Richard Ramirez, the serial killer dubbed the Night Stalker, was renowed for having rotten and missing teeth but the defining feature almost got him caught.
True-crime documentaries have exploded in popularity in recent years and Netflix has become their bona fide home with efforts such as Making a Murderer, Tiger King and new addition Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer.
Night Stalker arrived on the streaming service on January 13th, 2021 and tell the story of Richard Ramirez.
As explored in the documentary, one of Ramirez’s defining features while he was still at large was his teeth which were rotting and cavity-ridden.
But did you know that Richard Ramirez’s teeth actually helped in his identification and capture?
Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer on Netflix
Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer released on Netflix on January 13th, 2021.
The four-episode series details the various stages in the hunt for Richard Ramirez as the serial killer, dubbed the Night Stalker, went on a murderous rampage in Los Angeles in the mid-1980s.
While Ramirez’s identity was a mystery a first, several key details helped officers identify him as the murderer, one of which being his missing and rotting teeth.
Richard Ramirez teeth
In the opening episode of Night Stalker, L.A. resident Ester Petshcar details her experiences in dealing with Richard Ramirez and offers up the first description we hear of the serial killer.
After first going into detail about a satanic tattoo on his hand, she then describes Ramirez’s most defining feature:
“And he has this horrible big grin and he’s missing all these teeth,” she explained. “He just stared at me, like a weird smile. It was like a killer clown.”
According to a childhood friend of Richard Ramirez, Ray Garcia, who is quoted by UPI Archives, Ramirez’s dental problems began in his childhood.
“All he would ever eat were chocolates and Pepsi,” Garcia explained. “He’d never brush his teeth. I used to tell him to close his mouth or brush his teeth.”
However, according to A&E, Richard Ramirez’s teeth, which included nine decayed teeth as well as several missing teeth, were fixed while he was awaiting trial.
How Richard Ramirez’s teeth almost got him caught
In episode 2 of Night Stalker, we learn that Richard left a dental card in one of his stolen cards.
Upon following up this piece of evidence, officers learned that the killer, who was going under the name Richard Mena, had visited the dentists on July 3rd, 1985, in the midst of three killings within a week.
As Gil Carrillo explains, several officers were left to wait at the dental clinic for Ramirez to return as it was thought he would be back soon owing to an impacted tooth.
However, after weeks of waiting, officers elected to install an alarm at the clinic so that they could be on-hand if Ramirez was to show but they wouldn’t have to wait there constantly.
The first day that officers were not on the premises, however, Richard Ramirez arrived but the alarm system they installed was faulty and didn’t work.
It wasn’t until August 30th, 1985 that Richard Ramirez was finally apprehended after passengers on a Los Angeles-bound bus recognised him from his photo in the newspaper.
Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer is available to stream now on Netflix after releasing on January 13th, 2021.