The Terror of Richard Ramirez, The Night Stalker

Richard Ramirez, aka the Night Stalker, is a case that interests me, not because of what he did but because of how he was caught. It is so easy to expect people to sit by and mind their own business. But here is a group of people who banned together and let us see what happens when they don’t just sit on the sidelines.



Richard Ramirez was born in El Paso, Texas, on February 29, 1960, to Julian and Mercedes Ramirez. He was the youngest of five. Abused by his father, he suffered from two serious head injuries that caused epileptic seizures. To escape his father, Richard started hanging out with his cousin, Miquel. Miguel was a decorated Vietnam veteran.

However, Miguel was far from a good influence on Richard. Miguel had picked up a habit of torturing women while he was in Vietnam. A habit he carried back with him to Texas and introduced Richard to. Miguel went on to shoot his wife in front of Richard when Richard was only 13 years old.

Miguel Ramirez

After this traumatic event, Richard changed. He no longer acted scared but was now hardened. He began using drugs and getting into Satanism.

Miguel only spent a few years in an insane asylum after the shooting. Richard was starting to get interested in what Miguel was doing to these women. He was obsessed. Richard was arrested for attempted rape soon after, but the woman decided not to testify against him. He was released and moved to California when he was 22 years old.


Out of Control

On June 28, 1984, authorities discovered the body of 79-year-old Jennie Vincow. She had been brutally raped and almost decapitated. It appeared as if someone had broken into her apartment and robbed her.

It wasn’t until March 17, 1985, that he struck again. Maria Hernandez was in her home when he attacked. Luckily, she escaped. However, her roommate, Dayle Okazaki, did not. That same night, Richard Ramirez shot and killed Tsai-Lian Tuy as she was driving home.

For over a year, he spread terror throughout California. Vincent and Maxine Zazzara were his next victims. He shot and killed Vincent before assaulting and killing Maxine and gouging out her eyes.

The press soon named him “The Night Stalker.” He attacked at random from Los Angeles to San Francisco, male and female victims, and a wide range of ages. No one was safe. His victims are as follows:

  • June 28, 1984 – Jennie Vincow (79)
  • March 17, 1985 – Dayle Okazaki (34), Maria Hernandez (20)
  • March 17, 1985 – Veronica Yu (30)
  • March 27, 1985 – Vincent (64) and Maxine Zazzara (44)
  • May 14, 1985 – Bill Doi (66)
  • May 30, 1985 – Carol Kyle (41)
  • June 1, 1985 – Mable “Ma Bell” Bell (83) and sister, Florence “Nettie” (80)
  • July 2, 1985 – Mary Louise Cannon (75)
  • July 5, 1985 – Whitney Bennett (16)
  • July 7, 1985 – Joyce Lucille Nelson (61)
  • July 7, 1985 – Sophie Dickman (63)
  • July 20, 1985 – Max (68) and Lela Kneiding (66)
  • July 20, 1985 – Chainarong Khovananth (32)
  • August 8, 1985 – Elyas Abowath (35)

Because of him, there was an increase in gun sales and house protection. An FBI task force was created in order to capture the Night Stalker.

Vincent and Maxine Zazzara

The Capture

Richard Ramirez was identified through fingerprints after a witness caught his license plate number. One of his victims sat down with a sketch artist, and the sketch was published in the paper.

When he returned to LA, he saw the picture and knew he was going to be recognized. Richard ran but not before someone recognized him. After trying and failing to steal a car, he ran as police were dispatched. He was taken down by a mob of vigilantes who had gathered as he ran. The police came in soon after. It’s pretty amazing what a community will do to protect their own. He was treated for his injuries and taken into custody.


The Trial

Richard Ramirez was charged and convicted of 13 counts of murder, five counts of attempted murder, 14 burglaries, and 11 counts of sexual assault. He was sentenced to death in a gas chamber at San Quentin Prison.


However, his case was so massive that it would take many years until his execution could take place. While he was waiting to die, Richard married one of his fans, Doreen Lioy, in 1996.

He had his first round of appeals in 2006, but the ruling was upheld. Richard Ramirez kept submitting even more requests for appeals.

In the end, cancer got him before the State of California could. He died in 2013 after spending 23 years in prison. Richard Ramirez was 53 years old.




Night Stalker suspect Richard Ramirez captured by angry mob. (2019, September 26). Retrieved April 4, 2020, from

Richard Ramirez | Murderpedia, the encyclopedia of murderers. (n.d.). Retrieved April 4, 2020, from

Serena, K. (2017, December 5). The Twisted Tale Of Richard Ramirez, The “Night Stalker” Serial Killer Of 1980s Los Angeles. Retrieved April 4, 2020, from

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. (2020, February 25). Richard Ramirez | Biography, Murders, Trial, & Facts. Retrieved April 4, 2020, from

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