Horrific story behind Netflix's Night Stalker who raped and murdered victims from six to 82 and gouged out a mum's eyes

IN the dingy light of her garage, Maria Hernandez heard a bang on her car roof and turned to see the wild-eyed stare of a tall, dishevelled man pointing a gun at her face.

As he pulled the trigger the terrified 20-year-old put her hands to her face and, miraculously, the bullet ricocheted off her keys, saving her life.

Maria is one of the few survivors of a spate of Satanic murders by serial killer Richard Ramirez, which terrified the people of Los Angeles over the hot summer of 1985.

Moments later, the killer – known as the Night Stalker – walked into Maria’s apartment and shot her flatmate, Dayle Okazaki, between the eyes.

Devil-worshipper Ramirez targeted men, women and children between six and 84, leaving 13 dead and many more injured.

Some were raped and in one gruesome case, Ramirez mutilated the body of a 44-year-old woman before cutting out her eyes.

It was only when Detective Gil Carrillo linked the killings to a spate of child kidnappings that the LA police began to track Ramirez down.

The new Netflix documentary, Night Stalker, which launches on Wednesday, tells the story of the 1985 manhunt, which resulted in Ramirez being jailed for 13 murders, five attempted murders, 11 sexual assaults and 14 burglaries.

In a chilling voiceover the killer declares: “I was in alliance with the evil that is inherent in human nature. That was who I was – walking death.”

Gil reveals his initial theories were dismissed by colleagues because of the sheer range of the depravity.

“In my opinion, we had a serial killer who was also responsible for kidnapping children – girls and boys – raping adult women, killing adult women, killing males,” he says.

“Not many people believed that, because we’d never encountered anybody like that in criminal history.”

Shown pics of severed head of rape victim as teen

Texan-born Ramirez grew up with an abusive dad, prone to violent rages.

His cousin Miguel, a Vietnam veteran, subjected the young Ramirez to horrific pictures from the conflict, including one where he gleefully posed with the severed head of a woman he'd raped and decapitated.

At 13, he witnessed Miguel shoot wife Jessie in the face during an argument, killing her instantly.

The same year, he moved in with his sister Ruth and her husband Roberto — a peeping Tom who took Ramirez along on his sick nighttime escapades.

In his teens, Ramirez began taking LSD, developed an obsession with Satanism and embarked in a string of petty crimes.

But his true trail of horror began in 1984, when he was 28, with the murder of nine-year old Mei Leung who he raped and stabbed before hanging her body from a pipe in the basement of an LA hotel.

A few weeks later, Jennie Vincow, 79, was found dead in her apartment. Her throat was slashed so severely she was almost decapitated before being sexually assaulted.

'Turned on' by fear in victims' eyes

Dayle Okazaki’s murder on March 17, 1985,nine months after Jennie's death, marked the start of a killing spree which left Los Angeles quaking with fear.

After hearing a shot and then someone enter the flat, Dayle cowered behind the kitchen counter.

When silence fell, she cautiously raised her head – only to see Ramirez pointing a gun in her face before pulling the trigger.

Just 40 minutes later, motorist Tsai-Lian Yu, 30, was stopped, dragged from her car and shot in the chest.

While the two weren’t instantly linked, Gil had a hunch the seemingly motiveless killings were linked to a sexual deviance that sees the perpetrator “turned on” by fear.

“With Maria Hernandez, he could have crept up silently and shot her. He didn’t,” he says.

“He slapped the top of her car so she would turn around and see him.

“With Dayle Okazaki, he waited until he saw the fear in her eyes then he shot her.

“With Tsai-Lian Yu, the suspect wanted a confrontation, wanted to see that fear. That’s what started me thinking about one man doing this.”

Mutilated breast and gouged out eyes

Just 10 days later, Ramirez broke into the home of Vincent Zazzara, 64, and his wife Maxine, 44.

He shot Vincent dead before raping Maxine several times and stabbing her. He then carved a T in her breast and gouged out her eyes, taking them with him in a jewellery box.

This time, he left a clear footprint in the earth outside the window.

A few days later, he killed pensioner Bill Doi before putting his wife Lillian in thumbcuffs — metal manacles that lock round your thumbs — then raping and beating her. She survived.

While the murders stacked up, Gil’s colleagues at the LAPD reported the latest in spate of child abductions.

An eight-year-old had been taken from her bed, driven to a construction site and sexually assaulted. There was a shoe print left in concrete at the site.

“I recognised it immediately as the same footprint to the one lifted at the Zazarra crime scene,” says Gil.

Children abducted from beds and raped

One of the child abductees was Anastasia Hronner, who was just six when she was taken from her bed in the middle of the night.

She was driven across LA by a tall, thin man and smuggled into his "dark and dingy" house in a duffel bag.

“There were slimy food packages and take-out stuff around. There was a soundtrack of Madonna going – Holiday and Like a Virgin – over and over,” she recalls.

Her captor raped her repeatedly before driving her to a local petrol station and letting her go.

“I remember saying ‘Stop. This hurts' and ‘why are you doing this?’” she says.

Other victims included a six-year-old snatched from school and assaulted and a nine-year-old boy snatched from his bed and raped.

The children described their attacker as tall, with light brown skin, dishevelled hair, stained teeth and a pungent odour – matching a description given by Maria Hernandez.

Beat and raped disabled 81-year-old

Ramirez's Satanic spree continued with Mabel Bell, 84, who he beat with a hammer before electrocuting her.

He then raped her disabled sister Florence Lang, 81, and drew a lipstick pentagram — a five-pointed star associated with Satanism — on her thigh and the bedroom wall.

The next day, he broke into the home of Carol Kyle, 41, who he repeatedly raped before leaving her handcuffed to her 11-year-old son.

After slashing the throat of Mary Louise Cannon, 75, on July 2, 1985 he broke into the bedroom of 16-year-old Whitney Bennett.

He beat her with a metal wheel brace – leaving her with multiple skull fractures – but miraculously she survived.

A bloody shoe print was found on a blanket in her room, matching the previous prints.

The Night Stalker’s reign of terror

June 28, 1984: Jennie Vincow, 79, was stabbed repeatedly and her throat was slashed so severely she was almost decapitated. Ramirez sexually assaulted her after the killing.

Mar. 17, 1985: On March 17, 1985, Ramírez shot 20-year old María Hernándezbefore shooting Dayle Okazaki, age 34, dead.Ramirez then murdered 30-year-old Tsai 'Veronica' Lian Yu after pulling her out of her car.

Mar. 27, 1985: Ramirez shot Vincent Zazzara, 64, and his wife Maxine, 44. Mrs Zazzara's body was mutilated with several stab wounds and her eyes were gouged out.

May 14, 1985: Ramirez broke into the home of William and Lillie Doi. He shot William in the head and ferociously beat Lillie, but she survived.

May 29, 1985: Mabel Bell, 84, and her invalid sister, Florence Lang, 81, are beaten with a hammer in their Monrovia home. Bell was killed.

May 30, 1985: Carol Kyle, 41, raped by Ramirez.

July 2, 1985: Ramirez kills Mary Louise Cannon, 75, by beating her and slashing her throat.

July 5, 1985: Whitney Bennett, 16, survived after being beaten with a wheel brace by Ramirez.

July 7, 1985: Ramirez beats to death Joyce Lucille Nelson, 61, of Monterey Park.

July 20, 1985: Ramirez shot and killed Maxson Kneiding, 68, and his wife Lela, 66, in their home.
Later that day, he shot and killed Chainarong Khovananth, 32, then raped his wife and son.

Aug. 6, 1985: Ramirez shot both Christopher Petersen, 38, and his wife, Virginia, 27, in the head. They both survived.

Aug. 8, 1985: Elyas Abowath, 35, is shot to death in his home. His wife is beaten.

Aug. 25, 1985: Ramirez shot Bill Carns, 29, and his raped his fiancée, Inez Erickson, 29. Both victims survived.

Made dying victims 'swear to Satan'

Ramirez was now leaving his pentagram calling card at crime scenes and ordering victims to "swear on Satan" they weren't hiding valuables.

On August 24, 1985, he fled a burglary scene after house owner James Romero raised the alarm – noting the registration number of the stolen car Ramirez was driving.

The same night, he broke into the house of Bill Carns and shot him three times before raping his 29-year-old fiancee Inez Erickson.

"Tell them the Night Stalker was here," he said.

Four days later, the stolen car was found with fingerprints inside.

Gil Carrillo now knew the identity of their serial killer, and issued a mugshot to the press.

Hunted down by angry mob

Six days after his last sickening crime, Ramirez attempted a carjacking in LA but locals recognised him, chased him and beat him until cops arrived.

On September 20, 1989, Ramirez was found guilty of all charges and sentenced to death. He was never convicted of the child abductions and rapes.

In 2013, after 23 years on death row, Ramirez died from cancer, at the age of 53.

Gil ends the documentary with his own statement.

“I believe in the devil and I believe in evil,” he says. “I say prayers a night and I list people. And I end up with Ramirez.”

It's an incredible act of generosity towards a man who committed so much evil – and ruined so many lives.

Night Stalker: The Hunt For A Serial Killer is available on Netflix from Jan 13.

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