Now with multiple victims able to describe him, sketches of Ramirez were all over the news. When police ran a fingerprint found in the abandoned stolen car described by the Romeros, it was a match for Ricardo Leyva Muñoz Ramírez, a 25-year-old drifter from Texas with a long rap sheet for drugs, auto theft and other offenses.
“We know who you are now, and soon everyone else will. There will be no place you can hide,” police told reporters at a press conference.
The manhunt—finally for a man with a flesh-and-blood face—was on.
The younger James Romero, recalling how police came back a week after he and his dad chased away the prowler and wanted to know every little detail about that night, told Los Angeles Magazine in 2017 that he didn’t know what they were so interested in at first.
“It was on the news,” he said. “My parents said a serial killer attacked a house here in Mission Viejo. My mom said, ‘They think maybe this is the same person.’ That’s when I found out there was a serial killer called the Night Stalker.” James III said they were all “pretty freaked out,” not knowing if the killer planned to return. “I think my dad even brought out a gun he used to keep locked up.”
And when the Night Stalker was spotted on Aug. 31, the terrified people of Los Angeles weren’t about to let him go. Ramirez walked into a convenience store in East L.A., not realizing his mug shot was on the front page of the papers. As Philip Carlo relayed in his book, he noticed a group of women were quietly muttering to each other about “el matador” (the killer), after which he dashed out of the store, ran across the freeway and attempted to carjack a woman.
A group of bystanders took off after him and, after more attempts to steal a car failed, soon caught up with him. And once they had him surrounded, they commenced beating Ramirez until the police arrived to arrest him.