So far, American Horror Story: 1984 is very scary. Yeah, the ’80s outfits are delightful and it has its funny moments, but it’s totally a slasher and we’ve already seen a bunch of people’s ears get cut off and turned into a necklace. It’s a freakin’ lot. To make matters worse, part of this story is based on history. Yep, the Night Stalker was an actual serial killer in California. (And actor Zach Villa looks SO much like him.) Here’s everything you should know about what actually went down IRL.
The Night Stalker’s name is Richard Ramirez.
Before he was called the Night Stalker, he was referred to as the “Walk-In Killer” and the “Valley Intruder.” He was known for entering California homes in the middle of the night through open windows or doors. The summer of 1984 had record-high temperatures, but people were so afraid that they still slept with their windows closed and locked.
His early life was really disturbing.
Richard Ramirez was born on Febraury 26, 1960 in El Paso, Texas. Apparently, he had a tough childhood…and things only got worse when his cousin, Mike, returned from war in Vietnam. The pair became super close, and Mike would tell him disturbing stories (and even show him photos!) of his time in Vietnam. The two began to take drugs and commit small crimes, and Ramirez started to worship Satan. Eventually, Mike murdered his wife while Ramirez was there. (He did not participate, but he did not attempt to stop him, either.)
He started (and finished) his killing spree in 1984.
Wondering why Ryan Murphy picked 1984 as the theme of this season? It might have something to do with the fact that this is the year Ramirez terrorized California as the Night Stalker. In one year, he murdered 13 people and sexually assaulted 11. He also committed 14 burglaries and attempted five murders.
He was arrested in the summer of 1985.
Ramirez’s name and photo were released to the public for the first time on August 31, 1985, and he was arrested shortly after. Ramirez had no idea that his identity had been reported, and took a train to Tucson, Arizona on August 30 to visit his brother. Police were searching for someone who was fleeing Los Angeles, so they were pretty thrown off when he got back on a bus to come home, and they did not see him get off the bus.
When he stopped at a liquor store, a woman recognized him and called out “El maton!” which means, “the killer.” Ramirez immediately dashed across a busy highway, and tried to steal a Mustang. Uh…until a man literally pulled him out of the car. Ramirez then sprinted across the street, and threatened a woman in an attempt to get her car keys. The woman’s husband quickly beat Ramirez over the head with a pipe from his chain-link fence. Next, (holy shit this is the craziest story ever), a literal mob formed and chased Ramirez down the road.
Finally, the residents in the mob caught Ramirez, and police came to check out the disturbance. They arrested Ramirez, but did not really know who he was until he started talking in the back seat. Allegedly, Ramirez threw up “green, like ‘The Exorcist,'” when they got to the police station. Head’s up: this is still not the freakiest part of his arrest and court case.
Ramirez was sentenced to death in 1989.
In November 1989, Ramirez was sentenced to death. During the case, he gave a monologue in which he said, “I am beyond good and evil. I will be avenged. Lucifer dwells in us all. That’s it.”
When Ramirez learned that he would be sentenced to death, he said, “Big deal. Death always went with the territory. See you in Disneyland.” Honestly, this is the most horrifying quote of all time
Ramirez spent 23 years on death row before dying of lymphoma in 2013.
He was actually featured in American Horror Story: Hotel, too.
The ghosts of Richard Ramirez, John Wayne Gacy and Aileen Wuornos kill a couple in American Horror Story: Hotel. Maybe the seasons are linked, somehow?