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'I Just Want My Dad Back': How The 'Night Stalker' Case Affected Detective Gil Carrillo's Family Life

Former detective Gil Carrillo told the crowd at CrimeCon2021 he later realized how afraid his wife was while Carrillo was hunting down serial killer Richard Ramirez.

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Former Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department detective Gil Carrillo got emotional on stage at CrimeCon2021 while discussing how the “Night Stalker” case affected his family dynamic. 

Carrillo, who retired in 2009, not only worked on the infamous "Night Stalker" case  —  in which Richard Ramirez terrorized Los Angeles in the mid-1980s with a series of rapes, murders and other assaults — but he was the one who pieced together that all the crimes were the work of one man.

While the then fresh-faced detective was succeeding at his job, the case was taking a toll on his home life. He worked long hours trying to capture the serial killer while his wife took care of the family.

“It was tough on her but I told her, it was her job to take care of the house and the kids,” Carrillo said during a Saturday panel at the festival which is presented by Oxygen. “My job was to capture the bad guy. And I thought that was a pretty even divide except for I was carrying a gun. She wasn’t.”

He said that the crime spree, in which Ramirez targeted all ages and demographics, was scary for everyone in the community: his family included.

As Carrillo worked the challenging case, his wife told him on the phone about how much the children missed him.

Gil Carrillo

His wife told him that their daughter exclaimed “I just want my dad back.”

“My wife told me this and big tears started rolling down my cheek cause I wasn’t there,” Carrillo reflected on stage, seemingly choking back even more tears.

He said he reacted by hanging up the phone and "cussin.’”

“I was so pissed off at my wife,” he said. “I got enough on my shoulders right now and my plate is full. I don’t need to hear about the kids right now.”

After Netflix released the docuseries “Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer” in January, which focuses on the case and Carrillo’s connection to it, the former detective reflected on how it affected his family. 

“So once this documentary was over I apologized to her [ his wife], telling her that I never realized how tough it was on her because of her fear,” he said. “So I said I was sorry.”

Ramirez was arrested in August 1985. By 1989, he was convicted of 13 murders, five attempted murders, 11 sexual assaults, and 14 burglaries and was sentenced to death. He died in 2013 of lymphoma while still on death row.

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