Today in “thanks, I hate it,” Netflix has dropped a new true-crime docuseries that might just be its most terrifying venture into the genre yet. Welcome to Night Stalker, about the infamous serial killer, rapist, and burglar named Richard Ramirez.
In the event that you wanna know exactly what you’re getting yourself into before actually clicking “play” on this four-episode series, we’ve put together a brief primer on Night Stalker’s true story—which is pretty scary due to its subject matter but, unlike the show, probably won’t keep you up tonight. Maybe. Actually, I lied, it definitely still will.
So…Who Was Richard Ramirez?
Simply put, Richard Ramirez was a serial rapist and murderer who preyed upon the greater Los Angeles area in the 1980s. He was active between summer 1984 and summer 1985, at which point he was caught and tried for multiple gruesome homicides.
I won’t get into too many of the brutal details of his murders, but Ramirez used a variety of weapons to kill, assault, and mutilate his victims. He committed his first known homicide on June 28, 1984, when 79-year-old Jennie Vincow was found murdered asleep in bed. He then committed a string of murders, assaults, and burglaries in the months following—including three separate attempted murders in one single day (March 17, 1985).
Ramirez’s crimes intensified in frequency in the summer of 1985, when he went on a multi-night murder spree on July 2, 5, 7, and 20. By the time he was eventually caught at the end of August, he had killed 13 people.
Why the Name “Night Stalker”?
Ramirez got the nickname “Night Stalker” from detectives, as well as the media, who widely covered his murderous spree. But in case you want to know his other terrifying nicknames, he was also known as the Walk-in Killer and the Valley Intruder.
On August 25, 1985, for example, the Los Angeles Times wrote:
How Did He Get Caught?
Because he was careless. Authorities were able to lift a fingerprint from a car Ramirez had stolen, and (after tracing down some other leads) police matched the print to an old mug shot and released it to the public. But detectives aren’t actually the ones who caught him—at first. Basically, Ramirez recognized his own mug shot on a newspaper in a liquor store, fled in a panic, and tried to jack two cars. He ended up being chased by what the L.A. Times described as “angry citizens” who recognized him…to the point that when police eventually showed up, he said, “Thank god you came.”
Following his arrest on August 31, Ramirez reportedly told Sheriff’s Deputy Jim Ellis, “I love to kill people. I love watching people die” and “I love all that blood.” Here’s raw footage from that day, published by NBC L.A.:
Ramirez notoriously showed up at his first court appearance and yelled “Hail Satan,” and after a pretty dramatic trial, he was convicted on 13 counts of murder, 11 counts of sexual assault, 5 counts of attempted murder, and 14 counts of burglary.
Footage of his trial is below, but again—heads up that it’s really freaking creepy:
Ramirez was sentenced to death (which he appealed to no avail) and apparently said at the time of the sentencing, “I am beyond good and evil. I will be avenged. Lucifer dwells in us all. That’s it.”
Um. No thanks.
So, Is He Alive?
Nope. Ramirez died of complications related to lymphoma on June 7, 2013. But before his death, he married a woman named Doreen Lioy, who believed he was wrongly convicted. “I just believe in him completely,” she told CNN. “In my opinion, there was far more evidence to convict O. J. Simpson, and we all know how that turned out.”
Kay, that’s about it. Go ahead and watch Night Stalker on Netflix now if you’re looking for more details (praying for your sleep schedule).
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