It was August 24th, 1985. The Summer air was uncharacteristically damp. The fog settled in like a brown haze of an old photograph. I was seeing the daughter of a Polish immigrant. She had blonde hair and green eyes and her father kept a sawed off double barrel shot-gun slung over his pineapple shaped bed post. I remember hearing in knocking against the metal frame as the bed moved back and forth.
Her parents were out-of-town that night and like any average American boy, I acted on pure impulse. My mind and body had not yet learned to communicate with integrity and reason.
Richard Munoz Ramirez had already taken his eleventh life. Southern California was on edge. Los Angeles residents were afraid to leave their homes. The media dubbed him, “The Night Stalker”. After the title of an AC/DC song about a serial killer. He took life without prejudice. He raped and tortured. Death was not what he craved, but pain and control. Thirteen dead would be the final count. Five left alive but forever disfigured and scarred. Eleven were raped. Several decapitated. Southern California was on edge during this time. We would watch t.v. and every week or so there would be a another attack. He would pull people from cars, he would kill children, old women and couples in their sleep. No one was safe.
When he moved from the L.A. area to the San Francisco bay, we almost sighed in relief. He was traveling North and away from our small community of Mission Viejo. The attacks there left one victim alive, who was able to describe the killer and the car he was driving. He was tall, Hispanic, and wore an AC/DC cap. He left pentagrams on the walls of the victims, drawn out in blood. He carved crosses into their flesh and removed their eyes.
AC/DC was set to play a show at the Meadows amphitheater in Irvine that weekend. I had rented a limo, bought the tickets, planned it out for weeks. The night before the show, as my girlfriend and I slept in her bed on the second floor of her parents Mimosa Lane residence. Ramirez drove fifty miles south when he finally stopped just off the highway in front of the Mediterranean Village apartments. One block from where we were.
He randomly turned the handles of back doors until he found one unlocked. He entered the house where he found Billy Carns and his girlfriend Inez sleeping in bed. He tied them both up and raped the woman, forcing Billy to watch. He then slit both of their throats.
Just a block away we slept unknowing. I never locked the door behind me when I came over my girlfriends house that night. I had other things on my mind. I couldn’t help but wonder of what would have happened if Billy had locked his door that night.
They canceled the concert that Friday night. They announced a plan to check everyone going in to the metal show in a search for someone matching the description. Brian Johnson refused to play. He would not allow a police presence at an AC/DC show. So they shut it down until they could reschedule.
From the house in Mission Viejo they were able to obtain a single finger print. They finally new the identity of the killer. They posted his face all over every newspaper and on every news program on T.V. He was a 25-year-old Texas man, a drifter. A couple of days later while he was walking through the gang controlled streets of East L.A. he was recognized. He ran. He saw a woman watering her lawn and demanded the keys to her car. She refused. Her husband came outside and started fighting with the killer. Then the neighbors quickly came out and joined in on the altercation. They say he was beaten beyond recognition. When the police arrived they had to pull the crowd off of him or he would have surely died.
During the trial a female juror and her boyfriend were found murdered in their home. The jury was taken into protective custody.
I’ll never forget seeing him in court, smiling, and holding up his hand to reveal a pentagram carved in his palm.
How easily I could have ended up as a victim. How life could have changed so dramatically by something as simple as a locked door.
Richard Ramirez died last week while awaiting the gas chamber on San Quentin’s death row.
He should have died on that sidewalk in Los Angeles.
Monsters are real, they just look like you and me.