"You maggots make me sick! Hypocrites one and all."

-Richard 'Night Stalker' Ramirez, upon being sentenced to death nineteen times

Richard Ramirez was the youngest child of Julien and Mercedes Ramirez, born on February twenty-ninth, 1960. He was an adorable baby with huge doe eyes and a happy disposition. His older sister, Ruth, played with 'Richie' constantly, and would turn on the radio for him so he could dance. A fast runner, active child, (almost to the point of being hyper,) and bright little boy, Mr. and Mrs. Ramirez hoped that their youngest would turn out all right, go to college, make something of himself.

In the nineteen-eighties, their son, nicknamed 'Richie', did in fact become famous. He was so famous, in fact, that citizens in and around L.A., San Fransico, and Beverly Hills were terrified to leave their homes. He was a coked-out specter creeping around in the dark, he was the Night Stalker.

The first to fall prey to him was the elderly Jennie Vincow, who was raped and stabbed brutally. Eighteen others were to follow, stretched out over several months, Richard Ramirez always slipping away before the police could get their hands on him. He used different methods-stabbing, beating, or shooting his victims with small caliber-.22-.25-bullets. Female victims were typically raped. Oftentimes he shot the husband first, and then finished what he had come to do.

A California judge handed down nineteen death sentences, and Richard Ramirez, on the Row in San Quentin prison, is a married man at thirty-nine, to magazine editor Doreen Lioy. She says her husband is sweet, kind, and gentle.

This is the man who cackled at the testemonies of surviving witnesses, who screamed, "Hail Satan!" at the courtroom. This is the man who strained against the leg irons and handcuffs he wore, and, grinning, flashed pentagrams drawn on his palms.

What made Richard, who had a relatively promising childhood, take such a wrong turn? Several factors could've contributed to his psychosis.

For starters, Julien, who, ironically, worked as a cop in his native Mexico, and Mercedes, were exposed to nuclear fallout and radioactivity from atomic bomb tests in New Mexico. The family worked hard to make ends meet, and even after Mercedes discovered she was pregnant with Richard, she had to work at a Tony Llama shoe factory. The glue used to make the boots was very potent, and adequate ventilation was not provided for any of the workers. Mrs. Ramirez experienced extreme pain in her joints, nausea, and dizziness, and eventually she and other workers sues the factory for health code violations. Finally, in her fifth month of pregnancy, doctors told Mercedes that if she did not leave the factory, the fumes would seriously handicap her unborn child.

As it were, Richard was born with a hidden anomaly anyway. During school he would sometimes, for no reason at all, 'zone out', and stare into space immobile, for minutes on end. After many such incidents, Richard suffered a grand mal seizure, and was diagnosed with epilepsy, which, in rare cases, has been known to lead to aggressive behavior.

Richard was forced off the school football team due to his health problems, and, with nothing to do, began hanging out with his older brothers and their friends. He began sniffing glue early on, and by the seventh grade was a petty thief and a heavy marijuana user. His Uncle Miguel, (Mike,) also returned from two tours of duty in Vietnam, and was probably the most detrimental factor in Richard Ramirez's life.

Mike, as he was called, was a decorated Green Beret, and also an abusive, cruel, ruthless drug user. He was very proud of his exploits in Vietnam, and talked nonstop about violence and killing.

When Richard was not yet fifteen, his uncle showed him a box full of Polaroids he had taken while in Vietnam. They consisted of nothing but brutal, horrible images, and Richard was very disturbed-and excited-by them. One pair of photographs in particular was pointed out by Richard later on. The first photo was of his beloved uncle raping a young Vietnamese woman, who was obviously humiliated and in pain. The next, a picture Miguel was very proud of, was of her severed head.

To add insult to injury, Richard also witnessed a gruesome murder. He and his uncle were inside his uncle's home when Miguel's wife, Jessie, came home from shopping. She began berating her husband for smoking too much pot, talking about nothing but the war, etc. Miguel shot her in the face while Richard, less that sixteen years old, looked on. Richard had liked Jessie very much and though he was deeply hurt and frightened by her death, kept the promise his uncle made him agree to. He was never to tell anyone, and if he would, the consequences would be dire.

Miguel, however, was arrested for the murder. His lawyers explained that Mike was insane from witnessing the brutalities of war, and he was sentenced to serve time in a mental hospital. He was released several years later, the exact same person he was before.

Meanwhile, Richard had been staying with his sister, Ruth, and her husband, Roberto. Ruth and Roberto's relationship was strained to his philandering ways, and it was he who took Richard 'peeping' for the first time. Together they canvassed the neighborhood, peeking in windows to watch women undress, bathe, etc.

Eventually, a career as a 'peeping Tom' wasn't enough. Richard got a job at a hotel as a janitor, and had access to a master key. At seventeen, he broke into one of the rooms and raped a woman. Her husband returned in the middle of the attack, and gave Richard a sound beating. Mercedes and Julien Ramirez were incredulous, and their son's conniving and manipulation led them to believe that their son had been seduced. The couple in the hotel were from out of state, and decided not to press charges. Richard Ramirez learned early that the consequences of carrying out his fatasies were small, if there even were any.

It was not long after the rape at the hotel that Richard Ramirez the son, brother, and human disappeared, and the Night Stalker made his grand entrance.