Halloween is getting closer and closer, and it’s time we dive into more spooky and dark stuff.
You could say this is the second edition of a blog I wrote before about forensic dentistry. If you haven’t read that one, go check it out!
This time I want to talk about the very known serial killer Richard Ramirez and how his teeth played a significant part in his capture. You might already be familiar with who that is if you’re a true crime fan.
If you don’t know who we’re talking about, let me give you some context.
Who Was Richard Ramirez?
Also known as “the night stalker,” Richard Ramirez was a serial killer, kidnapper, burglar (among other things) who terrorized residents from the state of California around 1984 to 1985.
Many people still remember him to this day. Even investigators couldn’t wrap their heads around the horrific nature of his murders.
He would break into people’s houses at night, assault them, rob them, and ultimately take their life.
He took the life of a total of 13 people. Luckily some of his other victims were able to make it out alive of the attacks.
Their statements were key to the investigation. They all provided the same physical description, which helped the officials understand how he looked.
People would always mark out that the night stalker was tall, with curly dark hair, protruding eyes, and rotten teeth.
There were many different factors that, one way or another, contributed to his capture, from his footprint to the car he was driving.
And, of course, the one that stood out to me which was his rotten teeth.
What Did The Night Stalker’s Teeth Look Like?
Since he was young, it seemed like Richard Ramirez declared war on his oral health. How? Well, he basically did what you’re absolutely not supposed to do.
Since he was little, he never really brushed his teeth. He would eat food high in sugars and be careless with his overall health.
Some sources say that Ramirez used to eat sugar-coated cereal with coca-cola for breakfast.
And obviously, his drug addiction didn’t help at all. As a result, he already had several missing teeth, periodontal disease, and a good case of tooth decay in his twenties.
In the Netflix documentary, you get to see a little bit of Richard Ramirez’s teeth and how damaged they were. His rotten smile with his demonic eyes was a scary and creepy combination to see.
His Own Dentist Could Have Caught Him
At some point, Ramirez was careless enough to forget his dentist’s card on one of the cars he stole.
Since almost everyone who came across him always mentioned his recognizable teeth, detectives Carrillo and Salerno didn’t think twice about heading to the dental office.
As a dentist, I can’t even begin to imagine how the doctor felt when the detectives told him that one of his patients was a serial killer.
The dentist immediately cooperated to work with the police to catch Ramirez. They planned to station two investigators at the dental office to arrest the killer on his next dental visit.
But he didn’t come back, and it was getting too expensive to keep the two officers at the office for any longer. So instead, they left an alarm that would allow the dentist to alarm the police if Ramirez stepped foot in there.
After a few days, Ramirez did return, but when the dentist tried to activate the alarm, it failed and didn’t alert the officers.
Ramirez’s dentist had to complete his treatment and couldn’t do anything else but see him walk away free once he finished.
At Last, His Reign of Terror Ended for Good
Investigators followed the Night Stalker crimes across California for months but still couldn’t identify them beyond sketches and clues (like the shoe print).
However, they finally discovered a single fingerprint on the rearview mirror of a car he had stolen at the end of August.
That was more than enough to discover the identity of the Night Stalker as Richard Ramirez, who at the time was 25 years old and already had a record of other crimes.
Following that, authorities disclosed a mugshot from one of his previous arrests. It allowed the public to identify him and report his location.
According to news sources at the time, Ramirez was recognized just a few days later in an L.A. liquor store, where he spotted his portrait on the top page of a newspaper.
He then was pursued by a group of bystanders, and after an hour-long chase, they were able to catch Ramirez. He got beaten up by the crowd until police arrived.
In the end, Richard Ramirez’s teeth got fixed in prison right away, but he also spent the rest of his life in prison.
Although his dentists couldn’t catch him, one of them did testify against the killer and refuted one of his alibis. In the end, it very much contributed to finding him guilty and putting him behind bars.