Death row inmate Richard Ramirez, the infamous serial killer known as the “Night Stalker”, is now a suspect in the 1984 killing of a 9-year-old San Francisco girl, police said today.
San Francisco cold case homicide inspectors served a search warrant on Ramirez at San Quentin State Prison on Wednesday after a DNA hit from a state database earlier this year linked him to evidence at the scene of the April 10, 1984 homicide in the Tenderloin District, police said.
Mei Leung was found murdered in the basement of a residential hotel at 765 O’Farrell St., where she lived with her family.
Police said Leung, who was also known as Linda, was killed just after she had walked home with her 8-year-old brother from a friend’s house.
At a news conference at police headquarters this afternoon, Deputy Chief David Shinn said that Leung’s family had been contacted about the development and were “very grateful.”
“I think it’s painful…but hopefully we’ll bring some closure to the family,” Shinn said.
Shinn said that police, in addition to investigating the Leung case, are now reviewing several other homicides that occurred in that area around the same time.
Matthew Gabriel, a DNA expert at the San Francisco Police Department’s crime lab, said Ramirez’s profile was developed from “one of the items at the crime scene.”
He said it was “an extremely difficult item to analyze,” but would not elaborate.
Police also did not discuss how Leung was killed.
“We’ve been working on this case for approximately five years now,” said Gabriel.
Ramirez, now 49, has not yet been charged in the Leung case.
Homicide Inspector Holly Pera was one of the inspectors who served the warrant on Ramirez Wednesday.
“He made no comments,” Pera said.
Pera said she had been a patrol officer at the time of Leung’s murder, and called it a case “that you don’t forget.”
Ramirez was convicted in 1989 in Los Angeles Superior Court of 13 murders committed in Southern California in 1984 and 1985, and was sentenced to death. He was also found guilty of five counts of attempted murder, and charges of rape, forcible sodomy and burglary.
Ramirez was additionally charged in the August 1985 fatal shooting of a 66-year-old man in San Francisco’s Lake Merced neighborhood, but a trial never went forward as the Los Angeles case took precedence.
Ramirez was known to have lived at two other residential hotels in the Tenderloin at the time of Leung’s murder, at 373 Ellis St. and 56 Mason St.
San Francisco police are asking anyone who may have known or seen Ramirez at that time to contact homicide inspectors Holly Pera or Joseph Toomey at (415) 553-1145 or the anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444.