Crime & Justice

Richard Ramirez, the 'Night Stalker,' died of cancer, coroner says

Richard Ramirez enters the courtroom on September 29, 1989.
Richard Ramirez enters the courtroom on September 29, 1989.
L.A. Public Library/Herald-Examiner Collection

Ordinary citizens captured Richard Ramirez, the serial killer known as the "Night Stalker" who terrorized Southern California in the mid-1980s, but it was cancer that killed him.

The Marin County Coroner's office has concluded that the infamous death row inmate died of B-cell lymphoma, a form of cancer that targets the immune system.

The coroner's report also noted that chronic substance abuse and a chronic Hepatitis “C” viral 
infection were significant conditions Ramirez had at the time of death.

Related:  'Night Stalker' Richard Ramirez dies of natural causes

Ramirez terrorized residents of Southern California in 1984 and 1985 with a series of brutal murders and sexual assaults. Bloody crime scenes were reportedly marked with Satanic symbols.

It was a group of citizens in East Los Angeles that finally caught him — and beat him — in 1985 while he was attempting a carjacking.

As NBC LA reports, Ramirez had been moved from death row at San Quentin State Prison to Marin General Hospital shortly before he died to be treated for liver failure. Fifty-eight other death row inmates have died from natural causes since 1978, when California reinstated capital punishment, according to NBC LA.

There are as many as 70 recognized forms of lymphoma, according to the National Cancer Institute, but they can be roughly divided between Hodgkins and non-Hodgkins varieties. Hodgkins lymphoma has a five-year patient survival rate of about 85 percent and is now considered to be one of the most curable forms of cancer.

The type of lymphoma Ramirez had is non-Hodgkins and is more pernicious, with only a 71 percent survival rate after five years.