Ramirez was convicted of 13 murders that terrorized Southern California in 1984 and 1985 as well as charges of rape, sodomy, oral copulation, burglary and attempted murder.
He was dubbed the “Night Stalker” by the press while residents were warned to lock their doors and windows at night.
There were signs of devil worship — a pentagram drawn on the wall at one murder scene and survivors’ accounts of being ordered to “swear to Satan ” by the killer.
Ramirez was finally chased down and beaten in 1985 by residents of a blue-collar East Los Angeles neighborhood as he attempted a carjacking. They recognized him after his picture appeared that day in the news media.
The trial of Ramirez took a year, but the entire case — bogged down in pretrial motions and appeals — lasted four years, making it one of the longest criminal cases in U.S. history.
Because of the notoriety, more than 1600 prospective jurors were called.
The trial was almost aborted in its final stages when a woman juror was murdered during deliberations. Jurors were 13 days into talks when the juror failed to appear one morning. She was found beaten and shot to death at the home she shared with her boyfriend. The next day, the man committed suicide and left a note saying he killed her in an argument.
Jurors wept when they learned of the tragedy, and Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Tynan was faced with one of his most trying legal challenges. Lawyers said there were no legal precedents for the situation.
Defense attorneys argued the jurors were too distraught to resume their talks and noted the murder was similar to the gruesome attacks attributed to the “Night Stalker.”
Tynan decided to move forward. “We must get on with the task life has given us,” he told jurors, ordering them to begin deliberations with an alternate juror.
Jurors later said the death of the juror did not influence their decision.
After his conviction, Ramirez flashed a two-fingered “devil sign” to photographers and muttered a single word: “Evil.”
On his way to a jail bus, he sneered in reaction to the verdict, muttering: “Big deal. Death always went with the territory. See you in Disneyland.”
Inexplicably, Ramirez, a native of El Paso, Texas, had a following of young women admirers who came to the courtroom regularly and sent him love notes.
Some visited him in prison, and in 1996 Ramirez was married to 41-year-old freelance magazine editor Doreen Lioy in a visiting room at San Quentin prison.
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. Ramirez still had appeals pending when he died.