The Biggest Theories On What Led Richard Ramirez To Kill

On the morning of August 31, 1985, a man named Richard Ramirez attempted to steal an occupied vehicle in Los Angeles, California. As reported by International Business Times, several people who witnessed the attempted carjacking stopped Ramirez and nearly beat him to death. When the police arrived, they broke up the altercation and immediately arrested Ramirez.

The previous day, authorities had issued a statement identifying Ramirez as a suspect in a series of brutal murders and sexual assaults — the man called the "Night Stalker." The attacks, which began in April 1984 and continued through August 1985, terrorized California residents and frustrated law enforcement officials.

According to Parade, the so-called Night Stalker broke into dozens of homes and committed numerous crimes, including abduction, assault, rape, theft, and an estimated 14 murders. Although some serial killers target victims who fit a particular description, and use the same type of weapon in all of their crimes, the Night Stalker's victims were of widely varying ages and included men and women. He also used a variety of methods to kill his victims, which included shooting, stabbing, strangling, and severe beatings.

Richard Ramirez was captured on August 31, 1985

Although the Night Stalker's victims and killing methods revealed little about his motive, authorities noted all of the crimes were committed in the evening or at night inside the victims' homes. They also found Satanic symbols at some of the scenes, which helped law enforcement officials connect the crimes.

As reported by Biography, several of Ramirez's surviving victims provided authorities with physical descriptions of their attacker. However, his identity was not confirmed until August 1985, when Ramirez left a number of incriminating clues behind at the scenes of two crimes committed on the same evening.

On August 24, 1985, Ramirez was seen creeping around outside a home in Mission Viejo, California. Witnesses noted the man's description and also provided authorities with the make, model, and license plate of the vehicle he was driving. Later that same night, he broke into another home, raped a woman, and shot her fiance.

Richard Ramirez never disclosed his motive

Authorities found Ramirez's abandoned vehicle days later, and fingerprints on the car confirmed his identity. They immediately issued a warrant for Ramirez, and warned residents to be on the lookout for the suspected killer. As reported by Biography, Ramirez was recognized while attempting the carjacking on August 31, 1985, and the witnesses proceeded to detain and assault the murder suspect.

Although he pleaded not guilty, he was ultimately convicted of five counts of attempted murder, 14 counts of burglary, 13 counts of murder, and 11 counts of sexual assault. He was subsequently sentenced to death on 19 of those charges.

Ramirez never discussed his motive for committing the heinous crimes. However, as he was a self-proclaimed worshiper of Satan, many people assumed he was simply "evil." Biography reports the sheer brutality of the murders and his participation in Satanic rituals only perpetuated the assumption that there were dark forces behind Ramirez's behavior. However, it is more likely that events and injuries during his childhood were contributing factors.

Richard Ramirez had two serious head injuries when he was a child

As reported by the Radford University Department of Psychology, Richard Ramirez was born on February 28, 1960, in El Paso, Texas. By all accounts he "was a good baby," who did not display any unusual behavior.

At the age of two, Ramirez was seriously injured when a dresser fell on him. In addition to being unconscious for approximately 15 minutes, Ramirez suffered an injury to his head which required 30 stitches. Three years later, he was struck in the head with a swing, which left him unconscious for a brief period of time.

In 1966, at the age of 6, Ramirez began having seizures, which eventually led to a diagnosis of temporal lobe epilepsy. When Ramirez began attending school he seemed to be a good student and did not have any behavioral issues. However, as reported by Radford University, he was described as a loner who generally kept to himself.

Richard Ramirez witnessed a murder when he was 13

According to Radford University, Ramirez's father was physically abusive toward Richard and his siblings. At times, Richard reportedly spent the night in a local cemetery to escape the abuse he suffered at home. He also began smoking marijuana at the age of 10.

In his early teens, Ramirez began spending time with an older cousin, who had violent tendencies. Radford University reports the cousin, whose name was Mike, shared disturbing photos with Ramirez. In the photos, Mike could be seen forcing women to perform sex acts while he threatened them with a gun. Mike killed his wife; Ramirez was 13, and personally witnessed the crime. In the months following the murder, Ramirez began having trouble concentrating in school and also developed an increasing interest in pornography. He began breaking into homes after his brother taught him how to pick locks and disarm security systems and alarms.

Between the ages of 13 and 17, Ramirez began experimenting with other drugs, including hallucinogens. He also killed a number of small animals and birds, which Radford University reports he mutilated and ultimately fed to his pet dog. Ramirez continued breaking into homes and was eventually arrested and sent to the Texas Youth Camp for Juvenile Delinquents. However, he continued committing petty crimes following his release.

Richard Ramirez said he worshipped Satan

Richard Ramirez dropped out of school and moved to Los Angeles, California, in 1978 at the age of 18. At around the same time, Radford University reports, Ramirez began worshiping Satan. Ramirez continued breaking and entering and also began stealing cars. Although he was arrested several times for burglary and theft, he did not spend a significant time in jail for those crimes. On June 28, 1984, Ramirez committed his first known murder. According to Radford University, he snuck into a home owned by 79-year-old Jennie Vincow and killed her while she was sleeping in her bed. He then proceeded to violate her corpse. Vincow's brutal murder was the beginning of a crime spree, which continued until Ramirez's August 1985 arrest.

In an interview with A&E True Crime, criminologist Dr. Scott Bonn, author of "Why We Love Serial Killers: The Curious Appeal of the World's Most Savage Murderers," said he believes Ramirez was a sociopath, as opposed to a psychopath. Bonn explained that unlike psychopaths, sociopaths are influenced by childhood trauma and the environment in which they are raised. According to Bonn, Ramirez was also a narcissist who loved attention and had no remorse for the crimes he committed.

While incarcerated at California's San Quentin State Prison, Ramirez was diagnosed with B-cell lymphoma, which is a type of blood cancer. According to A&E, he was eventually transported to Marin General Hospital in Greenbrae, California, where he died on June 7, 2013.