Richard Ramirez scared the hell out of children with his mythology and eerie look. This story recounts fearful memories of Ramirez, including one person who came face to face with him and didn’t even know he was the infamous Night Stalker.
In the ’80s I feared “Ghoulies,” a horror film about creatures who came up from the toilet to feverishly scratch your ass (I assume) and kill you (I guess). Hey, I was a kid. But I knew the Ghoulies weren’t real.
Escaping the Ghoulies was easy — don’t watch the film. They were fiction. Real life fear in the mid 1980s was coping with the presence of serial killer Richard Ramirez. I remember my parents stressing over closing windows at night.
And the nickname Night Stalker crept into your mind as a moniker for one of the most inhuman individuals to ever walk this planet. Ramirez was a Satanist who once stabbed someone’s neck so deep, the victim was almost decapitated.
That police sketch of him scared the hell out of me. It looked sadistic. Gazing into those eyes could trouble even the most brave soul. If you saw the real life Night Stalker you knew he was a disturbed man.
My parents constantly had the Night Stalker in mind, every night locking doors and windows as if his attack was scheduled on our home. He even struck as far as San Francisco so locking up shouldn’t have been limited to the L.A. area.
One of my friends also felt the fear of the Night Stalker, especially when his grandpa would mess with him as a kid. Like me, my friend was also afraid of the police sketch, but I never had a grandpa who said he was at the door.
Grandpa would then go outside, ring the doorbell, come inside and say that the Night Stalker was there. My friend would run to the room in the corner, hide under a crib, threw a blanket under himself, trying desperately to remain perfectly still because he didn’t want the Night Stalker to get him.
When news of the Night Stalker’s demise hit last week, he sent me a barrage of texts:
“Justice has been Served ……. The Nightstalker is no more.”
He described Ramirez like a “Batman” villain: “This is chilling Imagine if this guy ever escaped.
“Damn I don’t think even Batman would have caught the Night Stalker.”
When my friend read the story about Ramirez’s death he really enjoyed his coffee that Friday morning.
The memories of his grandpa messing with him were now erased. When he would spend the night at the grandparents’ house, he would tell grandma good night then grandpa would tell him, “Make the sure the Night Stalker doesn’t get you.”
“I would think, ‘Uh-oh, is he gonna get me?’” my friend recalled.
Ironically, the morning Ramirez’s death was announced — before any of us knew of his passing — I told some work colleagues about my desire to write a story about how frightening the sketch was. One of my co-workers shared a truly frightening story about how she was face to face with the serial killer.
Living in Bell Gardens, Calif., at the time, my co-worker was about 11 years old when Ramirez struck. Her brother and uncle lived in a converted apartment in the garage. If they had to use the restroom or cook something, they had to go into the main house.
One night, my co-worker heard a side door trying to be opened. She assumed her brother forgot his key to get in. “Mom,” she yelled as she ventured toward the door.
Strange, her brother didn’t say “open the door” or anything like that. So she took a look by peeking out the window. Waiting for her on the other end was a man, a stranger whose presence prompted her to scream. The stranger panicked and jumped a wall into their backyard. Dad ran out of his room in his tighty-whities to see what the ruckus was all about. The scared 11-year-old ran to the back and looked out the rear window.
There he was! Once again, staring back at her. Commotion started up even more, lights were turned on and the intruder’s element of surprise vanished.
My co-worker’s dad and brother concocted the idea that it was in fact the brother who was outside. She wasn’t stupid. “Why is dad leaving shards of glass near the window sills? And why is dad outside with a flashlight?”
Weeks later the 11-year-old saw a news report that caused her to freak out. It was a report about the Night Stalker and it displayed that infamous sketch.
“Oh, my god! That’s him! He’s the man I saw!”
This fear manifested in extreme panic and an obsession to lock doors about 10 times every night. She hid all the knives in the house because she didn’t want the Night Stalker breaking in only to use the family’s cutlery against them. Mom couldn’t cook because she couldn’t find any knives.
My co-worker’s account is much more terrifying than simply being afraid of a stupid drawing. It added a hell of a lot more authenticity to this story, which I initially decided to write as humorous. The entire tone of this changed when I heard about her encounter.
The Night Stalker had been on Death Row for quite some time. Even though his threat has been gone for almost 30 years as he rotted in prison, his passing makes me and probably many others sleep a lot easier. My windows will be open tonight during my slumber (screen on, of course) without the threat of a crazy devil worshiper busting in.