Dark Dreams
The Bloody Trail and History of California's Night Stalker

Devan Sagliani | 22 Apr 2015 12:00
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On May 14, 1985, Ramirez returned to Monterey Park in search of another random victim and entered the home of William "Bill" Doi and his disabled wife Lillian. Doi was 66, his wife 10 years his junior. Surprising Doi in his bedroom, The Night Stalker shot him in the face as Doi went for his own handgun. Even though he was already mortally wounded, Ramirez proceeded to beat William into unconsciousness before restraining Lillian with thumb cuffs and raping her. Sticking to his usual pattern, he ransacked the home for valuables. Bill Doi died of his injuries while in the hospital but Lillian lived. She described Ramirez to the police as a tall Hispanic man dressed in all black with bad teeth. He also left behind footprints from a pair of Avia sneakers in the flower beds, which the police photographed and cast. It was a new shoe with a patented sole that had only been in America since earlier that year. Detective Salerno ran a check and discovered that only one pair of shoes with that brand and size had been sold in the Los Angeles area. Unfortunately, they were paid for in cash and the store owner couldn't recall who had bought them. The Sheriff's office circulated pictures of the shoe along with a composite drawing of The Night Stalker but got no results. Once again they were at a dead end.

Two weeks later, on the night of May 29, 1985, Ramirez drove a stolen Mercedes-Benz to Monrovia where he attacked 84-year-old Mable Bell and her 81-year-old sister Florence Lang. Using a hammer he found in their kitchen, the Night Stalker bludgeoned Mabel unconscious before shocking her with an electrical cord. He then raped Lang and used Mabel Bell's lipstick to draw a pentagram on her inner thigh, as well as one on the wall of both bedrooms. The women weren't discovered for two days. Both were still alive but comatose. Bell was unable to recover from her injuries and died. For the first time, the Night Stalker had left them more than a clue, he'd given the men hunting him a view into his psyche by announcing his dedication to Satan. This provided not only motivation for the terrible crimes, but an explanation for his brazenness and recklessness at crime scenes at well. Police would later confirm that Ramirez believed he was Satan's chosen one, sent out alone to commit evil in the name of his dark master. He believed that Satan protected him and that when he died he would take his rightful place by Satan's side in hell as his right hand man.

The next day, Ramirez was back out in the stolen Mercedes looking to kill again. He silently cruised up to a home in Burbank, cutting the engine and the lights as he approached. He gained entrance to the locked house by reaching up through the dog door and letting himself in. Ruth Wilson awoke to a flashlight beam blinding her. Ramirez grabbed the 41-year-old and led her to the room of her 12-year-old son. At gunpoint he bound them with handcuffs and ransacked the house. He then sodomized her repeatedly, ordering her not to look at him and telling her at one point that he would "cut her eyes out" if she did. He fled the scene after retrieving the child from the closet and binding the two together again with the handcuffs.

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On June 27, 1985, the body of a 27-year-old teacher was found in Arcadia. She'd been sodomized before having her throat slit. On the night of July 2, 1985, Ramirez returned to Arcadia in a stolen Toyota , randomly selecting the house of 75-year-old Mary Louise Cannon. He quietly slipped into the widowed grandmother's bedroom to find her peacefully sleeping. If Mary knew what was happening, it didn't last long. Ramirez bludgeoned her into unconsciousness with a lamp before repeatedly stabbed her with a butcher knife he'd picked up in her kitchen. She was found dead at the crime scene.

A couple days later, on July 5, Ramirez broke into a home in Sierra Madre and bludgeoned 16-year-old Whitney Bennett with a tire iron as she slept in her bedroom. After searching in vain for a knife in the kitchen, Ramirez attempted to strangle the girl with a telephone cord. He was startled to see sparks emanate from the cord, and when his victim began to breathe, he fled the house believing that Jesus Christ had intervened and saved her. She survived the savage beating, which required 478 stitches, nearly four feet of sutures, to close the lacerations to her scalp.

On July 7, 1985, Ramirez returned to Monterey Park to burglarize the home of 61-year-old Joyce Lucille Nelson. He was surprised to find her sleeping on the couch. She may have startled him. Ramirez beat her unconscious then stomped her to death, leaving a shoe print from his Avia sneakers literally imprinted on her face. But Ramirez wasn't done for the night. He cruised around a few neighborhoods nearby before doubling back to Monterey Park. This time, he chose the home of 63-year-old Sophie Dickman. At gunpoint, Ramirez handcuffed Dickman and attempted to rape her but quickly grew frustrated. He then stole all of her jewelry, making her "swear on Satan" that she'd given him everything of value before leaving. Linda Martinez, a sheriff's deputy familiar with the Night Stalker case, heard her neighbor Sophie crying for help, but Ramirez was already long gone.

On July 20, 1985, Ramirez purchased a machete with cash before driving a stolen Toyota out to Glendale. There he randomly chose the home of Maxon and Lela Kneiding, another elderly couple. With a bloodthirsty cry, he burst into the sleeping couple's bedroom and hacked at them with his deadly new toy. Unsatisfied with how long it was taking, Ramirez then shot both of them in the head with his .22-caliber handgun before further mutilating their bodies with the machete. When it was all done, he calmly ransacked the house for valuables, walked out the front door and vanished once more into the night. But Ramirez wasn't done.

He fenced the stolen items he'd taken from the Kneidling's then drove to nearby Sun Valley along the I-5 freeway. Around 4 a.m., he broke into the home of the Khovananth family. He shot Chainarong Khovananth in the head with a .25-caliber handgun while he slept, instantly killing him. Ramirez then repeatedly raped Somkid Khovananth, beating and sodomizing her while she begged for mercy. He restrained the couple's terrified 8-year-old son before dragging Somkid around the house looking for valuable items to steal. Again he demanded that she "swear to Satan" that she was not hiding any money from him. He then raped the 8-year-old boy and left. And again, he left shoe prints behind from his Avia sneakers, making Detectives wonder if he was baiting them. Somkid gave a detailed description of her attacker to the police. They released the information to the press, who quickly dubbed him the Night Stalker.

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