My uncle the serial Killer
Shelly Ramirez grew up in the shadow of her uncle’s crimes…
Shelly Ramirez will never forget the day her uncle, Richard Ramirez, was arrested.
Her dad Robert – Richard’s brother – was watching TV when the news flashed up on the screen that the notorious ‘Night Stalker’ had been caught.
‘It just interrupted all the TV channels that they’d caught Richard Ramirez, the Night Stalker,’ says Shelly, who tells her story in this week’s The Killer in My Family. ‘My dad was watching it as though he’d seen a ghost. Tears were coming down his cheeks.’
For five months during the Spring and Summer of 1985, the residents of Los Angeles lived in fear of a serial killer on the loose. By the time Ramirez was caught on 31 August, he’d murdered 13 people and sexually assaulted
11, claiming that he was a disciple of Satan.
But the news of his arrest left his family in disbelief and shock. They decided to stand by him, even encouraging Shelly, who was just a child at the time, to write to him.
‘I knew that he’d done something bad, but my mum and dad never spoke about what he did,’ says Shelly. ‘It hurt my grandpa a lot. He couldn’t believe what his son had done.’
After Ramirez’s trial in 1989, Shelly even visited her uncle at California’s San Quentin State Prison, where he made lewd comments about her. It was the last time she had contact with him.
In 2013, Ramirez died of liver failure after being on death row for 24 years. But, of course, his crimes have had a lasting effect on his victims’ families, as well as his own.
‘My dad used to tell me not to tell people I was related to him,’ says Shelly. ‘But Richard doesn’t define who I am.’
Shocking… Shelly (inset) was a child when Richard committed his crimes