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Richard Ramirez: the Night Stalker and Satanic Panic in LA

In 1985 the Los Angeles area was terrified by Richard Ramirez. His reign of terror didn’t guarantee the safety of anyone; men, women, and children were all is victims.



Richard Ramirez

In a time when serial killers were becoming household names, Richard Ramirez turned everything we knew about this breed of killer on its head.  He was a mix of a serial killer, mass murderer, spree killer, and home intruder all wrapped up into one vicious and unpredictable killer. Netflix is currently streaming the documentary Night Stalker which chronicles Ramirez’s crimes up until his capture and death.

Richard Ramirez — also known as The Night Stalker — terrified Los Angeles during the first half of 1985.

Richard Ramirez

Ramirez went against everything the criminal justice system knew about serial killers at the time. Unlike Bundy, Ramirez preyed on many different types of victims. Unlike most serial killers, Ramirez did not have one perfect type of victim. He raped women of all ages, sexually molested children of both genders, and killed men.

Ramirez also did not have a weapon of choice. The Night Stalker used guns, kitchen knives from the victims’ homes, and even a machete. He was also an opportunist when it came to finding items used to bludgeon his victims.

Ramirez would commonly steal jewelry and valuables after assaulting or killing the homeowner. He would then brazenly help himself to their refrigerator.


Finding an Identity Among the Media

The only common thread among Ramirez’s crimes was that he broke into these homes while the residents were asleep. This consistent trait lead to many different nicknames from the media: “The Walk-In Killer,” “The Valley Intruder,” and finally “The Night Stalker.”

Not having a signature M.O. to link the crimes together, it took a while before the LAPD realized all of these crimes were being committed by the same individual.

Once the LAPD knew they were looking for the same man, another problem arose: notoriety. LA is a patchwork of different counties and departments; since not all of the crimes took place in the same jurisdiction, it almost became a competition to see who was going to catch the notorious Night Stalker.

Ramirez was coming off of the heels of the recent capture of The Hillside Strangers — Kenneth Bianchi and Angelo Buono — in 1978. Once captured, it became known that Ramirez idolized Bianchi. Since the arrest of the Hillside Strangers, police were becoming more familiar with the rare breed of killer — and the fame that accompanied it.


Lack of Communication Among the Police

Once the boys in blue knew they were looking for a serial killer, they each wanted to be the department to bring him to justice. This machismo made the police reluctant to share information with other departments, which only made the capture of Ramirez more difficult and drawn out.

While the different precincts didn’t necessarily want to cooperate with others, Ramirez’s capture inevitably came down to good police work. Ramirez had two pieces of evidence that worked strongly against him.

First, Ramirez wore a rare and signature sneaker that was found at many crime scenes: Avia.  The second piece of evidence was a single fingerprint lifted from a car that the Night Stalker had stolen. With that particular fingerprint, the LAPD finally had an ID after matching it to his previous rap sheet.


Finally The Night Stalker is Identified 

The morning of August 31, 1985, Richard Ramirez discovered that he was the headline of every major newspaper in the city. His mug shot stared back at him at every newsstand and convenience store. It was the beginning of the end for Ramirez.

Ramirez tried to board a bus leaving the LA area, but realized that at least one fellow rider on the bus recognized him. Abandoning the bus, Ramirez had no hopes of blending into the crowd. Everywhere he ran, citizens would shout and point ‘El Matador’ — meaning ‘The Killer’ — as they recognized the Night Stalker fleeing through their neighborhoods.  He cut through backyards and jumped fences, but he could not escape the angry mob.

After a failed carjacking, Ramirez was hit over the head with a metal pipe by a citizen. A crowd soon formed and collectively began to beat the man that once terrorized their city. If it wasn’t for a patrol car arriving at the scene, the outraged citizens of Los Angeles may have very well beaten the Night Stalker to death.

The residents of Los Angeles were finally able to take back the power the Night Stalker had taken away from them.


Ramirez revealed to be a creature all his own.

Once in custody, Ramirez brandished a crudely drawn pentagram on his left hand for the cameras. He did not keep his belief and worship of Satan a secret.

Through testimony from surviving victims, it was revealed that Ramirez would tell his victims to “swear to Satan,” and even demanded they devote their love to Satan.  Ramirez often spoke of Satan, good and evil, and his place amongst all of it.

One of his most chilling quotes in court was;

“I do not need to hear all of society’s rationalizations. I’ve heard them all before and the fact remains that was is, is.  You don’t understand me. You are not expected to. You are not capable. I am beyond your experience. I am beyond good and evil.” 

Ramirez also capitalized off of the female groupies who flocked to his trial to get a look at the dangerous killer.  Many swooned at his sight and copied his pentagram onto their own skin.  As Ramirez waited for his trial date, he appeared to cater to a rock star appearance, which made his fans go into a frenzy.

Once in prison, Ramirez had many female admirers who wrote him constantly, and he even married one of them.

Richard Ramirez

The take away from this wretched man is the fact that not all men who kill are part of a specific formula. While there may be similarities in the form of a difficult or even abusive childhood, how they channel their anger will vastly vary between each individual. With his lack of a consistent M.O., and his unpredictable, erratic behavior, Richard Ramirez is a prime example of this.

For more true crime, check out “His Name Was Ted Bundy“.

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Horror Novels Getting Brand New TV Adaptations



It’s summer here in the United States and that means catching up on some reading. Of course, you will have to set down your Tears of the Kingdom Switch game. Speaking of a link to the past, there are a few older novels that are being made into new tv shows; some are already streaming.

Below are five books that, if they haven’t already, will enter the flatscreen digital universe in the near future.

Twilight, Stephenie Meyer

In case you hadn’t heard the news a brand new adaptation of Meyer’s teen supernatural romance fantasy Twilight is getting a series. Yes, you heard correctly. It’s only been 15 years since the first adaptation starring Kristin Stewart and James Pattinson was released, and now we are getting a small-screen series. Lionsgate TV is producing, but thanks to the writer’s strike it might be a while until we get details on just where it will air.

The Minds of Billy Milligan, Daniel Keyes

This is a story about a killer who blames his multiple personalities for the crimes he committed. Apple TV+ has made a miniseries out of it called “The Crowded Room” starring Tom Holland. That series will premiere on the streaming service starting June 9.

Triptych, Karin Slaughter

The ABC series “Will Trent” is based on this book and its sequels which feature 10 mysteries beginning with Triptych. Starring Ramón Rodríguez as the detective of the title, the show has just been renewed for a second season.

The Fall of the House of Usher, Edgar Allan Poe

What’s Mike Flanagan going to do once his Netflix contract runs out? Thankfully it won’t be before his adaptation of this Poe chiller releases on the streamer. The IMDb page insists that the miniseries is in post-production and refuses to give a drop date, but we speculate that Halloween 2023 is when we will get it. This is a perfect seasonal offering.

The Changeling Victor Lavalle

Speaking of delayed releases, this Apple TV+ series was ordered back in 2021. It stars LaKeith Stanfield . NPR describes the story thusly:

“Apollo Kagwa is a rare book dealer and new father, in love with his wife, Emma, and their infant son Brian, named after the vanished father who haunts Apollo’s dreams.

But when Emma commits an unspeakable act of violence and disappears, Apollo’s left grasping at the threads of his unravelled life, following them through a labyrinth of strange characters, mysterious islands and haunted forests, all occupying the same space as the five boroughs of New York City.”

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Search Called Off For Teen Who Jumped From Cruise “As A Dare”



Cameron Robbins Missing in Bahamas

In a distressing story that is as tragic as it is horrifying, the search for teenager Cameron Robbins has ended after he was reportedly seen leaping into the Atlantic Ocean from a sunset cruise in the Bahamas.

The recent high school grad named Cameron Robbins, 18, was celebrating his graduation with some of his classmates who, TMZ reports, dared him to jump into the open water. Some of it was captured on video which you can view in the Twitter post below.

The alleged prank went horribly wrong. Robbins disappeared behind the boat and into the darkness. He failed to grab onto a life preserver that was thrown to him.

A search party consisting of the U.S. Coast Guard and Bahamian authorities went on for several days but was eventually called off when his body wasn’t found.

The Coast Guard issued the following statement: “We offer our sincerest condolences to Cameron Robbins’ family and friends.”

His parents flew out to the Bahamas last week in hopes their son would be found. But in the end, the verdict was grim and they issued the following statement.

“The Bahamas government has called off the rescue for Cameron and we are returning to Baton Rouge. We want to thank the Bahamas government, the U.S. Coast Guard, the United Cajun Navy, and Congressman Garrett Graves for everything they have done for us. In this time of grief, we thank our family, friends, and well-wishers for granting us the privacy we need to properly remember our son and mourn his loss.”

iHorror offers its deepest condolences to Cameron’s family.

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Announcement of a ‘Faces of Death’ Remake is a Head-Scratcher



In perhaps one of the weirdest genre news stories to come out since we first reported on it two years ago, The Hollywood Reporter announced Barbie Ferreira (Euphoria) and Dacre Montgomery (Stranger Things) will star in a Faces of Death remake.

For those who don’t have the number 19 at the start of their birth year, and may not know what Faces of Death is about, it is a “found-footage” documentary of people and animals dying in a myriad of horrific ways. All apparently non-produced and real. We know now that was a false claim and most of the material was (effectively) manufactured

Faces of Death (1978)

About eight years ago iHorror talked to Michael R. Felsher, owner, and founder of Red Shirt Pictures, a production company that provides documentaries, director commentary, and bonus content for DVD and Blu-Ray distributors. He went into detail about his experiences with Faces of Death and its director, Conan Le Cilaire (nee John A. Schwartz), who provides the commentary for the Blu-Ray edition.

“One of the things that I found really fascinating about [Faces of Death] was talking to both the special effects crew who worked on the movie and also the editor,” Felsher told iHorror at the time, “who had a really interesting task in that he had to blend stuff that existed at the time, and also sometimes create something out of whole cloth.”

Faces of Death (1978)

What?! The footage isn’t entirely real? Gen-Xers were duped? For a period of time in the mom-and-pop video rental era, Faces of Death was one of those grails hidden behind the counter and only rented out if you were cool enough to be trusted by the cashier.

The content was so disturbing the film was banned in several countries. One famous triggering scene involves a monkey and a dining table with a small hole in the middle, used as a pillory for the animal’s head. Dining guests then beat the monkey’s head with small mallets until it became unconscious and dined then on its brains. Of course, all of this was fabricated with cauliflower substituting for primate gray matter.

Scenes like this would help the film become fodder for the video nasty era and get it banned in the U.K. The censorship only flamed the hype and Faces of Death became an underground cult classic with a few sequels to follow. But it is the original that remains the jewel in the crown of the franchise, having earned over $60 million in its lifetime.

Schwartz (Le Cilaire) passed away in 2019, but apparently, his legacy will live on in a new “re-imagining” of his original film. There are no details on what that means. Only that it will be written by Isa Mazzei and directed by Daniel Goldhaber (Cam).

We will keep you updated.

In the meantime, check out our story about the secrets of Faces of Death HERE.

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