'Night Stalker' Richard Ramirez dies

It was 1985 and the Southland was in the grip of fear as a series of grisly killings committed by a man police called "the Night Stalker" continued to scar the calendar, setting the region on edge.

Among Richard Ramirez's victims were a traffic supervisor, an accountant, a pizzeria owner, a parking lot attendant and an auto mechanic.

On July 20, Maxon and Lela Kneiding were added to the list after their mutilated bodies were discovered inside their Glendale home.

Glendale Police Sgt. Tom Lorenz was a 20-year-old rookie cop working the graveyard shift when he was dispatched to the Stanley Avenue home where the Kneidings had been shot, stabbed and nearly decapitated.

The neighborhood was a quiet one, he said, but after Ramirez left his mark, things changed.

"All of a sudden, people couldn't keep their windows open at night," Lorenz said. "There was a fear."

On Friday, the book closed on the gruesome saga when Ramirez died of natural causes at 9:10 a.m. at a Bay Area hospital, corrections officials told the L.A. Times.

After being captured during a police chase by angry citizens in East Los Angeles on Aug. 31, 1985, Ramirez was eventually convicted for killing 13 people — from Sun Valley to Pomona — in the mid-1980s.

A Los Angeles jury also convicted Ramirez of five attempted murders, 11 sexual assaults and 14 burglaries.

Sentenced to death, Ramirez had been serving time on death row in San Quentin since 1989.

Evidence collected at the scene, including a gun used in previous shootings, linked Ramirez to the Glendale killings.

There were others in the area.

Chainarong Khovananth was shot to death the same day the Kneidings were murdered, and his wife was assaulted by Ramirez. Days earlier, on July 2, he killed Mary Louise Cannon in Arcadia. She sustained knife wounds, blunt-force trauma and exhibited signs of strangulation.

A year earlier, Jennie Vincow was found murdered in her home in Glassell Park with multiple stab wounds.

Ramirez's death on Friday — as one of the deputy district attorneys who helped prosecute the case, Alan Yochelson, described it — brought an "abrupt end to a tragic period in the history of Los Angeles County."

Los Angeles Times staff writers Andrew Blankstein and Kate Mather contributed to this report.


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