In America we have had our fair share of serial killers, their crimes intrigue us and have served as inspiration for cinematic adaptions. These horror films often dramatize accounts to appeal to a larger audience and cause a good scare. Yet in most occasions the real accounts are more horrendous then what is portrayed in the big screen. By now we are well aware that humans are capable committing horrendous acts, for intense a serial killer which struck rather recently and close to home is Richard Ramirez alias the night stalker. The Texas native terrorized the whole state of California specifically the Los Angeles area, his upbringing with negligent parents is a huge indication that led him to behave in the way he did.
Jefferey Cohen states in his Monster Culture (Seven Thesis) in his fifth thesis “The Monster Polices the Border of the Possible” that monsters are fabricated to show the right and wrongs in society. I believe Richard Ramirez willing fully accepted in society as a monster who polices the borders of the possible because he would portray himself as a devil worshiper by drawing pentagrams in crimes scenes, on victim’s, and during his court case on his own palm. He did this willing fully because it is no secret that the United States contains a vastly Christian population and worshipping Lucifer is the most Anti thing. This leads me to begin to ask myself about the motives essentially, how it reached this point, and what led him to accept this role? As I begin to question what could have led Ramirez to his spree of senseless murders, I must ask to picture a child, any child, maybe one you have seen the most recently, or maybe a relative, it is Ludicrous to harbor thoughts that that seemingly innocent child could one day be a serial killer. Because we can all agree; although Thomas Hobbes might disagree, that we are born inherently good not evil unlike Hobbes beliefs but now the questions leads to What could lead a child to turn into a serial killer with only desire in life is to continue the one thing that brings them that twisted joy, killing. What could lead some people become so perverse live in such a delusional reality.
As I continue to question what truly leads individuals to commit violent murders more questions arise. I question if the people you grew up, neighbor that seemed totally normal is just putting a façade or is living a double life, or are just hiding their inner dark thoughts? Which leads to a question that has been highly debated throughout the years and the main topic of the paper which is the debate of nature versus nurture. This question does not and should not just concern psychologist but the general public that want to know which truly shapes you into the person you are. For instance, could it be nature? That the person in question is this way due to genetics, a biological disease. Or is the reason this person acts this way due to the nurture the way the person is raised results in their erratic psychotic personality. As we indulge into the early life of Richard Ramirez it becomes fairly evident that his behavior later in his life can be linked to nurture. Due to my opinion that is shared by many that we are not born inherently evil.
Richard Ramirez grew up in El Paso, Texas, he was the last of five children from an immigrant couple from Mexico. His parent had to work really hard to make ends meet, his farther a was a railroad worker with long shifts but the more concerning aspect was that her mother worked in a shoe factory where she inhaled hazardous fumes during her pregnancies (Richard Ramirez, Biography). This is just the first of many events that could have affected Ramirez, as a result of his mother inhaling the fumes possibly contributed to his older siblings to being born with birth defects. However, he was born as a seemingly normal child (Stalking the Serial Killer). Other traumatic childhood events from various that could possibly have affected him psychologically involve two serious head injuries he suffered in two separate occasions. When he was just 2 years old an entire dresser fell on the head of young Richard (Richard Ramirez, Biography). If that was not enough when he was 5 years old, he was knocked unconscious by a swing in the park. From a superficial standpoint these examples seem as events that involve nature more than anything, however, when you take into consideration his entire life these events encompasses a common reoccurring factor in his life, neglect.
Not only that but all these head injuries caused Richard to have sporadic seizures and as time progressed, they only became more common. The seizures to a certain extent deprived him from having a normal childhood because as they became more common, he was not able practice any sports. Football was the sport he favored, dreamt, and sought to play for his school (Richard Ramirez [The Night Stalker]). Not only that but we are well aware that that the brain is very a delicate part of a human during early childhood for this reason it is essential to prevent injuries to the head and provide healthy early development for the child. Yet another example that seemingly is an argument for nature but is nurture because to his epileptic fits he could not enjoy to play sports, when during those early stages of development assimilation is very important.
To further add to insult to injury from an early age his father was very abusive and would often beat his brothers and sister including Ramirez, it is stated that what bothered him the most was when his siblings endured the beatings (Richard Ramirez [The Night Stalker]). His father and his brutal beating are one early example from the vast array of violence that Richard was exposed to. In order to escape these beatings, it is said that he would sleep in a cemetery not far from his home (Richard Ramirez, Biography). It could be possible that the irrational fury of his father could have been a reason that influenced him to commit brutal acts and crimes. Due to the fact that throughout his life that all he knew was neglect and violence as something he had to endure.
It is stated by The Ramirez documentary that since his older sibling was placed in slow learners courses a teacher would arrive in the house to tutor the children (Richard Ramirez [The Night Stalker]). The Ramirez would often leave their children alone with this person who they deemed trust worthy, however they were unaware that the teacher was also a pedophile who would often molest his older brother (Richard Ramirez [The Night Stalker]). It seems quite likely that this pedophile could have also take advantage of a young Richie. Yet when asked he denied any implications that he was touched by this individual during his childhood. This could have also influenced his crimes in which he would rape not only old but also young women (“His Timeline of Terror”)
I think one of the most pivotal moments during Richard Ramirez life was his adolescence which was highlighted by a person who was a huge influence in his life and that person was his older cousin Miguel. I think Miguel was a main factor who nurtured him into the ruthless murderer he became later in his life. The cousins would spend a lot of time together and smoke marijuana, Miguel who was also a commemorated Vietnam Veteran was lethal on the field but had a dark side (“Was a Bad Childhood to Blame for Richard Ramirez Becoming a Serial Killer?”). He would often show his little cousin Richie this benevolent side by telling him stories how he murdered Vietnamese woman by tying them to a tree to later rape them (“Was a Bad Childhood to Blame for Richard Ramirez Becoming a Serial Killer?). He would also show his little Richie (Ramirez) his polaroid images of his decapitated victims. It quite possible that his older cousin influence to his slew of crimes later in life because not only did he show an adolescent Richard those graphic images but he would explain and also teach him how to effectively kill. Eventually Miguel was arrested for killing his wife while his little cousin witnessed the atrocity of the crime. This evidently struck Richard Ramirez because in a documentary he is able to clearly describe the events that occurred that faithful day (Richard Ramirez [The Night Stalker]). Unsurprisingly his cousin was interned in a mental institution
It is hard to calculate to what extent the various traumatic events he suffered affected him but it is undeniable their implication into creating the monster that terrorized California. Richard Ramirez to others unknowing of the situations at home would have seen as a normal child. This child however was different, I think due to the various chaotic events that not only occurred to him but also, he witnessed affected him highly from a psychological stand point. Showing that nurture is what ultimately brews this kind of behavior because through his tumulus upbringing could have led him to believe that he was always different and by the time he reached early adulthood and begun his killing spree he accepted his role as the outcast, the monster that polices the borders of the possible. By his 25th birthday he was convicted of 2 kidnapping, 6 rapes 13 murders.
Dimitropoulos, Stav. “Was a Bad Childhood to Blame for Richard Ramirez Becoming a Serial Killer?” A&E, 1 Nov. 2017, www.aetv.com/real-crime/was-a-bad-childhood-to-blame-for-night-stalker-richard-ramirez-becoming-a-serial-killer.
“His Timeline of Terror.” Woman’s Day (Australia Edition), vol. 28, no. 12, Mar. 2014, p. 37. EBSCOhost, chaffey.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=f6h&AN=95249405&site=ehost-live.
Stengel, Richard, and Mary Wormley. “STALKING THE SERIAL KILLER In California, a Suspect Is Arrested.” Time, vol. 126, no. 10, Sept. 1985, p. 43. EBSCOhost, chaffey.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=57884220&site=ehost-live.
Editors, Biography.com. “Richard Ramirez.” Biography.com, A&E Networks Television, 1 Nov. 2017, www.biography.com/people/richard-ramirez-12385163.
Richard Ramirez [The Night Stalker] https://youtu.be/mtEOzX8V6yI