A close call, with a close and famous case.
Reading about famous true crime stories can be frightening. Being directly involved or on the fringe of one can be equally concerning.
Throughout my career, I have been involved in many murder cases, but the one that hit closest to home occurred in the early 1980’s during Southern California’s Night Stalker investigation. During The Night Stalker’s murder spree, serial killer Richard Ramirez terrorized Californians from San Francisco to Orange County. Under the cover of darkness Ramirez would enter homes to rape and murder the occupants. The locations he attacked were random, including the victims he targeted. The Satanic references he left smeared in blood at crime scenes were cause for further alarm.
At the time I lived with my family in close proximity to Los Angeles and Orange Counties. I remember sleeping that summer with the windows shut and locked. At that time, we didn’t have air conditioning in our home, making it hot and uncomfortable. But, considering the brutality of the Night Stalker’s attacks, it was worth the discomfort.
That summer, I was assigned to work dayshift patrol. A young woman had reported a burglary to her residence and I was sent to investigate. She was away from her apartment overnight when someone broke in. It appeared that the suspect had ransacked the interior and slashed her waterbed with a knife. She was concerned that the burglar would return, but I assured her that she would be alright, that the likelihood of him returning was minimal.
The following week, my boss asked if I had taken a burglary report from the young woman. When I told him that I did, he replied that she had been murdered. Investigators initially thought she was a victim of the Night Stalker. Later, they arrested her neighbor, a local gang member, for murder. He burglarized the apartment and discovered the occupant was a single female. He came back the following week for sex. When she refused to submit, he chased her outside of her apartment and killed her on a neighbor’s doorstep. He was so brazen, that investigators remembered seeing him in the crowd watching them.
Cases like these, famous or not, always bother police officers. I always went to great lengths to protect my family and others I was charged to protect. I still do. But, this case was one of those where you wish you could have done more. Even thoughI know that I couldn’t. To this day, I still wish that I could.