In the 1980s, California has seen a number of notorious killers, such as the Original Night Stalker, the Grim Sleeper, and the Freeway Killer.
But there had never been one quite like Richard Ramirez, who, over a period of 14 months, killed 14 people and attempted to kill five more.
Known to use a wide variety of weapons, such as a handgun, knife, machete, tire iron, and hammer, Ramirez went down as one of the most ruthless serial killers of all time, earning him the flashy, fearsome tabloid nickname “The Night Stalker.”
In fact, the judge who sentenced Ramirez remarked that his deeds exhibited “cruelty, callousness, and viciousness beyond any human understanding.”
With plenty of horrific facts and stories surrounding Richard Ramirez, there are at least seven of them left untold.
1. The Night Stalker Is Not the First Nickname Given to Richard Ramirez
Most of us know Richard Ramirez by the name of the “Night Stalker,” but believe it or not, this isn’t the first nickname given to him.
The reporters of the Los Angeles Herald Examiner, who had been covering the case since Ramirez’s first attack, had a brainstorming session in an attempt to come up with an attractive label for the killer.
The “Walk-In Killer,” “Valley Intruder,” and the “Screen Door Intruder” are only a few nicknames the Herald-Examiner came up with that night.
Although the reporters didn’t know many details about the crimes committed by Ramirez, they decided to dub him the “Night Stalker” based on a hit 1972 tv-movie “The Night Stalker” about a vampire serial killer terrorizing the people of Las Vegas.
2. The Secret Behind Ramirez’s Flawless Courtroom Smile
On September 3, 1985, less than a week after his arrest, Richard Ramirez went to see a prison dentist. Over a period of nine months, Dr. Alfred Otero had repaired nine badly rotten teeth, filling them with a compound substance.
Ramirez’s dental hygiene was an issue starting at a young age. The infamous killer would start his day drinking Coca-Cola and eating sugar-covered cereal in his El Paso, Texas home.
According to Ramirez’s childhood friend and classmate Ray Garcia, “He’d never brush his teeth. I used to tell him to close his mouth or brush his teeth.”
But his personal hygiene really fell off at the age of 18, as he became heavily addicted to cocaine. The lack of hygiene and the sweet tooth, combined with the damaging oral effects of drugs, caused his teeth to decay heavily.
3. Ramirez Had a History of Head Injuries
As a child, Ramirez sustained two serious head injuries.
When he was two years old, a dresser fell on top of him, causing a forehead laceration that required 30 stitches to close. When he was five, Ramirez’s sister knocked him out with a swing at a park.
Following these incidents, at the age of 11, Ramirez was diagnosed with epilepsy that persisted in his early teens.
4. A Female Juror Was Fatally Shot During Ramirez’s Trial
On August 14, 1988, Phyllis Singletary, one of the jurors in Richard Ramirez’s trial, didn’t show up at the courtroom. A few hours later, Singletary was found shot dead in her apartment.
The grand jury was terrified, believing that Ramirez somehow masterminded the murder while being behind bars.
However, the Night Stalker wasn’t responsible for Singletary’s murder. She had been fatally shot by her boyfriend, James Melton. Two days later, Melton shot himself in the head outside his second-floor room, after the investigators received an anonymous phone tip disclosing his location.
5. Ramirez Had an Abusive Childhood
Ramirez’s father, Julian, was prone to fits of anger that often resulted in physical abuse towards his wife and children.
At the age of 13, Ramirez could no longer handle the violent outbursts and began to seek escape by sleeping in a local cemetery.
The abuse Ramirez suffered at home led him to spend time with his older cousin, veteran Miguel Ramirez, who exposed a 12-year-old Richard to photos of raped and dismembered Vietnamese women and later shot his wife in front of him.
6. Ramirez Threatened to Shoot His Prosecutor
Known for his flirty and spectacular performances in front of the cameras, Richard Ramirez once planned to bring a gun into the courtroom and shoot his prosecutor. The chilling plot was discovered by the Los Angeles Times on August 3, 1988, after some jail employees reportedly overheard Ramirez’s plan.
Consequently, the courthouse installed metal detectors, and intensive searches were conducted on people entering.
7. Ramirez Planned To Escape Prison Twice
A few months after Ramirez’s death, the New York Post published an article stating that the infamous killer hatched two plots to escape prison to continue his murder spree.
Both plans had failed.
In 1993, while being brought back to prison, Ramirez tried to smuggle a key into his rectum that would unlock his handcuffs.
The second plan had never been executed since correctional officers became aware of the plot after reading one of the letters sent to Ramirez by a Night Stalker groupie.