operating.  During a summer where temperatures were reaching over one hundred degrees, windows were shut and locked at night.  Security system and gun sales skyrocketed.  The demand for guard dogs was so high that the animals had to be brought in from other counties.  When people thought that the killer had a preference for yellow houses, many painted their homes.

            Soon the police had a fingerprint, a composite sketch assembled by surviving victims, and a shoe print that had been found at several crime scenes.  The killer, in turn, had a new nickname: the Night Stalker.

            The FBI was called in to help, but could offer no psychological profile.  They said that they had never seen anyone like him before.

            The shoe print was found to be that of a size eleven Avia aerobic showthe only pair sold in Los Angeles that year.  Unfortunately, the mayor of San Francisco mentioned the shoes at a press conference, and Ramirez got rid of them.

            In the end, there was enough evidence to convict him anyway (bite marks, finger prints left carelessly, witnesses, weapons found in his locker at the bus station, and a fence who could identify Richard as the one who had sold him the property from the victims homes, were among the list).  But not before Richard made a spectacle of himself.  He was not alone.

            While Richard waved pentagrams around on his palm and yelled "hail Satan!" to the courtroom, a growing group of women sat in the audience, watching him lovingly and competing for his attention.  Richards groupies were almost as devoted as Manson's girls.  Even a juror fell in love with him.

            For his Satanic affiliations, Zeena LaVey, daughter of Satanic Church founder Anton LaVey, came to offer her support as a representative of the Church; his most famous groupie.  (Reader should note that that can be seen as a hypocritical act on the part of the Satanic Church, as the Satanic Bible preaches taking responsibility for oneself, and according to its own teachings, should have sided with the victims.  This was probably a publicity stunt, seeing as how if Ramirez had not actually been Satanic, and was only accused of it by the press, the Church probably would have denounced Ramirez, as Satanists have denounced the actions of David Berkowitz). 

            Though the task force for the Night Stalker was about one hundred officers and detectives, Richard was proud of the fact that no police officer actually caught him.  The day the transient killers photo made the paper, he was apprehended by civilians, one of whom hit him on the back of the head with a metal pipe, after chasing him away when Richard tried to steal the car of the mans wife.  Ramirezs last day of freedom was August 31, 1985.

            When Richards picture was given to the newspaper, the police officially wanted him for questioning, not murder.  When he was caught, he reportedly told police "it's me" but later said that they had misunderstood him.  He said he had meant "I'm the one you're looking for" not "I'm the killer". 

            With his picture so widely distributed, and his head wrapped for an injury the whole country knew he had at the lineup, combined with the city's fear, Richard believed his case was hopeless.  His family had to beg him to put on a defense.

            On September 20, 1989, the notorious killer was convicted of fourteen murders, five attempted murders, nineteen burglaries, six robberies, seven rapes, five charges of forced oral copulation, seven sodomy charges, three lewd acts against children, and two kidnappings.  Richard Ramirez was given nineteen death sentences.

            When given the chance to speak for himself at the end of his trial, Ramirez stood and read a dramatic speech in an angry voice.  It began "You dont understand me.  You are not expected to.  You are not capable.  I am beyond your experience.  I am beyond good and evil.  I will be avenged.  Lucifer dwells within all of us."

            Ramirez made sure to tell the courtroom "You maggots make me sick!" before he sat down.  Aside from Richard's groupies, not too many people were impressed. 

            Ramirez remains in prison, and will never see freedom again, regardless as to whether his much earned execution is ever carried out.  He is currently very sick.

            A former classmate remembers that Richard's favorite song was AC-DC's "Night Prowler".  The song, suited to his life perfectly, says in part: "Was that a noise out your window, or a shadow on your blind?  And you lie there naked, like a body in a tomb, suspended animation, as I slip quietly into your room."