These were the words written to me by Philip Carlo, author of the book "The Night Stalker, The Life and Crimes of Richard Ramirez."
I've been extremely fortunate to receive his invaluable assistance in researching this tour. Carlo spend three years researching and writing his book, including over 100 hours with Richard Ramirez at San Quentin's Death Row. I wish to gratefully acknowledge him for all his support.
Philip Carlo has agreed to provide a very exclusive message for out tour on the occasion of the 25th Anniversary of the capture of the Night Stalker.
In Memoriam, The late Mr. Philip Carlo. A true gentleman and scholar. His generosity and kindness to me was immeasurable. R.I.P. Philip Carlo, 1949-2010. Below is the text of my interview with him in 2010.
Philip Carlo: My name is Philip Carlo. I spent 3 years researching and writing a book that I titled;The Night Stalker, The Life & Crimes of Richard Ramirez. The writing of the book is a book unto itself. Soon, it will be the 25th anniversary of the day Richard was brought down on Hubbard Street by the citizens of East Los Angeles. It was in fact the people, the Mexican community, that ultimately spotted Richard, identified and chased him down, and beat him furiously. Had the cops not come, they would have killed him. He was known to the Spanish speaking community as "El Matador", which means "The Killer". It has nothing to do with bulls. To us, he was known as the Night Stalker. This was a grossly, terribly appropriate name for he truly came in the middle of the night, so he truly stalked the night. This man used shadows the way Fred Astair used Ginger Rogers on the dance floor. He cloaked himself with the night. For 14 months, he managed to slip in and out of people's homes, killing and raping at will. Nothing could stop him. He left no clues. He became, in the very real sense, our nightmare come true. He raped, he murdered, with guns and knives. He shattered lives with fists and feet. When he cut victim's throats, he cut so deeply that he literally severed their heads. Elderly women were bound to beds and raped. And it gets worse....he left pentagrams in blood on the walls of some of his victims. He greatly and openly, endorsed and advocated Satan. He made his female victims swear on Satan that they would never tell, as they were being raped. Nobody was safe. The homes he chose he picked solely at random. There was no rhyme or reason. The attacks usually happened between midnight and 5 in the morning. The Stalker knew, that's when people are in a deep sleep. They didn't know he was there until they woke up and he was above them looking down with murder in his eyes. Fiery murder. No mercy. This was a living breathing predator from a jungle. He managed to go off from the jungle and he walked among us. In the day he looked normal. He wore all black. And he was always in a hurry, but he seemed like one of us. He seemed like a human being. But at night, he was something else entirely...he was a combination of Jack the Ripper and a raving wolf that gave no quarter, that showed no mercy, yet that loved fresh meat. WE, were the fresh meat.
More often than not, he took valuables from the homes he invaded. Then he sold those items to fences that hung out at the downtown L.A. Greyhound bus terminal. If the great, grand city of Los Angeles had an asshole,..the area around the downtown Greyhound bus terminal is surely it. It was from this place he came, nameless and nocturnal. As silent and deadly as cyanide gas. During the day he slept in flea bag hotels. The Windsor and the Cecil hotels, it is there that he blended in. He became one with the criminal transient milieu that infects downtown Los Angeles.
Me- When Richard got off that bus that morning and saw his photo on all the papers, how did he react? i hear various stories involving him fleeing and taking a bus...Philip Carlo- I know exactly what he did. When the police finally identified Ramirez as the Night Stalker, it was through a single fingerprint he left on the outside of a rear view mirror of a car he stoled. That car was found in Mission Viejo and eventually tied to him. Once the fingerprint was fed into a new computer, the first name it spit out was Richard Munoz Ramirez. While that happened, Ramirez who was in Arizona visiting his brother Robert, got on the bus in the middle of the night to return to Los Angeles. The day was hot. The day was August 31st 1985. That night, on his way back to L.A., there was a storm and a lot of lightning and thunder. And Ramirez was sitting there at the back of the bus not knowing that he was the most wanted man in the world. Not knowing that every cop in Los Angeles was looking for him. But he felt, because of the lightning and thunder, some evil premonition. Something that told him there was trouble. That Satan was angry at him. It was more or less a fleeting thought, but how true it really was. By the time the bus bringing him form Arizona to L.A. pulled into the greyhound terminal, it was 8:05 that morning. It was a particularly hot day. It was already 101 degrees. In fact, that summer was the hottest summer in 100 years. Richard got off the bus, and he actually walked right through the terminal. And there was a dozen detectives there, looking for the Stalker. Looking to kill the Stalker. They all knew, they were told, that if he so much as batted an eye, to put a bullet in his head. In other words, their instructions were to kill him on sight. They all knew that he was responsible for the raping and killing of their brothers, their grandparents,..their sisters, their wives. There was a collective animosity the police felt towards the Stalker. But, they were looking for him to leave, not to come (to L.A.). And the Stalker walked right passed them. They were looking in another direction, and the Stalker walked in another direction. He soon made his way to a small market and walked in to get coffee and a donut. While he was standing there, waiting for his coffee, an elderly woman at the back of the store began to scream, (mind you--by now Ramirez' picture was on the cover of every newspaper) pointing "El Maton!, El Matador!"
And he freaked! as he realized she was pointing at him! And he ran and he ran and he ran! He ran like a gazelle. This is a particularly physically powerful man. This man might have become a professional athlete, had he no gone another route. And several blocks away he jumped on a bus and the bus took him deep into East L.A. He had crossed the 101 freeway and by now, there were 14 police helicopters in the air along with 40 police cars and seemingly hundreds of policemen and swat teams looking to kill the Night Stalker. He ended up on Hubbard Street in East L.A. He tried to steal a couple of cars. He wasn't successful. A crowd of men got wind that he was on the block, and they formed a vigilante group, a posse that was out for blood. And they chased him. About 15 men caught up to him. They got him to the ground and they were beating him to a pulp. The police cars pulled up, and ironically, it was the police who saved the life of one of the most feared killers of the 20th century. There you are Al!
Me: Thank you Phil.
With great gratitude I also wish to acknowledge the invaluable assistance of:
L.A. COUNTY SHERIFF'S DETECTIVE
LIEUTENANT GIL CARRILLO (Retired), And The E.L.A. Sheriff's Station.
L.A. County Sheriff Homicide Detectives Frank Salerno and Gil Carrillo. These names stuck in my mind as the front line assigned to stopping Richard Ramirez "The Night Stalker" during his reign of terror in 1984-1985. Det. Salerno, famed for breaking the infamous "Hillside Stranglers" case, was the "guru" of the team. But for his partner , Gil Carrillo, this case of a cruel and vicious Satanic killer dressed all in black was hitting a little too close to home. The stress, terror, and sleepless nights were taking their toll on him as well as his family. While researching this case for the 25th anniversary tour one recent night, I felt the phone in my pocket vibrate. I answered and a deep cheerful voice spoke, "Hello Al, this is Gil Carrillo."
Days later, as I found myself sitting in the waiting room of the E.L.A. Sheriff's Station on 3rd Street. The reality of coming face to face with the man who squared off with Richard Ramirez began to set in.
Reading about the players in the case was one thing, but actually putting myself in the realm of the Night Stalker reality was a step that I recognized would put me deeper into this than I ever expected. The pages of a book or a TV screen are a safe distance from a character who is an embodiment of evil. The closest thing to a demon walking the earth. And yet here I was, ready to meet a man who sat face to face with a Devil incarnate. As sat in that waiting room focusing on my commitment to see this research through as far as i could, short of meeting Ramirez himself, a door opened and from the confines of the E.L.A Sheriff Station stepped Lt. Gil Carrillo. Slow and towering with a big warm smile, eyes that spoke of emotion and quiet intensity. The man greeted me and shook my hand.
We moved to a vacant meeting room. I had prepared no notes. No questions. Nothing. What I would ask him would be coming from my soul at the moment I'd sit and look at him. I expected my questions about the Night Stalker to flow from a purely visceral source....
Gil Carrillo spoke to me about Richard Ramirez as if he had captured him yesterday. The enormity of Ramirez's impact upon the collective soul of the city is unmeasurable today. But to say that the Night Stalker case in an indelible marker on the history of Los Angeles is an understatement. Some may say that nothing defines a metropolis like it's crimes,....the Night Stalker case alone is enough to define what it means to bring pure evil and terror to an entire city.
I was mesmerized during my entire, unexpurgated recorded conversation with Lt. Carrillo. His narrative was highly intense yet deeply human in his perspective. A cold chill passed through me during his vivid description of a bandaged Richard's demeanor that morning in the interrogation room. It is the stuff that haunts and makes you wish to repress deep in the back of your mind. It soon became clear that the case had consumed this man. It had seeped beyond his job as a homicide detective. The case represented the ultimate battle between good and evil. In his own words, Lt. Carrillo said to me, "Al, the way things were going before he was caught, I felt I had maybe another two weeks before the case was going to break me down and collapse me. If we hadn't caught him, I was good for only another two weeks, maybe. I could feel it."
Richard's family, his crimes, his lifestyle, his trail of escape from justice on that fateful day August 31, 1985 were all described to me in vivid details that he has replayed thousands of times to himself. He is a walking encyclopedia of the case and I found myself, somehow, now within the living web of the Night Stalker's legacy.
I found it fascinating that East Los Angeles has the dubious distinction of playing a major part in the Night Stalker's last day of freedom. So many elements converged that day to bring an end to his reign.
25 years later, the lore of the Night Stalker lives on, and we sleep a little better than we did on that hot summer of 85'. Or do we?........
Lt. Detective Gil Carrillo (left) and Al Desmadre in front of E.L.A Sheriff Station, East Los Angeles. July 2010.
The complete video conversation with Lt. Carrillo including never before publicly revealed details of the Night Stalker case will be made available during the 25th Anniversary Night Stalker Tour.
MANY THANKS TO MR. MICHAEL RAY MENJIVAR, CREATIVE ART DIRECTOR FOR THE 25TH ANNIVERSARY NIGHT STALKER TOUR. HIS CREATIVE TALENT HAS BROUGHT OR PRESENTATION TO NEW EXPRESSIVE LEVELS.
"Al Desmadre a proud member of LAVA, the Los Angeles Visionaries Association, http://www.lavatransforms.org"