Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer (2021) s01e03 Episode Script

Lock. Your. Doors.

1 Good morning.
High of 88 today, 95 over in the Valley.
We'll be frying eggs on the sidewalk, if you haven't had breakfast DeBarge, at number six on our official L.
countdown this week.
's music.
So, we got two of our officers and stuck them in the dental office, waiting for Richard to come back in.
He's got an impacted tooth and it's gonna be killing him pretty soon.
And we know, if he come back, they're going to get him.
And one of the executives from my department thought that we were wasting money, that the guy was probably not going to come back.
And since the dental office was a jurisdiction of LAPD, we get Los Angeles Police Department to put one of their robbery alarms inside the office.
So, they put that in there and we pulled our guys off.
The very first day that we pull our guys out and put the alarm in, the doctor called me up about ten o'clock that night, says, "Where were you? Why didn't you come?" Richard had been in there that day.
The doctor kept hitting the alarm, and the alarm malfunctioned or wasn't wired prop It didn't go off.
So, we missed him.
I was upset.
How many more people are going to die? I could, in my mind, every single day, walk through that house.
I know every inch of it.
I know every stain on the carpet.
I can see it all.
My grandmother was a sports fanatic.
You couldn't really even talk to her if there was a Dodger game or a Laker game on.
Those were her teams and she loved them.
And my grandfather was salt of the earth.
He would keep boxes of full-sized candy bars.
None of these little pieces of candy.
It was always a full-sized candy bar when Grandpa decided it was okay.
And I remember that there was a series of crimes that had happened.
Somebody was breaking into houses.
Some of the stories were about older people.
I think one was um, two sisters that had lived together.
June 1st, Monrovia, 83-year-old Mabel Bell is beaten to death.
Her invalid sister survives.
So, I worried about my grandparents, and I went to their house and I said, "Grandma, you've got to lock your doors.
There's this creep that's breaking into people's houses.
" My grandmother's response was, "Hey, we're from the Midwest.
Sorry, I don't want to live like that.
I don't want to live where I lock my doors and where I have to be worried about who's going to come in my house.
That's not how I am.
" My father was a Seventh-day Adventist, my mother usually went to church with him.
I met them on Saturday mornings for coffee.
I started calling the house to tell them I might be a few minutes late and I was getting no answer… And I thought that was very unusual.
And my husband I asked him if he would drive me down and take my daughter.
I didn't want to go alone, since I hadn't got an answer.
There was something inside me that… I knew something was wrong.
We stopped in front of the house.
I noticed the pool gate was open, and they never left the gate to the pool yard open, ever.
And then I went to the back door and the door was open.
I went through that room and down the hallway to where their bedroom was, and I looked in their bedroom… My father's head had been almost totally decapitated.
My mother's face was shot off.
The room was just a bloodbath.
My five-year-old had heard me screaming, so she already knew that something terrible happened.
I sat them down.
We just had to tell them.
We knew it had to be done before somebody else told them.
- We sat down and told them.
- Was that the hardest part? Yes, it was, because they love their grandparents.
Unbelievably, how much they love their grandparents.
She looked at my sister and I and said, "Your grandparents are dead.
They've been murdered.
" It changed my world instantly.
We got a hold of Glendale PD and Gil and I met with the Glendale officers.
It looked like a struggle had ensued.
There were no shoe prints, but they were both shot with a .
That .
22 that he used on them, we connect to one of the earlier cases.
And it's the same gun that was used in the Dayle Okazaki case.
We get a hold of LAPD the same morning.
We've got another murder.
And we go to the Khovananth residence in Sun Valley.
He's done two crimes in the same night.
And as we walk up the driveway to the front entrance, on the front porch… I said, "Gil, look at this.
" There is a perfect Avia shoe print on that porch.
We walk around the back where the point of entry is, which is a slider that was Got left unlocked.
There was another Avia shoe print on the step up into the living room.
The suspect had entered the rear slider, went into the bedroom, executed the male, shot him in the head with a .
Then he sexually assaulted the wife, and he sexually assaulted the young boy as well.
He was there a long time at this location, two hours, three hours, and there was quite a bit of jewelry and other items taken.
This is the case… This showed everything.
We had the Avia shoe print, we had the .
22, we had the MO that he was executing the male, sexually assaulting the female, and sexually assault the eight-year-old boy there.
So, we had all of that, all in one case.
The female victim, she was very traumatized, but she was very clear in what she remembered.
Her description, as far as the composite drawing went, was very good.
It was very similar to Okazaki/Hernandez.
And that's the one we went public with.
Frank had been through a serial killer before.
I remember leaving the Hall of Justice one day asking him if it was wrong for me to want somebody else to die.
I needed more evidence.
I needed him to screw up.
And the only way he'd make a mistake was if there were more victims.
I didn't want to see anybody die, but I needed some more pieces of the puzzle in order to work it.
We had called for a meeting of everybody involved, to get everybody on the same page to try and solve this case.
In this meeting… …we get interrupted.
We get notified that a case had happened that night.
There's another case in Northridge where two people had been shot.
The home of Chris and Virginia Petersen.
This man entered the house… Went into the bedroom, shot Virginia, the left side of her nostril, and the bullet lodged in the back side of her neck and didn't hit vital organs as it went through.
She started screaming.
Petersen started to sit up, the suspect shot him, the right side of his head as well, but it didn't go through.
He shoots a husband and wife.
They're both shot in the head.
Chris Petersen gets out of bed and chases him out of the house.
The killer, he's got the gun, and Petersen's got his wounded head, and he chases this killer out of the house.
If I'd shot somebody in the head and they kept coming, I'd run, too.
The suspect used the word "bitch," which is a common word, but that was some of his terminology that he liked.
It was a new gun.
It was a .
25 auto.
At that point, we hadn't seen that gun being used.
The unusual thing about the shell casings was that there was a red primer.
Our crime lab, the firearm section, told us, "That's old ammunition.
" They said, "They don't make that anymore, with that red primer.
" So, that became of interest.
Most killers, they want to know what the cops know.
We knew he was reading the paper, because in the Doi murder… Mr.
Doi was able to call 911.
And that call was released to the news media.
From that point on, the phones were either taken or disabled at the crime scenes.
Cut the phone lines, no more communication, which told me, whoever our suspect is, he's following the news.
The L.
Times contacts the Sheriff's Department and they want to do a story in regards to my involvement in the Hillside Strangler case and now being involved in the latest series.
I made the flippant remark that "This case here, this recent one, that shows the true colors of what this killer is all about.
" And what I meant was he's a coward.
He shoots two people in bed, a husband and wife.
Chris Petersen gets up out of bed and he chases this killer out of the house.
He is a coward.
That was something I shouldn't have said, but I was pissed.
I had no idea it was going to be on the front page of the L.
Times with a photograph.
With a whole bunch of personal details about his life.
He had children at home at the time.
When you're a homicide detective on the biggest case in the world, you're maybe working 20 hours a day, and you can't be everywhere at once.
Very scary thing.
It's the only time in my entire life that I slept with a gun.
I'll tell you that.
Those who don't have guns are buying them.
- Will you buy a gun? - Definitely.
- Do you know how to use a firearm? - No.
The same man is suspected in six to eight murders and 25 to 30 attacks.
I'm afraid for everybody.
Elderly, young, everybody.
And the security industry continues to benefit, whether it's from guard dog training… Hi-yah! Or from self-defense classes at this karate school, using, of all things, a key chain.
Locks are selling well, too.
I don't understand why somebody can't identify him.
He has to live somewhere.
Somebody must know.
He's a weird-looking character.
Somebody has to know him.
Journalists wanted to give this unknown monster a name.
KNBC, our boss, named him "The Walk-In Killer.
" - Walk-In Killer.
- Walk-In Killer.
…so-called Walk-In Killer.
Then there was "The Valley Intruder.
" The so-called Valley Intruder task force continues its search.
Then, one morning in August, we woke up and… The Herald Examiner called him "The Night Stalker.
" And that was the branding that stuck.
There's a new development in the investigation of the so-called Night Stalker murders in California.
Californians have come to know him as the Night Stalker.
The search for California's Night Stalker continues.
Neighbors sat quietly staring at the house, wondering why the couple was picked out by the Night Stalker and thanking God it wasn't them.
We were asleep, and the phone rang 2:00, 3:00 in the morning… And Gil answered it.
And when he got off the phone I remember asking, "Where did he hit now?" And he told me, "Diamond Bar.
" The drive to Diamond Bar was just a matter of five, six minutes away.
It was close.
Diamond Bar.
I said, "Oh, dear Lord.
" It's too close to home.
I was too afraid.
How could I protect my kids, myself there? She says, "You're not going till me and the kids are gone.
We're not coming home till this is over.
" And I said, "Okay.
" And we walked out the door as a family.
He got in his car and we went.
And we left.
She was… She was afraid.
She had to get out because I wasn't there.
I'm nothing without my family.
My family is everything.
So, we go to Diamond Bar.
Gil gets there first because he lived very close.
The point of entry is at the rear of the house.
The telltale sign, there's a half-eaten honeydew melon still on the table.
Okay, he's pretty comfortable again.
And we have a dead husband with a gun to the temple.
The .
25 semi-automatic pistol, and it's the same .
25 caliber ammunition that we had seen previously at Petersen.
That's with the red primer.
The woman had been sexually assaulted, and she tells us that he says, "Don't look at me! Don't look at me!" She says, "I swear to God, I won't!" And he says, "Don't swear to God, swear to Satan.
" I remember getting there, walking through the crime scene… And getting angry.
So many people had walked through the crime scene.
Captains, lieutenants, other people that were involved that happened to be called.
For a lack of term, looky-loos.
They all wanted to see.
This is all big news now.
The victim was Elyas Abowath, a 35-year-old computer engineer.
I'm scared.
I think everybody is scared.
Police say the murderer entered the house through an open window or door, the same way the so-called Walk-In Killer has gotten into other residences in the San Gabriel Valley.
I happen to go down to one of our substations, and the sergeant was up there telling these guys everything he knew about this case.
And telling them how the guy was really a weakling, and he's really not that dangerous.
And my buddy stood up and said, "Gil, can you lend us some insight as to what's going on, because it's your case.
" I said, "Sure, I'll tell you.
First off, everything he just said is wrong.
" I said, "The man's extremely dangerous, he's done a lot of damage, don't take chances with him.
This is what we're looking for, this shoe print…" I gave them the information.
And when I went back to the office, I said, "We've gotta do something.
We have media resources.
We have a media section here.
This is what we're looking for.
Make 23 tapes, get them to the stations so everybody's getting the same information, everybody's on the same page, and you don't have to rely on anybody making up their own stuff because they want to blow smoke up somebody's wazoo.
" And so that's what we did.
The suspect, who is described… As a male Caucasian or light-skinned Latin… 20 to 35 years of age, 5'10 " to 6'2" with a thin build, having medium-length brown hair that is wavy or curly.
He also has stained, gapped front teeth and wears a shoe size of 11 to 12.
Speaking of shoes, the shoes we are looking for… My partner, Inspector Carl Klotz, and I were called out to a crime scene on Eucalyptus Avenue, which in San Francisco is out by the zoo, and what we witnessed was horrific.
Pan had been shot in the head.
He was dead, still lying in a pool of blood in his bed.
Pan had been raped and she was also shot in the head, but she still had a pulse and she was removed to San Francisco General Hospital.
The crime scene, it was pretty grotesque.
After the murder, the killer… Opened the refrigerator… Ate the food that was inside the refrigerator… And then regurgitated on the kitchen floor… And then masturbated on the living room carpet, and then carved a satanic symbol on the wall.
We had somebody that was cold and calculated and was trying to be as evil as he possibly could.
We put out an all-points bulletin and we listed all the particulars of our crime.
This drew the attention of Glendale PD, down in Los Angeles.
They suggested that we do a ballistics check on our slugs from the victims' bodies to see if, ballistically, we had a link.
They had a .
25 semi-automatic pistol used, and the kicker was… "Tell me about the .
25 ammunition, the expended round.
" There's a red ring around the primer.
- I go, "Bingo.
" - "Bingo.
" We had a link.
"We'll be up there today.
" Somebody on the assignment desk says, "Hey, there's been another murder in San Francisco that's linked to this.
" And both she and I look at each other and say, "Let's go.
" We went straight from the newsroom to Burbank Airport with the clothes we had on.
Nothing else.
As we're getting on the airplane, I nudged Gil and I said, "Look at that.
" I don't think they were real happy to see us.
No coincidence here.
Laurel Erickson sees Frank and myself and "Hey, guys.
" I believe there was a "Oh, hi, Laurel.
" We said hello.
They wanted to talk.
We said no.
Well, obviously we're in the right place.
Our instincts were right.
You suddenly realize that this… If it is the same person, that he's spread like a disease, an epidemic, you know? He's… Right.
He's 500 miles away and doing the same thing.
This is a statewide wave of terror.
We go by the house.
I think we took a few shots.
Three, four houses up, there's this guy washing his car and I started talking to him.
"Big doings here, huh?" "Oh, yeah.
This is bad stuff.
" I said, "What do you do?" He said, "I'm a police officer.
" I said, "Your buddies were here, right?" He said, "Yeah, they were.
" "What'd they tell you?" "Just like those cases in L.
All that shit written all over the walls.
" And I did not let my jaw drop, because nobody had mentioned anything to us in the L.
cases about writing on the wall.
This is Manson-like, with writing on the wall.
Suddenly, this becomes a series of crimes of a whole different dimension.
Once we learned that there was pentagrams painted on walls, there may be a demonic, you know, element to this, that really got people scared.
All of a sudden, as soon as the notion of devil worship comes along, then we're being flooded in the newsroom of stories from people who tell us that they found pentagrams painted on different parks or bus benches around the city, or that they had found evidence of animal sacrifice.
It just keeps getting creepier.
We're inside the house, they're showing us everything.
It's the second story.
We had to walk up some stairs, get up there and… There's a knock on the door.
And it was Laurel Erickson.
She wants to know if Frank can come outside to talk to her.
When we got that tip, we were in the game.
We had a piece of information nobody else had.
And I said, "Frankie, she wants to talk to you, buddy, go on out.
" There was grim news today for L.
task force investigators Sergeant Frank Salerno and his partner Gil Carrillo.
We understand there is writing on the wall in there that says "Jack the Ripper," and that is one of the links between here and L.
I dunno where you're getting your information.
Anything from this case has to come from San Francisco police.
Okay? Thank you.
Frank must be a great poker player.
His face did not show a thing.
He's totally denying it.
As for San Francisco police, they are trying to do what L.
A officers could not do.
- What's the next step, now? - Try and catch him, I guess.
We briefed San Francisco Police Department totally on what we had been doing.
We talked about the Avia shoe print, the description, just about every case.
We are asking that upon your arrival you be extra careful while responding… To and around the residence, keeping an eye out for footprints that may have been left behind by the suspect.
This shoe, which has a US patent on the sole, has a very distinct pattern of which there is no other alike.
It is absolutely essential that this information concerning his footwear remain confidential, especially with any contacts with any other subjects and/or the public.
San Francisco now has more than 60 police officers assigned to its own special task force.
Night patrols increase tonight, especially in this neighborhood where a man was murdered over the weekend.
I asked if the mayor's office would issue a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the killer of Mr.
The mayor's office contacted the chief's office, wanted to know what this was about.
The chief explained to the mayor of San Francisco, Dianne Feinstein, that we had a link to the Night Stalker.
Your attention please for a brief statement.
Everybody, please closely study this composite.
He's someone that will go into a home at night and will kill.
And it's a very serious situation.
There's a $10,000 reward for any information which can lead to his arrest and conviction.
Ballistics on the weapons that On the weapon that killed both Mr.
And Mrs.
Pan out on Eucalyptus over the weekend, are the same ballistics on, I understand, more than a dozen murders committed in Southern California.
When we got back to L.
, we learned that Mayor Feinstein had held a press conference, where she just vomited all really important information out to the public.
She gave up the fact that we had connected these cases with a shoe print, with firearms evidence.
She's talking about the Avia shoe… About a car and the caliber of gun.
You don't want to release information only the killer would know.
Now we're burned.
The killer knows we know about his shoe print being left at the various crime scenes.
And I went through the roof.
Without a doubt, Mayor Feinstein made a big mistake.
I guess the chief… Never told the mayor… Not to release this information.
After Feinstein did her thing… We never did recover those shoes.
It was devastating.
I thought it was over with.
To say we were upset… I mean, we were pissed.
Absolutely livid.
Went up to the 8th floor, where our office was, and I said, "Fuck it, Frank.
Let's get out of here.
This is bullshit.
" So, we go down to a local bar in Chinatown.
We had a drink with the captain, begging him, "Please, you got to get Sheriff Sherman Block.
He's gotta do something.
Stop politicians from getting involved in our case.
" He says, "Okay, I'll see you later.
I'm gonna get out of here.
" He calls us back about a half hour later and says, "Stop drinking, get something to eat, get back up in the office in 45 minutes.
" Are we ready? Okay.
Good evening.
I want to thank all of you, first of all, for coming out at this late hour on such short notice.
Because of the linkage between the events in our community, the murders and assaults, and the one in San Francisco, we felt it necessary to disseminate to all law enforcement in the state of California some very critical, sensitive information.
It is unfortunate that some of these agencies around the state… Have released some of that information to the media, and I'm telling you that that information has significantly jeopardized the investigation that is underway.
A week ago, we did not have a great deal to work on, but as of this moment, we have one heck of a lot less.
And Sheriff Block, he wanted us back down in his office, and he said, "Well, fellas.
What do you think? How did it go?" And I just told the Sheriff, I said, "Sheriff Block, you took two men that are down-and-out tired… You put a smile back on their face… And they're ready to go to work tomorrow morning.
" It was almost 3:00 a.
Sunday morning.
A 29-year-old woman told deputies an intruder shot her boyfriend in the head, then turned on her.
Inside Mission Community Hospital, 29-year-old Bill Carns fights for his life.
His fiancée, who was also attacked, is at his bedside.
The intruder grabbed her, he sexually assaulted her, and tied her up.
Salerno, the 46-year-old sheriff sergeant leading the investigation predicted the killer would murder again, and he did.
During the conversation, while the suspect was at the location with the female, he made certain comments, one of which was, "I am the Night Stalker.
" So, he was watching the news like we were.
He liked that name.
There was no doubt at that point that our suspect had now gone to San Francisco, left San Francisco, and come now back down into Orange County.
Fortunately for us, there was a young man that lived in the neighborhood… That was working on a bike, and he saw the car drive up, driving slow, looking around, and he thought it was funny, then he saw it leave.
The young man, he recalls a partial plate of that vehicle and the description of the car.
That gets released to the news media.
And we receive a call from an individual who says he had a friend who had a very similar car stolen recently in Chinatown.
I realized, "Bill's Toyota's orange.
I wonder if there could be a connection.
" And the plate on that stolen car matched the partial plate that the young man down in Orange County had remembered.
The car the killer may have was stolen in L.
's Chinatown this weekend.
It is a 1976 Toyota station wagon, orange in color, license number 482 RTS.
The car was located 6th and Alexandria in downtown L.
in a parking lot.
This is Laurel Erickson in the Rampart area, where the stolen car was spotted.
Detectives stake out the area, hoping the killer will come back.
We sat on it for a little bit, then decided he's not coming back to this car.
Orange County crime lab processed the car and they were able to pull a latent fingerprint off the rear-view mirror, where apparently the suspect reached up and adjusted it.
We now have a live fingerprint, but we didn't know who the print belonged to at that time, because fingerprints were not automated.
We had to have a suspect's fingerprint card and examine the fingerprint card against the latent print, but we had to wait until we got a suspect.
Anything suspicious, we want them to call.
What may seem very unimportant to someone else could be extremely important to us.
We get a call from a female, and she said her father was sort of a street person.
He hung out down by the Greyhound bus depot, Skid Row, and he had befriended an individual named Rick.
And he thinks Rick might be the Night Stalker.
So, we sent a team out there right away, I mean, immediately.
Found the father.
He eventually told them, "Yeah, Rick, he's from El Paso.
" And one of the key things he told us was Rick had told him about a murder he committed in Monterey Park, Asian couple, and that he used a .
22 semi-automatic pistol.
That information definitely wasn't out there, and he also told us that, uh, he had gotten that pistol from Rick and that he had taken it to Tijuana and given it to somebody.
So, two of our detectives took him to Tijuana.
And they recovered that gun and they recovered a boom box, or a big radio, also.
As it turns out, that radio had been stolen during the Bell and Lang murder.
Bell and Lang's grandson bought the radio for them, and he still had the receipt with the serial number and we were able to match it up that way.
He said, "I don't know his last name.
He never told me.
" But… It was obvious that Rick probably was the killer.
A police informant by the name of Earl Gregg surrenders a bracelet he thinks might be linked to the Night Stalker case, and he tells me he got the bracelet from his wife's mother.
She lived in San Pablo, California.
So, we headed out that morning to find her.
She told us that she got the bracelet from her boyfriend, named Armando Rodriguez.
He got that bracelet from his friend from El Paso, who she only knew as Rick.
We couldn't believe what we were hearing.
She told us that Rick wore a black AC/DC hat, wore a black Members Only jacket, had bad teeth.
The more she spoke, the more we knew… We were on the track of the Night Stalker.
Armando Rodriguez lives in El Sobrante, California, and we're only minutes away.
And as we pull up to the address, we stood outside the gate.
Next thing I see is Armando coming out of the house walking toward me.
And I said, "Listen, Armando, we need your help.
We need you to help solve probably one of the biggest and most important cases in the history of the state of California.
Your friend, Rick, is a very brutal killer.
You're going to help us break the Night Stalker case.
" Now his tone changes.
"He's not the Night Stalker.
I'm not helping you at all.
" So, I grab him by the shirt and I physically place him in the car.
I turned and I said, "Look, Armando.
You could do yourself a big favor.
Cooperate with us.
We need the last name of your friend Rick.
Do you understand me?" "Fuck you!" I'm looking at him, and when I talk, I close my fist.
He says, "Oh, you want to fight, you motherfucker tough guy?" And his hands come up.
And I struck a short jab.
It wasn't my best punch, but it definitely wasn't my worst.
He touches his cheek.
"Is that as hard as you can hit?" I looked at him and I flashed back on crime scenes.
The Pans, the vomit, the masturbation.
And I said, "Pretty boy, I'm going to split you from the top of your head to your ass.
" And I put my fist up against the windshield and I started over the backseat, hellbent on… Demolishing this guy.
He threw his hands up in a cross and he fell back in his seat and he said, "Richard Ramirez.
Richard Ramirez.
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