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'Night Stalker,' serial killer in 1980s, dies in prison

In this photo provided by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, inmate Richard Ramirez is seen in 2007 in San Quentin, Calif.

Richard Ramirez, the serial killer who terrorized Southern California in the 1980s as the "Night Stalker," has died in prison while awaiting execution.

Ramirez died of natural causes at Marin General Hospital. He was 53 years old.

San Quentin State Prison spokesman Lt. Sam Robinson confirmed Ramirez's death Friday.

Ramirez was sent to San Quentin's death row in 1989 after he was convicted of 13 murders, five attempted murders, 11 sexual assaults and 14 burglaries during a yearlong spree in 1984 and 1985. Some of his victims were shot to death, others were strangled or had their throats slashed.

Reports of Satanic symbols at bloody crime scenes and a killer who stole through unlocked windows and doors at night heightened Los Angeles residents' fears. The news media dubbed him "Night Stalker."

When he was captured trying to hijack a car in East Los Angeles in 1985, angry residents surrounded Ramirez and beat him. 

Since 1978, when California reinstated capital punishment, only 13 condemned inmates have been put to death, according to Robinson. Fifty-nine more have died from natural causes, 22 have committed suicide and six have died from other causes.

There are 735 offenders currently on California's death row.