Richard Ramirez

Richard Ramirez, AKA the Night Stalker, is an infamous American serial killer and rapist, who terrorised Southern California with random attacks between 1984-1985. He was convicted of 13 murders, five attempted murders, 11 sexual assaults / rape and 14 burglaries, as well as sodomy and oral copulation. He earned the nickname ‘The Night Stalker’ because he would enter his victims property late at night, usually through an open window, before attacking the resident(s) as they slept in their beds. His calling card was satanic signs that he would leave at the crime scenes. When news broke about a serial killer on the loose, widespread panic saw Gun sales soar whist attendance to evening / night events dropped as terrified people tried to protect themselves from the unknown evil.

“Even psychopaths have emotions. Then again, maybe not.”

Richard Ramirez


Ramirez (Ricardo Leyva Muñoz Ramírez) was the youngest of five children born to Christians, Julian and Mercedes Ramirez on 29th February 1960. It is reported that Ramirez’s childhood was an abusive one, growing up with an angry, violent father.

As is often the case for serial killers, Ramirez experienced some trauma to the head during childhood. When he was 2 years old a dresser fell onto Ramirez’s head, the injury needed 30 stitches and at the age of 5 he was hit in the head with a swing, Ramirez was diagnosed with epilepsy as a direct result of the accident. The epilepsy prevented him from taking part in many things he enjoyed and he gradually became a bit of a loner.

Ramirez was introduced to sexual violence by his cousin, a sadistic and violent US army Green Beret, would often show him pictures of woman he’d raped and killed whilst on tour in Vietnam and later shot his wife in the face, killing her, in front of a 14 year old Ramirez. Not long after, his brother in law let him tag along as he stalked and spied on woman during the night. By this time, Ramirez was a regular drug user, including LSD. He dropped the Christianity beliefs he was raised with and began to consider himself a satanist. He left dropped out of school in the ninth grade, pursuing a career in crime instead.

Miguel Ramirez, Richard’s cousin

By aged 17, Ramirez often busied himself with petty crime, stealing and taking drugs. He spent time in Juvenile detention but it it didn’t deter him. As time went on Ramirez’s crimes intensified.

“We are all evil in some form or another, are we not?”

Richard Ramirez


Mei Leung, 9, was beaten, raped and then stabbed to death, (in what appeared to be a satanic ritual) by Ramirez, who then hung her from a pipe in a hotel basement. He was matched to the crime via DNA evidence in 2009, which also identified a second perpetrator, a juvenile, was present at the time of the murder.

Mei Leung

Jennie Vincow: 79, Her home was burgled and she was bludgeoned, and stabbed to death in her bed. Her throat had been slashed to the point of near decapitation. Ramirez had sexually assaulted Jennie post-mortem. Forensic evidence linked Ramirez to the murder via a fingerprint left on the screen door.

Maria Hernandez: 22, was shot in the face as she parked the car in her garage. As she raised her hands to protect herself the bullet deflected of her keys, saving her life. Unfortunately, her housemate, Dayle Yoshie Okazaki, 34, was not so lucky. She hid as Ramirez entered the house but as she looked up to see where he was he shot her in the forehead, killing her instantly.

Dayle Yoshie Okazaki

An hour later Ramirez struck again. Tsai Lian had noticed she was being followed (by Ramirez) so she pulled over to allow the car to pass. At a red light he got out of his car, approached Tsai Lian, yanked her out of her car and shot her twice in the head with a .22 caliber handgun. She died before reaching the hospital.

Literally days later, Ramirez entered a property he had burgled before. He approached Vincent Zazzara, 64, as he lay sleeping and shot him (with a .22 caliber handgun) in the head. The disturbance woke Vincent’s wife, Maxine Zazzara, 44. Ramirez brutally beat and assaulted her before tying her up. As he ransacked the property Maxine managed to break free from the restraints and grabbed a shotgun from under the bed but to her dismay it was not loaded. Reeling in anger at what Maxine had planned to do, Ramirez shot her three times with the same gun that had killed her husband. He butchered her body, carving the letter T on her left breast and stabbed her multiple times before gouging out her eyes, which he took with him as a souvenir. Their bodies were discovered by their son. Forensics located a Avia trainer footprint in the flowerbed and bullets which were matched by ballistics as being from the same gun used in previous attacks. Police came to the realisation that they were dealing with a serial killer.

Vincent and Maxine Zazzara

Bill Doi: 66, was in his bedroom when Ramirez stalked in, as he reached for gun Ramirez shot him in the face. (with a .22 semi-automatic pistol) As Bill lay dying, Ramirez viciously beat him until he was unconscious. Bill’s disabled wife, Lillian, 56, was handcuffed, beaten and raped, after which, Ramirez searched the house for valuables. Bill later died from his injuries in hospital. Lille survived.

Bill and Lillian Doi

Mabel Bel: 83 was tied up and bludgeoned with a hammer. Her invalid sister Florence Lang, 81, was attacked the same way. Ramirez then electrocuted the sisters with an electrical cord, after which he raped Florence before using her lipstick to draw a pentagram on her thighs and on the walls. Mabel later succumbed to her injuries, dying in hospital. Florence survived but remained in hospital for the remainder of her life.

Carol Kyle: 42, and her son, 11, were threatened at gunpoint and handcuffed whilst he searched the house for things of worth. Not finding what he was after, he locked the boy in the closet and released Carol, ordering her to show him where the valuables were. He raped and sodomised her, ordering her not to look at him else he’ll gouge her eyes out like he had done to Maxine Zazzara. Carol tried to remain calm and quiet for the sake of her son. He later handcuff the mother and son together again and then fled the scene, leaving them both traumatised, but alive.

Mary Louise Cannon: 75, was asleep in her bedroom when Ramirez burgled her home. She was viciously beaten with a lamp before being stabbed to death and her throat slashed with a 10 inch butcher knife that Ramirez had taken from her kitchen.

Whitney Bennett: 16, was bludgeoned with a tire iron as she slept. Ramirez had planned to stab her to death with a knife but was unable to find one so he instead opted to strangle her with a telephone cord, which began to emit electrical sparks. Whitney also began to breath again and Ramirez, believing Jesus had intervened and saved the girls life, freaked out and fled. Whitney survived the attack, although she needed 478 stitches in her head.

Joyce Lucille Nelson: 61, like the other victims, was asleep when Ramirez entered her property. He beat her to death with his bare hands and stomped on her head, leaving an imprint of an Avia trainer on her face, which forensics matched to the trainer footprint found at Zazzara residence.

Joyce Lucille Nelson

Sophie Dickman: 63, was attacked on the same night as Joyce Nelson. Ramirez attempted to rape her but instead she was beaten, handcuffed and held at gun point. He ransacked her home and she was forced to ‘swear on Satan’ that the only valuables she had was some jewellery.

Maxon Kneiding, 68, and his wife Lela Kneiding, 66, were attacked with a machete, which Ramirez had purchased earlier that day. They were then both shot in the head, killing them almost instantly, before being attacked with the machete again. He burgled them before he left.

Maxon, and Lela Kneiding,

The Khovananth family were Ramirez’z next victims. Dad, Chainarong Khovananth was shot in the head and killed with a .25 caliber handgun and Mum, Somkid Khovananth, was raped and beaten multiple times before Ramirez dragged her around the house to locate the valuables. As with Sophie Dickman, Somkid was forced to ‘swear on Satan’ that she had given him everything of worth. Their 8 year old son was tied up, but received no other physical injuries.

Virginia Peterson, 27, was shot point blank in the face with a .25 caliber semi-automatic handgun and her husband, Chris Peterson, 38, was shot in the neck seconds later. Chris charged at Ramirez and a struggle ensued, with Chris narrowly avoiding a further two shots. Ramirez stood and watched the couple for a short while before he fled the scene. Both Virginia and Chris survived the attack. Their 4 year old daughter who was asleep in a different room was unharmed.

Elyas Abowath, 31, was shot in the head with a .25 caliber handgun, killing him instantly. His wife, Sakina Abowath, 27, was handcuffed, beaten and brutally raped multiple times, with Ramirez making her ‘swear on Satan’ that she wouldn’t scream during the attack. He had tied up the couple’s 3 year old son and stolen anything of value he could find before making his escape.

Peter Pan, 66, was shot point blank in the temple with a .25 caliber handgun and his wife, Barbara Pan, 62, was savagely beaten and raped before being shot in the head. He drew a pentagon on the walls with Barbara’s lipstick and scrawled the words “Jack the Knife”. Forensics matched an Avia trainer footprint found at the Pan residence to the other crime scenes but when the evidence was leaked to the press Ramirez dumped the shoes over the Golden Gate Bridge.

James Romero Jr. and his family had just returned from vacation. His son, James Romero III, 13, couldn’t sleep and was relaxing in his room when he heard a disturbance outside and alerted his parents. Realising he was about to be caught, Ramirez fled, but not before young James had written down the car details (Make, style, colour and part of the license plate number.) The details were given to the police.

Bill Carns, 30, was shot in the head 3 times. His Fiance, Inez Erickson, 29, was forced to ‘swear that she loved Satan’ whilst Ramirez tied her up, beat and raped her. As he forced her to hand over all the valuables, Ramirez made her ‘swear on Satan’ that she’d given him everything and as he left he told her “tell them the Night Stalker was here.” Bill survived his injuries.

Erickson provided police with a full description of her attacker and police were able to track down the car James Romero III had reported. The car was stolen and later abandoned and although it had been wiped clean police were able to lift a partial print from the mirror, which finally identified Richard Ramirez as the Night Stalker.

Police sketch of the ‘Night Stalker’


Ramirez’s mugshot photograph was released to the media. It was in every newspaper and on every news broadcast. The police released a statement saying….

“We know who you are now, and soon everyone else will. There will be no place you can hide.”

Police statement via a press conference in regards to Ramirez

On 30th August 1985, Ramirez walked into a local convenience store. Some woman recognised him from his mugshot and alerted others as to who he was. Fleeing the store in a panic, he attempted to steal a car to aid his escape. However, a group of locals gave chase and managed to capture him, beating him until police arrived. The Night Stalker had finally been caught.


Ramirez was charged and convicted of 13 murders, five attempted murders, 11 sexual assaults / rape and 14 burglaries, as well as sodomy and oral copulation. During his trial he held up his hand, showing a pentagram, a satanic symbol he had drawn on his palm, whilst shouting out “HAIL SATAN!” It was the same symbol he’d left at some of his crime scenes.

Ramirez during his trial

On 7th November 1989 he was given 19 death penalties and formally sentenced to die in California’s gas chamber. In response to the sentencing, Ramirez told reporters…

“Going to the trial was very tiring for me, but I did enjoy it better than sitting in a jail cell. That could be very monotonous.”

Richard Ramirez


Although on death row for more than 23 years Ramirez ultimately died on June 7th, 2003, from liver complications relating to B-cell lymphoma, aged 53.

 “Big deal. Death always went with the territory. See you in Disneyland.”

Richard Ramirez
Ramirez 2007

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