Proud Residents Recount Capture of Defendant
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A year after their relatives and neighbors beat and captured the man accused in the ″Night Stalker″ serial killings, people on Hubbard Street speak with pride of their working-class neighborhood.
″I feel it’s safer now,″ says Jenny Zamarripa, looking outside at the fence where her neighbors cornered Richard Ramirez last Aug. 31.
Men had dragged Ramirez from a woman’s car he allegedly tried to commandeer, beat him on the head with a steel bar and chased him six doors down the street to Mrs. Zamarripa’s yard, where police arrested him.
″The way they came out and helped that lady, I never thought they’d do that,″ Mrs. Zamarripa said of her neighbors Friday. ″I guess when you need help, people will come.″
Police said the arrest ended a six-month series of 14 seemingly random killings and several rapes, robberies and other crimes blamed on a devil- obsessed man the media dubbed the Night Stalker.
″You read about it, you hear about it, but I never thought he’d come here,″ said Reyna Pinon, whose husband, Faustino, was one of the men credited with catching Ramirez.
″On this block we’re all godparents to each other’s children,″ she said of the largely Hispanic East Los Angeles neighborhood. ″We keep an eye on each other.″
Ramirez, 26, a drifter originally from El Paso, Texas, is charged in Los Angeles County with 14 murders and 31 other felonies, including attempted murder, rape, sodomy and robbery.
He has pleaded innocent to those charges, and to murder and rape charges stemming from an attack in neighboring Orange County. San Francisco had a similar case, but Ramirez is not charged there.
His Los Angeles trial has been delayed until Dec. 2.
On Tuesday, a hearing is scheduled on a defense request for prosecution documents. Among them would be notes taken by officers who have testified that Ramirez admitted guilt after shouting in Spanish, ″It’s me, it’s me,″ as he was being driven away from the crowd on Hubbard Street.
Testimony at a preliminary hearing gave grisly details of attacks by a man who walked into unlocked homes. One woman’s eyes were gouged out. Another woman was raped as her husband lay dead beside her.
Ramirez fueled speculation about his alleged fascination with the satanic, shouting ″Hail Satan″ during one court appearance and flashing a palm emblazoned with a star design associated with devil worship.
His arrest came just days after police announced they had fingerprints linking him to the attacks and released his name and photograph to the news media.
Police said that on the day Ramirez was arrested, he had seen his picture on the front page of a paper in a Skid Row liquor store and bolted. Store workers called police while Ramirez made his way by bus and on foot about 3 1/ 2 miles east to Hubbard Street.
Mrs. Pinon said he first tried to steal her daughter’s car, then to take Angie de la Torre’s car as she backed out from her driveway.
Jose Burgoin, 55, grabbed the man and Mrs. de la Torre’s husband, Manuel, beat him on the head with a metal bar yanked from a fence. A crowd quickly gathered and surrounded Ramirez.
″I didn’t know it was him, I just thought it was somebody trying to get the car,″ Burgoin said. ″We take care of each other here.″
Pinon, Burgoin and de la Torre are among the dozen or so people who have applied for more than $80,000 in reward money offered by various agencies for help in breaking the Night Stalker case. The funds won’t be distributed unless there is a conviction.
Mrs. Pinon said friends sometimes kid her husband and the other men about the reward money.
″We just say, ’If they get it, fine; if they don’t, they’re alive, they have that,‴ she said. ″The only thing that I think about - I wonder - ’What if he gets out?‴