CHENNAI: The world has lived with serial killers for centuries, and one of the earliest ones to have been recorded but was never caught is Jack the Ripper, who is alleged to have been largely active in London's Whitechapel district in 1888. Eventually, he became part of folklore and rumours.
In the summer of 1985, Los Angeles was also terrorized by a serial rapist and murderer, who broke into homes through open windows and doors at night, and before the cops could catch him, 13 men, women and children had fallen prey to him. Sometimes he used a hammer, sometimes a knife, sometimes a telephone cord for strangulation and on occasions had a meal from the refrigerator after he had finished with his bloody business.
A new Netflix docuseries, "Night Stalker: the Hunt for a Serial Killer" from Tiller Russell graphically maps out the terrifying activity of the criminal, whose real name was Richard Ramirez ( Lou Diamond Phillips plays this part) and how he got the inhabitants of Los Angeles into a state of fear and panic.
The series has very disturbing images and can send shivers down the spine of even the most hardy, and Ramirez's serial attacks were not new to the city, which had witnessed this kind of crime earlier – Black Dahlia and Manson murderers, who killed a pregnant Sharon Tate, an American actress and wife of Roman Polanski.
Ramirez was a killer with no established pattern. Between June 1984 till his arrest in August 1985, 13 people between six and 82 died. They belonged to different genders, race and class. The only common feature was open windows and doors, and LA residents zipped up their homes in 100F, barricaded their windows and adopted large dogs. But the “bogeyman” proved elusive for a long time, and when he was finally trapped on a street by passersby, who had seen pictures of him in the papers, he was only 25. Sentenced to execution, he remained on the death row for two decades before dying of cancer.
Russell, is a veteran of true crime series and has been interested in this since his days as a reporter in a local paper. He takes us into "Night Stalker" through the recollections of two LA detectives, Gil Carrillo and Frank Salerno. Carrillo's memory 30 years after the frightening nights was amazing, and he remembered details with precision. The two went through Hell, hardly sleeping or eating. But in the end, it was worth their sweat.