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Night Stalker

Night Stalker

3.6 9
by Clifford L. Linedecker

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From the darkest corner of your bedroom a gaunt face suddenly looms over you. You're pulled violently from your bed and a terrifying voice screams, "Swear to Satan!"
During a two year rampage, a sadistic serial killer entered the homes of families from El Paso to San Francisco. He raped, mutilated and tortured his unfortunate victims in one of the most vicious


From the darkest corner of your bedroom a gaunt face suddenly looms over you. You're pulled violently from your bed and a terrifying voice screams, "Swear to Satan!"
During a two year rampage, a sadistic serial killer entered the homes of families from El Paso to San Francisco. He raped, mutilated and tortured his unfortunate victims in one of the most vicious crime sprees in California history.
This is the horrifying account of his bloody journey, of the strange coincidence that led to his arrest-and of the sensational trial where the Night Stalker's eerie sexual magnetism resulted in women actually demonstrating for his acquittal.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In 1985, Richard Ramirez, a petty thief and drug-using drifter, terrified the Los Angeles area, brutally raping and murdering more than a dozen people. Dubbed the ``Night Stalker'' by the media for his habit of invading middle-class suburban homes at random, Ramirez was sentenced to death after a lengthy trial. Linedecker, author of The Man Who Killed Boys ( LJ 3/15/80), has written a standard case summary, albeit somewhat plodding and pedestrian. His tone of high moral outrage finally wears thin--we know Ramirez resembles a ``beast'' and a ``monster,'' but what motivated him? Not wishing to appear sympathetic to Ramirez, Linedecker's speculation ends up being trite and superficial. Suitable only where sufficient interest warrants.-- Gregor A. Preston, Univ. of California Lib., Davis

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Night Stalker

A Shocking Story of Satanism, Sex and Serial Murders

By Clifford L. Linedecker

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 1991 Clifford L. Linedecker
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-3544-9


THE RINGING OF THE DOOR BUZZER WAS INSISTENT. No matter how determined the drowsy suburbanite was in his sleepy attempt to burrow under the pillow and blankets to shut out the unwelcome intrusion, the shrill trill of the bell persisted.

Finally, accepting the sad fact that the ringing wouldn't stop and that his equally drowsy wife, who slept beside him, wasn't about to get up to answer the persistent summons, he slid to the edge of the bed and wriggled his toes around in the dark, feeling for his slippers. Finding them at last, he slipped his feet inside, stood up, and padded through a darkened hallway. As he shuffled into the living room and headed for the front door, he rubbed at his eyes and grumbled to himself about the kind of people who would ring someone's doorbell at this ungodly hour of the morning. It was nearly three A.M.

There was no reply to his hoarse demand to know who was there when he called out. But the ringing stopped. And, at first glance, when he opened the door a crack and cautiously peered into the darkness outside, there was no one to be seen. There was, instead, a crush of hot, moist air rushing from the pre-dawn darkness of the early August night in the San Gabriel Valley, and the quietness of the deserted suburban streets. He almost missed the diminutive pajama-clad figure standing at his feet until the child spoke:

"Ice cream?"

It was the neighbor's three-year-old, and, regardless of how quiet, free of traffic, and safe the comfortable valley community of Diamond Bar, some thirty miles east of Los Angeles, might be at three A.M., on Aug. 8, 1985 it was no time for the youngster to be wandering around looking for ice cream.

It seemed that the child had awakened and, as his parents slumbered peacefully, set out to find himself a late-night treat of ice cream. There was nothing to do but return him to his home, so the adult took the little boy by the hand and led him back to his house.

The man and the child walked into a scene of horror!

The child's mother was slumped bloody, bruised and naked, hanging by her wrists from a bedroom door. The frail East Asian woman had been handcuffed to the doorknob, and her slender body was covered with a mass of ugly gray welts and bruises. Rivulets of blood trickled from her nose and mouth, and her tear-streaked eyes were swollen. The horrified neighbor telephoned police.

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy John Knight, a strapping six-foot-six veteran of the department, was the first police officer to arrive. Still handcuffed to the door and moaning with pain and fear, the woman begged him to check on her husband. She gasped that he was in the next room and needed help.

The body of thirty-five-year-old Ahmed Zia was stretched out on his bed in the master bedroom. There was a spot of blood on his left temple, and small flecks of blood speckled the pillow and the other bed-clothing. Knight felt for a pulse. There were no signs of respiration, and it appeared obvious — although it would be up to a medical examiner to make an official pronouncement — that Zia was dead.

There was nothing Knight could do for the husband, so he returned to the wife, Suu Kyi Zia. Although he carried handcuffs of his own, the key wouldn't fit into the cuffs used on the woman. So the brawny peace officer lifted one leg and kicked the knob off the door.

Within minutes after the woman was freed, other uniformed officers, detectives, and evidence technicians began streaming into the house. The young Asian woman was taken by ambulance to a hospital for treatment. But it would be much later before her husband's body was removed from the house and taken to the county morgue to await an autopsy.

In statements at the scene, and later, the woman told investigators a chilling story of violence and perversion that was almost unbelievably savage and gruesome.

She said that a few hours after the family had retired for the night, she was awakened by a popping sound. She barely had time to open her eyes before someone began beating her with his fists, and demanding to know where she kept her money and jewelry.

Dazed and terrified, she told him, "I swear upon God, I don't know."

"Swear upon Satan," he demanded.

Moments later, the intruder was beating her again. Roughly, he dragged her from her silent husband's side and threw her onto the floor, ripping off her pajamas. The tiny woman was dazed and unable to defend herself as he kicked her with the hard pointed toes of his boots, and slammed her head and frail body into the floor and bed.

Finally, he rolled her over onto her stomach and handcuffed her hands behind her back. Then, grabbing her by the hair, he dragged her, bleeding from her nose and mouth, into a guest bedroom, where he flung her onto the bed and raped her. Howling that she was a bitch and heaping upon her a string of other curses and obscenities, he ordered her to swear upon Satan that she would not scream for help. He threatened to kill her little boy if she disobeyed. She was half-conscious and her mouth was half-filled with blood, but somehow she mumbled the words — swearing in Satan's name not to scream.

The boy was awake and crying, and the slender, curly-haired intruder angrily rolled off of the bed and turned his attention to the youngster. He tied up the boy and began ransacking the house, furiously ripping open dresser drawers and rummaging through closets looking for money and other valuables.

Then he returned to the woman, roughly threw her onto her stomach, and attempted to sodomize her. When he was unsuccessful at doing that, he raped her again. She was only half-conscious, in shock, and dazed as the nightmarish ordeal continued. Amid the pain and fear, there were glimpses of a scraggly, bony body, a cadaverous face with rotting and missing teeth, and unruly spikes of hair. And a constant, angry stream of curses and filth.

When the degenerate, vile assault ended at last and the savage intruder was ready to leave, he pulled his victim from the bed and handcuffed her to the door.

Despite the terrible battering and abuse she had suffered, she was still moaning about her husband. She was frantic for his safety. Her attacker told her moments before leaving that her husband was all right, that he had merely been knocked unconscious. She was still unaware that the "popping noise" that had roused her awake had apparently been the sound of the gunshot that ended her husband's life while he slept.

Somehow, after the intruder left, she managed to untie her son's feet and sent him into the master bedroom to look after his father. The child returned after a few minutes and told her, "Mama, he's not waking up."

That's when she began screaming.

But screaming didn't bring help. She finally told the child to go to the neighbor's home. The boy was afraid to go outside in the dark.

It would be safe, she assured him. And, if he did as he was told, she said, he could have some ice cream.


A Serial Killer

AHMED ZIA'SBRUTAL SLAYING, AND THE ACCOMPANYING sexual assault on his wife, made more than sensational headlines in Los Angeles — area newspapers. They also brought Los Angeles County Sheriff Sherman Block face to face with two grim facts: one, as he had suspected for some time, he had a vicious serial killer on his hands; and two, it was time to alert the public that a monster was loose among them.

Evidence had been accumulating for several months that a depraved killer-rapist was prowling the Los Angeles suburbs. The Zia murder-rape now confirmed the veteran lawman's growing fear and suspicion. There were too many similarities among the Zia crimes and other murder-rapes that had been taking place in the area during the past five months. Since March 17, 1985 there had been at least ten similar rape-murders in valley homes outside the city.

The serial rapist-killer's modus operandi — method of operation, or MO — was beginning to emerge quite clearly as Block and his deputies tediously pieced together the growing mountain of evidence.

The killer appeared to focus on single-story homes in middle-class suburban neighborhoods of the San Gabriel and San Fernando valleys. The homes were almost always located near freeway ramps, and for some inexplicable reason, the intruder seemed to prefer houses painted in light, pastel colors, usually yellow or beige.

And his method of entry was always the same. Late at night or during the early morning hours when occupants could be expected to be asleep in bed, he would slip quietly into the homes through an unlocked door or window.

Robbery was an obvious motive. But it was not the only one, nor, apparently, was it the most important. The intruder appeared to revel in his ability to instill fear, pain, and agony. His greatest thrills seemed to come with the savage murder, rape, and terrorizing of his victims.

Typical night burglars make every effort to avoid waking the occupants when they slip into homes, or they wait for opportunities when families are away. They are most successful when they can slip inside, quietly relieve owners of their money and other valuables, and slip away unseen and undisturbed.

But this burglar was different. It seemed that he deliberately sought out houses where the occupants were home. Typically, he murdered any males he found inside as quickly as possible. Then, with the husband or boyfriend out of the way, he was free to satisfy his perverted appetite for cruelty and sadistic sex on the helpless women and children. His attacks on the women were the most savage. They were threatened, beaten, raped, sodomized, and cursed. Sometimes male children were also attacked, and viciously sodomized. But other times the children would be left unmolested.

Investigators also found unsettling evidence of a Satanic connection with the vicious assaults. Pentagrams and other occult symbols commonly associated with Satanism had been found scrawled on the bodies of some victims and on the walls of the homes where they were killed.

One of the difficulties facing investigators was tied to the wide area prowled by the killer.

Los Angeles County is, in reality, one huge city that sprawls over 4,083 square miles. The county is bigger than the states of Rhode Island and Delaware combined. The City of Los Angeles itself sits in the center of the county, accounting for only 464 square miles of the total. Surrounding the city are eighty-two towns and cities, plus thousands of acres of unincorporated scrubland. More than a dozen super highways and freeways traverse the county, like bridges over a sea of industrial, commercial, and residential areas.

As an economic entity, greater Los Angeles is world class. If the area were an independent country, it would have a gross national product greater than that of Mexico or Australia. The motion-picture and television business is only the tip of L.A.'s huge service industry, which employs 900,000 people.

There is also a gritty and high-tech side as well. Manufacturing employs 875,000 workers, with a third of them in aerospace and other clean, high-tech industries. Some parts of the city could pass for Chicago's South Side. On the waterfront in Long Beach sit stacks of orange-and-blue cargo containers. In Lynwood, railroad tracks run past auto salvagers, truck-winch manufacturers, and scrap-metal piles.

If the sheer geographical and economical diversities were not enough, the polyglot of races and ethnic groups was a nightmare for social and governmental authorities whose job it was to make a community with such cultural diversity work. In 1985, Los Angeles County was undergoing an ethnic and racial metamorphosis not duplicated in America since the late 1800s and early 1900s in New York City.

In the fifteen-year period between 1970 and 1985, the county's Mexican population climbed from 822,300 to 2,100,000; Iranians from 20,000 to 200,000; Salvadorans from 500 to 200,000; Japanese from 104,000 to 175,000; Armenians from 75,000 to 175,000; Chinese from 41,000 to 153,000; Koreans from 8,900 to 150,000; Filipinos from 33,500 to 150,000; Arab Americans from 45,000 to 130,000; Israelis from 10,000 to 90,000; Samoans from 22,000 to 60,000; Guatemalans from 1,000 to 50,000; and Vietnamese from 800 to 40,000.

To add to the problem, these ethnic and racial groups tended to settle in clumped groups: The Japanese, Koreans, and Chinese favored Cerritos, east of the city; Palos Verdes Estates, west of the city; Culver City, north, and Monterey Park, northeast of the city. The Thais, Filipinos, Salvadorans, and Guatemalans preferred the Hollywood Hills north of Los Angeles. The Mexicans, for the most part, stayed in the city and in East Los Angeles. The Vietnamese were grouped along the Los Angeles — Orange County border.

The real nightmare Los Angeles law enforcement had to deal with, though, was the fact that nearly eighty percent of almost 3,000,000 newcomers either could not speak, read, or write English, or they did so very poorly.

In many of these "colonies," police were viewed with suspicion and avoided.

It was against a background of this huge geographical area, with ethnic and language differences, that law enforcement officers faced the chilling prospect of ferreting out a strange, depraved killer who seemed to pick his victims at random. A serial killer who claimed affiliation with supernatural forces was bad enough; a random serial killer with demonic pretensions was a lawman's nightmare. Under the circumstances, tracking one down was like seeking a poisonous needle in a human haystack.

An official acknowledgment that such a killer was preying on the community had to be made. It wasn't that the information would come as any major shock. The string of recent killings, with their obvious similarities, was already beginning to attract public notice, thanks to alert newspapers and television reporters.

Police knew from past experience that public awareness of a cold-blooded random serial killer could lead to panic and at times result in dangerous vigilantism. On the other hand, if law enforcement agencies continued to deny what was becoming all too evident, circulation-hungry newspapers and the ratings-conscious electronic media might blow the facts out of proportion, causing even greater fear and panic — an overblown reaction based on ignorance and speculation.

So there really wasn't much choice. The Los Angeles area had a vicious serial killer on its hands — a cold-blooded monster who would kill and continue killing until Block and his deputies ran him to ground. The people of the area had to be alerted that a serial killer was at work, so that they could protect themselves.

On the other hand, the lawmen also knew they had to play their cards close to their vests. Killers read newspapers, too, particularly the headline-seekers who take relish in their gory crimes and the horror they spread. Police didn't want this killer to know everything that they knew.

Consequently, Block settled on a single terse announcement at a press conference, called within hours after the discovery of Ahmed Zia's body: "We have a serial killer in Los Angeles County," he told assembled journalists. In response to questions, Block provided some additional general information, but as police do, he held back certain details about exactly how the crimes were committed, and about evidence found near the bodies. Police have various reasons for withholding such information from the press during active investigations. But one of the most obvious uses of information withheld from the press is in screening out false confessions and pinning down legitimate suspects with facts known only to police.

The first murder in the bloody string, as far as law officers were able to determine at the time, occurred March 17, 1985, in the affluent, middle-class town of Rosemead, a few miles northeast of the Los Angeles boundary.


Excerpted from Night Stalker by Clifford L. Linedecker. Copyright © 1991 Clifford L. Linedecker. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Clifford L. Linedecker is a former daily newspaper journalist with eighteen years experience on the Philadelphia Inquirer, Rochester (N.Y.) Times-Union, Fort Wayne News-Sentinel, and several other Indiana newspapers. He is an experienced investigative reporter who has covered police and the courts on each of the papers where he was employed. He is a former articles editor for National Features Syndicate in Chicago, and for "County Rambler" magazine. He is the author of numerous true crime titles, including The Man Who Killed Boys, Night Stalker, Killer Kids, Blood in the Sand, and Deadly White Female.

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Night Stalker ( St Martin's True Crime Classics Series) 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Monitor More than 1 year ago
I thought that the author did a great job in detailing the crimes Ramirez committed over a long period. This guy was the devil incarnate and deserved a harsher fate than he suffered when finally caught in unusual circunstances. I will read this again at a later date in an effort to absorb more of the details provided in the book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The review section of these books is to give your honest opinion of the book. It is not for you and your idiotic friends to post random and meaninless drivel. Grow up. I can not tell if this is a good book or not because you have chosen to waste my time with your childish and asinine garbage. Thank you from an adult who actually reads the reviews in order to determine if I am making a purchase worth my time and money.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read goes deep into his depraved mind & shows u how things in ur youth can turn u into a deprived sickco . Very graffic in details must read. Good to know he's dead cancer got him karma karma.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lets jus get this ceremony over with!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Crazy crazy man
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was so hot!! No ac and had to sleep with the windows closed!