Given the same nickname as the original serial killer and rapist, the second “Night Stalker,” whose real name was Richard Ramirez, was tried, convicted, and died in prison in 2013 at the age of 53. However, the FBI and local California law enforcement authorities have come together and reopened the original case, offering $50,000 for any information on the original “Night Stalker.”
Repeat Reign of Terror
Richard Ramirez was a busy guy in the mid ’80s. In a little under a year and a half, the Satan worshiper performed enough criminal acts to get convicted on 13 counts of murder, five counts of attempted murder, 11 sexual assault charges, and 14 burglary charges. He was sent to San Quentin for life, and died in the hospital after suffering complications for an illness.
Given that the media has always liked to hand out catchy nicknames, Ramirez was dubbed the “Night Stalker,” as well as the “Walk-in Killer” and the “Valley Intruder”.
The Original Reign
Between 1976 and 1986, an as yet unidentified serial rapist and murderer created a reign of terror in the communities from Sacramento to Orange County, California. This person is known to have committed hundreds of violent crimes — 12 homicides, 45 rapes, and more than 120 residential burglaries.
Because he began his terror spree by committing dozens of rapes, he was originally dubbed the “East Area Rapist.” Around the same time, a serial killer began leaving a trail of murder victims, and that person was called the “Night Stalker.” However, once authorities found out the rapist and the killer were the same person, that person has since become known simultaneously as the “Golden State Killer” and the “Original Night Stalker,” since Richard Ramirez had later picked up the nickname of the “Night Stalker.”
The killer was even briefly known as the “Diamond Knot Killer for an elaborate knot he used to tie up a Ventura couple before they were beaten to death with a fireplace log in 1980.”
Those areas of California were taken “hostage” for that decade, never knowing when the “Night Stalker” would hit, or what he would do. Since June 18, 1976, when he committed his first known rape, law enforcement has done its best to find him. His victims ranged in age from 13 to 41 and he did not differentiate between women who were home alone, with their children, or even with their husbands.
“Four decades of frustration later,” authorities have amassed DNA evidence and a solid profile that link him to the long list of varied crimes. There were enough survivors for authorities to be able to create at least a few sketches of what the elusive killer might have looked like back then.
Many might remember the television show called Night Stalker that ran in the early ’70s. Darren McGavin played Carl Kolchak, a news reporter in Chicago who got caught up in supernatural mysteries week after week. Was this where the media got the nickname idea for the rapist/killer who began his reign of terror after the show ended? We may never know, but one thing is for certain — the victims of the television show got more closure than the victims of the real killer have gotten. Which is why this case of the “Original Night Stalker” has been brought back into the limelight.
In advance of the 40th anniversary of the “Original Night Stalker,” the FBI and local law enforcement have launched a nationwide public campaign, and are offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to the capture of one of the most prolific, elusive serial killers in history. Authorities are hoping somebody remembers something from that time period.
“If you grew up in Sacramento in the 70s or later, everybody knows this case because it took the community hostage,” says Anne Marie Schubert, Sacramento District Attorney.
The FBI has set up a website which includes information about the case, the victims, and the “Original Night Stalker,” and allows for those who remember something, or think they might know anything, no matter how small they might think it is, to contact authorities.
[Photo by Universal Studios/Courtesy of Getty Images]