LOS ANGELES -- Richard Ramirez, the demonic serial killer who left satanic signs at murder scenes and mutilated victims' bodies during a reign of terror in the 1980s, died early Friday in a hospital, a prison official said.
Ramirez, 53, had been taken from San Quentin's death row to a hospital where authorities said he died of liver failure. He had been housed on death row for decades and was awaiting execution, even though it has been years since anyone has been put to death in California.
At his first court appearance, Ramirez raised a hand with a pentagram drawn on it and yelled, "Hail, Satan." His marathon trial, which ended in 1989, was a horror show in which jurors heard about one victim's eyes being gouged out and another's head being nearly severed.
Ramirez, known as the "Night Stalker," was convicted of 13 murders that terrorized Southern California in 1984 and 1985 as well as sex charges, burglary and attempted murder.
Satanic symbols were left at murder scenes and some victims were forced to "swear to Satan" by the killer, who entered homes through unlocked windows and doors.
Ramirez was finally run down and beaten in 1985 by residents of an East Los Angeles neighborhood while attempting a carjacking. They recognized him because his picture had appeared that day in the news media.
After his conviction, Ramirez flashed a two-fingered "devil sign" to photographers and muttered a single word: "Evil." On his way to a jail bus, he sneered in reaction to the verdict, muttering: "Big deal. Death always went with the territory. See you in Disneyland."
Ramirez, a native of El Paso, Texas, had a following of young women admirers who came to the courtroom regularly and sent him love notes.