Psychopath Richard Ramirez
Ricardo “Richard” Leyva Muñoz Ramirez, known as the Night Stalker, the Walk-In Killer, and the Valley Intruder due to the initial clustering of his attacks in California’s San Gabriel Valley, was an American serial killer and sex offender. His crime spree took place between June 1984 and August 1985, and he was convicted and sentenced to death in 1989. Ramirez passed away in 2013 while awaiting execution. That’s a little summary about a psychopath Richard Ramirez.
Ramirez’s early life significantly influenced his criminal behavior. He endured frequent abuse from his father, which contributed to his development of gruesome and macabre interests during his adolescence. His older cousin, who also imparted military skills to him, played a role in shaping Ramirez’s disturbing inclinations. Additionally, he developed a strong fascination with Satanism and the occult.
Upon relocating from Texas to California at the age of 22, Ramirez became a regular user of cocaine. To fuel his drug addiction, he resorted to committing burglaries, many of which escalated into heinous acts of murder, attempted murder, rape, attempted rape, and assault.
Over a span of fourteen months, Ramirez’s highly publicized home invasions and murder spree spread fear among the residents of Greater Los Angeles and later the San Francisco Bay Area. It was later discovered that his first known murder occurred as early as April 1984, an incident initially unconnected to Ramirez until 2009. Throughout his killing spree, Ramirez utilized various weapons and murder methods, including handguns, knives of different types, a machete, a tire iron, and a claw hammer.
He punched, pistol whipped, and strangled many of his victims, both with his hands and in one instance a ligature, stomped at least one victim to death in her sleep, and tortured another victim by shocking her with a live electrical cord. Ramirez also frequently enjoyed degrading and humiliating his victims, especially those who survived his attacks or whom he explicitly decided not to kill, by forcing them to profess that they loved Satan, or telling them to “swear on Satan” that there were no more valuables left in their homes he had broken into and burglarized.
In 1989, Ramirez was convicted of thirteen counts of murder, five attempted murders, eleven sexual assaults, and fourteen burglaries. The judge who upheld Ramirez’s nineteen death sentences remarked that his deeds exhibited “cruelty, callousness, and viciousness beyond any human understanding”. Ramirez never expressed any remorse for his crimes. He died on June 7, 2013, of complications from B-cell lymphoma while awaiting execution on California’s death row.
Ricardo Leyva Muñoz Ramirez was born on February 28, 1960, at 2:07 a.m. in El Paso, Texas. He was the youngest of five children born to Julián Tapia Ramirez (February 16, 1927 – August 19, 1991) and Mercedes Muñoz Ramirez (April 10, 1927 – April 12, 2016). His father, a Mexican national, had worked as a policeman in Ciudad Juárez before becoming a laborer on the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway. Unfortunately, he had an alcohol problem and was prone to fits of anger, leading to physical abuse towards his wife and children. At the tender age of 10, Richard started smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol.
According to Psychiatrist Michael Stone, Ramirez can be described as a “made” psychopath rather than a “born” one. He attributes Ramirez’s indifference to the suffering of his victims and his untreatability to his schizoid personality disorder. Stone also revealed that Ramirez had experienced multiple incidents of being knocked unconscious and almost dying before he turned 6, which resulted in him developing temporal lobe epilepsy, aggressivity, and hypersexuality.
When Richard was 12 years old, he was greatly influenced by his older cousin, Miguel “Mike” Ramirez, who was a decorated Green Beret combat veteran and a serial killer and rapist during his time in the Vietnam War. Mike would boast about his brutal war crimes and even showed Richard Polaroid photos of Vietnamese women he had raped, murdered, and dismembered or decapitated.
Remarkably, instead of being repulsed, Richard expressed fascination with the images and stories shared by Mike. Mike also taught his young cousin some military skills, including killing with stealth and staying hidden in the dark, especially at night. During this period, Richard sought refuge from his father’s violent temper by sleeping in a local cemetery.
Richard was present on May 4, 1973, when Mike fatally shot his wife, Jessie, in the face with a handgun during a domestic argument. Like the graphic photos and stories of his cousin’s war crimes in Vietnam, Ramirez would later similarly remark that witnessing the murder was not traumatic for him in any traditional sense, but rather a subject of fascination. After the shooting, Richard became sullen and withdrawn from his family and peers. Mike was later found not guilty of Jessie’s murder by reason of insanity, with the shooting attributed to post-traumatic stress disorder from his service in Vietnam; he was confined for several years at the Texas State Mental Hospital.
Shortly after the shooting, Richard moved in with his older sister, Ruth, and her husband, Roberto, an obsessive “peeping tom” who took Richard along on his nocturnal exploits. After Mike was released from the mental hospital in 1977, he sometimes accompanied Richard and Roberto on these voyeuristic walks, spying on women in the nearby areas through their windows. By the time Richard had turned 14 in early 1974, he began using LSD frequently. He and Mike resumed bonding over their shared use of drugs and alcohol. It was during this period that Richard began to cultivate an interest in Satanism and the occult.
When he reached adolescence, Ramirez began to meld his burgeoning sexual fantasies with graphic violence including forced bondage, murder, mutilation, and rape. While still in school, he took a job at a local Holiday Inn and used his master key to rob sleeping patrons. On at least one occasion, Ramirez molested two children in an elevator at the hotel, but he was never reported or prosecuted for this act.
His employment ended abruptly after Ramirez attempted to rape a woman in her hotel room and was caught in the act by the victim’s husband. Although the husband beat Ramirez at the scene, criminal charges were dropped when the couple, who lived out of state, declined to return to Texas to testify against him.
Ramirez dropped out of Jefferson High School in the ninth grade. In 1982, at the age of 22, he moved to and settled permanently in California. It was around this time that Ramirez began to use cocaine, which quickly became his substance of choice, and began to commit theft and burglaries to procure money for sustaining his addiction. He lived nomadically between San Francisco and Los Angeles County during this time prior to his incarceration. He frequently traveled between the northern and southern areas of California both before and during his yearlong crime spree.
In the basement of his apartment building in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood, Ramirez killed Mei Leung, a nine-year-old Chinese-American child, on April 10, 1984. Ramirez approached Leung and instructed her to join him into the basement to find a missing one-dollar bill as she and her 8-year-old brother searched for it. Leung was beaten, strangled, and raped once they were in the basement. Ramirez then killed her with a switchblade and hung her half clothed body from a pipe by her blouse.
The killing was not linked to Ramirez until 2009 when his DNA was matched to a sample obtained at the crime scene. In 2016, officials disclosed evidence of a second suspect, identified through another DNA sample retrieved from the scene, who is believed to have been present at Leung’s murder. Authorities have not publicly identified the suspect, described as being a juvenile at the time, and have not brought charges due to the lack of evidence.
Night Stalker crimes
- On June 28, 1984, 79-year-old Jennie Vincow was found murdered in her apartment in Glassell Park, Los Angeles. She had been stabbed repeatedly in the head, neck, and chest while asleep in her bed, and her throat slashed so deeply that she was nearly decapitated. Ramirez’s fingerprint was found on a mesh screen he removed to gain access through an open window. This, Ramirez’s second known murder, established his pattern of breaking into homes, committing particularly vicious murders, and frequently burglarizing his victims either before or after killing them, which was mainly to support his cocaine addiction and pay his rent.
- On March 17, 1985, Ramirez attacked 22-year-old Maria Hernandez outside her home in Rosemead, California, shooting her in the face with a .22 caliber handgun after she pulled into her garage. She survived when the bullet ricocheted off the keys she held in her hands as she lifted them to protect herself. Hernandez played dead until Ramirez left the scene. Inside the house, her roommate, Dayle Yoshie Okazaki, age 34, heard the gunshot and ducked behind a counter when she saw Ramirez enter the kitchen. When she raised her head to get a look at what had happened, he shot Okazaki once in the forehead, killing her instantly. Within an hour of the Rosemead home invasion, Ramirez pulled 30-year-old Tsai-Lian “Veronica” Yu out of her car in Monterey Park, shot her twice with a .22 caliber handgun, and fled. She was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital. The two murders, and an attempted third, in a single day attracted extensive coverage from news media, who dubbed the attacker, described as curly-haired with bulging eyes and wide-spaced, rotting teeth, “The Walk-In Killer” and “The Valley Intruder”.
- On March 27, 1985, Ramirez entered a home that he had burglarized a year earlier just outside of Whittier, California, at approximately 2 a.m. and killed the sleeping Vincent Charles Zazzara, age 64, with a gunshot to his head from a .22 caliber handgun. Zazzara’s wife, Maxine Levenia Zazzara, age 44, was awakened by the gunshot, and Ramirez beat her and bound her hands while demanding to know where her valuables were. While he ransacked the room, Maxine escaped her bonds and retrieved a shotgun from under the bed, which she was unaware was not loaded. She pulled the trigger just after he turned around and saw her. The infuriated Ramirez shot her three times with the .22, killing her, then fetched a large carving knife from the kitchen. He mutilated her body by cutting an inverted cross into her chest, then removed her eyes with the knife and placed them in a jewelry box. He attempted to have sex with her body, but found himself so shaken by her attempting to shoot him that he was unable to achieve an erection. He took the jewelry box with her eyes when he left and kept it at his apartment as a souvenir until his arrest. Vincent and Maxine’s bodies were discovered by their son, Peter. Ramirez left footprints from a pair of Avia sneakers in the flower beds, which the police photographed and cast. This was virtually the only evidence that the police had at the time. Bullets found at the scene were matched to those found at previous attacks, and the police determined that a serial killer was at large.
- On May 14, 1985, Ramirez returned to Monterey Park and entered the home of Bill Doi, age 66, and his disabled wife, Lillian Doi, age 56. Surprising Doi in his bedroom, Ramirez shot him in the face with a .22 semi-automatic pistol as Doi went for his own handgun. After beating the mortally wounded man into unconsciousness, Ramirez entered Lillian’s bedroom, bound her with thumbcuffs, then raped her after he had ransacked the home for valuables. Bill Doi died of his injuries while in the hospital.
- On the night of May 29, 1985, Ramirez drove a stolen car to Monrovia, and stopped at the house of Mabel “Ma” Bell, age 83, and her disabled sister, Florence “Nettie” Lang, age 81. Finding a hammer in the kitchen, he bludgeoned and bound Lang in her bedroom, then bound and bludgeoned Bell before using an electrical cord to shock the woman. After raping Lang, he used Bell’s lipstick to draw the Satanic pentagram symbol on her thigh as well as on the walls of both bedrooms. The women were found two days later, alive but comatose and critically injured. Bell later died of her injuries in the hospital.
- The next day, Ramirez drove the same car to Burbank, and sneaked into the home of Carol Kyle, age 42. At gunpoint, he bound Kyle and her 11-year-old son with handcuffs, then ransacked the house. He released Kyle to direct him to where the family’s valuables were; he then raped her repeatedly. Ramirez also repeatedly ordered her not to look at him, telling her at one point that he would “cut her eyes out”. He fled the scene after retrieving the child from the closet and binding the two together again with the handcuffs.
- On the night of July 2, 1985, he drove a stolen car to Arcadia, and randomly selected the house of Mary Louise Cannon, age 75, a widowed grandmother. After quietly entering Cannon’s home, he found her asleep in her bedroom. He bludgeoned her into unconsciousness with a lamp and then stabbed her to death using a 10-inch butcher knife from her kitchen. Ramirez repeatedly stabbed Cannon’s body after she was already dead. She was found dead at the scene.
- On July 5, 1985, Ramirez broke into a home in Sierra Madre and bludgeoned 16-year-old Whitney Bennett with a tire iron as she slept in her bedroom. After searching in vain for a knife in the kitchen, Ramirez tried to strangle the girl with a telephone cord. He stated that he was startled to see electrical sparks emanate from the cord, and when his victim began to breathe, he fled the house believing that Jesus Christ had intervened and saved her. Bennett survived the savage beating and attempted strangulation, although 478 stitches were required to close the lacerations to her scalp.
- On July 7, 1985, Ramirez burglarized the home of Joyce Lucille Nelson, age 60, in Monterey Park. Finding her asleep on her living room couch, he beat her to death by stomping on her face repeatedly. A shoe print from an Avia sneaker was left imprinted on her face. After cruising two other neighborhoods, he returned to Monterey Park and chose the home of Sophie Dickman, age 63. Ramirez assaulted and handcuffed Dickman at gunpoint, attempted to rape her, and stole her jewelry; when she swore to him that he had taken everything of value, he told her to “swear on Satan”.
- On July 20, 1985, Ramirez purchased a machete before driving a stolen Toyota to Glendale, California. He chose the home of Lela Kneiding, age 66, and her husband Maxon Kneiding, age 68. He burst into the sleeping couple’s bedroom and hacked them with the machete, then killed them with shots to the head from a .22 caliber handgun. He further mutilated their bodies with the machete before robbing the house of valuables. After quickly fencing the stolen items from the Kneiding residence, Ramirez drove to Sun Valley, Los Angeles.
- At approximately 4:15 am, he broke into the home of the Khovananth family. He shot the sleeping 32-year-old Chainarong Khovananth in the head with a .25 caliber handgun, killing him instantly, then repeatedly raped and beat 32-year-old Somkid Khovananth. He bound the couple’s 8-year-old son before dragging Somkid around the house to reveal the location of any valuable items, which he stole. During his assault, he demanded that she “swear to Satan” that she was not hiding any money from him.
- On August 6, 1985, Ramirez drove to Northridge and broke into the home of 30-year-old Chris Peterson and Virginia Peterson, age 27. He crept into the bedroom, startled Virginia, and shot her in the face with a .25 caliber semi-automatic handgun. He then shot Chris in the neck and attempted to flee; Chris fought back while avoiding being hit by two more shots during the struggle before Ramirez managed to escape. The couple survived their injuries.
- On August 8, 1985, Ramirez drove a stolen car to Diamond Bar, California, and chose the home of Sakina Abowath, age 27, and her husband Elyas Abowath, age 31. Sometime after 2:30 am he entered the house and went into the master bedroom. He instantly killed the sleeping Elyas with a shot to the head from a .25 caliber handgun. He handcuffed and beat Sakina while forcing her to reveal the locations of the family’s jewelry, and then brutally raped her. He repeatedly demanded that she “swear on Satan” that she would not scream during his assaults. When the couple’s 3-year-old son entered the bedroom, Ramirez tied the child up and then continued to rape Sakina. After Ramirez left the home, Sakina untied her son and sent him to the neighbors for help.
- Ramirez, who had been following the media coverage of his crimes, left Los Angeles and headed to San Francisco. On August 18, 1985, he entered the home of Peter Pan, 66, and Barbara Pan, age 62. He shot the sleeping Peter, in the temple with a .25 caliber handgun, which killed him instantly. He then beat and sexually assaulted Barbara, before shooting her in the head and leaving her for dead. At the crime scene, Ramirez used lipstick to scrawl a pentagram and the phrase “Jack the Knife” on the bedroom wall. Ramirez again left a shoe print at the scene that detectives discovered and matched to a specific pair of Avia shoes that was not common at the time. Lead detectives Frank Salerno and Gil Carrillo contacted the manufacturer of Avia Shoes and were able to retrieve the soles. Upon the discovery of the make and distribution across the United States, only six of them existed in the men’s size 11-1/2. With five of them shipped to locations in Arizona, and one shipped to a shoe store in Los Angeles, it was evident that the one pair of its size and kind in the state of California then belonged to the Night Stalker. When it was discovered that the ballistics and shoe print evidence from the Los Angeles crime scenes matched the Pan crime scene, San Francisco’s then-mayor Dianne Feinstein divulged the information, including the gun caliber, in a televised press conference. This leak infuriated the detectives in the case, as they knew the killer would be following media coverage, which gave him the opportunity to destroy crucial forensic evidence. Ramirez, who had indeed been watching the press, dropped his size 11-1/2 Avia sneakers over the side of the Golden Gate Bridge that night. He remained in the area for a few more days before heading back to the Los Angeles area.
- On August 24, 1985, Ramirez traveled 76 miles (122 km) south of Los Angeles, in a stolen orange Toyota, to Mission Viejo. That night, he arrived at the home of 45-year-old James Romero Jr., who had just returned from a family vacation to Rosarito Beach in Mexico. Romero’s son, 13-year-old James Romero III, happened to be awake. While his family was asleep, James went outside of his house to retrieve a pillow inside a truck, which was locked. When he was outside he heard a rustling noise. Assuming it was an animal, James went to investigate the noise but did not notice anything unordinary. James then went into his garage to begin working on his mini bike before hearing Ramirez’s footsteps outside the house. Thinking there was a prowler, James, after observing Ramirez through his bedroom window, went to wake his parents, and Ramirez fled the scene. James raced outside and noted the color, make, and style of the car, as well as a partial license plate number. Romero contacted the police with this information, believing James had chased away a thief.
- After this encounter, Ramirez broke into the house of Bill Carns, age 30, and his fiancée, Inez Erickson, age 29, through a back door. Ramirez entered the sleeping couple’s bedroom and awakened Carns when he cocked his .25 caliber handgun. He shot Carns three times in the head before turning his attention to Erickson. Ramirez told her that he was the “Night Stalker” and forced her to swear she loved Satan as he beat her with his fists and bound her with neckties from the closet. After stealing what he could find, Ramirez dragged Erickson to another room before raping her. He then demanded cash and more jewelry, and made her “swear on Satan” there was no more. Before leaving the home, Ramirez told Erickson, “Tell them the Night Stalker was here.” Erickson untied herself and went to a neighbor’s house for help. Surgeons removed two of the three bullets from Carns’s head, and he survived his injuries.
On the night of June 27, 1985, 32-year-old Patty Elaine Higgins was murdered in her Arcadia home. The crime was not discovered until July 2, when she did not show up for work. Her attacker had sodomized her, strangled her, and slashed her throat. Ramirez was charged with murder and burglary in relation to Higgins’ murder. However, the charges against him in the case were eventually dropped due to a lack of concrete physical evidence linking the Higgins murder to the Night Stalker crimes.
Based on a statement Ramirez made to an investigator, he is also a suspect in the San Francisco double murder of Christina Caldwell, 58, and 70-year-old Mary Caldwell. The Caldwell sisters were found stabbed to death in their Telegraph Hill apartment on February 20, 1985. While incarcerated, Ramirez openly bragged to a prison officer and other inmates about having killed “more than 20 people”.
Identification of Ramirez
Erickson provided investigators with a comprehensive description of the assailant, leading the police to obtain a cast of Ramirez’s footprint from the Romero house. On August 28, in Koreatown, Los Angeles, they discovered the abandoned stolen Toyota. Despite Ramirez’s attempts to wipe the car clean of his fingerprints, the police managed to obtain a single fingerprint from the rear-view mirror. This print was confirmed to belong to Ramirez, a 25-year-old drifter from Texas with a lengthy criminal record, including numerous arrests for traffic and drug violations.
The identification of Ramirez’s print was deemed a “near miracle” due to the recent installation of the identification system, which contained the fingerprints of criminals born after January 1, 1960, only a month after Ramirez’s birth. On August 29, 1985, the law enforcement officials chose to release a mug shot of Ramirez taken during a 1984 auto theft arrest to the media. During the police press conference, they declared, “We now know who you are, and soon, everyone else will too. There will be no place you can hide.”
On August 30, 1985, Ramirez boarded a bus bound for Tucson, Arizona, intending to visit his brother, completely unaware that he had become the central focus of major newspapers and television news programs all over California. Disappointed that his brother was not home, Ramirez returned to Los Angeles early on the morning of August 31. As he walked past the bus terminal, where police officers were on the lookout, hoping to catch the killer should he try to flee on an outbound bus, he entered a convenience store in East Los Angeles.
Inside the store, Ramirez became aware of a group of elderly Hispanic women who recognized him with fear and referred to him as “el matador.” His own face stared back at him from the front page of the newspaper La Opinión, which carried a headline labeling him “Invasor Nocturno” (Night Stalker). Overwhelmed with panic, Ramirez hastily left the store. He ran across the Santa Ana Freeway, then attempted to carjack an unlocked Ford Mustang, but his efforts were thwarted by a furious resident named Faustino Pinon, who pulled him out of the car. Undeterred, Ramirez rushed across the street and tried to snatch car keys from Angelina De La Torre.
Alerted by the commotion, Manuel De La Torre, the woman’s husband, witnessed Ramirez’s attempt and struck him on the head with a fence post as he fled. A group of more than ten residents formed a pursuit and chased Ramirez down Hubbard Street in Boyle Heights. They managed to restrain him, and in a relentless act of retaliation, they severely beat him. Around 8 a.m., police received a call about a disturbance in the area but with limited details indicating a fight. They swiftly arrived at the 3700 block of Hubbard Street, where they found Ramirez badly injured and unarmed. Taking him into custody, the crowd surrounding Ramirez had grown to several hundred people, becoming increasingly hostile towards him. In response, officer Andy Ramirez decided to stay behind while officer Jim Kaiser drove Ramirez to the Hollenbeck police station.
Jury selection for the trial began on July 22, 1988. At his first court appearance, Ramirez raised a hand with a pentagram drawn on it and yelled, “Hail Satan!” On August 3, 1988, the Los Angeles Times reported that some jail employees overheard Ramirez planning to shoot the prosecutor with a gun, which Ramirez intended to have smuggled into the courtroom. Consequently, a metal detector was installed outside, and intensive searches were conducted on people entering.
On August 14, the trial was interrupted because one of the jurors, Phyllis Singletary, did not arrive at the courtroom. Later that day, she was found shot to death in her apartment. The jury was terrified, wondering if Ramirez had somehow directed this event from inside his prison cell, and whether or not he could reach other jurors. However, it was ultimately determined that Ramirez was not responsible for Singletary’s death, as she was shot and killed by her boyfriend, who later committed suicide with the same weapon in a hotel. The alternate juror who replaced Singletary was too frightened to return to her home.
On September 20, 1989, Ramirez was convicted of all forty-three charges: thirteen counts of murder, five attempted murders, eleven sexual assaults, and fourteen burglaries. During the penalty phase of the trial on November 7, 1989, he was sentenced to death in California’s gas chamber. He stated to reporters after the death sentences, “Big deal. Death always went with the territory. See you in Disneyland.” The trial cost $1.8 million, which at the time made it the most expensive murder trial in the history of California until surpassed by the O. J. Simpson murder case in 1994.
Incarceration and death
Ramirez had developed a following by the time of the trial, and people were writing to him and paying him visits. Doreen Lioy, who began writing him almost seventy-five letters while his incarceration, rose to the position of one of his fervent supporters beginning in 1985. At the San Quentin State Prison in California, Ramirez proposed to Lioy in 1988, and the two were married on October 3, 1996. However, in 2009, she severed relations with him after DNA evidence revealed his involvement in the rape and murder of 9-year-old Mei Leung. Lioy had previously declared her willingness to commit suicide following Ramirez’s execution. Ramirez had been engaged to a writer, age 23, prior to his passing in 2013.
Ramirez’s first round of state appeals ended in failure on August 7, 2006, when the California Supreme Court maintained his convictions and the death penalty. The same court rejected his plea for a rehearing on September 7, 2006. Ramirez had several appeals pending up to his passing. Due to complications from B-cell lymphoma, he passed away on June 7, 2013, at Marin General Hospital in Greenbrae, California. In addition, he had been coping with the effects of long-term drug usage and hepatitis C virus infection.
That’s the end of a story of a psychopath Richard Ramirez who was formed into a monster when growing up. An innocent little child turns into a violent and cruel person because of the bad influence of a father who often shows violence, gives terror to his family and doesn’t care about his family. Do you agree with my opinion? please leave a comment below.