How the ‘Night Stalker’ got his name

Share via

Richard Ramirez — the infamous serial killer who died Friday — was named the “Night Stalker” during an editorial “rump session” at the now defunct Los Angeles Herald Examiner.

The informal gathering occurred after authorities revealed the string of killings were tied to a single suspect.

Many names were bandied about at the meeting — among them “The Walk-in Killer” and “The Screen-Door Intruder,” each referencing the ease with which the killer accessed the victims’ homes. The name Night Stalker was offered up for discussion and initially rejected.


“The Night Stalker” was a 1972 TV movie and short-lived series starring Darren McGavin as a Las Vegas newspaper reporter investigating a series of murders committed by a vampire.

There was no evidence that Ramirez was stalking his victims nor at the time were there any published satanic links to the crimes. Still, the name resonated with the group and the meeting was adjourned.

The suspect was first called “The Night Stalker” in the newspaper’s next edition.

Ramirez died Friday morning of natural causes at Marin General Hospital, state corrections officials said. He had been admitted to the hospital earlier in the week from San Quentin state prison.

Ramirez was convicted of 13 murders he committed in the Los Angeles area, but authorities hold him responsible for additional slayings from Orange County to San Francisco as well as numerous rapes, assaults and burglaries.

“This person hurt many people, and our thoughts should be with the next of kin and survivors of these senseless attacks,” said L.A. Deputy Dist. Atty. Alan Yochelson, who prosecuted Ramirez. Yochelson said that although the state did not execute Ramirez, who was still pursuing appeals, “some measure of justice has been achieved” because he had to live out his life behind bars.


Because of the complexity of his case — the trial record was nearly 50,000 pages — the state Supreme Court didn’t hear Ramirez’s first appeal until 2006. The court rejected his claims, but additional state and federal appeals were expected to take many more years.

More on the ‘Night Stalker’:

Lawman recounts arrest of Richard Ramirez

The ‘Night Stalker’ and the best of true-crime cinema

‘Night Stalker’ Richard Ramirez dead of natural causes

‘Night Stalker’ Richard Ramirez’s death: Many ask what took so long


Patt Morrison: ‘Night Stalker’ held Southern California captive in 1985

Check out the Herald Examiner front page:

The awesome Herald-Examiner banner headline when Nightstalker Richard Ramirez caught:… — Shelby Grad (@shelbygrad) June 7, 2013