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