A photo of Richard Ramirez published in La Opinión in 1985. /La Opinion archive.
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Jose Burgoin, one of four men who helped capture Richard Ramirez, the ‘Night Stalker,’ on August 31, 1985, regretted that the serial murderer died Friday without having executed his death sentence.
Ramirez is the man who forced Angelinos to lock their doors and install bars on their windows and increased the sale of arms and ammunition.
Burgoin, 57 at the time, was in the front yard of his house watering the plants when he heard his neighbor calling for help. He ran to help her, when the man who tried to steal the woman’s car told him that if he came close, he was going to shoot him.
“I did not see any weapons, and with two strong pulls, I took him out of the car. Just then another neighbor came and he hit him in the head with a pipe. I told him to stop hitting him because he was going to kill him. Ramirez tried to run away and so I yelled to my two children [18 and 22] to follow him and not let him escape. We had him cornered when another neighbor came with [a copy of] La Opinión and told us that he was the criminal the police were looking for, ” said Burgoin, who is now 87 years old.
According to news accounts, moments before being captured by the residents of the 3700 block of East Hubbard, Ramirez was running away after having been identified at a liquor store that day once he saw himself on the front page of La Opinión.
He took the bus from downtown heading to East Los Angeles and got off near Hubbard Street, where he tried to steal the vehicle.
Ramirez was subsequently sentenced to death for the murder of 13 people, multiple counts of rape and robbery, events that occurred between 1984 and 1985 in Los Angeles and Orange Counties.
Marina Vargas, a resident of the block where Ramirez was captured, said that when she went outside to find out what was happening, she saw several of his neighbors surrounding a man sitting on the sidewalk.
“They had him trapped and were waiting for the police to arrive. A neighbor had the newspaper and said that it was the murderer who the police sought,” said Vargas, who confesses that for many nights she panicked that Ramirez could enter her home.
“I did not sleep at ease. We were afraid to leave the windows open. He got in wherever he could. We were all afraid,” recalled Vargas.
Seeing the ‘Night Stalker’ surrounded by neighbors, Vargas was relieved, but did not change her habits. She, like the rest of Angelenos, closed their doors and windows at night.
At press time it was not known what caused the death of Ramirez. Authorities only said it was a “natural death.” TMZ reported that he died of Hepatitis C, a disease commonly acquired through sex or sharing needles with infected people.
“They waited too long to kill him. I would have killed him long ago. He hurt many people … and the government kept him alive all these years,” said Vargas.
Ramirez got to homes between midnight and six o’clock. He killed and raped no matter the age of his victims. He killed people between 9-83 years old.
Ramirez died at 9:10 a.m. Friday in a hospital, under the custody of of San Quentin State Prison.
This story was originally published in La Opinión