Convicted serial killer Richard Ramirez, known as the “Night Stalker,” died early Friday morning of natural causes, according to California corrections officials.
Ramirez, 53, has been housed on death row for decades awaiting execution, but had been taken from San Quentin‘s death row to Marin General Hospital, where authorities said he died of liver failure.
Ramirez was convicted in 1989 of 13 Los Angeles area murders, as well as charged of rape, sodomy, oral copulation, burglary and attempted murder. He was sentenced to death. The murders in 1984 and 1985 terrorized Souther California, with satanic symbols left at bloody murder scenes and some victims being forced to “swear to Satan” by the killer, who entered home through unlocked windows and doors. Ramirez’s killing rampage finally ended in August of 1985, when he was captured and beaten by citizens in East Los Angeles after he tried to steal a woman’s car.
The trial of Ramirez took a year, but the entire case, bogged down by pretrial motions and appeals, lasted four years, one of the longest criminal cases in U.S. history. Because of the notoriety of the case, more than 1600 prospective jurors were called.
In 2006, the California Supreme Court upheld Ramirez’s convictions and death sentence. The U.S. Supreme Court refused in 2007 to review the convictions and sentence. Two years later, San Francisco police said DNA linked Ramirez to the April 10, 1984, killing of 9-year-old Mei Leung. She was killed in the basement of a residential hotel where she lived with her family.
Ramirez previously was tied to killing in North California, several of which he was never tried.