Night Stalker: Retracing the Hunt for a Killer in a Disturbing Netflix Series

The first minutes of Night Stalker: the Hunt for a Serial Killer, a new Netflix true crime mini-series, focus not on the titular killer, real name Richard Ramirez, but on the city he terrorized in the 1980s: Los Angeles, sun-kissed yet long marked by a grisly streak of noir crime both real (the Black Dahlia, the Manson murders) and fictional (the works of Raymond Chandler, an entire genre of films). From its title font to its darkened and foreboding covers of synth hits, Night Stalker evokes the mid-80s – a time of rapid growth for LA’s national profile, especially following the 1984 Olympics, and, in 1985, a summer of stultifying heat and a wave of fear following a rash of brutal home invasions.

Night Stalker incorporates many staples of the true crime genre – extended slo-mo montages, the click-click flitting through crime scene photos, seedy bar aesthetic – for the story of a serial killer with unusual indiscretion. From June 1984 until his arrest in August 1985, Ramirez, then 25 and represented in anxious press coverage by an unsettling police sketch of a slight, tanned man with a block of dark curls and large, disturbingly intense eyes, killed at least 13 people in a spree of violence whose scope would span at least three separate episodes of Law & Order. The victims – some brutally murdered, some left to call for help – ranged in age from six to 82. There was no consistent target of gender, age, race or class; the murder weapons ranged from attempted strangulation with a telephone cord to point-blank gunshot. Sometimes the killer would leave Satanic messages or symbols, other times he paused to eat a piece of fruit from the fridge.

The only commonality seemed to be an unlocked door or window, and as the hits intensified – some on the same night, or within two days of each other – LA residents zipped up their homes in 100F heat, purchased window bars or adopted large dogs.

The Night Stalker centres around the recollections of Gil Carrillo and Frank Salerno, the two Los Angeles police detectives who tracked the crimes over five harrowing months in 1985 and who largely serve as the series’ dual narrators.

This is a grisly series, much more explicit than “The Railway Killers” but, nevertheless, a riveting production … :scream:

I don’t know whether it’s still on Netflix - I downloaded it from documentary source - it’s not for the faint-hearted but, for those interested in police investigations, well worth watching … :+1:

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