Ramirez, Richard (1960-)
Ramirez, Richard (1960-)
Richard Ramirez, Satanist and serial killer, was born on February 29, 1960, in El Paso, Texas, the son of Julian and Mercedes Ramirez, Mexican immigrants. In his childhood, it was discovered that he was epileptic and subject to sporadic seizures. He also came under the influence of his Green Beret cousin who introduced him to marijuana and who taught him to fight and kill. He took to a life of crime, stealing money to pay for his drugs. Still in his teens, he began to imagine himself a child of Satan. At age 16 he was arrested for breaking into a room at the hotel where he worked part time, and raping a woman. He was released when the judge believed his story that the woman had lured him to the room for sex. In 1978, after turning 18, he moved to Los Angeles, California. By this time he was an accomplished burglar.
In Los Angeles, Ramirez's drug habit deepened as did the intensity of his crimes. He briefly flirted with the Church of Satan but quickly reverted to his loner ways. He did, however, have a deep belief that Lucifer would both protect and empower him. He was seemingly proved correct, as for several years he existed freely as a criminal. In June of 1984, however, he began the new phase of his life that was to bring him both notoriety and a lifetime in jail. For more than a year he operated in the Los Angeles suburbs burglarizing homes and savagely killing the residents, leaving occult symbols, usually an inverted pentagram (five-pointed star), behind.
In June of 1985, the police announced that a serial killer was loose in Los Angeles. The press called him the "Night Stalker." The following month, Ramirez finally left a clue to his identity behind, a fingerprint in a getaway car. Identified, Ramirez soon found his picture everywhere in the media, and people in the Mexican-American community where he lived recognized him and almost killed him before the police arrived to arrest him.
Ramirez was convicted on multiple counts of murder and rape and sentenced to death. Defiant, he scrawled a pentagram on the palm of his hand to show reporters. After the trial he still believed that Lucifer would avenge him. Though there was an overtone of occultism to his crimes, Ramirez proved in the end to be more like other serial killers than those involved in the occult, even the great majority of those who consider themselves Satanists.
As this edition goes to press, Ramirez remains alive and in prison while appeals to his death sentence are proceeding through the courts. In 1996 he married Doreen Lloyd, one of a handful of Ramirez female groupies who emerged over the years since his trial.
Carlo, Philip. The Night Stalker: The Life and Crimes of Richard Ramirez. New York: Pinnacle Books, 1996.
Lane, Brian. The Encyclopedia of Occult and Supernatural Murder. London: Brockhampton Press, 1995.