Creating the Night Stalker
How do monsters become monsters? Do they police the borders of reality? Are they our children? Are we really the monsters? In this case study we will be focusing on Richard Ramirez’s life and understand how his in-home violence, unstable living conditions, radical parents, unruly idols and dark fantasies led to the becoming this monster. To understand the monster, we must understand where he came from and what his reasoning was to be who he was in the end; what caused Richard to become a proud boisterous monster?
Richard originating from El Paso Texas, as a sibling and son of proud hard-working immigrant parents. Richards father was a police officer in Juarez Mexico, who was known for random outbursts of violence, and his mother a factory worker. With this being said Richard often found himself on the blunted end of abuse; as we see his father as an officer of the law we can understand where Richard became confused, angry and cold to the world that was set up to protect him from such horrific acts. Severe accidents and abuse caused for Richard to become victimized at a young age. According to the Department of Psychology at Radford University, it states that Richard at the age of seven, began to display behavioral issues in school after severe head trauma was inflicted and he was diagnosed as epileptic. With these traumatic events occurring in his young life Richard soon began to take mold into the monster society knows him as now. According the Jeffery Cohen one of his monster theories is the monster is a cultural body, which states that the monster is an embodiment of its environment, it represents a time feeling or place. The monster is made up of fear, desire, anxiety, and fantasy. As Richard began to rebel, he began to take joy in frequent drug use and petty theft in rebellion to his fathers’ authority as a police officer. As the years progressed and Richard regressed in society, he began to take refuge with his cousin Miguel Ramirez.
According to a YouTube documentary named “The Night Stalker”, it states that Mike Ramirez was a Vietnam veteran who often and boldly shared his photos and mementos with Richard. Such prized possessions he held were photos of women he had raped, murdered, and mutilated. Instead of reacting like a normal function member of society would, Richard basked in the glory mike exuded, taking pride in his cousin’s “accomplishments” gaining sexual gratification over the actions placed upon these abused deceased young women. Mike not only taught Richard that murder was ok and divulging into you fantasies was normal, he taught him military practices that would help aide in him becoming the night stalker. All of this was by the age of twelve, as these were Richards formidable years and he sought the acceptance of a loved one he began to idolize his cousin in aims to follow in his footsteps. Cohen states that the monsters are our children, they stand at the threshold of becoming. Meaning, that the actions and justifications given to young Ramirez stood prominent in his young mind allowing for him to take what he had learned by his cousin and apply them into his reality. Mike had successfully planted the seed of desire and fantasy for murder, torture, kill into this young victimized mind, turning Richard from victim to victimizer. According to Radford University Richard at the age of 13 witnessed his cousin murder his wife in cold blood by a gun shot to the head. Pleading insanity mike only spent 4 years in a mental hospital and was then released. As the years had passed Richard was subject to more than one unruly role model, his sister’s husband often took him to look into women’s rooms while they were undressing, hidden in the night they were never caught.
As Richard aged, he dropped out of high school and began to work at a local hotel in El Paso Texas, giving into to his fantasies Richard often found himself stealing from the guests at his hotel and was caught in the act of trying to rape a young women as her husband walked in, beaten, arrested and tried, the young couple decided not to testify against Richard for the sole reason of not wanting to return to Texas. The charges were dropped, and Richard found it was time to move to California. With this new start he took the opportunity as it presented itself and began his reign of terror. In an interview with Richard Ramirez, he states that “a serial killer comes about in certain circumstances, a recipe such as poverty, drugs and child abuse. When these things contribute to a person’s frustrations and anger, then at some point in life that person explodes.” (Ramirez, how this serial). When asked why he would hurt these people Richard smirks and finds amusement while refusing to answer the question. Richards style of murder varied as did his preference on who to kill, no gender, age or demographic was safe from this beast. In the interview, his cellmate, another convicted murderer states, that Richard had confided in him saying he had to fantasize and wait to rape and murder these women, he would not gain complete sexual satisfaction until those victims were brutally murdered. Keeping this in mind we can again reflect back to Cohen’s theory that the monsters are our children, those unstable role models had led Richard down this deep dark path and with him on a rampage killing 14 people in the span of a liitle over a year. We cannot leave blame out for those involved in distorting his mind when he was at such a vulnerable age, but we cannot give leeway to the actions at hand. An article on WordPress.com states one of Richards most vindictive quotes allowing us to see how amused and lost this young man was, as he found pleasure in his atrocious acts he states, “One time I told this lady to give me all her money, she said no. So, I cut her and pulled her eyes out. I would do someone in and then take a camera and set the timer, so I could sit them up next to me and take out picture together.” (the monster at midnight). Not only is his act outrageous, he held a desire to be like his cousin to find validation through his acts, maybe one day getting to share his trophies with his cousin like he shared with him.
As Richard was sentenced the media took off in a rampage to generating fear, doors and windows must be locked, don’t let anyone in you don’t know, a monster had been born. Richard contributed to the entertainment business because of the fear he induced in the Californian lives. Thriving off that fear, the movie the night stalker was released, as was he glorified in American horror stories and many other pictures. Which bring me back to Cohen’s theory that the monster is kind of a desire. Why as a society do we paint these people red and say to avoid them at all costs but then we glorify their actions all in the name of entertainment? Richard Ramirez was a monster from the moment he chose the path he walked on. Choosing to relish in the horrid acts of others he truly policed the borders of reality and fantasy incorporating them into our lives as well as his. Incarcerated in 1984, deceased in 2013, we still hold fear in our hearts of the monsters he reaped in his destructive path. Monsters will forever be a part of our society, but it is up to the population to stop the formation of such beings, to change tide and raise their children with compassion and care, to seek mental help and to avoid catastrophes and malicious beings and deeds. Our children are the monsters because we make them in the image of ourselves, Richard never stood a chance against his upbringing, as those around him dove at the opportunity to corrupt his young soul, which ended so many lives and generations after. So concluding, yes, those around you do affect the way you grow and respond to real life situations, they help mold you into the adult you will become. We are the monsters.
- “The Night Stalker- Serial Killer Richard Ramirez- Discovery Biography Crime (Documentary)” YouTube, Uploaded by Roosev Kelley 18 January, 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4hPRDHCFwOI
- “How This Serial Killer Felt About His Crimes On DeathRow” Youtube, Uploaded by Inside Edition, 22 feburary, 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_xqZ9T7o-Hg
- Melissa Dietrich, Nada Gorbet, Terri Peterson, and Helen Pegler. “Richard Ramirez “The Night Stalker” The Department of Psychology, Radford University. http://maamodt.asp.radford.edu/psyc%20405/serial%20killers/Ramirez,%20Richard%20_spring%202007_.pdf Accessed on 7 may, 2020.
- Cohen, Jeffery. Monster Theory: Reading culture. University of Minnesota, 15 November, 1996. http://www.englishwithtuttle.com/uploads/3/0/2/6/30266519/cohen_monster_culture__seven_theses__3-20.pdf
- “The Night Stalker- Richard Ramirez/ Serial Killer Files #14”. Uploaded by Gavagan, Rob, 31 May, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nfh11mjpfVA
- “Serial Killer Files- and violent crimes” WordPress, 2 Jan, 2018. https://infamousresearch.wordpress.com/serial-killer-files/
- Janaxave. Richard Ramirez- the night stalker. April 9, 2019. Caber net true crime. https://cabernetandtruecrime.com/2019/04/09/richard-ramirez-the-night-stalker/
- Long, Trish. El Paso Relatives of “Night Stalker” Richard Ramirez React to His Death. September 2,2019, El Paso Times. https://www.elpasotimes.com/story/archives/2019/09/26/night-stalker-richard-ramirez-react-his-death-el-paso-relatives/3777040002/