EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — A new Netflix docuseries promises to deliver for true crime aficionados with a connection to the Borderland.
On Wednesday, Netflix released “Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer,” which tells the story of the search for Richard Ramirez, one of the most notorious serial killers in American history, using interviews, archival footage and original photography.
The four-episode limited docuseries avoids focusing on Ramirez (who is from El Paso), instead offering an examination of Los Angeles under Ramirez’s murderous spree where at least 13 people were murdered.
“It was profoundly important to me that this series was never about glorifying or romanticizing the killers,” said Tiller Russell, the series’ director and executive producer.
Ramirez terrorized LA during the summer of 1985 and baffled law enforcement. The pattern and victimology stumped investigators because Ramirez chose his prey at random.
The ages of the victims ranged from a child to an octogenarian (6 to 82 years old), and cause of death varied from strangulation, blunt force by hammer and being shot with a .22.
“It unleashed this wave of terror across the city because anyone — man, woman or child — of any socioeconomic class or race could be next,” Russell said.
Russell added that part of his interest in Ramirez’s cruel summer is the degree to which his predation permeated the minds of Angelinos.
“Anyone who was in LA at that time can vividly tell you exactly where they were and what it felt like because it was so shocking and powerful,” he said.
The Ramirez killings are part of 20th-Century noir crime in LA that includes the Black Dahlia and the Manson murders.
Russell said his goal as a filmmaker was to underscore the experience of law enforcement and tell the story from the victims’ perspectives.
“One of the great joys of multi-part, nonfiction stories like this is that you get the granularity of storytelling from serialized television, with a beginning, middle and end, but there is also a dramatic arc to it,” said Russell, whose body of work includes being a local crime reporter and later a writer on Dick Wolf’s cop-thriller “Chicago P.D.”
Ramirez caused a previously unknown sense of havoc in the City of Angels that exposed the vulnerability within us all, say the series’ filmmakers.
“What was so shocking was that it sent the message that anyone could be a victim,” said Russell. “If you put yourself in the shoes of people living in Los Angeles at the time, you’re asleep in your home at night, when you should be safest and most protected, and now that’s suddenly when you’re most vulnerable.”
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