terror in san francisco

Richard Ramirez - The Night Stalker.

Richard Ramirez, the “Night Stalker”.

Born Ricardo Leyva Muñoz Ramirez, February 29th 1960 in El Paso, Texas. Gained the title of the “Night Stalker” from the media after his highly publicised reign of terror of the greater Los Angeles and San Francisco area. Ramirez was the youngest of five children; his father was a Mexican national and former Juarez policeman who later became a labourer on the Santa Fe railroad. Though he was a hard working man, he was often prone to fits of anger which commonly resulted in fits of physical abuse. Ramirez sustained multiple childhood injuries which resulted in epileptic seizures that persisted into his teens. As a young teen, he was strongly influenced by his older cousin, a combat veteran who often shared details of his horrific deployments during the Vietnam war. He even shared Polaroid photos of his victims – these included images of Vietnamese women he had raped and even images of himself posing with a severed head of a woman he had abused. Richard and his cousin would bond sadistically over the stories his cousin would share with him. His cousin even shown him certain military techniques such as killing with stealth and surety. His used some of these techniques to escape his fathers violent outbursts by sleeping in a nearby cemetery.

Richard was present when his cousin shot his wife with a .38 calibre revolver following a domestic dispute, resulting in her death. Ramirez became withdrawn from the family circle shortly after and began living with his older sister and her husband – who was a profound “peeping tom” and took Ramirez along on his nocturnal exploits. Ramirez began using LSD and sparked an interest in Satanism. His cousin was later found not guilty for the murder of his wife after pleading insanity, his military experience being a mitigating factor. Due to his release, his influence was still heavy and present over Ramirez.

In his adolescence, Ramirez began having dark and violent sexual fantasies. As a student, Ramirez took a job at a local Holiday Inn where he abused his passkey access to rob sleeping clients. This employment shortly ended when a guest returned to the hotel to find Ramirez attempting to rape his wife. The husband beat Ramirez at the scene but all charges were dropped when the couple left the state and declined to return to testify against him. Ramirez dropped out of Jefferson High School in ninth grade, at the age of 22 he moved to California which became his permanent residence.


April 10th, 1984 – 9 year old Mei Leung was found murdered in a hotel basement where Ramirez was seeking residence in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco. The young girl was found to have been raped, beaten and vicious stabbed before her body was found hanging from a pipe. The death of Mei Leung was Ramirez’s first known killing. Though it wasn’t until 2009 that there was match of Ramirez’s DNA to the DNA obtained to that found at the crime scene. In 2016, officials disclosed evidence of a second suspect indentified via DNA evidence from the crime scene who is believed to be connected to Leung’s murder. Though authorities have not publicly identified the suspect and have not brought charges due to the lack of sufficient evidence.

“Night Stalker” crimes:

June 28th, 1984. 79 year old Jennie Vincow was found brutally murdered in her apartment in Glassell Park. She had been stabbed repeatedly while asleep in her bed, her throat slashed so deeply to the point of near decapitation. Ramirez’s fingerprint was found on a mesh screen he had removed to gain access through an open window.

March 17, 1985. Ramirez attacked 22 year old Maria Hernandez outside her home in Rosemead – shooting her in the face with a .22 caliber handgun after she pulled into her garage. The bullet ricocheted off her keys which she held in her hand to protect her face from the bullet. Inside the home, her roommate heard the gunshot and hid behind a counter when she saw Ramirez enter the house. Ramirez shot her in the head, killing her instantly.

Within an hour of the Rosemead home invasion, Ramirez dragged 30 year old Tsai-Lian Yu from her car in Monterey Park. Shooting her twice with a .22 caliber handgun, fleeing from the scene straight after. Tsai-Lian Yu was pronounced dead on arrival to the hospital. The murders on March 17th attracted great media attention, dubbing Ramirez “The Walk-in Killer” and “The Valley Intruder”.

March 27, 1985. Ramirez had entered a home in Whittier which he had previously burgled a year earlier. He shot 64 year old Vincent Zazzara whilst he slept with a .22 caliber handgun once again. Zazzara’s wife, 44 year old Maxine Zazzara was woken from the murder of her husband. Ramirez beat her and bound her hands together whilst demanding to know the whereabouts of her valuables. While Ramirez searched the room, Maxine was able to escape her bonds and managed to retrieve a shotgun from under the bed – however, this was not loaded. It infuritated Ramirez who as a result, shot her three times with .22 calibre, retrieving a carving knife from the kitchen and mutilated the 44 year old woman’s body with multiple stab wounds. Ramirez gouged out her eyes, which he placed in a jewellery box and took as a momento. Ramirez left shoe print impressions in flower beds on the residence, the police photographed and cast the impressions which was the only evidence the police were able to retrieve from the scene at the time. Bullets found at the scene matched those from the previous murders which provided police with the conclusion that it was the work of a serial killer.

Ramirez continued his horrific crimes in the greater Los Angeles and San Francisco areas. Ramirez began to incorporate rape, Satanism and torture techniques using various weapons which included: handguns, knives, machete, tire iron and a hammer. Ramirez would begin to draw pentagrams on his victims and in the premises of the houses. Even making his victims “swear on satan”. Ramirez followed the media coverage of his crimes which lead him to leave the Los Angeles area and into San Francisco. Ballistic and shoe print evidence which was found from the crime scenes was paraded on a televised press conference which the then mayor of San Francisco hosted. This infuriated detectives on the case who knew Ramirez would be tracking the media coverage of the case. This lead Ramirez to throwing his shoes off the golden gate bridge before heading back to Los Angeles.

August 24, 1985. Ramirez travelled 76 miles south of Los Angeles and followed his structured routine. He told his victim, Inez Erickson after vicious attacks “tell them the Night Stalker was here”. He drove off in a stole Toyota much to the attention of a thirteen year old neighbour who wrote down the license plate of the car due to his strange appearance striking attention. Erickson’s fiancé was able to have two of the bullets from his head which allowed him to luckily survive his injuries.

The young neighbour contacted the police of the cars license plate when the story broke. Erikson was able to provide a full description of Ramirez. The car was found four days later, police were able to obtain a single fingerprint from the rear view mirror despite Ramirez’s attempt to wipe the car clean of his prints. The print matched that of Ramirez who had a long record for traffic and illegal drug violations. A mug shot of Ramirez was released to the media December 12 1984. The “Night Stalker” finally had a face.

Trial and conviction:

At his first court appearance, Ramirez raised his hand with a pentagram drawn on his palm, yelling the words “Hail Satan”, a peculiar trademark of the murderer (see the image). September 20, 1989. Ramirez was convicted of all charges; 13 counts of murder, 5 attempted murders, 11 sexual assaults and 14 burglaries. He was sentenced to die in California’s gas chamber when he stated to reporters “Big deal. Death always when with the territory. See you in Disneyland.” The trial cost $1.8 million which was the most expensive in the history of California until the OJ Simpson case in 1994.


Ramirez died of complications due to secondary B-Cell lymphoma. He had also been affected by chronic substance abuse and chronic hepatitis C viral infection. At the age of 53 years old, he had been on death row for more than 23 years.

Numerous contributors. (Last Modified 3/6/16). Richard Ramirez.Available: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Ramirez. Last accessed 17/06/16.

All information wrote by beyondmensrea 17/6/16. Thank you for reading. 

One of a series of letters sent by The Zodiac Killer mocking the police and media while trying to terrorize the citizens of San Francisco. This was sent to the San Francisco Chronicle on October 13th, 1969.

“This is the Zodiac speaking.
I am the murderer of the taxi driver over by Washington St + Maple St last night, to prove this here is a blood stained piece of his shirt. I am the same man who did in the people in the north bay area.
The S.F. Police could have caught me last night if they had searched the park properly instead of holding road races with their motorcicles seeing who could make the most noise. The car drivers should have just parked their cars and sat there quietly waiting for me to come out of cover.
School children make nice targets, I think I shall wipe out a school bus some morning. Just shoot out the front tire + then pick off the kiddies as they come bouncing out.”


San Francisco Chronicle, July 22, 1916

The route of the Preparedness Day parade, held in anticipation of the United States entry into WWI. A suitcase bomb, placed along the route, killed 10 and injured an additional 40 persons. The bomb was believed to be placed by two labor bosses, who were sentenced to death, later commuted to life in prison and finally pardoned, when later investigation showed much of the testimony during the trial to be falsified. 


1. Born in 1960
2. Allegedly wanted to shoot his trial prosecutor
3. “The Night Stalker” wasn’t Ramirez’s first nickname
4. Never displayed any remorse for his crimes
5. Was an avowed Satanist
6. Terrorized Los Angeles and San Francisco
7. Attempted to charm his fans with smiles for the camera after his arrest
8. Turned bright green before he died
9. Got married while behind bars
10. Victims ranged in age from nine to 83 years-old

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