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chapter 9 : USA, The Night Stalker.





Richard Ramirez was born on the 29th of February 1960 as the youngest of five children.  It was avowedly speculated that his traumatic childhood had a tremendous influence on him and on the crimes he later on committed. His father, a former police officer, was a violent alcoholic who kept constantly lashing out on his wife and children. It was stated that Richard, at a very young age, was struck to the head with a falling piece of furniture and merely a few weeks later, he was struck again with a swing. At such a young age, the skull, still not fully developed, cannot provide full protection for the brain. That’s why, the experts speculated that his frontal cortex could’ve been damaged in that incident. Such damage can cause poor impulse control and aggressive tendencies. As a matter of fact, Richard started suffering seizures ever since. 

In order to elude his toxic home life, Richard took the habit of frequenting his cousin Miguel’s house who was much older than him. Miguel was a military veteran who served in the Vietnam War. The terrors he’d seen at war messed him up. He kept his gun in the fridge claiming he wanted to keep it cool. He would also boast to the 12-year old Richard about the horrors that happened at war and he would depict the graphic details of the several ways they used to capture and kill people. He even showed him pictures of him posing with a severed head of a woman whom he had killed and raped. Richard was never repulsed by the macabre stories he was hearing and witnessing. On the contrary, he was fascinated. On an eventful day, Miguel and his wife got into a heated fight. In the spur of the moment, Miguel shot his wife in the face in front of the 12-year-old Richard. As Miguel was arrested, Richard moved in with his sister and her husband Roberto. The environment was no better either. Roberto was a peeping tom who would have sexual gratification over watching women at night and Richard would tag along his nocturnal exploits.


It was during his teenage years that Ramirez began associating sexual fantasies with violence. He worked part-time at a holiday inn in summer. During that time, he kept using his passkey to rob the guests and to stalk them while they slept. Once, he let himself into the room of a couple and he attempted to rape the woman except her husband caught him and police were called. Richard lost his job, but no charges were made against him.


At the age of 22, the school-dropout moved from Texas to San Francisco, California. Richard’s first ever crime was presumed to be that of the murder of a nine-year old girl whom he had lured to the basement of the hotel he was staying in.


Once Richard got a taste of crime life, he didn’t step back. On the contrary, things escalated and a series of macabre crimes were committed by this monster: A 62-year-old was found stabbed repeatedly with a throat slashed near decapitation, a series of break-ins and stolen valuables, hijacking a car and killing the owner…


He broke into a house of 64-year-old Vincent and his 44-year-old wife Mazine, shot the husband and tied the woman who managed to escape and tried to attack him. This infuriated him, so, in a fit of anger he gouged her eyes out, put them in a jar and shot her three times. 


In 1985, Bill and Liliane fell victims to this ruthless killer who raped Liliane, gave the couple electrical shots then proceeded to beat them with a hammer. Before leaving the crime scene, he drew a pentagram on the wall with blood. This was the first time Richard used a sign of satanism in his crimes, but surely wasn’t the last time, as he himself was a satanist. In a later interview he actually said: “As far as Satan is concerned, I believe malevolent being his description eludes me but I have felt powers that are evil.”


His satanism was also portrayed in several other crimes: He broke into the house of a couple and after murdering them, he turned towards their 8-year-old boy and asked him to show him where the valuables were, and he made the little boy promise to Satan that he wasn’t hiding anything from him. Luckily, the child was able to get out of the house and ran towards the neighbors.


Richard also entered the home of a couple, killed the man and made the woman swear on Satan that she wouldn’t tell anyone.


The Night Stalker crimes didn’t stop there. He went on with a series of more break-ins and more murders. The horrific crimes of Richard petrified the people of California and baffled the police. Richard’s Mode of Operating was different with every crime that he committed, to the point where police didn’t link the crimes together. All cases were treated and investigated separately. That is until two smart detectives made a connection with several crime scenes. They discovered a distinct shoe print for a specific model that was left unintentionally at a variety of crime scenes. This made an outbreak in the case: the culprit they were looking for is a serial killer.


Police held a press conference where they revealed that a serial killer was at large and they dubbed him “the Night Stalker”. Police told people to lock their doors at night and they revealed details about the murders and the most crucial key evidence they had, the shoeprint.

The detectives on the case were pissed off at that revelation, because it was the only piece of evidence that pointed towards the culprit and with this being shared with the public, it would compromise the case.


Indeed, Richard saw the press conference and he knew they were onto him. He took his sneakers that were linked to the crimes and threw them off the golden gate bridge.


On August 24th, he had an urge to commit a crime so he lurked outside this house where a boy named James lived alongside his parents. James was alerted to the presence of the creepy man that’s why he woke his parents up and noted the car color model and few numbers from the license plate. Richard drove off when he noticed the entire family was up. Meanwhile, James contacted the police.


On August 28th, the stolen car was retrieved and the police were able to find a fingerprint from the rear-view mirror. Although Richard has wiped down the entire car before disposing of it yet he missed that little spot, which brought his downfall.


The fingerprint found had a match in the police database : it belonged to a 25-year-old drifter from Texas who had a previous record for traffic and drug violations. This ex-convict was indeed Richard Ramirez. His mugshot was released to the media and another press conference was held where they addressed Richard by name, calling out for him to surrender.


On August 31st, Richard looked over a newspaper rack whilst he was strolling down the street. Every single one had his picture printed on the front page. He panicked and he threw himself into a highway where he attempted to hijack three cars but was unsuccessful. Not accepting defeat, he ran until he found himself in a bad neighborhood where he was spotted by a group of people and then he was attacked by the angry mob. He was beaten by a metal bar to the head and held hostage until the police came and arrested him.


Whilst awaiting trial, Richard was bragging to his fellow inmates that he would smuggle a gun to the court and shoot the prosecutor. This led the law enforcement to install metal detectors by the door of the courthouse on the day of his trial. Later that day, a juror failed to attend as she was found shot in her apartment. The jury was terrified for their lives and were convinced that Richard was behind it and that he orchestrated the whole thing from his cell. Nevertheless, this was proven later to be false accusations as the real culprit was brought to justice: it was the victim’s boyfriend not Ramirez.


This case garnered so much media attention. During his trial, the courtroom was flooded with women screaming like fangirls and drooling over Richard’s presumably good looks. As a matter of fact, the juror who died was replaced by a woman named Cindy who turned out to be one of Richard’s fans. The subsequent trial turned into one of America’s most notorious courtroom dramas punctuated by continual outbursts from Richard. He even carved a pentagram on his hand that he kept showcasing whilst he was on the stand.


On September 30th, 1989, after an eight-month trial, Richard was convicted with all charges: 13 counts of murder, 5 attempted murders, 11 sexual assaults and 14 burglaries. During the penalty phase, he was sentenced to death in the California gas chamber.


While waiting for his execution date, Richard became unwell, his health fell apart due to complications secondary to B-cell lymphoma and he ended up passing away at the age of 53 whilst sitting on death row for more than 23 years.


The night stalker horrified people because he didn’t have a fixed M.O, he didn’t select his victims following certain criteria as most prolific serial killers did : Richard didn’t spare anyone. He targeted women and men of all ages: children, adults and even the elderly. Walking the streets of California or LA, everyone was terrified they would encounter this ruthless man because nothing guarantees you would walk away unscathed.


What infuriated people more about Richard after he was apprehended, is that he refused to discuss his crimes and he kept making outrageous outbreaks to the media that caused havoc, anger and pain. He said in an interview: “A serial killer comes about by circumstances and like a recipe, poverty, drugs, child abuse. These things, you know, contribute to a person’s frustration and anger. And at some point in life, he explodes.” In an attempt to justify his horrendous deeds, he added: “There are desires that if I didn’t give into them, I would be crushed by them”.


Richard was never apologetic about the things he did. He even admitted that he didn’t particularly care for people, nor for himself and what happened to him. As a matter of fact, he only said whilst chatting on this matter: “I believe in the evil in human nature. This is a wicked world. And in a wicked world, wicked people are born. I’m not gonna blame society, my race, people or anything. It is up to the individual like myself to keep on knocking on whatever door they want to get into”. Then he later added: “we are all evil, in some form or another. Are we not ?”


In a macabre story of murder, Satanism, serial rape, burglaries and more, we’ve traveled back in time from the sixties all the way through to the eighties in the United States, where we’ve witnessed the story of the infamous Night Stalker who terrorized the streets of California and Los Angeles, the story of the man who still to this day remains a mystery even to psychologists and experts. The way his brain worked and the decisions he made were never understood, and he, on his part, never elaborated more on the topic, taking these secrets with him to his grave.

Written By : Sarra Barnoussi.

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Chapter 6 : Achilles, Valor and Vendetta.







The frame strikingly tall and intimidating, waltzing in reconfigures my senses; a stench of blood encapsulates all, though I seem to be the only one to notice, or rather the last to accustom to it.

The smell of strong hints of iron, rust particles in the atmosphere engulfing the area I was standing, and the eerie noise of metal clashing, I knew I was in for an intricately disturbing turn of events, one that I wasn’t ready to stomach: I found myself on the battlefield.


I presumed that after a decade of perpetual warfare, either side would relent and surrender, or at the very least fight with less valor and patriotism, it is common for the passage of time to dwindle hope and demoralize warriors, but not in the Trojan War, I fear. A grandiose display of courage and heroic sacrifice litters the battlefield, much like the countless corpses impaled with spears.

I never was one to indulge in the idea of warfare, let alone wish to witness it unfolding. I always found the resolution of conflict through violence seldom a path to ending a feud, but rather delaying it.


It appears I’m on the Greek side, and as I realize my stance, the hairs on my nape stand up, and I tremble, feeling the slightest gust of breath over my shoulder, an ominous presence hovers above me, but I dare not turn, neither utter a letter nor exhale, for I fear my fate lies in the hands of what ambushed me. A statue I become.

moments pass and an eternity of paranoia clouds my mind, I am but a prayer away from the river Styx, and I don’t understand the fate I’m bestowed.


« You bear no resemblance to a myrmidon, yet neither are you a Trojan. Where, then, do your loyalties reside? », the silence that befell me as soon as I petrified broke, the voice young, taut, and disembodied, but the tone trod the line between fierce and menacing. Inclined to answer, my thoughts race to implore my limbs to move, but trepidation courses through my frozen nerves, and dread holds me in place. I am but a still husk of a man, dare I glance wrong and I may meet my fate. Nevertheless, glance I shall, my eyes roll cautiously down, and a white silhouette captures my attention: wings.


Wings, even here, rarely turn up on someone’s heel, unless Zeus has something to do with it— and then it blinded me clear as a lightning bolt: those were Arke’s wings on his heels, Zeus’s something borrowed for Thetis and Peleus’s wedding, making their beholder the pinnacle of Greek warriors, the legend of the Trojan War, and the foretold harbinger of peace after a decade of bloodshed: Achilles.

Somehow, in the murk of my innermost self, a deeper tumult of anguish surged, and I recalled a verse wherein his name found sanctuary, which reads:


« Rage, goddess — Sing of the rage of Peleus’ son Achilles, murderous, accursed,  doomed, that brought the Achaeons great suffering »


How must I compose myself when faced with such a formidable presence, formidable yet daunting? Achilles was infamous for his uncontrolled burst of fury, only Patroclus could guide him back to reason with his wise words. As childhood companions, the both of them were inseparable, Achilles and Patroclus. The latter being the role model in kindness and wisdom, and the former in heroic attributes and combat valor, they were an imposing pair. At last, courage stirs in me a storm, and I find myself pivoting gradually to meet his gaze, his sharp, cold, preemptory gaze.


« I mean no harm. » I quivered. It seems as though the courage I amassed wasn’t enough to answer without traces of trembling in my voice. « I’m here to observe, not interfere. »


From behind him approaches a towering figure— a friendlier one than what I confront, though it be void of relevance, for Achilles remains peerless at that.


« Achilles, my brother in arms, hear my earnest plea, » solicits Patroclus as Achilles lowers his defenses. His focus shifts from glaring at me to attentively heeding his companion’s entreaty. Finally, I could draw a relieved breath.


« The time has come for us to don the mantle of strategy as well as valor. Your divine armor, crafted with such skill by Hephaestus, holds not only the strength of the gods but also a potent symbol to strike fear into the hearts of our enemies. As we stand against the Trojan hordes, let us wield not just swords and spears but also cunning and deception. Allow me, with your blessing, to bear your armor into battle. Let the Trojans believe that Achilles himself strides forth, while in truth, it is I who shall wear the gleaming bronze. In this ruse lies our advantage, a shadow of fear cast upon our foes, as they face the might of Achilles where he is not. Grant me this honor, my friend, that together we may achieve victory on the field of Troy. »


Achilles has abstained from engaging in battle ever since Agamemnon, the commander of the Achaeon forces, dishonored him. In earlier raids, Achilles captured Briseis and Chryseis, the latter of whom he surrendered to Agamemnon. However, her father, chryses, a priest of Apollo, intervened with ransom and the threat of divine retribution, compelling Agamemnon to release her. In retaliation, he seized Briseis for himself. With wrath coursing through his veins, Achilles lifted his voice to the heavens, his words resonating with fervor and anguish:


« Zeus, ruler of the skies, heed my prayer! Injustice stains the battlefield, and the honor that once bound warriors together lies shattered. Stripped of my due honor, I stand aggrieved. Yet, I beseech you, turn your gaze upon the Trojans, and grant them your favor. Let them gain ground, that Agamemnon may taste humility and I may reclaim my rightful glory. O Zeus, if ever my valor earned your favor, let vengeance be wrought upon those who wronged me. Grant me vengeance, O mighty Zeus, and restore my honor in the eyes of men! »


As Zeus answered his prayers aiding the Trojans in their advance against the Greeks led by Prince Hector, the situation turned grim, with more soldiers falling in arms. In the midst of this chaotically bleak scenario, Patroclus’s demand appears increasingly more justified, perhaps the most reasonable course of action.


« Patroclus, my trusted companion. » Achilles sighs with compassion, he knows the inevitable, and he comprehends the fate bestowed upon him, yet he acquiesces with a tinge of regret in his voice. Perhaps putting hubris before reason was unwise; maybe he ought to stand alongside his comrade in battle. Nevertheless, Achilles, pompous as he is, complies.


« I bestow upon you the privilege of donning my armor in battle. Yet, I beseech you, do not forget my plea: once you have repelled the Trojans from our ships, return to me unharmed. Your bravery is unmatched, but my heart cannot bear the thought of losing you in the fray. With this gift, I entrust not just my armor, but a piece of my own spirit to your care. May its gleam blind our enemies to the truth, may its weight fortify your resolve, and may its presence upon the battlefield be a beacon of hope to our allies. Promise me, Patroclus, that you will come back to stand by my side, so that together we may revel in our victory and face whatever lies ahead as brothers in arms. »


Patroclus, instilling trust in Achilles, dons his armor and charges forth with formidable strength. None among the Trojans dare to oppose him as he cuts a path through their ranks, and each who dares meets his untimely fate. The disguised hero successfully repels the nearby enemies. Proud, Patroclus basks in the glow of glory, and hubris, once again, trumps reason as an unfulfilled promise is disregarded. Pressing onward towards the gates of Troy, Patroclus finds himself ensnared in battle and Apollo removes his wits. Patroclus falls victim to the spear of Euphorbos, followed by the fatal blow from Prince Hector. As Patroclus lies bleeding on the ground, and as Hector strips him from Achilles’ prized armor as a trophy of victory over the cunning warrior, he utters his last words:


« You yourself are not one who shall live long, but now already death and powerful destiny are standing beside you, to go down under the hands of Aiakos’ great son, Achilleus. »


News of Patroclus’s demise spreads swiftly across the battlefield, and upon learning of his companion’s death, Achilles’ composure shatters, his muscles tense, his gaze hollow, enveloped in an eerie haze of grief. Slowly, Achilles’s world crumbles around him. Slowly, he turns to confront the remainder of his comrades-in-arms. As I stand there, I resign once more to the whims of the great son of Peleus, unsure of what lies ahead, uncertain of his reaction, knowing full well that his wrath may even affect those who stand by his side. And I, unfortunate soul, am burdened with that very fate. For Achilles, hearing Patroclus’s death rewires him, honor recedes in significance and friendship comes to the fore as he exhales with sorrow, consuming and profound:


« The man I loved beyond all other comrades, loved as my own life — I lost him. And now, far away from the land of his fathers, he has perished, and lacked my fighting strength to defend him. Now, since I am not going back to the land of my fathers, since I was no light of safety to Patroclus, but sit here beside my ships, a useless weight on the good land, I, who am such as no other of the bronze-armored Achaeans in battle »


Thetis, his mother, rushes to console the grieving Achilles, entreating Hephaestus to forge another set of armor for him, complete with an intricately crafted shield. His sorrow fleeting, his wrath bursting at the seams, Achilles unlearns restraint and his eyes sparkle with the lust for bloodshed. No grudge against Agamemnon, no swollen pride, no vendetta to reclaim honor, and no pursuit of glory or heroic deeds could ever eclipse what Achilles sought after the most; in that moment alone, Achilles, liberated from hesitation or uncertainty, consumed by a fiery passion to fulfill his one true burning desire above all else: vengeance for Patroclus.


At that moment alone, he unleashed a display of wrath unparalleled by any mortal, as if he had harbored it within his soul since birth, as if his destiny dictated that it would erupt only at this juncture in the war. Perhaps it was the gods who scripted this sequence of events in their celestial books, decreeing that Achilles must lose his dearest friend and embark on a merciless killing spree.


Yet Achilles did not contemplate such matters; consumed by rage, he transcended his own identity, becoming nothing but a harbinger of death to all who crossed his path. His once invincible hands are now stained with the blood of countless foes, the more he advances relentlessly into the enemy ranks, drawing ever closer to Hector — the embodiment of his vengeance — the sooner he fulfills his purpose and returns but a mere shell of his former self, devoid of all impetus and ipseity.


The river ran thick with blood. Angered by the defilement of its waters, the river god Scamander attempts to drown Achilles, but Hera and Hephaestus intervene, allowing him to rise unscathed and undeterred, pressing onward toward his sole target. Even Zeus dispatched the gods to restrain Achilles, so he doesn’t sack Troy before the time allotted for its destruction, for his unhindered rage seems to defy fate itself, threatening to rewrite the very will of Olympus.


Affronted, wroth, and deranged, a determined Achilles tracks down Hector, the subject of his smite. Once Achilles locates his prey, the wings of Akre aid him to catch up swiftly with the Prince. Circulating the walls of Troy, the vengeance-crazed warrior shouts:


« I shall ensnare you with your own entrails, coiling them around you like a scarf, tightening the grip until it suffocates you, until it feels like my hands around your throat »


The anticipation hung thick in the air as Hector and Achilles closed in on each other, poised for a clash of legendary proportions. Maybe it was here and now that the Trojan War vanquisher comes to light. Hector charges through the wind with his sword, fast, efficient, sharp, perhaps from fear of the debilitating force before him, perhaps with the help of his opponent’s trusted shield, he misses. The poor prince, not hearing the sound of metal penetrating flesh, seeing his famed blade not stained with blood of his most formidable opponent, accepts his grim fate. In seconds few, he shall be dead. In seconds few, he meets the consequences of murdering Patroclus in cold blood, and he understands those consequences will be severe.


« Hector— surely you thought when you stripped Patroclus’ armor that you, you would be safe! Never a fear of me— far from the fighting as I was— you fool! Left behind there, down by the beaked ships his great avenger waited, a greater man by far— that man was I, and I smashed your strength! And you— the dogs and birds will maul you, shame your corpse while Achaeans bury my dear friend in glory! »


Hector raises his gaze to Achilles as the blade penetrates further his chest, as the warrior stands over him, towering, terrifying, fatal:


« I beg you, beg you by your life, your parents— don’t let the dogs devour me by the Argive ships! give my body to friends to carry home again, so Trojan men and Trojan women can do me honor with fitting rites of fire once I am dead. »


Disgusted, Achilles grips the spear with both hands and twists it as Hector groans in agony.


« Dog! » Achilles shouts, still inebriated with rage. « Talk not to me neither of honor nor parents; would that I could be as sure of being able to cut your flesh into pieces and eat it raw, for the ill have done me, as I am that nothing save you from the dogs— such agonies you have caused me. Your noble mother shall never lay you on your deathbed to mourn the son she bore. The dogs and birds will rend you— blood and bone! »


On the precipice of death, and in a hopeless effort to frighten Achilles, Hector struggles to collect a breath, then proclaims:


« Be careful now; for I might be made into the gods’ curse. Upon you, on that day when Paris and Phoibos Apollo destroy you in the Skainan gates, for all your valor. »


Hector’s prophecy is cut short, and as his soul trickles down into Hades’s realm, his body’s fate is as grim. Achilles wrenches the spear from the corpse, sets it aside, and rips his stolen armor from the fallen prince. Not one of the nearby warriors flocked to the body and did not stab it mockingly, proudly, as if the war was already won, as if the prince’s remains shall never know peace. Achilles, perplexed by the Hector’s last words, was determined to shame him, finding solace in the lament of his grieving mother.


He pierces the tendons, from ankle to heel behind both feet, then binds them with straps of rawhide, lashing them to his chariot, and leaving the head to drag along the ground. Mounting the wagon and hoisting the armor abroad, the troops aside him follow as he charges onward and leaves a cloud of dust in his wake from the humiliated prince Hector, the once glorious and pompous warrior now reduced to a mere spectacle, being defiled in the lands of his ancestors.


The desecration of Hector’s body broke the once proud Trojans, their spirits shattered by the sight of his lifeless form being dragged behind Achilles’ chariot. The agony that envelops their ranks is palpable, a suffocating shroud that weighs heavy upon the hearts of all who bore witness to their prince’s downfall. And amidst that turmoil, the mother’s cries pierce the air, from the depths of Troy’s walls to the chambers of the royal palace, echoing the grief that courses through every corner of the besieged city.


And as the atmosphere of Troy sways between the landscape of murderous warriors driven by carnage, the humiliating display put on by Achilles to drag a dead man through the mud as you ransack your enemy’s motherland, and the harrowing sounds of a weeping family over their son’s departure and public mockery, I stood there more perplexed than I was when I came in through that door. Once again, stuck in the ebb and flow of tragedies that don’t concern me, I was frozen in place, pondering the same thought that I tend never to omit: what am I doing here?


While tending to that query I realized that I had gotten used to that overpowering smell of blood and that I now wasn’t terrified of Achilles anymore than he was threatened by me at first, a stranger ominously appeared amidst his ranks, perilously close to his most cherished companion. The more time I spend among these flawed gods and legendary mortals, the more I recognize the humanity in them, as if they hold a mirror reflecting our strongest desires and deepest flaws. What is Achilles but a man driven to fury by the loss of a loved one? What is Hector but a patriot willing to sacrifice honor to defend Troy, the land of his ancestors? What is Scamander but a guardian of what he holds dear? And mighty Zeus— What is he but the embodiment of desire for things to unfold according to his will?


In the end, gods and warriors alike are not immune to the passions and frailties that define the human experience. The Trojan War, too, was but a reaction to human emotions of control and greed, and the warriors and gods alike participated, each for the opportunity to bring glory to their name and nothing else. Achilles, with his insatiable thirst for vengeance, and Hector, with his tragic downfall, were but manifestations of the same emotional tapestry that weaves through the fabric of mortal existence. They feel love, grief, and remorse just as keenly as any mortal.


My prejudice of these mythical creatures has led me to unfairly judge Achilles when I met him, for it is not the legends etched in stones or the rumors whispered around that define anyone’s character, but rather their actions and the motivation behind them. And while the path to it may be fraught with peril and uncertainty, it is far nobler to embrace the human emotions within than to meddle with the ever-shifting currents of fate and fortune.


Although I had long forgotten the concept of home, a glimmer of hope lit my face as I gazed at the door materializing before me. Through its threshold, I caught a fleeting glimpse of a reflection of myself from before I came here. Perhaps another adventure awaits me, but an instinct within tells me home awaits on the other side of that door. And so, unwavering, I stride forward and step through.



Written by: Rayen Aouicha.

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