Ricardo Leyva Ramirez was born on 28 February 1960 in El Paso, Texas, the youngest child of seven, to a Mexican-American railway worker. Known as Richard or Ricky, Ramirez had a troubled childhood, and was heavily influenced by an older cousin, a Green Beret named Mike, who told fascinating stories about the torture and mutilation that he had inflicted on Vietnamese women during his time in the Vietnam War. He corroborated these stories with horrific Polaroid pictures. They smoked marijuana together, and his teenage rebellion led to petty crime to fuel his drug habit, which further alienated him from his Catholic parents. He spent even more time with his cousin as a result. When Mike murdered his wife, whilst Ramirez was present, the final seeds were sown for the development of the modus operandi of the young killer who became known as the “Night Stalker”, who terrorised the State of California for almost a year, in the mid-1980s.
His criminal record began in 1977, when he was placed in juvenile detention for a string of petty crimes, and he also received a probationary sentence in 1982 for marijuana possession. He moved to San Francisco, and then LA, progressing to cocaine addiction and burglary, cultivating an interest in weapons and Satanism. A car theft charge in 1983 led to a jail sentence, from which he was released in April 1984, a conscienceless, Satanic criminal with poor hygiene, rotten teeth and no prospects.