“The Night Stalker” Netflix Documentary Review


Ava Johnson


The Night Stalker is one of the most well-known and terrifying serial killers in American history. Terrorizing the west coast in 1984-1985, Richard Ramirez committed a series of murders, assaults, rapes, and kidnappings. He was convicted of 13 counts of murder, 5 attempted murders, 11 counts of sexual assault, and 14 burglary accounts, although, that is most likely only a handful of his crimes. Netflix’s Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer reframes this story from the views of the people most impacted by his crimes: victims, reporters, and the cops who had a role in his capture. The star of the docuseries is Detective Gil Carrillo, a young detective, who was inexperienced when he led the investigation with the renowned Frank Salerno, a veteran detective who was known to work on the biggest crime cases. These men refused to sleep until Ramirez was caught. They dissected patterns and would not stop until Ramirez was behind bars. There were many shots of blood splatters and knives, as well as pictures of the very rooms Ramirez stepped foot into and committed his heinous crimes in. There was no pattern to the age or gender of his many victims. However, in each crime, he craved to see the fear in his victims’ eyes right before taking their lives. Ramirez abducted and sexually assaulted children, and a few hours later, released them. In this series, survivors share tales that will haunt your dreams and reporters inquire about chasing the killer. Carrillo and Salerno are the beating heart of this case. Without them, Ramirez would have been significantly tougher to obtain.

You may be wondering how he got caught. Well, it was not a traditional instance. After months of hard work and research, Ramirez was seen running through a neighborhood in Eastern Los Angeles following the revelation of his true identity. After the public caught wind of this, the residents beat him into submission. Coincidentally, a patrol car strolled by, realized what was  happening and forced Ramirez into the back of the car. The neighborhood residents may have killed him if the police did not show up in time. Ultimately, Ramirez received a total of 19 death sentences and was eventually sent to San Quentin State Prison. There, he died of lymphoma in 2013. 

In my opinion, I give the Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer docuseries 6 out of 10 stars. At times, the pacing was slow and it felt like the whole story was dragged out, despite it being a complicated case. I do not recommend this to people who are not comfortable with seeing limited parts of the victims’ bodies and a slight amount of blood. However, this was an interesting case with an unexpected ending. I would recommend this documentary to people who enjoy true crime. What Ramirez did to his victims was disturbing and horrifying to hear about, however, I feel as though Netflix did not do an immaculate job conveying it.