Name: Richard Ramirez, Ricardo Leyva Munoz Ramirez

Moniker(s): The Night Stalker, The Freeway Killer, The Valley Intruder, The Night Prowler

Date of Birth: February 28, 1960

Date of Death: June 7, 2013

Victim Count: 13+

Years Active: 1984-1985

Region Active: Los Angeles, California, USA

Date of Arrest: August 25, 1985

Photo Credit: Popsugar

Looking at the chipmunk-cheeked youngster staring back from childhood photos, it is difficult to believe he grew up to be the same person leering menacingly at the camera from mugshots taken a decade later.

Born the youngest of five children in El Paso, Texas, on February 29, 1960, he was given the name Ricardo Leyva Munoz Ramirez by his parents, but the world would come to refer to him simply as the “Night Stalker.”

Ramirez’s father, an abusive alcoholic, reportedly suffered from unspecified psychiatric problems. The abuse the youngster suffered at home was not evident to most of his classmates, who recall he was a class clown who enjoyed making others laugh. In addition to the abuse, Ramirez suffered from at least two head injuries, one serious enough to cause loss of consciousness and was perhaps the precursor to a seizure disorder, which plagued him for years.

Want more spine-chilling stories? Get our most shocking and horrific stories sent straight to your inbox, sign up for True Crime Seven’s newsletter and you can also receive a FREE copy of “The Briley Brothers” today.

The most psychologically damaging acts of his youth were the encounters Ramirez had with his uncle Mike. Mike was a Vietnam War Vet with sadistic views and tendencies he lavished on his impressionable nephew.

A heavy drinker and domestic abuser like Ramirez’s father, his uncle regaled the boy with stories of the atrocities he committed in Vietnam, accompanied by photos of his victims. Visions of rape, torture, and murder filled his young mind while drinking and smoking dope with his uncle.

The violent displays reached a fever pitch in the beatings Ramirez saw his uncle give his aunt. These beatings culminated in her murder, an event witnessed by thirteen-year-old Ramirez.

Dropping out of high school and experimenting with harder drugs, Ramirez became the epitome of “angsty teen.” Heavy metal music and heavy drugs, Satanism, black clothing, and other quintessential signs of teenage rebellion might be laughable were they not the crux of the fiendish acts to come.

Petty burglary and car theft provided Ramirez neither the funds required to support both Ramirez and his drug habit, nor the excitement he now needed to feel alive. The drugs mellowed him, but the fear he saw in other people’s eyes, the power, and the control that motivated him left him wanting more.

Photo Credit: KOLD

The first victim credited to the “Night Stalker” was seventy-nine-year-old Jennie Vincom. Her son, who lived in the same building, found his mother’s body, stabbed and slashed so viciously she had nearly been decapitated.

A year later, the “Night Stalker” was back on the prowl. Maria Hernandez was pulling in to the garage of a home she shared with her roommate, Dayle Okazaki when a shadowy figure pointed a gun at her and pulled the trigger. Not waiting to see if his victim had succumbed to the bullet, Ramirez made his way into the darkened house.

Okazaki, having heard the gunshot, was hiding in the kitchen. Ramirez patiently waited for the young woman to peer out from her hiding place tentatively. Ramirez shot her point-blank in the face, leaving her to bleed out on the kitchen floor.

Leaving the Hernandez-Okazaki residence, adrenaline pumping, music blaring, Ramirez encountered his third victim of the night, Tsai-Lian Yu. Angered by Ms. Yu’s driving and thinking she was purposely antagonizing him, he forced her car off the road. Pulling her from the car, he raged and shouted obscenities at the frightened woman before killing her.

Ramirez was unaware that Maria Hernandez had survived her brush with death. The keys gripped in her hand as she pulled it up in front of her face in self-defense deflected the bullet. He was also unaware witnesses had seen the murder of Tsai-Lian Yu and were able to provide police at the scene with a description of the assailant.

Ten days later, the killer entered the Zazzara home, shooting the husband dead as he lay sleeping on the living room couch. He took his time with Mrs. Zazzara, however, gouging out her eyeballs, slashing, stabbing, and mutilating her.

Two months later, Jean Wu woke to the gunshot Ramirez fired into her husband’s skull. The killer applied thumbscrews to Mrs. Wu, beating her, demanding she tell him where any cash and valuables were kept. She gave him the information and listened as he rifled through the house.

Want more spine-chilling stories? Get our most shocking and horrific stories sent straight to your inbox, sign up for True Crime Seven’s newsletter and you can also receive a FREE copy of “The Briley Brothers” today.

She also listened to the wet gasps and moans escaping her husband’s lips as he lay dying. Ramirez entered the bedroom again, threw Mrs. Wu on top of her dying spouse, and raped her

Photo Credit: KOLD

Two weeks passed before Ruth Wilson, home alone with her young son, was assaulted. Demanding she turn over anything of value, Ramirez took the diamond necklace she offered and locked her son in a closet before brutally raping her.

The next day, two elderly sisters, one an invalid, fell victim to the “Night Stalker.” The younger of the two survived her assault, but her bedridden sibling was not as fortunate. Ramirez left what would become his signature: an inverted pentagram scrawled on the body of a victim and the bedroom wall.

Over the next month and a half, there would be nine more brutal and bloody attacks. Because the victims ranged vastly in age, gender, race, and physical attributes, it was difficult for police to get a lead on the killer.

At first, law enforcement was not even aware they had a serial killer on their hands. As time passed, the clues started piling up. Ramirez had inadvertently left behind an AC/DC baseball cap and Avia shoe prints of a rare style and size, which law enforcement later linked to him.

Eyewitness descriptions and phrases the killer forced his victims to repeat, such as declaring their love for and swearing allegiance to Satan, also linked the same person to the crimes.

Dogged police work paid off when investigators finally had a name to go with their suspect, as well as a few carefully lifted crime scene fingerprints matching those of Richard Ramirez from prior arrests. The only thing left to do was locate him, and for that, they turned to the public.

A news conference and front-page headlines announced the hunt for Ramirez and cautioned the public that he was considered armed and dangerous.

The morning the newspapers dropped on the streets, Richard Ramirez found himself in a neighborhood store, his name and face plastered on the front page. Throwing the newspaper to the ground, he dashed out the door as the storeowner rushed to the phone and notified the police.

Panicking, Ramirez sprinted in a serpentine formation from street to street, car to car, searching for a vehicle to steal and thus make his getaway. Ramirez attacked a woman unlocking her car, but her husband stormed from the house, metal pipe in hand, and gave chase.

As the two ran down the block, the husband smacking Ramirez with the pipe and shouting, other neighbors joined the chase, finally corralling the killer.

None of the people who forced Ramirez to sit and wait for police knew who it was they had just captured.

Photo Credit: New York Post

On November 7, 1989, Richard Ramirez was sentenced to death following his conviction of twelve counts of first-degree murder, one count of second-degree murder, five counts of attempted murder, four counts of rape, three counts of forcible oral copulation, four counts of forcible sodomy, and fourteen counts of first-degree burglary.

In 2009, DNA evidence collected from a San Francisco basement where nine-year-old Mei “Linda” Leung, was raped and killed in 1984, was conclusively linked to Ramirez.

On April 10, 1984, her body was found hanging over a pipe in the basement of her apartment building. The little girl had been with her eight-year-old brother when she lost a dollar bill and went looking for it. Leung’s brother wandered away, then came back and found his sister dead. No charges were filed against the “Night Stalker.”

He died in prison of complications secondary to B-cell lymphoma on June 7, 2013. He had been on death row for more than 23 years.

Want more spine-chilling stories? Get our most shocking and horrific stories sent straight to your inbox, sign up for True Crime Seven’s newsletter and you can also receive a FREE copy of “The Briley Brothers” today.

Written by : Team Seven

Leave A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.