Who was Richard Ramirez? Subject of Netflix true crime series Night Stalker
Aged 24, he became one of the most notorious serial killers in US history
New Netflix true crime series Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer tells the story of the crimes of Richard Ramirez, and what lead to the capture of the prolific serial killer.
At the time, Richard Ramirez was 24 when he terrorised the streets of Los Angeles and San Francisco for just over a year before he was hunted down.The four-part series tells the story of the case through harrowing first-person interviews, archival footage and original photography.
Here’s everything we know about Ramirez, what he did and what happened to him.
Who was Richard Ramirez and why was he known as the Night Stalker?
Ricardo Leyva Muñoz Ramírez, known as Richard Ramirez, was an American serial killer, sexual predator and burglar. Ramirez carried out a series of brutal, violent crimes in San Francisco and Los Angeles in 1984 and 1985.
Before this, Ramirez was born in El Paso, Texas on February 29th 1960. He was the youngest of five children. His father, Julian Ramirez, was Mexican and a former policeman who later became a labourer. He met Richard’s mother, Mercedes Muñoz, when they were both 14 years old. His parents married aged 19.
It’s been reported that Richard Ramirez “nearly died” aged two when a dresser fell on him and during school he was a “loner”. In fifth grade he found out he had epilepsy. It’s also been reported that Ramirez had a cousin who would show him explicit images of sexual abuse and “taught” him how to remain hidden and kill. Richard Ramirez is said to have looked up to his cousin as a father figure, because his actual father was abusive towards him. Ramirez was present when this cousin shot and killed his wife. After this, Ramirez moved in with his sister, whose husband was referred to as a “peeping Tom” and would take Ramirez out at night with him.
Richard Ramirez briefly had a job at a hotel, where it’s been reported he would use his key to rob people who were staying there. He was arrested for an attempted sexual assault at the hotel, and his employment was terminated. The charges were dropped and soon Ramirez dropped out of school and moved to California, where he would permanently live.
At the age of 24, Ramirez’s killing spree is known to have started. He is thought to have killed at least 14 people between June 1984 and August 1985. His final victims miraculously survived, and they were able to give police a description of their attacker who had stolen their car too. The car was found, and contained DNA fingerprints which matched Ramirez.
He was caught at a convenience store on August 31st 1985. He was finally convicted in 1989, charged with 13 murders, five attempted murders, 11 sexual assaults and 14 burglaries. He was sentenced to 19 life sentences and ruled to die by gas chamber.
The victims were men, women, and children and they ranged in age from six to 82. As well as this, they came from different neighbourhoods and racial backgrounds, and were all different types of social status. Never before in criminal history had a single killer been responsible for such a grisly array of crimes. The media was all over the case and horror and panic struck the area. The killer was dubbed the “Night Stalker” as most of the crimes took place as victims slept.
Where is Richard Ramirez now?
Richard Ramirez died in June 2013. He had B-cell lymphoma, a type of blood cancer, and died because of complications from this. He is also reported to have had hepatitis C and his illnesses were made worse by substance abuse.
At the time of his death he was 53 years old and living on death row at California’s San Quentin Prison, where he had been for over 23 years. During his time in prison he had been married and divorced once, and when he died he was engaged again, this time a 23-year-old writer named Christine Lee.
Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer is available on Netflix now. For all the latest Netflix news, quizzes, drops and memes like The Holy Church of Netflix on Facebook.