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How Dianne Feinstein Was Involved in the Night Stalker Case

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Netflix Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer takes us back to the mid-80s with the terrifying case of the Night Stalker, aka Richard Ramirez. As the show traces the infamous investigation, it features a politician whose name you may have heard of: Dianne Feinstein. The California senator has had a lot of controversial moments lately, from her disapproval of teenage environmentalists to her hugging Lindsey Graham at Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearing. How did Feinstein play a role in the Night Stalker case? She was the mayor of San Francisco at the time. While the Night Stalker was known to terrorize Los Angeles, one case linked him to San Francisco at the height of his murder. The third episode of the true crime miniseries revisits one of Feinstein’s biggest mistakes: the time she released confidential investigation details in a press conference.

The Night Stalker case became a nationwide problem as investigators linked the San Francisco murder of Peter Pan and the attack on his wife Barbara with murders and rape in Los Angeles. Privately, Los Angeles detectives shared information with San Francisco police. Critical details of the investigation reached the then mayor Feinstein. She held a press conference on August 23, 1985, announcing a $ 10,000 reward for any information that could lead to the arrest and conviction of the murderer. Detectives Frank Salerno and Gil Carrillo had worked to avoid revealing any information about the Night Stalker while reporters were chasing them. Feinstein, however, revealed the clues her team had put together: details of his rare Avia shoe print, profile, weapon caliber, and more that linked the attack in San Francisco to those in Southern California.

Strategically, this was problematic as the Night Stalker was likely tuned to the news. (He reportedly referred to himself as the Night Stalker, the media nickname for him, while speaking to survivors.) Night stalkerWe see LA County sheriff Sherman Block hold another press conference raising concerns about how Feinstein’s indiscretion was jeopardizing the investigation. Ramirez was caught a week later on August 31st. SF Weekly reported that according to Ramirez’s Philip Carlos Lo biography, The Night Stalker: The True Story of America’s Most Feared Serial KillerThe killer went to the Golden Gate Bridge and “dropped the 11 1/2 Avia sneakers in the water.”

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