Monday, May 24, 2010

SOLVED: Mei "Linda" Leung

Mei Leung, first victim of the Night Stalker
Searching for the Devil
By Robert A. Waters

Before he gained lasting infamy as the dreaded Night Stalker, Richard Ramirez murdered a nine-year-old girl. On April 10, 1984, Mei “Linda” Leung was beaten, stabbed, and raped in the tenderloin district of San Francisco. The case went unsolved for twenty-five years, but was never forgotten by Holly Pera, at that time a young beat cop.

When Pera became a cold case detective for the city five years ago, one of the first cases she pulled from the unsolved files was that of Leung. “I was a new police officer at the time [of the murder],” she said. “That’s part of the reason that the case was re-looked at. It’s the type of case as a new officer--a case involving a little girl--that you don’t forget.”

Trace evidence from the murder scene was submitted to the department’s crime lab. Matthew Gabriel, a DNA technician, made the match.

Richard Ramirez, California's Satan-worshiping Night Stalker

Police learned that at the time of the murder, Ramirez lived about six blocks from the girl’s apartment. Leung and her eight-year-old brother had gone to the basement to look for a dollar bill her brother had lost. Somehow, they got separated. When Leung’s brother returned about thirty minutes later, he found her lifeless body hanging from a pipe. There were never any strong suspects in the case.

By 2009, a DNA profile had been milked from the tiny amount of evidence submitted to Gabriel. It was submitted to state and federal databases and the investigators got a surprise: the DNA matched Ramirez.

Throughout 1984 and 1985, the serial killer called the Night Stalker terrorized San Francisco. Using darkness for cover, he broke into dozens of homes, torturing, raping, and killing the occupants. His oldest victim was 83, the youngest 16. Ramirez used lipstick and other items found in the home to scrawl Satanic symbols such as pentagrams on the bodies or inside the house. Some of those who survived told of the killer forcing them at gunpoint to swear that they loved Satan.

With each attack, news coverage increased until it became a crescendo of outrage. Investigators finally identified Ramirez after lifting fingerprints from one of the crime scenes and from a stolen car that he’d driven to another attack. With his photograph plastered all over every newspaper in the country, the Night Stalker had no place to hide. When he tried to steal a car in a mostly Spanish neighborhood in Los Angeles, citizens recognized him, gave chase, caught him, and beat him severely. He was lucky police arrived or he may have been killed by the enraged populace.

The Night Stalker was eventually convicted of 13 murders and dozens of other counts. He was sentenced to death and has been on California’s death row for decades.

As far as is known, Mei Leung was his first murder victim. It’s unknown why Ramirez was in the basement where her body was found. Since he stole for a living, it’s possible that the killer was searching for valuables or for a way to enter some of the apartments. If so, it was a random killing and may have been the catalyst for Ramirez’s rampage which started two months later.

Unfortunately, Mei Leung was an innocent victim who stumbled on a disciple of Satan.

2 comments:

smurfshoe said...

"Throughout 1984 and 1985, the serial killer called the Night Stalker terrorized San Francisco"
Correction, he terrorized Los Angeles not San Francisco from 1984 to 1985

melinashingaling said...

It was not a mostly "Spanish" neighborhood, it was East Los Angeles, and they were not Spanish (from Spain), they were Mexican-Americans. sheesh. The author or this story is clearly from the east coast.