The Truth About Richard Ramirez's Decayed Teeth

True crime fans are currently obsessed over Richard Ramirez, aka the Night Stalker, thanks to a pair of Netflix documentaries that have taken the internet by storm. Night Stalker: The Hunt for Serial Killer focuses on Ramirez's killing spree that left as many as 13 people dead in 1984 and 1985, and Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel, mentions how he was a guest at the Cecil Hotel, where Canadian tourist Elisa Lam died under mysterious circumstances in 2013. She disappeared at the end of January and her body was found 19 days later floating in a rooftop water tank that serviced the hotel and other businesses in the building. The cause of her death remains a mystery to this day.

Ramirez's childhood was also the subject of the 2019 drama American Horror Story: 1984. And one aspect of his childhood — his tooth brushing habits, or lack thereof — went on to feature prominently in the public's perception of him and, ultimately, his conviction. Now, with so many photos of the terrifying man posted all over the internet due to the increased attention, many have been wondering: What's up with Richard Ramirez's nasty-looking teeth? As if to round out his image of a literal demon walking the earth, the Night Stalker's dentition was exceptionally vile. But how did his chompers get to be so ghastly, and how did they play a role in his trial? Let's take a look into Ramirez's disgusting, decayed teeth. But be warned, they weren't pretty.

Richard Ramirez's victims remembered his decayed teeth

According to The Crime Mag, Richard Ramirez did injustice to his own oral hygiene from a very early age. He apparently had a diet heavy on soft drinks and sugary foods, and wasn't one to brush his teeth too often. "He'd never brush his teeth," said Ray Garcia, who knew Ramirez growing up. "I used to tell him to close his mouth or brush his teeth." Ramirez's tooth-destroying breakfast of champions? Sugar-coated cereal washed down with an ice-cold Coca-Cola. On top of these poor habits, he added a heavy cocaine addiction as an adult, and this caused several of them to fall out. Forensic dentists who testified at his trial found that nine of his teeth showed signs of decay, and many others simply weren't there anymore.

Women's Health reported that some of his victims who survived his attacks said they specifically remembered his terrible teeth from their horrific ordeals, and this helped prosecutors ultimately secure a conviction. Although his father attempted to provide an alibi for Ramirez, saying that he was in his hometown of El Paso, Texas, during the time some of the murders were committed, a California dentist was able to prove him wrong. Ramirez had gotten some dental work done during the month his father had said he was at home, showing that he was in Los Angeles and responsible for the heinous crimes for which he'd been charged.

Richard Ramirez got his nasty teeth fixed in jail

After he was arrested in 1985, Richard Ramirez decided to turn his life around — dentally speaking, at least. Maybe he thought a new set of pearly whites would help his case, or maybe it was the fact that the state would foot the bill, but he finally got his teeth fixed up behind bars. According to A&E, a dentist who worked for the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department treated Ramirez's hideous mouth while he awaited trial. And it sounded like no easy task, either. The serial killer and decidedly non-serial brusher needed a root canal, a number of fillings, and intensive treatment for his substantial tooth decay.

So if you were wondering why he appears so smiley in photos from his trial, now you know. He went into jail looking like a street dog who had been feeding off garbage and licking his behind his whole life, and came out with a twinkle on the tip of his canines. But that smile wasn't fooling anyone. He could dress them up as best as he could, but it was still those very same teeth that led to his conviction. According to The Sun, a detective on the case, referring to Ramirez's memorable smile and his shoeprints left at crime scenes, said, "Our biggest clues were his teeth and feet, and that's where we focused our energy." Ramirez was found guilty of 13 murders, five attempted murders, 11 rapes, and 14 burglaries. Ramirez was given the death penalty for his crimes, but he never made it to the gas chamber. He died on death row due to complications of cancer in 2013.