San Francisco Police Chief Recalls Investigating ‘Night Stalker’ Serial Killings
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – After hearing about condemned inmate Richard Ramirez’s death Friday morning, San Francisco police Chief Greg Suhr said he felt happy he was gone, reflecting on how the mass murderer had terrorized communities in the Bay Area and Southern California in the 1980s.
Richard Ramirez, 53, died at 9:10 a.m. of what appeared to be natural causes while receiving medical treatment at Marin General Hospital in Greenbrae, according to the Marin County coroner’s office.
Ramirez, who was known as the “Night Stalker,” was on death row at San Quentin State Prison after he was found guilty in 1989 of 13 murders and other attempted killings, sexual assaults and burglaries.
Some of his crimes occurred in the Bay Area, although he primarily preyed upon victims in Southern California in the mid-1980s.
Suhr said he encountered Ramirez in 1985 when he had been tied to a burglary and homicide in San Francisco and was taken into custody by San Francisco police.
“He scared me,” Suhr said. “If you saw him you knew something was wrong.”
Suhr noted Ramirez’s Bay Area connections.
Apparently the deceased killer had lived in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood in 1984 and into 1985 and had a girlfriend who lived in the East Bay.
He was connected to the 1985 murder of 66-year-old Peter Pan near Lake Merced in San Francisco and the rape and assault of his wife, who survived the incident, Suhr said.
Ramirez was never convicted for that crime, he said. However, he was tried and convicted for at least a dozen violent murders and other incidents in Southern California that occurred in 1985.
Evidence connecting him to the killing came out after the mother of Ramirez’s East Bay girlfriend reported to police about suspicious jewelry Ramirez had given her daughter. The items were determined stolen from San Francisco’s Marina District, Suhr said.
Decades later, a DNA match in 2009 tied Ramirez to the 1984 murder of a 9-year-old girl in the Tenderloin, Suhr said.
Suhr said police will continue to sift through evidence from his crimes despite his death to give the families affected by the killer some closure.
The chief, who was serving on a SFPD patrol task force at the time the killer was on the loose, also recalled the fear residents had knowing this mass murderer was lurking around.
He said residents were urged to lock ground floor windows and report suspicious activity.
“We’re at a better place to not have him here anymore,” Suhr said.
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