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 Ramirez became withdrawn from the family circle shortly after and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
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
“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.
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.”
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