Ricardo Leyva Munöz Ramirez better known as Richard Ramirez was born at a fateful hour on February 29, 1960 in the quant city of El Paso in the State of Texas. It was a fateful hour because he was responsible for the murder of 14 innocent victims, who would have lived to their old age if Ramirez was not born that day.
Ramirez was not only a serial killer, but a rapist and a professional burglar. He terrorized the residents of the greater Los Angeles area and later those living in and around San Francisco. He was dubbed the “Night Stalker” and the mere mention of him ran shudders through the spines of those who were living in those areas.
His crime spree lasted just over a year from around June 1984 to August 1985 when he used fear as his ultimate weapon and for good measure used a variety of handguns, knives, machetes, tire irons and hammers. His modus operandi was violent home invasion when his victims least expected such a degree of vulnerability could befall them.
Satan inside him
His acts bordered on Satanism and he never accepted what he had done was wrong and always maintained that he was acting on Satan’s orders. This created a different vision in his mind which allowed him to rule the roost in his crime spree because the investigators were baffled on how the murders and burglaries were committed.
The sheer audacity and impunity of the way he committed his crimes kept the police at bay until they caught up with him eventually. The gravity of what he did was summed up by the judge sentencing him who specially recorded his crimes as follows, “cruelty, callousness and viciousness beyond any human understanding”. It was how he committed the crimes that caught the attention of the general public which equated him with the acts of Satan.
He was pronounced thirteen death sentences and even though he killed 14 he denied execution when he died due to acute complications with B-cell Lymphoma.
His parents Julian and Mercedes Ramirez had five children of which Richard was the youngest. His father was a policeman in Juarez before being a laborer on the Santa Fe railroad. Richard grew up with abuse inflicted by his father and this was a harrowing experience in his growing up years.
Added to this he had two accidents which resulted in injuries to his head. When he was just two years old a dresser toppled on him, badly injuring his head which required about 30 stiches. Then when he was five years old a swing in a park hit him flush on his head and putting him into unconsciousness. After these two incidents he was frequently subjected to epileptic fits and blackouts.
Whether these two unfortunate accidents had anything to do with his perpetrated violence or his father’s abuse we may never know. But it is known that his penchant for violence was beyond comprehension and understanding as the judge rightly observed during his sentences.
Whilst Richard had a troubled upbringing it never did any good when he was influenced by his cousin Miguel “Mike” Ramirez a decorated United States Army Green Beret. Mike who boasted of his military exploits to the young Richard to a great extent influenced his younger cousin. Mike’s narrations of what he did in Vietnam kept young Richard completely in a daze.
Mike showed Richard photos of women whom he had raped in Vietnam and one of the photos was a severed head of a woman he had sexually assaulted and murdered. Al this was doing immense harm to Richard who already had problems with an injured head, not once but twice.
These stories of Mike made Richard turn into a tough guy image too and to avoid his father’s abuse he would go sleep in a cemetery nearby. This gave Ramirez a macho outlook and took whatever fear as a growing up child would have. Hi belief in Satanism started around this time. Whether his sleeping in the cemetery had anything to do with it, we may never know.
Whilst this was a different kind of influence but what happened one day when he and others in the family were around shook Richard up and he went into a shell. In a domestic argument Mike pulled out a .38 caliber handgun and shot his wife Jessie in the face. That violent scene that unfolded that eventful day took Richard down the abyss of no return.
After all these incidents and many more he moved to California when he was 22 years old and lived there permanently.
The murders and Night Stalking
Ramirez committed his first murder on April 10, 1984 when he beat, raped and killed nine year old Mei Leung in a basement of a hotel where he lived. He had stabbed her and hung her from an exposed pipe.
A couple of months later on June 28, 1984 he repeatedly stabbed and nearly decapitated the sleeping Jennie Wincrow a 79 year old woman.
On the night of March 17, 1985 he attacked 22 year old Maria Hernandez, who had just pulled into her garage. He shot her in the face but when she raised her hand and shielded herself a miracle saved her. The .22 bullet from the handgun ricocheted off the car keys which were in her hands. Moving into the house at Rosemead, Maria’s roommate Dayle Okazaki saw Ramirez enter and ducked behind a kitchen counter. Then she slowly raised her head and when he saw her, he just shot her in the face without remorse.
The night did not end for Ramirez and he continued his murderous spree by stopping 30 year old Tsai-Lian Veronica Yu, pulled her out of her car in Monterey Park and shot her in the without asking anything. Since then he kept the tempo up by randomly killing the others to make up the 14 victims that he murdered.