Fox 11 Archives: The Night Stalker
Richard Ramirez -- L.A.'s Night Stalker -- killed two of his 13 documented murder victims and wounded a third person 29 years ago this month. The 22-year-old woman was shot outside her Rosemead home. She survived, but her roommate didn't. Within an hour, Ramirez shot and killed another woman in nearby Monterey Park. Although these three shootings are not believed to have been the first in the deadly series, they drew a lot of attention. After police acknowledged the possibility that the crimes were related, the as-yet unknown killer got his stalker nickname. The attacks put an undercurrent of fear into the summer of 1985.
I remember the weekend that Ramirez was caught. He was trying to carjack a woman in East L.A., but people in the neighborhood recognized him from a widely circulated police sketch. They chased him down and beat him to a pulp before police arrived.
It was three years before the case came to trial, and what a trial it was. After one of the jurors was found shot to death, others became afraid to go to court. And although the murdered juror's death had nothing to do with Ramirez, the judge raised the level of courtroom security, which included the used of a metal detector. During the trial, Ramirez, a self-proclaimed devil worshipper, gave the jurors and spectators menacing looks and at one point shouted, "Hail Satan!" and flashed a pentagram symbol he had drawn on the palm of his hand. The trial lasted nearly a year and remains one of the most expensive in the city's history. In the end, Ramirez was found guilty of multiple murders and sentenced to death. As he was passing reporters while being taken from the courthouse, he said, "Big Deal. Death always went with the territory. I'll see you in Disneyland."
During the trial, Ramirez, like Charles Manson, attracted numerous young female trial watchers. There was no Internet, but there was mail -- fan mail -- for the misogynistic killer. While on death row, Ramirez married one of those admirers. The union lasted seven years.
Ramirez died last year of cancer, before his state-imposed sentence could be carried out. He was 53. If you click on the video panels, you'll see highlights of the Richard Ramirez/Night Stalker case.