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Legacy Of Night Stalker Continues

Mug shot of Richard Ramirez.

Mug shot of Richard Ramirez. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Life in Southern California was different in the summer of 1985. A Satanic serial killer unleashed a sadistic reign of terror and more than a dozen people were murdered as result. Not all his victims died. Some bear the scars of 1985 forever.

At least once a week for the past 27 years, an increasingly frail woman has pressed her hands together in prayer and thanked the man who shot her son three times in the head.

Anne Carns, now 85, decided during the terrible summer of 1985 that hating the man newspapers called the “Night Stalker” could consume her, so she began thanking Ramirez instead.

Billy Carns, her 56-year-old son, has a different approach.

On Aug. 25, 1985, Billy was asleep in his Mission Viejo home when Ramirez climbed through an open window, shot Carns with a. 25-caliber handgun and raped his girlfriend – part of a statewide crime rampage that still conjures terror in the minds of many California residents who lived through it.

Ramirez, the devil-worshipping serial killer, was convicted of 13 murders and 11 sexual assaults among 43 felony counts. He was sentenced to the death penalty in 1989. But with appeals pending, Ramirez lives on death row at San Quentin State Prison awaiting an execution date.

A bullet still lodged between his skull and brain, Billy Carns has been serving a far worse, unstable, bizarre life term in Bismarck.

He lives next door to his mother in a small house filled with evidence of frontal-lobe brain trauma – his collections of pens (all red pens are kept in the bathroom while black and blue pens congregate throughout the house), small batteries, house plants ordered from mesmerizing television ads, 1970s stereo components, soldering guns, bars of soap, rotting food (he forgets when he bought it) and medication containers.

Billy sleeps next to the same headboard – dark, routed wood with an oval mirror in the middle – from his 1985 bedroom where the shooting took place. On the wall above the headboard is a drawing of him and his former girlfriend from 1985.

In the basement, on the guest bed, rests the pillowcase with the bullet hole made by Ramirez’s gun. Billy sticks his finger through the bullet hole and shows the outline of a patch that once covered the hole but fell off after so many washings.

Billy lives surrounded by 1985, blurting constantly to anyone who will listen that he was shot three times in the head. “Wanna see my scar?” he says, cheerfully, pulling up his hair to reveal the remnant of an exit wound … while his mother cringes.

Twenty-seven years later, Billy Carns still cannot escape the Night Stalker.

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