Analysis: The Night Stalker

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On February 29, 1960, Ricardo Leyva Muñoz Ramirez was born in El Paso Texas. Twenty-five years later, Ricardo, now known as Richard, became “The Night Stalker”: enemy number one of the city of Los Angeles. Ramirez moved to Los Angeles when he was eighteen years old and slowly began his reign of terror over the city. His crimes evolved from burglaries to the extremely violent rapes and murders of dozens of women. Ramirez was not born with the skills and drives to commit these acts. As Edwin Sutherland’s Differential Association Theory states, criminal behaviors are often taught. In the case of “The Night Stalker”, these behaviors were instilled in Ramirez from a young age starting with his close friendship with his criminal cousin, Mike. In …show more content…
His intention with this theory was to “determine, at an individual level, those who became lawbreakers, and those who do not regardless of their race, class, and ethnic background” (University of Minnesota Duluth). In Sutherland’s theory, social interactions are of the upmost importance. Differential Association can be broken into three different areas. First, criminal behavior is learned through interactions with other people. Essentially, individuals learn criminal behaviors through communication with individuals who have already engaged in criminal activity. Second, the transfer of this information takes place in more intimate groups and also includes the skills and motives to commit specific crimes. A person is more likely to learn certain behaviors from a person that they are close with and that they strongly admire (Grugan). Third, “a person becomes a delinquent because of definitions favorable to violation of law over definitions unfavorable to violations of law” (University of Minnesota Duluth). This translates to: a person picks up criminal behavior because the behaviors around them and the responses to them make it look like criminal activity is acceptable as opposed to being something to be ashamed of. In the case of Richard Ramirez, all three of these criterion were …show more content…
Ramirez was the fifth of seven children born to an extremely Catholic mother and father. Though Ramirez had four older siblings to look up to and follow around, he became extremely close to his cousin Mike. Mike was a Vietnam War veteran that Richard would often hang out with. The two became great friends and spent most of their time with one another. When Ramirez was twelve, Mike decided to share some of his more disturbing secrets with his young cousin (Grise). While serving in Vietnam, Mike and his friends would engage in disturbing activities. He was guilty of raping and murdering multiple women while deployed. To make matters even worse, Mike would take photographs of the result of his acts. He showed off these photographs to Richard and described to him how much fun he had while doing these awful things to those women. Later in his life, Richard would admit to being aroused by the images Mike showed him (Chen). He would go on to say that he knew it was wrong to feel the way that he did, but he couldn’t say anything in order to protect Mike and keep his friendship. As the two grew closer, Mike began to teach Richard how to shoot a gun and proper use a knife as a weapon (Grise). On one of the last days that the two cousins were together, Richard witnessed Mike’s criminal behaviors first hand. As the two were playing billiards, Mike’s

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