San Francisco authorities this week said they linked DNA from Richard Ramirez, the Night Stalker, to the April 10, 1984 murder of a 9-year-old girl there. They added that they are investigating possible links to other homicide cases from that year.
Ramirez lived at two addresses in the area at the time -- 373 Ellis St. and 56 Mason St. If the San Francisco Police Department can establish more links between Ramirez and the homicides, it won't do much to bolster the case against him: He's already on death row for his 13-, possibly 14-victim murder spree in the summer of 1985 in L.A. County. But it will establish a previously unknown chapter in a horrific book many observers thought was closed.
In fact, if Ramirez murdered the girl, it would be consistent with his eclectic M.O. (he killed old men and young women, used guns and knives, burglarized and raped). Investigators on the case in Los Angeles linked him to a string of child abductions in the summer of 1985, but they chose not to publicize the angle because they didn't want to traumatize the kids further: Authorities were already confident they could hang more-serious murder charges on the heavy metal drifter.
Lt. Gil Carillo, a lead sheriff's homicide detective on the case who announced this week that he's retiring, told us during research for this magazine piece two years ago that Ramirez had a thing for young children and had allegedly been kidnapping them -- at a rate of five or six -- at the same time he was carrying out his murder spree, mostly in the San Gabriel Valley and Eastside.
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He remembers how heart-wrenching it was to confront one 6-year-old victim in particular. He recalled what the girl said when she was re-interviewed following a line-up identification of Ramirez as her abductor.
"'I knew it was him as soon as he came out,'" Carillo recalls the girl saying. "'And I went up to get a better look at him 'cause I knew how absolutely positive I had to be. And I'll go to court and testify if it would mean keeping him locked up so he won't be able to hurt any other little girls like he hurt me.'"
"Wow," Carillo told us. "My eyes got full of tears. I can't handle it. I can handle everything, but kids bother me. I said, 'Excuse me,' and I got up and I got up and I walked out of the room."
"No need to put the kids through it," he said, "no need to put the families through it. So we dismissed the five or six counts of kiddie charges."