Night Stalker Richard Ramirez, who terrorized Southern California in the mid-1980s, also had Hepatitis C and symptoms of chronic drug use when he died of cancer, coroner’s officials said Monday.
Richard Ramirez died June 7 at age 53 at a hospital where he had been taken for treatment of liver failure.
Prison guards have told how the notorious murderer turned bright green from liver failure in the hours before he died.
Richard Ramirez died of complications from B-cell lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system, according to the Marin County coroner’s office. It listed other “significant conditions” including chronic substance abuse and hepatitis C, which is often spread by the use of intravenous drugs.
The drug abuse predated Richard Ramirez’s time in prison, said Lieutenant Keith Boyd, assistant chief deputy coroner.
“That’s chronic drug use prior to incarceration,” he said.
“There’s nothing to support any kind of drug use while incarcerated.”
The drug use was the likely cause of the hepatitis C infection that probably lingered in Richard Ramirez’s system for a quarter-century before eventually destroying his liver, Keith Boyd said.
Richard Ramirez’s medical records remain confidential even after his death, said Joyce Hayhoe, a spokeswoman for the federal official who controls medical care in California prisons.
Terry Thornton, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, could not immediately say if Richard Ramirez had any disciplinary history of using drugs or obtaining contraband in prison. His voluminous file is kept only in hard-copy and would have to be reviewed by hand, she said.
Lieutenant Sam Robinson, a prison spokesman, said he could not immediately comment.
Richard Ramirez had been on death row at San Quentin State Prison since he was convicted in 1989 of 13 murders in 1984 and 1985. Executions have been on hold for years, however, because of ongoing legal challenges.
He was nicknamed the Night Stalker by the media because residents were warned to lock their doors and windows as the killings peaked during the hot summer of 1985. The killer had been entering homes through unlocked windows and doors. He then killed his victims with a gun or knife, burglarized the homes and assaulted his female victims.
Richard Ramirez reportedly turned “a shocking shade of green” before his death from liver failure on Friday June 7.