Daily Archives: August 31, 2009

On This Day: Richard Ramirez: The Night Stalker

“Big deal. Death always went with the territory. I’ll see you in Disneyland.”
Richard Ramirez after receiving multiple death penalties.

Richard Ramirez

Between June,1984 and August, 1985 a series of brutal rapes and murders occurred throughout Southern California and the Bay Area, putting the entire state on edge. The killer became known as the Night Stalker because he entered his victims’ homes at night through unlocked doors, often after he had cut the phone line. He would shoot any adult males present and then rape his female victims. The assaults often took place in the bed next to where the woman’s spouse lay dead or dying. Sometimes he would then kill his female victim and at other times not.

Survivors described him as a thin, foul-smelling Hispanic male with bad teeth. At one scene he scrawled a satanic pentagram on the wall and on the woman’s thigh. He made other victim’s swear an oath to Satan.

His final victim was a Mission Viejo, California woman who he raped in the bed next to her boyfriend who had been shot in the head. Both survived the attack. The woman saw her attacker leave in an orange Toyota station wagon and called 911.

Earlier, a teenager, working on his motorcycle in his parents’ garage, saw the station wagon enter and then leave the neighborhood. Thinking it looked suspicious, he wrote down the license plate number. The stolen car was later found abandoned.

The car had been wiped down but a partial latent fingerprint was found and sent to Sacramento where it was entered into the newly installed AFIS (Automated Fingerprint Identification System) system and within hours a match was made. It was estimated that to perform a by-hand match of the print against the 1.7 million print cards in the Los Angeles area alone would have taken an agent 67 years.

The print revealed that the Night Stalker was Richard Ramirez, a 25-year-old drifter from El Paso, Texas. Once his likeness was transmitted by the media, residents of East Los Angeles recognized him and overpowered him as he attempted to steal another car. The police arrived in time to save him from an angry mob. It was August 31, 1985.

On November 9, 1989 he received 19 death sentences.

He still resides in San Quentin.

On October 3, 1996 he married Doreen Lioy. Go figure.

TruTV Crime Library


Associated Content News


Body Parts and Patricia’s Law

New Jersey has a problem. It seems that body parts have been washing up on the Jersey Shore. Legs and fingers mostly it seems. One of the legs appeared to have been cleanly cut just below the knee and a small patch of skin had been removed from the ankle area. Where did this person come from? Is this the work of a new serial killer? Was this some horrible boating accident?  Did the Mafia have a hand in this? Is this perhaps medical waste from some hospital? Maybe it’s an alien abduction gone wrong. The possibilities are intriguing.

The big question: Who is this person?

In a recent post I talked about the importance of identifying a corpse in any criminal investigation and mentioned the fact that in a high percentage of murder cases the victim knows the killer. As Detective Sergeant John Donegan of the New Jersey State Police Missing Persons Unit said, “First, we have to get the ID, and then we can start thinking about the investigation.”

In this case the leg revealed that the victim was a female between 5-1 and 5-5 in height and wore a 5 1/2 sized shoe. Interestingly the toenails of this victim had been removed.

The New Jersey State Police obtained DNA from the leg and entered it into the FBI’s national DNA database known as CODIS or the Combined DNA Index System. They also hooked up with the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification, an agency that attempts to identify unknown bodies by using new DNA techniques. This union of investigative agencies in Texas and New Jersey was allowable under Patricia’s Law, a law that has been on the New Jersey books for just under two years. The law allows law enforcement to request DNA samples from willing family members of any missing person. These profiles are then uploaded to CODIS. The hope is that at least a partial match can be found between unidentified bodies and body parts and living relatives, a connection that could lead to the identity of the unknown victim.

Philadelphia Daily News Article

Patricia’s Law

University of North Texas Center for Human Identification

And now it seems that Brooklyn has a similar problem. A foot inside a sock and a Timberland shoe was found inside a bag by a homeless man while digging through garbage. Are these two connected? Maybe a mobile serial killer? To quote Alice: “Curiouser and curiouser.”

NY Daily News Story

Gothamist Story

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