The Night Stalker: Here is what happened to Richard Ramirez's wife, Doreen Lioy

Richard Ramirez terrorized the West Coast of the United States between 1984 and 1985. Although he was a serial killer, the Night Stalker found love in Doreen Lioy. Here is what happened.

This is the story of The Night Stalker's groupie wife
© Bettmann / Getty Images
This is the story of The Night Stalker's groupie wife

TW: mentions of murder, violence, sexual abuse

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Between 1984 and 1985, Ricardo Leyva Muñoz Ramirez, better known as Richard Ramirez, was a serial killer who committed 14 murders, 11 rapes and 14 burglaries, all in the span of one year. Attacking adults as well as children between the ages of 6 and 9, he was sentenced to 19 death sentences in the state of California.

Imprisoned in 1989, but his sentence was never carried out. Indeed, in 2013, after complications from a lymphoma, he died on death row, of natural causes.

Despite being a known serial killer, capable of extreme violence, even more so towards children, Richard Ramirez was still able to get married inside the state prison of San Quentin in California. Here is everything we know about his wife from 1996 to 2013, Doreen Lioy.

Who is Doreen Lioy?

Now, although most people feel hatred, disgust or contempt towards serial killers, that is not the case for everyone. Some people are sometimes completely attracted sexually or emotionally to these monstrous people who have committed the worst atrocities against their victims. This is called hybristophilia.

As you can imagine, Doreen Lioy is a hybristophile and was part of a community called 'killer groupies'. This community consisted of serial killer fans who would gather on social media, each one defending the so-called honour, name, or image of their favourite serial killer.

Doreen Lioy was born in 1955 in Burbank, California, and not much is known about her childhood or her early life in general. In the late 70s and early 80s, her name appeared in several articles in Tiger Beat, a teenage magazine that kept up with the latest gossip in the world of stars.

As a journalist, she also went out to discover the stars of tomorrow who would end up on the red carpets. For example, John Stamos, an actor you can see on Full House, ER, Glee, and more recently You, revealed in 2019 that Doreen Lioy was actually the reason he got the career we know today.

Known to be quite lonely and rather shy, it was difficult to imagine that Doreen Lioy could get close to the monster that was Richard Ramirez, the Night Stalker. And it was even more shocking to her family and friends when she actually became his wife.

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Married for better but mostly for worse

On August 31, 1985, Richard Ramirez was arrested after he went on a murderous rampage which was supposedly the result of years of abuse during his traumatic childhood, when he was beaten, and witnessed extreme violence and murders. According to psychiatrists who were in charge of his case study, Richard Ramirez was not born a psychopath, he became one.

Indeed, reports argued that he never showed signs of psychopathic behaviour during his childhood. In fact, Richard Ramirez never had a problem with bed-wetting, was never cruel to animals or other children (as a child anyway) or committed arson. Thus, psychiatrists concluded that Richard Ramirez was an exception from other traditional psychopaths.

From the opening of his trial in 1985, Richard Ramirez sparked Doreen Lioy's curiosity, and she attended several of her future husband's hearings. However, it wasn't until his incarceration that the journalist confessed her feelings to the convicted serial killer.

She sent him no less than 75 love letters. A love that apparently went both ways, as Richard Ramirez asked her to marry him in 1988. Doreen said yes, despite knowing everything he'd done, in detail, since she attended the trial. Eight years later, the couple said 'I do' in the state prison of San Quentin, California.

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In 2009, Doreen Lioy fell back into reality

From 1996 to 2009, Doreen Lioy said she was very happy to share her life with Richard Ramirez. Indeed, even if the ex-journalist had to give up her dream of starting a family since death row inmates are denied conjugal visits, she had imagined another family, one that only consisted of her and Ramirez.

Her love for him was so strong that she often declared she would kill herself when he was executed, to join him in the afterlife. In several interviews, she did not hesitate to defend her husband when she felt that his honour was being undermined or attacked. In 1997, she even told CNN:

He's kind, he's funny, he's charming.
I think he's really a great person. He's my best friend; he's my buddy.

However, a few years before the Night Stalker died, the couple began to fall apart. Indeed, while Richard Ramirez was on death row for 13 murders, new evidence pushed that number up to 14 when DNA testing confirmed that he had killed 8-year-old girl Mei Leung.

He had beaten, strangled, raped and stabbed her to death before hanging her body in a basement. She was his very first victim and he could never be judged for her murder, because it was too late.

This new evidence eventually became too much for Doreen Lioy, who finally opened her eyes and saw who her husband really was, a monstrous killer. That same year, the first signs of Richard Ramirez's illness appeared. Although the couple never filed for divorce, Doreen allegedly stopped visiting him in 2009 and never spoke to him again until his death in 2013.

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Where is Doreen Lioy today?

After the revelations about Mei Leung and her husband's death, Doreen Lioy completely disappeared from the public eye. Perhaps she reacted as most families of serial killers do, meaning she stayed as far away as possible from the media so her name would not be associated with hateful crimes.

Except that in the case of Doreen Lioy, she was well aware of her future husband's actions when she met him. Unlike wives, children, brothers, and sisters, who obviously distance themselves from the murderer once they have been convicted, or those who choose to try to make things right with the victims' families.

To learn more about the Night Stalker, Richard Ramirez, we recommend you watch Netflix's mini-series Night Stalker: The Hunt For a Serial Killer. It follows Richard Ramirez's killing spree, a man who, in one year, committed more atrocities than some of the most notoriously gruesome serial killers.

This article has been adapted from Gentside FR.

Sources used:

ETOnline: John Stamos Reveals His Unexpected Connection to the 1985 'Night Stalker' Serial Killer (Exclusive)

CNN: The Night Stalker's wife

Ted Bundy: Here is what happened to the serial killer's wife Carole Ann Boone Ted Bundy: Here is what happened to the serial killer's wife Carole Ann Boone