Night Stalker suspect Richard Ramirez has remained silent during detectives’ questioning about 16 slayings and 21 assaults that in recent weeks sowed fear from Mission Viejo to San Francisco, authorities told The Times on Sunday.
“He’s not talking,” one law enforcement source said of Ramirez, 25, who was chased, clubbed and captured Saturday by angry East Los Angeles residents after he allegedly tried to steal a car in their Hubbard Street neighborhood.
Ramirez, whose most distinctive feature is rotting teeth, was spotted about 12 hours after authorities identified him as the Night Stalker suspect and released a mug shot to newspapers and television stations.
Law enforcement officials who have observed the 6-foot, 1-inch, 155-pound suspect since his arrest described him Sunday as passive and compliant and said he has not confessed to the crimes.
Booked on suspicion of one unspecified murder, Ramirez is being held without bail in a high-security section of Los Angeles County Jail where he is under constant surveillance, a Sheriff’s Department official said. Originally from El Paso, Ramirez has reportedly lived in the Los Angeles area in recent years.
Investigators from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which coordinated the investigation, met Sunday and will meet again today with officials of the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office to “discuss what evidence they have and the specific charges that will be considered,” said Chief Deputy Dist. Atty. Gilbert I. Garcetti.
He said he anticipates a decision on “what if any charges will be filed” by late Tuesday.
Based on the information available, Garcetti said, he anticipates that Ramirez will be charged with at least one crime, although he said he could not be more specific. Authorities are required to release a suspect or file charges after he has been held for two court days.
“There are some things they (investigators) are still working on, which by the time we make our decision they hope to have,” Garcetti said, refusing to elaborate.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Philip Halpin of the special trials unit has been assigned to review the evidence and, if charges are filed, prosecute the case, Garcetti said. Halpin has been working for about a month with the law enforcement task force that has investigated the killings.
Meanwhile, the Sheriff’s Department reported that one important bit of physical evidence has been found and that another remains missing.
Ramirez’s automobile, a green 1976 Pontiac, was found Sunday parked in the 100 block of East Avenue 23 in Lincoln Heights, a sheriff’s spokesman said.
Another sheriff’s spokesman asked the public’s help in finding a pistol believed to belong to the suspect.
Sheriff’s Lt. Dick Walls said neighbors who helped to capture Ramirez after a chase in East Los Angeles reported that he was carrying a small-caliber handgun of the type known to have been used in several of the Night Stalker murders.
That gun was not in Ramirez’s possession when he was taken into custody, and a search by deputies armed with metal detectors failed to disclose any trace of it. Walls asked any person having knowledge of the weapon to call the sheriff’s homicide division at (213) 974-4341.
Obsession With Song
A Northern California man who said he attended school with Ramirez in El Paso was quoted in Sunday’s edition of the San Francisco Examiner as saying that Ramirez was obsessed with what he believed to be satanic themes in the music of the rock group AC/DC’s 1979 album “Highway to Hell.”
More than once, authorities said, they have found satanic symbols scrawled on walls in the homes of victims.
The classmate, Ray Garcia, 27, told the Examiner that Ramirez had either painted or tattooed a pentagram on the palm of one hand. A pentagram is a five-sided star believed by some to symbolize the devil’s horns.
Garcia also described Ramirez as a “junk food addict.”
“All he would ever eat were chocolates and Pepsi,” Garcia was quoted as saying. “He would never brush his teeth. I used to tell him to close his mouth or brush his teeth.”
The killings and assaults that authorities have attributed to the Night Stalker began early this year but were not pubicly linked until Aug. 8. Most of the attacks occurred in the San Gabriel and San Fernando valleys, although the two most recent incidents occurred elsewhere.
Police in Montclair, about 32 miles east of Los Angeles, said they are not discounting the possibility that the Night Stalker might have killed his 17th and 18th victims early Saturday, just hours before Ramirez’s arrest.
Two Bodies Found
The bodies of two men who had been shot to death were found in their home in the suburban San Bernardino County community after a party.
“There’s been a whole lot of speculation,” Sgt. Greg Flannery of the Montclair Police Department said of a possible connection. “We’re not discounting it as being a possibility. We’re also not pursuing it as a sole (theory),” he added.
No satanic markings were found in the Montclair home, Flannery said.
Although most of the Night Stalker crimes occurred in Los Angeles County, authorities in Orange County suspect that the same person committed an Aug. 25 shooting and rape in Mission Viejo.
The man shot in that incident was reported in improved condition Sunday. A spokeswoman for Mission Community Hospital said that William Carns, 29, who had been in critical condition with a gunshot wound in his head, had been upgraded to “serious but stable condition” although he remained unconscious.
Fingerprints lifted from a stolen car spotted near the scene of the Mission Viejo attack and found at the scene of a routine burglary in San Francisco on Aug. 15 led Los Angeles and San Francisco authorities to identify Ramirez as the Night Stalker suspect.
San Francisco police, who are taking credit for first identifying Ramirez, suspect him of at least one murder and a burglary in their community. San Francisco investigators arrived in Los Angeles on Sunday, said Deputy Mike Kenyon of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Kenyon said he does not know if they questioned Ramirez.
James G. Enright, Orange County’s chief deputy district attorney, said Sunday that he expects that Los Angeles County authorities will make a decision on filing criminal charges in their jurisdiction before contacting Orange County authorities about charges there.
No one was sure, meanwhile, who would get the $70,000 reward offered for Ramirez’s capture.
Various authorities have speculated that all the people who took part in the chase that led to his arrest might be eligible; others that it might belong to those who identified him or to individuals who physically restrained Ramirez before sheriff’s deputies arrived.
It was suggested that the Sheriff’s Department might have to make the decision.
Deputy Rick Adams of the sheriff’s information bureau said Sunday night that no such determination had yet been requested.