Netflix’s new docu-series “Night Stalker” draws viewers in


Courtesy of Netflix

By Melina Wsol

Los Angeles, 1985: a time where Madonna, Wham!, and Duran Duran were the talk of the town. However, this would all change in March of 1985, after Richard Ramirez murdered his first victim, Dayle Okazaki, and attacked her roommate, Maria Hernandez.
Nearly 40 years later, director Tiller Russel, best known for “Chicago Fire” and “Chicago P.D.,” has taken to documenting the 167 days in which the young, plucky detective, Gil Carillo, and the famous, grizzled investigator, Frank Salerno, teamed up to hunt down the infamous ‘Night Stalker.’
The four part docu-series consists of 50 minute episodes, spanning from March to August 1985, focusing mainly on Carillo and Salerno and how they piece together the clues: descriptions of murders, how they were carried out as well as what the crime scene looked like, and the families of the victims.
Surprisingly, the documentary only focuses on Ramirez in the final episode; in the previous ones he was only teased with audio tapes. Russel’s main focus was to micro-examine each piece of evidence the Los Angeles Homicide Bureau uncovered, what they did with that evidence, and how it eventually led to the arrest of Ramirez.
However, the episodes are not just about the facts and evidence. Russel also used this series as a way to honor and commemorate the victims in the most respectful way possible. He uses many interviews with the families of the victims to talk about how wonderful their family members were, what their passions and interests were, and how much they are missed.
The series yet again appeals to emotions through interviews with the Carillo family. With Gil being an underdog raised on the streets turned cop, he was made to be the detective who helped solve this case. He acts almost as an antithesis to Ramirez, and shows how he made a great life for himself after serving in the army and going to college.
Carillo’s wife, Pearl, had testimonies that pulled at the heartstrings. She tells how the case of the ‘Night Stalker’ was slowly wearing their family down, as Gil worked twenty hour days and barely got any sleep. She recalls of a time where one of Ramirez’s murders got too close to home, and she had to move her children and herself away while her husband still worked overtime to solve the case.
As much as this docu-series is emotional and technical, it is still horrifyingly accurate and spares no detail in describing the murders of the ‘Night Stalker.’ Make no mistake, it is just as chilling as it is captivating and will most certainly draw you in.