Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

‘Night Stalker’ Richard Ramirez Goes Gently Into That Good Night

Richard Ramirez was destined to die in prison, but not under these circumstances. In the wee hours of June 7, 2013, the so-called “Night Stalker” passed away at Marin General Hospital of natural causes.

Richard Ramirez

Richard Ramirez

The 53-year-old Ramirez had been incarcerated on death row in San Quentin for more than two decades before his death. In 1984 and 1985 he had terrorized the people of California with a 14-month killing spree that went from San Francisco, to the LA area and on to Orange County. On August 30, 1985, Ramirez was seen by a group of citizens while trying to steal a car. The group quickly turned into an angry mob when they recognized Ramirez from his photo. He was chased down, caught and severely beaten. Police had to rescue Ramirez from the mob that likely would have killed him.

In 1989 Ramirez was convicted on 13 counts of murder and on 30 other charges, including rape, burglary and attempted murder. After being sentenced to death, Ramirez told the court: “You don’t understand me. You are not expected to. You are not capable of it. I am beyond your experience. I am beyond good and evil.”

The State of California reinstated the death penalty in 1978. Though Ramirez was officially sentenced to death 19 times, he is now the 59th death-row inmate to die of natural causes since 1978. Since then only 13 inmates have been executed by that state. Ramirez’ death leaves 735 offenders on California’s death row.

Richard Ramirez, the Night Stalker

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