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Psychological Assessment of Richard Ramirez

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Criminology
Wordcount: 2589 words Published: 9th Jul 2021

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Purpose of Assessment

Richard Ramirez, also known as the “Night Stalker” is currently sentenced to capital punishment for multiple counts of murder, attempted murder, sexual assaults, and burglaries. For a final request before his death, Mr. Ramirez has requested a psychological assessment be conducted as to evaluate his mental health when committing his crimes. In order to conduct the assessment, I will be reviewing Mr. Ramirez’s criminal history and prior events leading up to his crimes analyzing any patterns relevant to the assessment. In concluding the review of Mr. Ramirez’s history, I will conduct a psychological assessment and determine in my professional view any mental illness Mr. Ramirez has and state the symptoms he may have using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DMS-V; American Psychiatric Association, 2013).

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Description of the Crime

Between the years of 1984 and 1985, Mr. Ramirez committed several acts of sexual assault, murder, attempted murder, and burglaries until his arrest on August 29, 1985 (Crime Investigation, 2014). Mr. Ramirez’s first victim, Jennie Vincow, was burglarized and sexually assaulted during a burglary in her home (Crime Investigation, 2014). Nine months after the death of Jennie Vincow, Mr. Ramirez attacked Angela Barrios and killed her roommate, Dayle Okazaki (Crime Investigation, 2014). However, unsatisfied with the results from his assault that evening, Mr. Ramirez stabbed Tsai Lian Yu in the same night (Crime Investigation, 2014). Throughout the next five months, Mr. Ramirez repeated the same assault with his victims, in which, his attacks escalated rapidly that had murdered, injured, and sexually assaulted 22 other people until his arrest (Crime Investigation, 2014).

Prior to his criminal convictions, Mr. Ramirez had a criminal record from his youth that had began with petty crimes such as robberies in 1977 placing him in juvenile detention (Crime Investigation, 2014). Years later, Mr. Ramirez engaged in criminal acts such as burglary and car theft in 1983 which led to a sentence in jail where he was released in April 1984.

Psychological History

Mr. Ramirez’s social history has exhibited persistent patterns of exposure of criminal behaviour and violence. At and early age, Mr. Ramirez was exposed to an abusive nature as his father was abusive (Famous People, 2016). During his childhood, Mr. Ramirez was influenced by his older cousin, named Mike, which had told and shown pictures of violent acts that he acquired while serving in the Vietnamese War, introduced Mr. Ramirez to drugs, and had killed his wife in the presence of Mr. Ramirez (Crime Investigation, 2014). As an adolescent, Mr. Ramirez moved to San Francisco, then Los Angeles. While residing in San Francisco and Los Angeles, he had continued petty theft crimes to fuel his drug addiction as he then used cocaine and LSDs, which led Mr. Ramirez in an interest of Satanism (Famous People, 2016). With being exposed to violence and crime, Mr. Ramirez dropped out of high school and ventured into criminal acts (Famous People, 2016)

Current Psychological Functioning

In this section of the assessment, I will conduct an analysis of Mr. Ramirez’s criminal history and the relationship between any potential mental disorders that may lead to any recidivism. This section will discuss two subtopics. First, I will provide a quick assessment of Mr. Ramirez in relations to Conduct Disorder and the symptoms outlined by Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder (DSM-V; American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Second, I will then assess Mr. Ramirez for psychopathy using the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R; Hare, 2016).

Conduct Disorder

According to the Diagnosis and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder (American Psychiatric Association, 2013), Conduct Disorder refers to “a repetitive and persistent pattern of behaviour in which the basic rights of others or major age-appropriate societal norms or rules are violated” (p. 469). In order to be diagnosed with Conduct Disorder at least three of the following 15 criteria must be shown within 12 months, with at least one characteristic present within 6 months (American Psychiatric Association, 2013):

  1. Bullies, threatens or intimidates others
  2. Often initiates physical fights
  3. Has used a weapon that can seriously cause physical harm to others
  4. Has been physically cruel to people
  5. Has been physically cruel to animals
  6. Has stolen while confronting victim
  7. Has forced someone into sexual activity
  8. Deliberately engaged in fire setting with intention of causing serious damage
  9. Destroyed others’ property (other than fire setting)
  10. Broken into someone else’s house, building, or car
  11. Often lies to obtain goods, favours, or to avoid obligations
  12. Stolen items of nontrivial value without confronting the victim
  13. Staying out at night despite parental prohibitions
  14. Runs away from home overnight at least twice while living with a guardian or once without returning for a lengthy period of time
  15. Is often missing from school

Based on the details of Mr. Ramirez’s report and the diagnosis of Conduct Disorder that Mr. Ramirez does acquire the symptoms of the mental illness. Mr. Ramirez exhibits ten out of the possible symptoms listed above. During childhood and adolescent years, Mr. Ramirez would have often dealt with using drugs with his older cousin, Mike, and missed/dropped out of school to pursue a life of crime. With all of his victims, Mr. Ramirez has displayed violent intentions by intimidating, torturing, and sexually assaulting his victims before physically harming or killing them with either a knife or a gun. In assaulting and murdering his victims, Mr. Ramirez would initially engage in burglarizing his victims’ houses and cars.

The Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R)

The definition of psychopathy can be defined as “persuasive emotional and interpersonal deficits, impulsivity and antisocially” (Hosker-Field, Molnar, & Book, 2016). To measure psychopathy on an individual, the use of a psychological instrument called a Psychopathy Checklist-Revised is used as it assesses the characteristics of psychopathy by reviewing any reports, interviews, or various sources of the individual to determine their level of psychopathy (Storey, Hart, Cooke, & Michie, 2016). During the assessment of the PCL-R, it is comprised of two factors. The first factor or Factor 1, is comprised of the interpersonal and affective characteristics of psychopathy (Hare & Neumann, 2010). The second factor or Factor 2 reflects more of the antisocial characteristics of the individual (Hare & Neumann, 2010). The total of characteristics being applied are 12 with six characteristics in both factors. On a point system of 0 to 2, a score of 18 and over out of 24 will determine that the individual is have psychopathy. A score that is 12 or under will determine that the individual is a non-psychopath. As a result of the PCL-R assessment, Mr. Ramirez had scored a 9 out of a possible 12 in Factor 1, and scored a 9 out of a possible 12 in Factor 2. In conclusion, Mr. Ramirez, in my professional opinion meets the criteria of being a psychopath in the assessment of the PCL-R.

Relevant Psychological Function

Based on Mr. Ramirez’s criminal history and the early exposure of violent and criminal life events, the most relevant theory for understanding his criminal behaviour is the trauma-control model. Trauma-control model argues that with the combination of predispositional factors, such as biological, sociological, and psychological factors, and early traumatic events interact with other factors over the individual’s life may determine their criminal psychopathy (Correction Service Canada, 2007). At a young age, Mr. Ramirez witnessed his cousin, Mike, killed his wife, which may have increased his development of psychopathy and with being surrounded with criminal and violent influences it could have increasingly developed his psychopathy even more when Mr. Ramirez started to use drugs such as cocaine and LSD (Famous People, 2016). Relating trauma-control model to Mr. Ramirez’s history, by residing in an environment that had engaged with criminal, violent, and drug abuse activities it increased the development of psychopathy.


Hare, R. D., & Neumann, C. S. (2010). The role of antisociality in the psychopathy construct: Comment on Skeem and Cooke (2010). Psychological Assessment, 22(2), 446-454. doi:10.1037/a0013635

Hosker-Field, A. M., Molnar, D. S., & Book, A. S. (2016). Psychopathy and risk taking: Examining the role of risk perception. Personality and Individual Differences, 91, 123-132. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2015.11.059

Storey, J. E., Hart, S. D., Cooke, D. J., & Michie, C. (2016). Psychometric properties of the Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R) in a representative sample of Canadian federal offenders. Law and Human Behavior, 40(2), 136-146. doi:10.1037/lhb0000174

Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-5. (2013). Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association.

Richard Ramirez Biography. (2016). Retrieved November 15, 2016, from http://www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/richard-ramirez-6730.php

Richard Ramirez: The Night Stalker. (2014). Retrieved November 13, 2016, from http://www.crimeandinvestigation.co.uk/crime-files/richard-ramirez-the-night-stalker

The Role of Escalating Paraphilic Fantasies and Behaviours in Sexual, Sadistic, and Serial Violence: A Review of Theoretical Models. (2007). Retrieved November 13, 2016, from http://www.csc-scc.gc.ca/research/shp2007-paraphil06-eng.shtmls. (2007). Retrieved November 13, 2016, from http://www.csc-scc.gc.ca/research/shp2007-paraphil06-eng.shtml

Dhingra, K., & Boduszek, D. (2013). Psychopathy and criminal behaviour: A psychosocial research perspective. Journal of Criminal Psychology, 3(2), 83-107. doi:10.1108/jcp-06-2013-0014

Hare, R. D. (2016). Psychopathy, the PCL-R, and criminal justice: Some new findings and current issure. Canadian Psychology/Psychologie Canadiene, 57 (1), 21-34. doi:10.1037/cap0000041

Hare, R. D., & Mcpherson, L. M. (1984). Violent and aggressive behavior by criminal psychopaths. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 7(1), 35-50. doi:10.1016/0160-2527(84)90005-0

Appendix A

Psychopathy-Checklist Revised (Class Version)

Factor 1 (Emotional/Interpersonal Symptoms)

Item 1: Glib and Superficial0 1 2

  • Presentation is shallow and difficult to believe
  • Display of emotions do not appear genuine
  • Attempts to portray self in a positive light
  • Tell unlikely stories; has convincing explanations for behaviour
  • Uses technical language and jargon, often inappropriately
  • Conversation and interpersonal behaviour are engaging

Item 2: Egocentric and Grandiose0 1 2

  • View of abilities and self worth are inflated
  • Self-assured and opinionated
  • Exaggerates status and reputation
  • Considers circumstances to be result of bad luck
  • Sees self as the victim of the system
  • Displays little concern for the future

Item 3: Lack of Remorse/Guilt..0 1 2

  • Appears to have no capacity for guilt/no conscience
  • Verbalizes remorse in an insincere manner
  • Displays little emotion to actions
  • Does not appreciate impact on others
  • Concerned more with own suffering than with that of others

Item 4: Lack of Empathy0 1 2

  • Cold and callous
  • Indifferent to the feelings of others
  • Unable to appreciate the emotional consequences of others

Item 5: Deceitful and Manipulative…0 1 2

  • Manipulates without concern for the rights of others
  • Distorts the truth
  • Deceives with self-assurance and with no apparent anxiety
  • A fraud artist or con man
  • Enjoys deceiving others

Item 6: Shallow Emotions..0 1 2

  • Expressed emotions are shallow and labile
  • Verbal and non-verbal expressions of emotion are inconsistent

Factor 2 (Social Deviance Symptoms)

Item 7: Impulsive.0 1 2

  • Does things on the “spur of the moment” (including crimes); spends little time considering the consequences of actions
  • Frequently changes jobs, schools, or relationships
  • A drifter; lives a nomadic lifestyle with frequent changes of residence

Item 8: Poor Behavioural Controls…0 1 2

  • Easily angered or frustrated, especially when drinking
  • Often verbally abusive (swears, makes threats)
  • Often physically abusive (breaks or throws objects; pushes, slaps, or punches people)
  • Abuse may be sudden and unprovoked
  • Outbursts are often short-lived

Item 9: Need for Excitement.0 1 2

  • Easily bored; has difficulty doing things that require sustained attention
  • Likes to do things that are exciting, risky, and dangerous

Item 10: Lack of Responsibility.0 1 2

  • Behaviour frequently causes hardship to others or puts them at risk
  • Unreliable as a spouse or parent; lacks commitment to relationships, fails to care adequate for children; etc.
  • Job performance is inadequate; is frequently late, absent, etc.,
  • Untrustworthy with money; has been in trouble for defaulting on loans, not paying bills, not paying child support

Item 11: Early Behaviour Problems.0 1 2

  • Conduct problems at home and at school as an adolescent
  • In trouble with the law as a youth/minor
  • Antisocial activities were varied and frequent

Item 12: Adult Anti-social Behaviour0 1 2

  • Disregards rules and regulations; has had legal problems as an adult
  • Has been charged with or convicted of criminal offences
  • Antisocial activities are varied and frequent


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