California serial killer Richard Ramirez dies

California

California serial killer Richard Ramirez dies

Posted: Updated:

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Richard Ramirez, the demonic serial killer who left satantic signs at murder scenes and mutilated victims' bodies during a reign of terror in the 1980s, died early Friday in a hospital, a prison official said.

Ramirez, 53, had been taken from San Quentin's death row to a hospital where authorities said he died of liver failure.

He had been housed on death row for decades and was awaiting execution, even though it has been years since anyone has been put to death in California.

At his first court appearance, Ramirez raised a hand with a pentagram drawn on it and yelled, "Hail, Satan."

His marathon trial, which ended in 1989, was a horror show in which jurors heard about one victim's eyes being gouged out and another's head being nearly severed. Courtroom observers wept when survivors of some of the attacks testified.

Ramirez was convicted of 13 murders that terrorized Southern California in 1984 and 1985 as well as charges of rape, sodomy, oral copulation, burglary and attempted murder.

Satanic symbols were left at murder scenes and some victims were forced to "swear to Satan" by the killer, who entered homes through unlocked windows and doors.

Ramirez was finally run down and beaten in 1985 by residents of an East Los Angeles neighborhood while attempting a carjacking. They recognized him because his picture had appeared that day in the news media.

The trial of Ramirez took a year, but the entire case which was bogged down in pretrial motions and appeals lasted four years, one of the longest criminal cases in U.S. history.

Because of the notoriety of the case, more than 1600 prospective jurors were called.

After his conviction, Ramirez flashed a two-fingered "devil sign" to photographers and muttered a single word: "Evil."

On his way to a jail bus, he sneered in reaction to the verdict, muttering: "Big deal. Death always went with the territory. See you in Disneyland."

The black-clad killer, unrepentant to the end, made his comment in an underground garage after a jury recommended the death penalty for his gruesome crimes.

Inexplicably, Ramirez, a native of El Paso, Texas, had a following of young women admirers who came to the courtroom regularly and sent him love notes.

Some visited him in prison, and in 1996 Ramirez was married to 41-year-old freelance magazine editor Doreen Lioy in a visiting room at San Quentin prison.

Relatives called Lioy a recluse who lived in a fantasy world.

In 2006, the California Supreme Court upheld Ramirez's convictions and death sentence. The U.S. Supreme Court refused in 2007 to review the convictions and sentence.

Two years later, San Francisco police said DNA linked Ramirez to the April 10, 1984, killing of 9-year-old Mei Leung. She was killed in the basement of a residential hotel in San Francisco's Tenderloin neighborhood where she lived with her family.

Ramirez had been staying at nearby hotels.

Ramirez previously was tied to killings in Northern California. He was charged in the shooting deaths of Peter Pan, 66, and his wife, Barbara, in 1985 just before his arrest in Los Angeles, but he was never tried in that case.

  • Email Alert Sign Up

    Sign up here to receive breaking news stories from KSWT.com and morning updates to your email inbox.

    * denotes required fields


    Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.
Go to KSWT-TV's Facebook page
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Arizona, NH to get federal education funding

    Arizona, NH to get federal education funding

    Efforts to turn around Arizona's persistently low-performing schools will be getting a $10 million boost from the federal government.More >>
    Efforts to turn around Arizona's persistently low-performing schools will be getting a $10 million boost from the federal government.More >>
  • Minnesota man kills intruders; admits he was waiting for them.

    Minnesota man kills intruders; admits he was waiting for them.

    LITTLE FALLS, Minn. -Jurors heard an audio recording Tuesday of the moments when two teenagers were fatally shot by a Minnesota homeowner who says he feared for his life after several previous break-ins. Byron Smith, 65, of Little Falls, is charged with first-degree premeditated murder inthe slayings of 17-year-old Nick Brady and 18-year-old Haile Kiferon Thanksgiving Day 2012. The shooting stunned the small city and stirred debate about how far people can go in defending their homes. Smith t...More >>
    LITTLE FALLS, Minn. -Jurors heard an audio recording Tuesday of the moments when two teenagers were fatally shot by a Minnesota homeowner who says he feared for his life after several previous break-ins. Byron Smith, 65, of Little Falls, is charged with first-degree premeditated murder inthe slayings of 17-year-old Nick Brady and 18-year-old Haile Kiferon Thanksgiving Day 2012. The shooting stunned the small city and stirred debate about how far people can go in defending their homes. Smith t...More >>
  • National

    Obama warns of delay in social sec. checks and veteran's benefits

    Obama warns of delay in social sec. checks and veteran's benefits

    Web Producer: Lucy Valencia, Assignment Desk Editor WASHINGTON (AP) -- Declaring "we are not a deadbeat nation," President Obama warned on Monday that Social Security checks and veterans' benefits willMore >>
    Declaring "we are not a deadbeat nation," President Obama warned on Monday that Social Security checks and veterans' benefits will be delayed if congressional Republicans fail to increase the government's borrowing authority in a looming showdown over the nation's debt and spending.More >>
  • Ventura County tree removal sparks outrage

    Ventura County tree removal sparks outrage

    Thousand Oaks officials say they will review city planning procedures after hearing from residents who are outraged over the removal of a slew of trees at a shopping center.More >>
    Thousand Oaks officials say they will review city planning procedures after hearing from residents who are outraged over the removal of a slew of trees at a shopping center.More >>
  • House strips school voucher bill

    House strips school voucher bill

    The Arizona House has given initial approval to a bill that would help expedite the approval process for parents of some students in the state school voucher program.More >>
    The Arizona House has given initial approval to a bill that would help expedite the approval process for parents of some students in the state school voucher program.More >>
  • California Condor Chick Makes 3 This Season

    California Condor Chick Makes 3 This Season

    GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, AZ – The California condor population has another chick to count among its very small, but growing numbers. Peregrine Fund biologists confirm seeing one in a nest caveMore >>
       GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, AZ – The California condor population has another chick to count among its very small, but growing numbers. That brings the number of wild condor chicks produced by the Arizona-Utah flock this season to three.More >>
  • Yuma

    Police offer advice for people in a robbery situation

    Police offer advice for people in a robbery situation

    YUMA, AZ (13 On Your Side) - Over the past month there have been a string of convenience store robberies around town. Most recently, one suspect - who police say - robbed three Circle Ks within 48 hours.More >>
    Over the past month there have been a string of convenience store robberies around town.More >>
  • DEA wants you to dispose of unused medications

    DEA wants you to dispose of unused medications

    The Yuma Police Department has teamed up with the Drug Enforcement Agency in an effort to dispose of your unused prescriptions. The DEA is accepting all expired and unused medications which will in turn be placed in and incinerator and destroyed; along with the drugs any labels will also be destroyed. The event is this Saturday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. in the Yuma Police Department parking lot off of 16th Street and 1st Avenue. There's no cost to drop off your medications, all they ask is th...More >>
    The Yuma Police Department has teamed up with the Drug Enforcement Agency in an effort to dispose of your unused prescriptions. The DEA is accepting all expired and unused medications which will in turn be placed in and incinerator and destroyed; along with the drugs any labels will also be destroyed. The event is this Saturday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. in the Yuma Police Department parking lot off of 16th Street and 1st Avenue. There's no cost to drop off your medications, all they ask is th...More >>

KSWT Facebook Feeds