Richard Ramirez, A.K.A. “The Night Stalker,” committed abhorrent crimes. The notorious rapist, murderer and avowed Satanist used Southern California as his hunting grounds. Although earlier crimes are suspected, from April 10, 1984 until his capture on August 31, 1985, Ramirez kept residents in San Francisco and the greater Los Angeles area in a perpetual state of fear. During the time period he was committing his crimes sales of guns, alarm systems and dogs, increased exponentially.
The total known destruction of Ramirez’s unrepentant reign of terror resulted in 13 murders, 5 counts of attempted murder, and 11 counts of sexual assault, as well as 14 counts of burglary.
At the conclusion of his trial, he was found guilty. During the penalty phase, he was sentenced to death and sent to San Quentin Prison. His numerous legal appeals kept him alive on death row for years, In the end, instead of being put to death by the state of California, he died of B-cell lymphoma on June 7, 2013.
I provided the aforementioned background information, because “Night Stalker; The Hunt for a Serial Killer,’ currently streaming on Netflix, is not a comprehensive documentary about Ramirez. Instead, the four episodes of the limited series, is an all encompassing look at those whose lives Ramirez personally affected, sometimes even in the most fleeting of ways. For example, Los Angeles Public Library reference desk librarian, Glen Creason, described meeting Ramirez. He had no idea that he was face to face with the Night Stalker. Creason said that Ramirez dressed in all black clothes that were dirty, had awful teeth and he smelled terribly. When Creason asked Ramirez what he could help him with, Ramirez replied that he was looking for books on horoscopes and torture. Creason was thankful those books were located in another section of the library, so he didn’t have to assist Ramirez further.
Interviews throughout the series are conducted with members of law enforcement, as well as reporters such as Tony Valdez of KTTV News and Laurel Erickson of KNBC News, both of whom reported, on a nightly basis, the deadly exploits of the Night Stalker. Furthermore, members of the victims’ families were also interviewed. In addition, Anastasia Hronas, a survivor of her encounter with Ramirez, was a child when he abducted and sexually assaulted her. She described her ordeal with him, but states that she hasn’t allowed the devious exploits of Ramirez to shape her life. Hronas refuses to give him another second of power over her.
The episodes, however, primarily concern themselves with two homicide detectives from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s office, who were instrumental in bringing Ramirez to justice. Gil Carrillo and Frank Salerno doggedly pursued Ramirez and were so invested in his capture, that it became a detriment, to the point where it affected every other aspect of the two men’s lives. Gil Carrillo’s wife Pearl, who speaks a number of times during the episodes, relays that she didn’t feel safe being alone all the time with her children in the house. She eventually moved the family out and informed Carrillo that she wouldn’t come back until after the Night Stalker was behind bars. In addition, Inspector Frank Falzon of the San Francisco Police Department worked tirelessly in his pursuit of Ramirez.
“Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer” was directed by James Carroll and Tiller Russell. The series premiered on Netflix on January 13, 2021. Parts documentary, crime and mystery, it has a runtime of 189 minutes.
For those who are interested in true crime, and want to watch something that focuses primarily on the pursuit of the criminal as opposed to the life of the criminal, this should be of interest to you.