Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Richard Ramirez, the Night Stalker

'I Love to Kill People'

Seven days after the attack on the computer engineer and his fiancee in Mission Viejo, Ramirez was on the prowl for another vehicle he could steal. Unfortunately for him, he chose the wrong neighborhood to go "shopping" for cars. The 3700 block of East Hubbard Street in Los Angeles is in a largely Hispanic area. Perhaps Ramirez felt that he would blend in there. But he had no idea how fiercely these residents would protect their property.

Ramirez's first mistake was trying to steal Faustino Pinon's prized red Mustang. Ramirez, who was wearing a black Jack Daniels tee shirt, had been hopping fences between yards, searching for a car he could steal easily. He'd been chased off the property next door to Pinon's home and wound up in Pinon's yard. Ramirez must have thought luck was with him because the Mustang parked in the driveway was unlocked and the keys were in the ignition. He jumped in and started the engine. But he hadn't noticed that the car's owner was underneath the car on his back working on the transmission.

As soon as Pinon, 56, heard the engine starting, he rolled out from under the car. Incensed that anyone would dare touch his prized possession, Pinon reached through the window and grabbed Ramirez around the neck.

"I've got a gun," Ramirez warned, but Pinon didn't care. No one was going to take his car.

Ramirez put the car into gear and tried to drive away, but Pinon wouldn't let go of him. The car crashed into a fence, then into the garage. Pinon got the door open, hauled Ramirez out, and threw him to the ground.

Jamie & Julio Burgoin
Jamie & Julio Burgoin

Ramirez scrambled to his feet and ran across the street just as twenty-eight-year-old Angelina de la Torres was getting into her Ford Granada. He ran up to her car and stuck his head through the driver's window, demanding that she give him the keys, threatening in Spanish to kill her if she didn't. She screamed for help, and her husband Manuel, 32, came running from the backyard. According to Nancy Skelton in the Los Angeles Times, he grabbed a length of metal fence post as he passed through the gate along the side of the house.

In the meantime Jose Burgoin, who had heard the ruckus in Faustino Pinon's driveway, had called the police. He ran outside to help Pinon, and when he heard Angelina scream, he called to his sons— Jaime, 21, and Julio, 17—to come quick. As the brothers ran to help Mrs. De la Torres, they saw the skinny stranger scrambling across the front seat of her car. Jaime recognized him from photographs that had been published in the newspapers and broadcast on television. He yelled that this was the killer, the Night Stalker!

Richard Ramirez headshot
Richard Ramirez headshot

The men made a mad dash to catch him. Ramirez ran for his life, but Manuel de la Torres caught up with him and hit him across the neck with the three-and-a- half-foot metal post. Ramirez kept running, but de la Torres stayed on him, whacking him repeatedly from behind. Jaime Burgoin caught up with Ramirez and punched him. Ramirez stumbled and fell but quickly got up and continued running with de la Torres and the Burgoin brothers on his heels.

D.A. Ira Reiner
D.A. Ira Reiner

Then unexpectedly Ramirez stopped and faced them. His eyes flashed as he laughed and stuck out his tongue at them. He was playing the part of the madman, but his pursuers were taken aback for only a moment. They lunged at him, and the chase continued. Finally, a block away from where it all began, de la Torres swung hard and hit Ramirez on the head. The Night Stalker collapsed to the ground. Jaime and Jose Burgoin closed in on him to keep him down until the police arrived. One day after Richard Ramirez's face was made public, the Night Stalker was in custody and behind bars.

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