REVIEW: ‘Night Stalker’ docu-series rebirths the infamous ’80’s serial killer into today’s world

Photo obtained by: IMDb via Netflix

Photo obtained by: IMDb via Netflix

By Gabby Pawlowski

The ‘80s were a time to be alive: Punk rock, unique clothing, Spielberg movies, hip hop and jazzercise are all factors that contribute as to why generation X was arguably the best decade. However, not everyone is aware of the infamous serial killer known as the “Night Stalker” that was on the loose in California for a year committing acts of inhumane crime. The TV-series that recently dropped on Netflix about this true crime called “Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer” brought light to that year of reigning terror in a 4-part docu-series. 

Ever since it was released on January 13, 2021, it’s taken the world by surprise and pure horror. Unlike any other true crime documentary, the main storytellers are the detectives, Gil Carillo and Frank Salerno, who worked effortlessly to solve this case in 1985. The series not only focused on the Night Stalker’s crimes, but it also gave viewers insight on the workings in the case through the perspectives of the detectives involved in solving the case, only years later. What makes this series so captivating besides the shocking truth of the entire matter is that they take us in chronological order, revealing only what Carillo and Salerno knew at the time. It isn’t only until the last episode that the serial killer’s identity is revealed.

A 25-year old at the time, Richard Ramirez, was the man behind the gruesome acts of the Night Stalker. Growing up in an extremely unfit and abusive environment for a kid, Ramirez was put on the wrong path at such a young age. Not to mention his use of drugs like marijuana and LSD that began at the age of 10 contributed to his unethical life choices. His use of LSD cultivated his obsession with Satanism. The symbol of the devil, the pentagram, was Ramirez’s signature mark of territory at the crime scene. In a court appearance, Ramirez pleaded not guilty and held up the pentagram that was inked on his palm, and said, “Hail Satan”. However, on September 20, 1989, he was convicted of all charges: 13 counts of murder, five attempted murders, 11 sexual assaults, and 14 burglaries, even though it is assumed that he committed many more acts of crime. He believed the work he was doing was through the guidance of and for Satan himself. “I was in alliance with the evil that is inherent in human nature,” Ramirez said in an interview. “Satan was the stabilizing force in my life.”

Alongside the detectives that told the story, countless victims were featured within the docu-series, giving their side on the trauma that was caused by Ramirez. These heartbreaking stories contribute to the chilling effect of the series. His victims weren’t anyone in particular. This is why the residents of the golden state were in a constant state of fear. Anyone could’ve been next. Even though Ramirez has been deceased for eight years, viewers can’t help but feel unsettled when walking around their house in the dark. Just know that if you double-check that the doors and windows are locked, you aren’t alone. 

After a year of undetected killing, Ramirez was finally caught in 1985 with the help of the townspeople in East Los Angeles, California. At that point in time, witnesses who had interacted/nearly been killed by Ramirez gave the police key details to curate an accurate drawing of the killer to release to the public. His infamous rotting teeth, curly hair and putrid body odor made him stick out like a sore thumb. Since his “wanted” picture was posted everywhere from telephone poles to doors of corner stores, people were picking him apart from the crowd and had identified the Night Stalker. Viewers are put on the edge of their seats as detectives Carillo and Salerno describe the Pac-Man-like chase of finally tracking the Night Stalker down. They had Ramirez in custody by August 31, 1985, and to sum up a long story, he had been on death row for 23 years. That plan came to a halt on June 7, 2013, when Ramirez died due to lymphoma at the age of 53. Although far-fetched, it’s not a crazy idea to think that this was a blessing from the devil himself. If there’s a force commanding the good in people commonly known as God, is it that crazy to think that there’s an evil force known as Satan bringing out the worst in mankind? If that is the case, was Richard Ramirez the living and breathing human life form of the devil?