‘Night Stalker’ Richard Ramirez dies awaiting death

The man who terrorized California during a killing rampage in the 1980s has died while awaiting execution at San Quentin State Prison.

California prison officials say Richard Ramirez died of what was described as “natural causes” at Marin General Hospital Friday Morning. The 53-year-old Ramirez had earlier been taken from the prison’s death row to the hospital.

Known as the “Night Stalker,” Ramirez was convicted in 1989 of 13 counts of murder, and a number of other counts of attempted murder, sexual assault and burglary for a series of brutal killings and rapes that began in 1984 and ended in August of 1985 when he was captured by an angry mob.

The mob — who recognized Ramirez from photos in the media — chased him down in an East Los Angeles neighborhood and beat him until police arrived.

After a sensational trial that ended in his conviction, Ramirez was taken to San Quentin’s death row.

Among Ramirez’s final known victims was 66-year-old Peter Pan, killed in August 1985 in his Lake Merced home. His wife Barbara survived and identified Ramirez as the attacker.

Investigators in 2009 linked Ramirez’s DNA with the April 1984 rape and slaying in the Tenderloin of 9-year-old Mei “Linda” Leung. Police believe Ramirez lived in the neighborhood at the time.

Prison officials say Ramirez was one of 59 condemned inmates who have died of natural causes since 1978 when California reinstated capital punishment. There are 735 convicts awaiting execution in the state.

The last inmate executed in California was Clarence Ray Allen, put to death in January 2006 for a 1980 triple murder. California executed 14 inmates between 1992 and 2006, each having spent an average of 17-1/2 years on death row.