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The Night Stalker

Richard Ramirez shown putting his hand up to show the satanic signs drawn on his hand in court in Episode 4 of Netflixs documentary series Night Stalker.
Image property of Netflix
Richard Ramirez shown putting his hand up to show the satanic signs drawn on his hand in court in Episode 4 of Netflix’s documentary series “Night Stalker.” Image property of Netflix

Trigger Warning: This article refers to murder, rape, and sexual assault.

Who was the Night Stalker?

“The Night Stalker” also referred to as Richard Rameriz, was an American serial killer who was born on February 29, 1960, in El Paso, Texas, U.S. and would die on June 7, 2013. Richard Rameriz was a serial killer, rapist, and burglar who murdered at least 13 people and was charged with five counts of attempted murders, in California in 1984–85.

His Background

Rameriz grew up in El Paso, Texas. He was 1 of 5 children born to Mexican immigrants. According to reports, when he was 12 years old his cousin, who was a Vietnam War veteran, showed Rameriz pictures of Vietnamese women he had allegedly raped, tortured, and killed. The following year Ramirez would witness a traumatic event where his cousin shot and killed his wife. Just around this time, Rameriz started to break into homes and dropped out of high school. He later moved to Los Angeles, California where he would begin to start his crimes.

The Start of His Crimes

When moving to Los Angeles, he continued to commit crimes such as stealing and breaking into cars.  He became addicted to drugs and obsessed with Satanism. He moved from stealing to committing bigger crimes such as murders. On June 28, 1984, Rameriz’s first victim, 79-year-old Jennie Vincow, was found robbed, sexually assaulted, stabbed, and killed during a burglary in her home.

His Murder Spree

On March 17, 1985, Saint Patrick’s Day, Detective Gil Carrillo and his partner were called to a home that was broken into. At the home, the first thing Carrillo saw was that the garage was open. After further investigation, he and his partner noticed blood splatter on the walls and the homeowner’s phone. They then discovered one of Ramirez’s victims, Daryle Okazaki, a 34-year-old woman. She was found on the kitchen floor with a gunshot wound to her head. Okazaki did not live alone though. She had a roommate, Maria Hernandez, one of Ramirez’s survivors. Hernandez had been heading to open the garage when she heard Ramirez leaving the home. He and Hernandez met face to face, still with the gun. He shot at her but Hernandez was quick and lifted her hands to her face. Miraculously, her key blocked the shot and she was able to get away.

Forty minutes later, the Monterey Park Police Department got a call about a murder about a mile from where Okazaki was killed.  A 30-year-old Asian girl, Tsai-Lain Yu, was stopped, yanked from her car and shot . She was another of Ramirez’s victims. 

On March 27th, 1985, only 10 days after these two murders, there was a double murder, of Vincent (64 years old) and Maxine Zazzara (44 years old) Investigators said that Ramirez had climbed in through their window and shot Vincent while he was sleeping on the couch. His wife, Maxine, was found with severe stab wounds; her eyes gone and she was raped. While Investigators were looking around, they found a footprint in the dirt of the couple’s flowers. This footprint helped identify Rameriz later on.

Another one of Rameriz’s survivors was only six years old, when she was taken out of her room and carried to Rameriz’s car. The survivor, Anastasia Hronas, said that she was only half asleep and thought that Rameriz was a family member. Rameriz drove around and ended up stopping at an abandoned house and putting a duffle bag on little Hronas. He led her to his room and sexually assaulted her. Afterward, he put her back into the duffle bag and dropped her off at a gas station. Ramirez told her to go in and have them call 911 to report that she had been kidnapped. At this time there were many child kidnapping incidents, and all of them experienced similar things that Hronas went through. However, investigators didn’t know if the same person was connected to the recent murders.

Rameriz would continue to brutally murder and sexually assault all of his next victims. He would leave after completing Satanic rituals and would always leave Satanic symbols at the murder scene. In one case, he made one of his victims worship the devil after shooting her fiance and raping her. She would later describe this to police which would help lead to his capture. 

His Capture 

On August 30th, 1985, Rameriz was discovered trying to break into a car. Already people knew who he was because of the description that was provided by his final victim. Because of this description, the people retained him and held him down until authorities came and arrested him.  Once arrested, he remaided  in jail until it was time for his trial. The trial faced many delays due to the series of motions and bickering between the prosecutors and defense attorney.

On July 22, 1988, the jury section finally completed and the trial itself started in January. Rameriz had created a cult of Satan worshippers who attended the trial. Some people in this cult found him and his actions attractive. There was yet another delay when one juror was found murdered on August 14, 1989, but rumors that Ramirez had orchestrated her death proved unfounded. 

On September 20, 1989, the jury finally returned a guilty verdict on 43 charges, including 13 counts of murder, 5 counts of attempted murder, 11 sexual assault charges, and 14 burglary charges. The jury suggested that Rameriz would get the death penalty. As he walked out of the courtroom, Ramirez said, “Hey, big deal, death always comes with the territory. I’ll see you in Disneyland.” 

He was sentenced to death in the gas chamber on November 7, 1989, and was sent to the San Quentin Prison in California to complete his sentence.  On June 7, 2013, Ramirez died of complications secondary to B-cell lymphoma at Marin General Hospital in Greenbrae, California. He had also been affected by “chronic substance abuse and chronic hepatitis C viral infection.”


Piccotti, T. (2023, May 17). Richard Ramirez. BIOGRAPHY. 

Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. (2024, February 25). Richard Ramirez. Encyclopædia Britannica. 

Night Stalker: The Hunt For a Serial Killer. Available on Netflix

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