Richard Ramirez, a convicted serial killer who had been awaiting execution on California's death row, died of natural causes in San Quentin State Prison on Friday morning. He was 53 years old.
Ramirez, who was dubbed the “Night Stalker,” was convicted for 13 murders that left much of Southern California in fear in 1984 and 1985.
Satanic symbols were often left at the homes that he entered at night through unlocked doors and windows -- a tactic that gave him his nickname.
In 1985, after almost two years of headlines and murders, a break in the case occurred when one of Ramirez’s sexual assault victims was able to see the car Ramirez got into when he drove away.
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She was able to give a description of both Ramirez and his orange Toyota station wagon. A teenager later identified the car from news reports and wrote down half of its license plate number. The stolen car was found on August 28, and police were able to obtain one fingerprint that was on the mirror of the vehicle.
Two days later, Ramirez' mug shots were broadcast on national television and printed on the cover of every major newspaper in California. The next day, Ramirez was identified, chased, surrounded, and severely beaten by an angry mob in Los Angeles as he was trying to steal a car. Police had to break up the mob to prevent them from killing him.
On Sept. 20, 1989, Ramirez was found guilty of 13 counts of murder, 5 attempted murders, 11 sexual assaults and 14 burglaries.
During the penalty phase of the trial on Nov. 7, 1989, he was sentenced to die in California's gas chamber. The trial of the “Night Stalker” was one of the most difficult and longest criminal trials in American history, taking more than four years to conclude.
Ramirez was expected to be in his early 70s before he was executed, due to the lengthy California appeals process.