The new Netflix documentary, Night Stalker, releases on Wednesday, tells the story of the 1985 manhunt that ended in Ramirez being jailed for 13 killings, 5 attempted murders, 11 sexual assaults, and 14 burglaries.
Richard Ramirez, born in Texas, grew up with an abusive dad who was prone to violent rages. At a very young age his cousin Miguel, a veteran of Vietnam, exposed him to gruesome photographs of the war, including one in which he joyfully posed with the severed head of a woman he had raped and beheaded.
At the age of 13, during an argument, he saw Miguel shoot his wife Jessie in the chest, resulting in her immediate death.
Later that year he moved to LA with his sister Ruth and her husband Roberto. Roberto used to go out at night and watch people secretly indulging in sexual behavior or changing clothes or anything of that sort. And he didn’t go alone, he used to take Ramirez along with him in his sickly night sprees.
It was soon that Ramirez was also exposed to all sorts of drugs, and building an obsession with LSD in particular and a growing interest to submit to Satanism. Around his early teens only, Ramirez began conducting small crimes, but no one would have ever thought that these petty crimes would escalate to such a level where at the age of 28 in 1984, Ramirez killed a 9-year-old girl named Mei Leung.
Ramirez, raped her multiple times before stabbing her to death and leaving her body hanging on a pipe in the basement of a hotel.
One would judge Ramirez to be a sick pedophile based on this act, but the story gets intensely shocking as within a few weeks killed a 79-year-old woman named Jennie Vincow. This was after rapping her and slashing her throat so badly that she was almost beheaded.
9 months later Ramirez’s serial killings started. It was the murder of Dayle Okazaki that marked an unstoppable series of murders. Dayle heard a fire shot and them someone entering her apartment, she hid in the kitchen expecting to not be discovered. When it seemed all safe, Dayle lifted her head only to see Ramirez pointing a gun to her head and then shooting her.
This would be enough for any beast out there, at least for a night, but it didn’t stop there. In less than an hour, Ramirez stopped 30-year-old Tsai-Lian Yu who was passing by in her car, shot her in the chest, dragged her body out, and fled the scene with her car.
Detective Gil Carrillo, recognized a weird pattern in these killings, as he says:
“With Maria Hernandez, he could have crept up silently and shot her. He didn’t,” he says.
“He slapped the top of her car so she would turn around and see him.
“With Dayle Okazaki, he waited until he saw the fear in her eyes then he shot her.
“With Tsai-Lian Yu, the suspect wanted a confrontation, wanted to see that fear. That’s what started me thinking about one man doing this.”
Gil identified that whoever was the killer was somehow turned on by fear, the killer wasn’t just thoughtlessly shooting people. He was gaining a form of deviant sexual pleasure from all this.
10 days after killing two women in a night, Ramirez broke into the house of Vincent Zazzara, 64, and his wife Maxine, 44. Immediately shooting Vincent and then rapping Maxine multiple times, the true horror of his Satanist beliefs came out when he carved a T on Maxine’s breast, and pulling her eyes out, carefully placing them in a jewelry box and taking them with him. However, he did leave a footprint that was recognized by Gil.
A couple of days later, he murdered a pensioner, Bill Doi, before putting his wife, Lillian, in thumb cuffs—metal manacles that lock around the thumbs—and then raping and beating her. Luckily she did survive.
At the same time there was a massive increase in child abductions and Gil was overlooking that situation as well. His team informed him that a little girl had been kidnapped and sexually assaulted at a construction site. Ramirez left a shoe print on the wet concrete which Gil instantly recognized realizing that the kidnappings and the murders were being done by the same person.
Gil says, “I recognized it immediately as the same footprint to the one lifted at the Zazarra crime scene,”
Another child who fell prey to him was Anastasia Hronner. At the age of 6, she was abducted by Ramirez and put in a duffel bag and taken to his house. She states, “There were slimy food packages and take-out stuff around. There was a soundtrack of Madonna going – Holiday and Like a Virgin – over and over,”.
Anastasia too was abusively and hurtfully raped multiple times she recalls asking him to stop. “I remember saying ‘Stop. This hurts’ and ‘why are you doing this?” However, Ramirez when totally done with his deviant acts left dropped her nearby a gas station.
Next, he did the same with a 6-year-old girl who he abducted from her school. And then a 9-year-old boy snatched and raped from his bed.
Here are all the murders Ramirez conducted until he was recognized and caught by the public.
June 28, 1984: Jennie Vincow, 79, was stabbed repeatedly and her throat was slashed so severely she was almost decapitated. Ramirez sexually assaulted her after the killing.
Mar. 17, 1985: On March 17, 1985, Ramírez shot 20-year old María Hernández before shooting Dayle Okazaki, age 34, dead. Ramirez then murdered 30-year-old Tsai ‘Veronica’ Lian Yu after pulling her out of her car.
Mar. 27, 1985: Ramirez shot Vincent Zazzara, 64, and his wife Maxine, 44. Mrs Zazzara’s body was mutilated with several stab wounds and her eyes were gouged out.
May 14, 1985: Ramirez broke into the home of William and Lillie Doi. He shot William in the head and ferociously beat Lillie, but she survived.
May 29, 1985: Mabel Bell, 84, and her invalid sister, Florence Lang, 81, are beaten with a hammer in their Monrovia home. Bell was killed.
May 30, 1985: Carol Kyle, 41, raped by Ramirez.
July 2, 1985: Ramirez kills Mary Louise Cannon, 75, by beating her and slashing her throat.
July 5, 1985: Whitney Bennett, 16, survived after being beaten with a wheel brace by Ramirez.
July 7, 1985: Ramirez beats to death Joyce Lucille Nelson, 61, of Monterey Park.
July 20, 1985: Ramirez shot and killed Maxson Kneiding, 68, and his wife Lela, 66, in their home.
Later that day, he shot and killed Chainarong Khovananth, 32, then raped his wife and son.
Aug. 6, 1985: Ramirez shot both Christopher Petersen, 38, and his wife, Virginia, 27, in the head. They both survived.
Aug. 8, 1985: Elyas Abowath, 35, is shot to death in his home. His wife is beaten.
Aug. 25, 1985: Ramirez shot Bill Carns, 29, and raped his fiancée, Inez Erickson, 29. Both victims survived.