Alice Oscura, Featured Writer
Synopsis: In the four-episode Netflix docu-series Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer we go along on a journey back in time to when the residents of Southern California were filled with terror after a series of brutal murders and violent attacks. The series is packed with interviews from detectives who worked on the infamous case as well as the victims’ families, survivors and past witnesses. The audience is able to clearly follow the timeline all the way up to the capture and conviction of Richard Ramirez aka the Night Stalker.
Warning: Contains references to crime scenes and violent actions. Parental Discretion is advised.
Review: The case of the notorious serial killer the Night Stalker has become the obsession of many over the years. The sheer brutality unleashed upon his victims has left many questions in people’s minds as to why or how would someone do such things to other human beings?
The strongest element about this series is that it lifts up the heroes who were eventually responsible for Ramirez’s capture and gives us an insight into the minds of the victims’ families as well as the survivors. Of course, as with most true crime documentaries, we are shown some graphic crime scene photos and specific gruesome details of particular crimes are highlighted, but it is not the main focus. This aspect is done with the utmost respect to the victims’ families and it opens the viewer’s eyes to the severity of his crimes despite the sensationalisation caused by the media, books and movies.
Primary interviews are done with Detective Gil Carrillo and Detective Frank Salerno who were tasked with solving the Night Stalker case. Salerno already had a reputation for cracking high profile homicide cases and previously solved “The Hillside Strangler” case. The timeline of investigation highlighted starts in March 1985 in Rosemead, California where Ramirez first uses a .22 caliber handgun. Afterwards, he begins a literal killing and raping spree and eventually ventures into the abduction and raping of several children who were all subsequently released.
Ramirez was described as having horrible body odour and terrible teeth. But most people would say that his eyes were his most menacing physical feature as they emanated pure evil. He began to get bolder as time went by, leaving Satanic symbols on his victims’ bodies or on the walls of the victims’ homes. He would also desecrate their homes and would sometimes also be so bold as to have a snack after dispatching his victims. He was cold and calculating with his actions. Ramirez would later claim that he was aligned with the evil inherent in human nature and was an avid worshipper of you know who. I’ll give you three guesses and it isn’t the sky.
It became physically and mentally exhausting for the detectives as they worked around the clock to solve this case. Carrillo admitted that his wife and kids had to leave the family home eventually until Ramirez was captured for fear of their safety when he was not at home, which was the majority of the time. The investigation was all-consuming and you can see it in their eyes and body language how the Night Stalker case affected them. The mere thought of the brutality and gruesome discoveries that came with each crime scene would make their blood boil every time they were stonewalled or if the case got bungled.
By the time the detectives got that much needed lead that they were looking for it’s August 1985 and they are rewarded through an informant with the killer’s real name — Richard Ramirez. Ramirez was dubbed the “Walk-In Killer”, the “Valley Intruder” and, lastly, the “Night Stalker”, which became his favourite.
In the final episode Ramirez’s home life, his tour in Vietnam and numerous bad influences were briefly mentioned but not in great detail. Once Ramirez is positively identified his picture is finally posted in the LA newspapers and things come to a head when he is recognised by observant citizens on August 31, 1985. They almost beat the living daylights out of him until a police officer arrives. And with that the residents of California could finally breathe a collective sigh of relief at his capture.
Although Ramirez was convicted and sentenced to the gas chamber, due to lengthy court appeals he remained on death row and eventually died at the age of 53 from health complications. Does this mean that his victims never got their justice? I would say no, because there’s another type of justice that awaited Ramirez after death.
Alice’s Score: 8.5 out of 10
For my review of the documentary Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind you can click here.
Dark Alice has an old soul and a curious mind. I believe that anyone can be a hero and that the good guys should always win! I dislike cruelty to animals and think that they have far superior qualities to humans. My motto is there is no future without the past. I also have a weird penchant for Paranormal TV shows even though the slightest sound makes me jump.
I enjoy writing reviews and throwing in fun facts to pique the readers’ curiosity. My ultimate goal in life would be to become a published writer one day. You can find me as Dark Alice Reviews on Facebook, my Instagram is alice_oscura and my Twitter handle is @lise_veliz2. For more on me you can click here.