For those that don’t know, Richard Ramirez, aka The Night Stalker was a serial killer and rapist who terrorized the greater Los Angeles and San Francisco area from April of 1984 until August of 1985. His trial would be the most expensive in California history until the O.J. Simpson trial. I say “terrorized” in the truest sense of the word. He invaded houses in the dead of night; killing, raping and robbing people when they were at their most vulnerable. He left houses ransacked, covered in blood and occasionally Satanic symbols. Sales of firearms, guard dogs and and security systems skyrocketed. Locksmiths could not keep up with the work load. He was the closest thing to the boogie man to be found in real life.
Philip Carlo begins with Ramirez’s shocking crimes in part one. In the second part, he reviews the killer’s troubled family history and upbringing, which make Richard’s bloody crimes seem almost inevitable. He then discusses his capture, trial and life in prison where he would eventually marry one of his many admirers. Carlo seemed to have pretty unprecedented access to Ramirez, and while this gives him some pretty intimate knowledge of the killer, his sense of smugness about this tends to be readily apparent in the final chapters.
If you are a weirdo murder buff like me, this the book to read about Richard Ramirez. You learn a great deal about all the major players in this case: Ramirez and his family, the detectives who hunted him and his many victims and their loved ones. It’s as thorough a true crime book as you will find.