A new Netflix documentary chronicles the manhunt for the Night Stalker who killed 13 people in California in the 1980s and how he was finally caught by his poor dental hygiene.
Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer focuses on the events that led to the eventual arrest of Richard Ramirez.
Between June 1984 and August 1985 the serial killer carried out a series of violent crimes which at first seemed random and left many believing they were the work of multiple people.
He broke into homes and assaulted residents and in some cases kidnapped and molested children before letting them go.
Between June 1984 and August 1985, Richard Ramirez (pictured), who was dubbed Night Stalker, carried out a series of violent crimes which at first seemed random and left many believing they were the work of multiple people
At one point towards the end of his trial, Ramirez shouted out ‘Hail Satan’ and displayed a pentagram he had drawn onto the palm of his hand
He broke into homes and assaulted residents and in some cases kidnapped and molested children before letting them go. What made Ramirez so difficult to catch was the apparent randomness of his crimes, with some adults having been raped and killed, while his victims were of all ages, genders and races
What made Ramirez so difficult to catch was the apparent randomness of his crimes, with some adults having been raped and killed, while his victims were of all ages, genders and races.
Additionally, the weapons Ramirez used varied between knives, guns and blunt objects.
The devil-worshipper killed 13 people during his killing spree and left many more injured.
Ramirez would climb through open windows and doors in the early hours of the morning and ransack valuables as well as rape and kill his victims, leaving gruesome crime scenes often marking them with pentagrams.
Speaking about the project to People, director of Netflix’s new documentary Tiller Russell said: ‘To this day in L.A., when you drive around, that’s why there are bars on the windows.’
It was thanks to the efforts of Gil Carrillo (pictured) and Frank Salerno, detectives from Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, that Ramirez was eventually hunted down
Gil Carrillo and Frank Salerno (pictured in 1985) were trying to catch Ramirez and operated uder the theory that all the different crimes had been committed by a single person
Who was Richard Ramirez?
Born in 1960, Richard Ramirez was a serial killer who was eventually found guilty of 13 cases of murder.
His crime spree in Los Angeles during the summer of 1985 led to him being dubbed the Night Stalker.
He grew up in El Paso, Texas, in an allegedly abusive household and was heavily influenced by his cousin Miguel who had fought in the Vietnam war.
His cousin told him about the torture and human mutilation he had witnessed during the fighting.
Ramirez was even present when his cousin Miguel fatally shot his wife in the face.
After dropping out of school, Ramirez developed a drug habit and started following Satanism before turning to crime.
His initial crimes started smaller, with petty thefts, before developing into murder, rape and kidnapping.
He was eventually caught in Los Angeles after being spotted by members of the public who recognised him from the police appeals.
After attempting multiple carjacks he became surrounded by a crowd of bystanders who beat and restrained him until the police arrived.
He was found guilty of 13 counts of murder, five attempted murders, 11 sexual assaults and 14 burglaries.
Although sentenced to death, Ramirez died of natural causes while on death row in 2013.
At several of his crime scenes, Ramirez was known to have left pentagrams, linking back to his reported following of Satanism.
During one of his rape attacks he made his victim swear ‘on Satan’ that she would not scream out.
It was thanks to the efforts of Gil Carrillo and Frank Salerno, detectives from Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, that Ramirez was eventually hunted down – working under the theory that all the different crimes had been committed by a single person.
One piece of evidence which played a major factor in Ramirez’s guilty verdict was the serial killer’s poor dental hygiene, with multiple witnesses mentioning his missing and rotted teeth.
One witness, Ester Petschar, claims to have seen Ramirez buying an AC/DC hat in a thrift store, which was later found at one of the crime scenes.
She said after seeing him in the shop she then ran into him on the freeway and claimed he looked like a ‘killer clown’ because of his missing teeth.
Glen Creaso, another witness, who worked at Los Angeles Public Library remembers Ramirez’s ‘disgusting, rotted teeth’.
Ramirez’s poor dental hygiene continued to play an important role in the case against him, as Carrillo and Salerno found a dentist’s business card inside a stolen vehicle Ramirez had fled from after being stopped.
Two detectives were placed in the dentist’s office to pick him up should he return for work, with an alarm later being installed for the dentist to alert the police of his presence.
However, on the day the police pulled their detectives from the office, the alarm malfunctioned and Ramirez was able to undergo surgery on his teeth.
He was eventually captured by police thanks to the efforts of the general public.
He was recognised on the street and chased by bystanders before eventually being cornered and surrounded following multiple failed car jackings.
The crowd beat and restrained the serial killer until police could arrive to take him away.
After Ramirez had been captured by police, three separate dentists gave testimony about his teeth which helped negate at least one of his alibis.
At one point towards the end of his trial, Ramirez shouted out ‘Hail Satan’ and displayed a pentagram he had drawn onto the palm of his hand.
Ramirez was eventually found guilty of 13 murders, five attempted murders, 11 sexual assaults and 14 burglaries and sentenced to death for his crimes.
At the time of his sentencing, Ramirez addressed the court to say he was ‘beyond good and evil’ and would be ‘avenged,’ adding, ‘Lucifer dwells in us all.’
One piece of evidence which played a major factor in Ramirez’s guilty verdict was the serial killer’s poor dental hygiene, with multiple witnesses mentioning his missing and rotted teeth
After Ramirez had been captured by police, three separate dentists gave testimony about his teeth which helped negate at least one of his alibis
Part way through his trial, a juror, Phyllis Singletary, did not arrive at the court and was later found shot dead in her apartment.
Many grew concerned that Ramirez had orchestrated the killing from prison, but police ultimately concluded that her boyfriend had shot her after he was later found to have killed himself with the same gun.
Despite police confirmed Ramirez had not been involved, Phyllis’ replacement juror became too scared to return to their home each night after the trial.
Ramirez’s trial ended up costing $1.8million, which at the time, made it the most expensive court case to ever take place in Los Angeles.
He died behind bars in 2013 of natural causes in San Quentin State Prison while awaiting execution at the age of 53.
Ramirez’s trial ended up costing $1.8million, which at the time, made it the most expensive court case to ever take place in Los Angeles
A COMPLETE TIMELINE OF THE NIGHT STALKER’S GRUESOME MURDERS
April 10, 1984: Mei Leung, 9, was found dead in the basement of a hotel basement where Ramirez was living. His DNA was matched to the crime scene in 2009.
June 28, 1984: Jennie Vincow, 79, was found dead in her apartment. She had been stabbed repeatedly and her throat was slashed so severely she was almost decapitated. Ramirez sexually assaulted her after the killing.
Mar. 17, 1985: On March 17, 1985, Ramírez attacked 20-year old María Hernández outside her home.
He shot her before entering her house. Inside was Dayle Okazaki, age 34, whom Ramírez shot and killed.
Hernández survived. Less than an hour later, Ramirez struck again in Monterey Park, attacking 30-year-old Tsai ‘Veronica’ Lian Yu.
He pulled her out of her car onto the road and shot her several times, before fleeing.
A police officer found her still breathing, but she later died at the hospital.
Mar. 27, 1985: Ramirez shot Vincent Zazzara, 64, and his wife Maxine, 44. Mrs Zazzara’s body was mutilated with several stab wounds.
She had a carving of the letter ‘T’ over her left breast and her eyes were gouged out. The mutilations were post-mortem, according to an autopsy.
May 14, 1985: Ramirez broke into the home of William and Lillie Doi. He shot William in the head and ferociously beat Lillie, but she survived.
May 29 June 1, 1985: Mabel Bell, 84, and her invalid sister, Florence Lang, 81, are beaten with a hammer in their Monrovia home. Bell was killed.
May 30, 1985: Carol Kyle, 41, of Burbank, was raped and sodomized by Ramirez.
July 2, 1985: Ramirez kills Mary Louise Cannon, 75, of Arcadia, by beating her and slashing her throat.
July 5, 1985: Whitney Bennett, 16, survived after being beaten with a tire iron by Ramirez.
July 7, 1985: Ramirez beats to death Joyce Lucille Nelson, 61, of Monterey Park.
July 20, 1985: Ramirez shot and killed Glendale couple, Maxson Kneiding, 68, and his wife Lela, 66, in their home.
Later that day, he shot and killed Chainarong Khovananth, 32, of Sun Valley, then sodomized his wife and son.
Aug. 6, 1985: Ramirez shot both Christopher Petersen, 38, and his wife, Virginia, 27, in the head. Miraculously, they both survived.
Aug. 8, 1985: Elyas Abowath, 35, is shot to death in his Diamond Bar home. His wife is beaten.
Aug. 25, 1985: Ramirez broke into the Mission Viejo apartment of Bill Carns, 29, and his fiancée, Inez Erickson, 29. Ramirez shot Carns in the head and raped Erickson. Both victims survived.