Inside Richard Ramirez's Traumatic Childhood
Were "Night Stalker" Richard Ramirez's heinous crimes a product of a difficult upbringing? The serial killer is thought to have murdered at least 14 people, and raped and tortured dozens more before his 1985 capture.
But what was his family life like before he turned to murder? Keep reading for what you need to know about Richard Ramirez's siblings and childhood.
Did Richard Ramirez have siblings?
Richard Ramirez, born Ricardo Leyva Muñoz Ramirez, was the youngest of five. Ramirez was born in El Paso, Tex. to Mexican immigrants Mercedes and Julian Ramirez, and became known affectionately in the family as Richard or Ricky.
His four brothers and sisters were called Robert, Ruth, Joseph, and Ruben, and were all born with birth defects due to the fact that their mother worked at a boot factory where she was exposed to chemical fumes while pregnant.
At the age of 2, a dresser fell on Ramirez's head, causing a large forehead laceration. At 5, he was knocked unconscious by a swing, and began experiencing epileptic fits as a result of the injury.
According to Ramirez's Biography.com profile, the convicted serial killer sustained multiple additional head injuries at an early age.
As a 12-year-old, Ramirez became close to his older cousin, Miguel, who went by "Mike," and had recently come back from fighting in the Vietnam War. The two seemed to enjoy smoking marijuana together while Miguel "told Ramirez about the torture and mutilation he had inflicted on several Vietnamese women," per Biography.com.
The two bonded over joints and gory stories, and according to Philip Carlo's The Night Stalker: The Life and Crimes of Richard Ramirez, Mike taught his younger cousin some of the military tactics he had picked up during his time in Vietnam, such as killing with stealth.
Plus, Mike boasted about the torture and rapes he had inflicted while in the U.S. Army by sharing Polaroid photos with Ramirez, including some where Mike posed with the severed head of a woman.
"When his cousin showed him those photographs," his biographer told A&E network, "Ramirez became sexually aroused. And it was right around the age of 13."
Around the same time, Ramirez was seeking an escape from his father's violent temper and began sleeping in a local cemetery. Ramirez's father, Julian, had been a former policeman in Juarez, Mexico, who after emigrating to the United States, became a laborer on the Santa Fe railroad, and was said to be prone to fits of anger and a temper that Ramirez said made him "physically abusive to his entire family."
Things quickly escalated when Ramirez was 13 and witnessed his cousin Mike fatally shoot his wife, Jessie, in the face with a revolver during a domestic argument. He was found not guilty of the murder by reason of insanity and was released after four years of incarceration at the Texas State Mental Hospital, after which point he and Ramirez resumed their close relationship.
Not much else is known about Ramirez's siblings aside from the fact that his sister Ruth, his brother Joseph, and Joseph's teenage daughter attended his 1996 wedding in California's San Quentin Prison to Doreen Lioy.
Learn more about Richard Ramirez in Netflix's The Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer.