Books & Reviews 📚

Book #115: The Night Stalker: The Life and Crimes of Richard Ramirez

Twenty years after Richard Ramirez left thirteen dead and paralyzed in the city of Los Angeles, his name is still synonymous with fear, torture, and sadistic murder. Philip Carlo’s classic The Night Stalker, based upon three years of meticulous research and extensive interviews with Ramirez, revealed the killer and his horrifying crimes to ve even more chilling than anyone could have imagined. From watching his cousin commit murder at age eleven to his nineteen death sentences to the juror who fell in love with him, the story of Ramirez is a bizarre and spellbinding descent into the very heart of human evil.

A SHOCKING NEW CHAPTER

Incredibly, since The Night Stalker was first published, thousands of women from all over the world have contacted Carlo, begging to be put in touch with the killer. Carlo interviewed them and, in this compelling tenth-anniversary edition, presents their disturbing stories and the dark sexual desires that would drive them toward a brutal murderer. And in an exclusive interview, the killer himself gives his thoughts on the “Ramirez Groupies” – and what he thinks they really want.

THE AUTHOR

carlo

Carlo was born in New York and from an early age, he was involved in gang activity. He was only 15 when he witnessed a friend shot to death by hitmen. He was shot in the forehead at 17 and decided to turn his life around. Carlo became a journalist and he was the bestselling biographer of Richard Ramirez, Richard Kuklinkski, Anthony Casso and Thomas Pitera. He suffered from ALS and died from the disease in 2010 at the age of 61. I could see why he felt a certain ‘bond’ with Richard Ramirez.

THE WRITING

The author divided the book into four parts: Book 1 was dedicated to The Night Stalker’s victims, the second book dealt with his childhood in El Paso, the third book was about his capture, and the fourth was about the trial. The author was overly descriptive at times, and also repetitive. At other times I felt as if I was reading a fiction novel about a serial killer. But overall, good storytelling and writing. I also liked that he didn’t jump around the timeline as other true crime writers do.

RICHARD RAMIREZ

He makes many serial killers including Charles Manson look like a boy scout. (“To be a good killer you have to plan things out carefully. You’ve got to be prepared in every way when the moment comes to strike; you cannot hesitate.”) This pretty boy Satan-worshipping killer was exposed to the wrong company while growing up in El Paso including his older brothers and a big cousin named Mike who shot and killed his wife in front of Richard. He had a penchant for cocaine and was good at stealing until it escalated into breaking into people’s homes at nights and torturing them. Heavy metal music was his gospel and Satan was his protector. Yet, Satan abandoned him in the end.

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young Richard

This coward son of a gun snuck into people’s homes at night – dressed in black from head to toe – and terrorized, raped, sodomized, killed and beat his victims (sometimes to death). He mostly preyed on the invalid in the name of Satan and yet, women found this a major turn-on. I just had to ask:

Had Richard not been good looking, would he as the Night Stalker, have the same effects on these crazy hormone-induced women?

Some citizens of Los Angeles were careless given that the media had warned them about the crazy ruthless killer. Yet, some left their doors and windows open. During his trial (which was a circus if you ask me. There should never have been one in the first place.), the ‘Ramirez groupies’ came out in full force to support him. They were attracted to his face and the fact that he was dangerous. They fought over him and offered their bodies to him. Even juror Cindy Haden fell in love with him during the trial. 

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He was right about one thing during his interview with Mike Watkiss:

“People in this day and age, are brainwashed and programmed like a computer and being nothing more than puppets.”

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Ramirez died on June 7, 2013, due to complications secondary to B-cell lymphoma at 53 years old. He had been on death row for over 23 years.

COVER

4/5

OPENING

The downtown area around the Los Angeles Greyhound Bus Terminal is a very dangerous place after dark. Colorful legions of thieves, muggers, fences, crackheads, junkies, alcoholics, and ten-dollar whores prowl like hungry sharks around a bleeding man. Known as skid row, people here often sleep in the filthy, vermin-infested streets where they dropped the night before.

VERDICT:

love coffeelove coffeelove coffee… My last True Crime book for now. Although I still follow court/cold cases and read law books be it fiction or not, I’ve come to the realization that I’m happy I didn’t follow the path to become a Lawyer. 

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Books & Reviews 📚

Book #114: Cellar of Horror: The Story of Gary Heidnik

Serial killer Gary Heidnik’s name will live on in infamy, and his home, 3520 North Marshall Street in Philadelphia, is a house tainted with the memory of unbelievable horrors. What police found there was an incredible nightmare made real. Four young women had been held captive–some for four months–half-naked and chained. They had been tortured, starved, and repeatedly raped. But more grotesque discoveries lay in the kitchen: human limbs frozen, a torso burned to cinders, an empty pot suspiciously scorched…

This is not a story for the faint-hearted. Cellar of Horror is a shocking true account of the self-proclaimed minister with a long history of mental illness, who preyed upon the susceptible and the retarded in a bizarre plan to create his own “baby factory.” It is a macabre web spun around money, power, and religion, tangled with courtroom drama and lawyers’ tactics, sure to send a chill into your very soul.

THE WRITING

Like many true crimes books out there, authors seem to enjoy going back and forth, sometimes clutching at straws when trying to tell a murderer’s story. I hated the back and forth of Heidnik’s life in this book. This is not supposed to be a fascinating page-turner that it leaves you at the edge of your seat where you can’t wait to turn the page to find out what really happened. The author should’ve started from Gary’s childhood thus producing a significant timeline. The back and forth was sickening and I almost flung the book across my room.

The information was also repetitive, another thing true crime writers have in common. The last two-thirds of the book focused on the trial and it was very boring at some point.

GARY HEIDNIK

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Like most (if not all) serial murderers out there, we can always look back to their childhood and blame something from their past that causes their brain to malfunction making them turn into killing machine. But where killing is concerned, there is no excuse, although Gary’s childhood was a dysfunctional one. His father was abusive and whenever he wet the bed he’ll be forced to hang up his sheets outside his window. He was a loner, but he was smart and at 17, he was drafted into the Army. It was during this stint that he showed signs of mental illness and things eventually went downhill from there.

He was said to be an LSD guinea pig for the military, but the most disturbing thing was the fact that he tried to commit suicide 13 times.

Twenty-one times Gary Heidnik entered mental health facilities. Twenty-one times he was discharged. Even when he said he wasn’t ready to go. Even when he begged to stay. (Page 274)

This started after his alcoholic mother committed suicide. Had he gotten the help he had needed, who knows? Things could’ve turned out differently today for him.

Intelligent, with an IQ of 130, Gary kidnapped, tortured, and raped six African-American women. During their captivity, Gary fed them dog food and even forced them to eat Lindsay’s body. 

Was Gary really mentally ill? Did he really suffer from schizophrenia? Was he faking it? How does someone who is mentally ill capable of making sound investments?

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Police digging in Heidnik’s basement (Pic via murderpedia.com)

Gary was executed by lethal injection on July 6, 1999. As of 2016, he was the last person to be executed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

THE CAPTIVES

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via Google Images

Josefina Rivera, age 25, kidnapped on November 25, 1986. She was accused of beating the other captives and enjoying it even when Gary was not around.

Sandra Lindsay, age 24, kidnapped on December 3, 1986. She was murdered in February 1987.

Lisa Thomas, age 19, kidnapped on December 23, 1986.

Deborah Dudley, age 23, kidnapped on January 2, 1987. She was murdered on March 19, 1987.

Jacqueline Askins, age 18, kidnapped on January 18, 1987. (featured on The Steve Wilkos Show “I Survived A Serial Killer”)

Agnes Adams, age 24, kidnapped on March 23, 1987 (rescued the same day).

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Heidnik’s house (via criminalmindswikia.com)

COVER

2/5

OPENING:

Officer Julio Aponte shook his head. “No,” the rookie cop said emphatically. “I can’t do it. Not without checking with my supervisor.”

VERDICT:

love coffeelove coffee…just one more True Crime book to go and then I’ll be reading a short history book on champagne and reviewing two YAs. 

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Books & Reviews 📚

Book #60: Born Evil: A True Story of Cannibalism and Serial Murder

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HE HAD NO ENEMIES AND NO FRIENDS.

Homeless and living in his truck, forty-year-old Hadden Clark often drew stares in Bethesda, Maryland. He also slept with a teddy bear, and dressed as a woman, strolling through town, carried carving knives, a straight razor, and a gun in his truck. When the reclusive loner was arrested in 1992 for the stabbing murder of a beautiful young woman, no one was surprised. It was after his incarceration that the surprises came, popping up like half-buried corpses in a heavy rain.

JUST VICTIMS…

While serving a seventy-year sentence, Hadden confessed to having a split personality, dominated by a psychotic mother and daughter who were vying for attention. He also admitted to murdering at least a dozen more women – the ones he could remember – cannibalizing them, using their leftover body parts as fishing bait, and burying their remains everywhere from a local cemetery to a sand dune on Cape Cod. Authorities didn’t believe him – until Hadden took them on a personal four-state tour.

HE EXISTED FOR ONE REASON ONLY: TO KILL.

Separated by a thick glass wall, and under the most stringent security precautions, author Adrian Havill sat face-to-face with a murderer as he participated in several in-person interviews with Hadden Clark, and learned what made this monster kill again and again…

Author: Adrian Havill
Publisher: St. Martin’s True Crime (December 9, 2001)
Chapters: 16 + Epilogue
Pages: 273

The very worst kind of killers can come from the very best of families. Mothers and fathers can go bad, despite their illustrious ancestors, and spawn demon seeds that they unknowingly nurture into depraved adults. 

Mr. Hadden Clarke. Crossdressing cannibal?

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The author set out to tell the story of Hadden Clark, but I felt cheated. The author talked at length about Hadden’s childhood and family which was acceptable up to a certain point because you get a feel of where Clark came from, but going into details about family members and other people threw the story off. I read the cover and I thought it was going to be an intense story because of Hadden’s so-call cannibalism, but after reading, I didn’t even get that feeling. So he drank some blood, but it wasn’t even human’s. However, his brother Brad cannibalized his victim and if the author was looking for Hannibal Lector’s brother, then he should have written the book about Brad.

At one point, I thought I was reading fiction. True crimes stories have always fascinated me to the point where I wanted to be a lawyer one time. I still love the law and I keep up with fascinating cases, but it just was not to be.

Hadden was relentlessly teased by his own parents. They called him ‘retard’. He suffered from hemochromatosis and cerebral palsy. It didn’t stop him from attending the prestigious Culinary Institute of America. He was in the Navy. Just when you thought the poor boy could have some sense of normalcy, something disrupts his life.

At one point, the author spends like ten or so pages going back and forth with Hadden and the cops when he was arrested. I understand that the cops needed to do what they did in order to get Hadden to confess to the crimes, but they were crude, nasty and annoying. And what did Hadden say every time they pleaded with him to confess? ‘I want my lawyer’. Any idiot could see he had played them and he played them patiently well. The cops were simply embarrassed that the killer was under their noses for such a long time and one was there with a vendetta for the Dorr murder.

Cannibalism was not mentioned during court proceedings. So did he or did he not, Mr. Adrian Havill?

Yes, the man’s life was tragic and I feel bad about the unloved childhood he had to endure, but it doesn’t excuse what he did. Hadden cannot be rehabilitated at this point in his life, but he should have gotten treatment at a mental facility. He was not born evil, he was damaged because of the mistreatment he endured from his parents and brothers. This life is wicked.

Hadden is currently serving a 30-year sentence and he draws in his spare time.

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QUOTABLES:

> “A lot of people close to my mom, well, they only saw the good side. When you don’t live with a person, you don’t see the other side.” Hadden (Page 58)

“Why is there evil? It’s not such an easy question to answer. But the fact remains, that we as human beings are imperfect. We hurt and we destroy and all because we are free to do as we please. There is an evil in every one of us, which is exactly why we truly need God. If we were perfect we would be gods ourselves, and life would be irrelevant.” Laura Houghteling (Page 135)

> “A few things I’ve done have been very bad, and maybe if I got the proper care or people hadn’t abused me, I might not have done what I have done.” (Page 230)

^ Salzman was acting as a lawyer should; he was sworn to defend his client to the best of his ability. He knew Hadden was a convicted murderer. He knew of his other crimes. But he wasn’t about to just go through the motions. What he really believed about Hadden would remain his secret. Today he was to be his advocate, and it was his duty to provide him with the strongest defense possible.

It irks me to no end that a lawyer would defend a guilty killer. Guilty killers with STRONG evidence linking/pointing to them shouldn’t get lawyers, but hey, it’s the law.

VERDICT:

2

NEXT UP:

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Burn by James Patterson