Richard Ramirez, a former altar boy who grew into a maniacal serial killer known as the "Night Stalker," died in California today at the age of 53. A spokesman for the San Quentin State Prison, where Ramirez was being held pending his execution, confirmed Ramirez's passing. No further details about his death have been released thus far.
In 1984 and 1985, Ramirez, a self-professed Satanist, terrorized southern California with a string of grisly rapes and murders (he would occasionally mutilate his victims' bodies, even gouging out one woman's eyes). He was eventually captured after leaving a fingerprint in a stolen car, leading police to a rap sheet he'd built up with drug offenses. Authorities released his prior mug shots to the public, and within a couple days a crowd in East L.A. had captured Ramirez in the midst of trying to steal another car. Cops had to intervene to prevent the mob from beating Ramirez to death.
Ramirez was eventually convicted of 13 murders and 11 sexual assaults. Though he was sentenced to die at his trial, California's turtle-ish appeals process allowed the case to drag on. In 1996, Ramirez married Doreen Lioy, an obsessed fan who wrote him dozens of letters while he was in jail. Lioy had promised to commit suicide when Ramirez was finally executed. No word on what her plans are now that her husband has died before the state could kill him.