It’s been over 30 years since the Night Stalker Richard Ramirez terrorized California by killing at least 14 people during a chilling murder spree, but his case is still one of the most horrifying ever. Many are familiar with the stories of Richard creeping into victims’ homes at night to rape and murder them, but what many don’t realize is how the now-dead sociopath’s family essencially trained him to commit these crimes.

Richard was a ruthless killer with no remorse, and maybe that has something to do with the fact that he experienced a lot of head trauma as a kid. At age two, a dresser fell on Richard’s head and required 30 stitches. Three years later he was hit in the head by a swing, and experienced seizures from then until he was a teenager. He was also physically abused by his angry father Julian Ramirez. Perhaps the trauma awakened something deep within Richard, but it was his cousin that taught him how to kill.

When he was 12 years old, Richard became close with his cousin Miguel who was a US Army Green Beret and a veteran of the Vietnam War. Miguel seemed particularly proud of his killing in the war, and shared stories and even Polaroid photos of the death he caused. He even showed young Richard photos of the women he raped, including one in which he posed with a girl’s severed head. Miguel taught Richard how to kill with stealth, but in 1973 Richard witnessed Miguel shoot his wife Jessie in the face and kill her.

richard ramirez, splash

Richard Ramirez, 2007.

Richard pulled away from his family and had been sleeping in the cemetery to avoid his father’s rampages at age 13. After Miguel killed his wife, Richard moved in with his older sister Ruth. However, Ruth’s husband was a pervert, and he would bring Richard along on his Peeping Tom missions. Richard started doing LSD and studying satanism while developing unhealthy sexual obsessions.

Miguel came back into Richard’s life four years later when he was released from prison and found not guilty of murder because of “insanity.” Soon, Richard began to fantasize about combining violence and sex, and he attempted to rape a guest at the Holiday Inn where he worked. The woman’s husband caught him and beat him, but the charges were eventually dropped and Richard faced no consequences.

After such a violent and appalling upbringing, it’s no wonder Richard went on to do such horrible things. In one slaying, he carved the eyes out of a victim and put them inside a jewelry box. In another, he bludgeoned a sleeping grandmother to death with a lamp before stabbing her repeatedly with a butcher knife. Richard hacked a couple to death with a machete in another case. The list goes on and on from 1984 until his eventual capture in August 1985. After his photo was released, he tried to carjack several people until a group of residents chased him down and beat him until police arrived.

Richard was convicted of 13 counts of murder, five counts of attempted murder, 11 counts of sexual assault, and 14 counts of burglary. In 1989 he was sentenced to death. His response was, “big deal. Death always went with the territory. See you in Disneyland.” His death sentence was pushed back over and over again due to appeals, but he ended up dying in 2013 of b-cell lymphoma.

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