The 40+ crowd remembers him well, the serial killer that terrorized California in the mid-80s – Richard Ramirez, the so-called “night stalker.” (The name came from a Rolling Stones’ song that described a nighttime marauder, much like Ramirez.) He started by murdering a pair of sisters in the San Gabriel Valley area. Those who survived his mayhem described him with long hair and a demonic smile. In addition to dispatching his victims, he raped, sodomized, slit throats and mutilated. He gouged out the eyes of one woman. He used lipstick to paint a pentagram on another victim. He shot one woman’s fiancé and made her swear allegiance to Satan. When caught, he appeared in court flashing pentagrams inked on his palms, flashing his hands to the cameras. “Hail Satan,” he shouted in the courtroom.


This past week Ramirez, he died in a prison hospital bed. He never made it to the gas chamber. Several news accounts said he died “peaceably.” I doubt that. If by that description they are comparing his death to the violent end it might have been, I suppose that’s “peaceful.” But as the demons came to usher him to Hell, I doubt it was anything like a calm exit of life.


For those too young to remember, I recall vividly how the media mocked his claims of devil worship. Most journalists thought him more of a Charles-Manson wannabe. They couldn’t accept that the evil of Ramirez was stoked by Satan. He was passed off as a mentally disturbed malcontent, which he was; but the cruelty of his crimes indicates more than the acts of an insane menace. For a time, the devil did inspire his mayhem. It’s tragic that he spent more than 20 years on death row, when he should have long ago have been executed for his crimes. This lack of swift justice coddles criminals and makes more devil-inspired killers like Ramirez, think that they won’t have to pay for their deeds with their lives, at least not any time soon. As the mass killings of Aurora and Newton remind us, satanically inspired crimes haven’t gone away. The murderers just kill more people quicker, and with the same Satanic inspiration.