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‘Night Stalker’ Richard Ramirez dies in prison

"Night Stalker" Richard Ramirez (12098)
“Night Stalker” Richard Ramirez

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — “Night Stalker” Richard Ramirez — who spent more than 23 years on death row for murdering 13 people during a 14-month crime spree that terrorized the Southland in the mid-1980s — died early today, state prison officials said.

Ramirez, 53, died of natural causes at Marin General Hospital, according to a statement from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Ramirez was sent to death row at San Quentin State Prison in November 1989 after a high-profile trial involving murders in Glassell Park, Rosemead, Whittier, Monterey Park, Monrovia, Arcadia, Glendale, Sun Valley and Diamond Bar.

His crime spree also extended to San Francisco and Orange County, where an engineer was shot but survived an attack in which his fiancee was raped.

Along with the murders, he was convicted of 30 other counts — including attempted murder, rape and first-degree burglary — for the nighttime killings between June 1984 and August 1985 that made the self-proclaimed devil worshipper one of California’s most notorious criminals.

The focus of an intense manhunt, Ramirez had been identified as the suspected Night Stalker when he was recognized on an East Los Angeles street by a group of angry residents and badly beaten before police arrived to arrest him.

About a year after his arrest, the former drifter from El Paso, Texas, called a guard over to his jail cell and showed photographs of two of the murder victims.

At his sentencing hearing, Ramirez rocked back and forth and turned to grin at the audience, vowing that he would be “avenged.”

“You maggots made me sick, hypocrites one and all. We are all expendable for a cause, and no one knows that better than those who kill for policy, clandestinely or openly, as do the governments of the world which kill in the name of God and country and for whatever else they deem appropriate,” Ramirez said.

“You don’t understand me,” he said just before being sentenced to death. “You are not expected to. You are not capable of it. I am beyond your experience. I am beyond good and evil.”

In 2006, the California Supreme Court upheld his death sentence and rejected the defense’s contention that numerous errors were made in his trial in Los Angeles Superior Court. The U.S. Supreme Court refused the following year to review the case against him.