The Night Stalker Killer: Background information when reading Shadow Man

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Shadow Man

by Alan Drew

Shadow Man by Alan Drew X
Shadow Man by Alan Drew
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  • First Published:
    May 2017, 368 pages
    Apr 2018, 368 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Norah Piehl

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The Night Stalker Killer

This article relates to Shadow Man

Print Review

California seems to have had more than its fair share of serial killers over the years, and the so-called Night Stalker killer—who shares more than a few parallels with the killer in Shadow Man—is probably one of the more notorious. Like Alan Drew's fictional killer, the real-life Night Stalker, Ricardo Ramirez, terrorized residents of greater Los Angeles in the mid-1980s.

The Night Stalker, Ricardo Ramirez Ramirez was born in El Paso, Texas, in 1960. As a boy, he was heavily influenced by older relatives, one of whom boasted of torturing women during the Vietnam War and later killed his wife while Ramirez was present; another was an obsessive Peeping Tom who also introduced a teenaged Ramirez to Satanism. Ramirez honed his breaking-and-entering skills as a teenager working at a Holiday Inn, and his criminal record began in 1977 following his arrest for several petty crimes.

Subsequent arrests for more serious offenses followed, and eventually Ramirez committed his first known murder in 1984 (though it wasn't connected to him until 2009), sexually assaulting and stabbing a nine-year-old girl in the basement of the San Francisco hotel where Ramirez was living at the time. The "Night Stalker" murders for which Ramirez became infamous began later in 1984, when Ramirez murdered an elderly woman in her suburban Los Angeles home after cutting through the mesh screen of an open window.

A series of more than two dozen other home invasions coupled with torture, sexual assault, and more than a dozen murders followed over the following year and a half, ultimately resulting in his 1985 capture by a group of residents who recognized him from his ubiquitous photos in the news media.

Ramirez, like the killer in Drew's novel, became known for a supposed connection with a rock band and its lyrics. In Shadow Man, the song is Iggy Pop's "Gimme Danger"; in Ramirez's case, he was supposedly influenced by several AC/DC songs, especially "Night Prowler."

Ramirez was sentenced to several death sentences for his crimes but died on death row in 2013 due to complications from lymphoma.

Picture of Night Stalker killer from San Quentin State Prison, California Department of Corrections

This "beyond the book article" relates to Shadow Man. It originally ran in July 2017 and has been updated for the April 2018 paperback edition.

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