Night Stalker: What was Richard Ramirez’s childhood like?

He witnessed his cousin shoot his wife


Netflix’s Night Stalker tells the story of Richard Ramirez’s horrific crimes through the lens of the survivors and victims’ families, and detectives Gil Carrillo and Frank Salerno’s investigation. But the documentary barely touches on why Richard Ramirez committed his crimes in the first place, and what turned him into the monster terrorising the men, women and children of Los Angeles in the 1980s. What was the Night Stalker like in his childhood, who were his parents, and did anything happen in the Night Stalker’s upbringing to make him become a killer?

In the documentary, viewers are told Ramirez had a rough upbringing, that he was abused himself and that his father once tied him to a crucifix as a punishment. But little else is known about his childhood.

Night Stalker childhood

Here’s everything we know about the childhood, parents and siblings of the Night Stalker

CW: details of murder and rape 

Richard Rameriz was one of five children to parents Mercedes and Julian Ramirez. He had four other siblings, called Robert, Ruth, Joseph and Ruben.

It is reported the children were born with birth defects due to their mother being exposed to chemical fumes at work in a boot factory whilst pregnant.

According to Biography, Richard started experiencing epileptic fits in his early childhood, caused by multiple head injuries. When he was two, a dresser fell on his head, and at five he was knocked out by a swing.

In a book about the Night Stalker, author Philip Carlo claims Richard’s dad was violent towards the children. He himself had been beaten as a child by both his father and grandfather. Despite vowing not to treat his five children the same way, things did turn violent if the children got into trouble. For example Richard’s brother Ruben was arrested for stealing a car, and developing a glue-sniffing habit. His other brother Robert also developed a drug problem. According to Carlo’s book, ‘The Night Stalker: The Life and Crimes of Richard Ramirez’, Richard was scared of his father.

Night Stalker childhood

Richard’s cousin Miguel returned to the family home when Richard was 12. He’d been serving in the Vietnam War, and quickly started to influence Richard’s view of the world, becoming a role model. According to Carlo’s book, Miguel would show Richard polaroids of women he’d raped, and retell graphic stories of the violence and mutilation he’d inflicted on Vietnamese women. Carlo said: “Ramirez became sexually aroused. And it was right around the age of 13.”

Also when he was 13, Ramirez also witnessed Miguel shoot his wife in the face. Mike was given a four year prison sentence and found not guilty on grounds of insanity.

According to Biography, the Night Stalker was first arrested in 1977 for marijuana possession. Once he’d moved to California, he picked up a cocaine habit and started getting into Satanism. He was arrested for a string of burglaries including car theft, before he started murdering men, women and children across LA.

When Richard Ramirez was finally caught, he discussed his childhood during his interview in police custody, claiming his father beat him and his siblings.

The Night Stalker married Doreen Lioy whilst in California’s San Quentin Prison. His sister Ruth and brother Joseph attended the wedding.

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. 

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