miguel ''mike'' ramirez

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Richard Ramirez's cousin, Miguel ''Mike'' Ramirez (right), is said to have had the most influence over Richard as a child. Aside from exposing him to graphic photos of women he had raped and decapitated while serving in the Vietnam war, one experience in particular had forever warped Richard's outlook on life. One day Richard was over at Mike's apartment playing mini pool when he went to get a Coke from the refrigerator. Inside he spotted Mike's pistol sitting on the top shelf and questioned Mike about it. Mike replied that he may be using it and he ''wanted it to be cool.'' Richard thought nothing of it and returned to playing mini pool.

When Mike's wife, Jessie, came home, she immediately began nagging Mike about getting a job. In front of his two kids and Richard, Mike grabbed the gun and shot her in the face at point-blank range. Richard, being only 13 at the time, was shocked. Mike ordered him to leave and Richard scurried back home without hesitation. That night, he was sullen and withdrawn. He never told anyone what he witnessed.

The following days after the murder, Richard and his father returned to the apartment at Mike's request to retrieve some pieces of jewelry for him. There remained a puddle of Jessie's blood on the floor. Searching the very apartment where Jessie had died was a huge turning point for him; for the first time, Richard realized there was something very different about him.

He commented: ''That day I went back to that apartment, it was like some kind of mystical experience. It was all quiet and still and hot in there. You could smell the dried blood. Particles of dust just seemed to hover in the air. I looked at the place where Jessie had fallen and died, and I got this kind of tingly feeling. It was the strangest thing. Then my father told me to look into her pocketbook for this jewelry my cousin wanted, and I dumped Jessie's pocketbook on the bed and looked through her things. It gave me the weirdest feeling–I mean, I knew her, and these were her things, and she was dead. Murdered. Gone. And I was touching her things. It made me feel...in contact with her.''

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