With James aware that something was up and his father awakened by all the noise, the intruder fled. But James chased him, getting a look at the man, his car, and part of his license plate. His family reported what both they and the police figured was a routine incident, then went to bed. But when the police called them at 3:30 a.m. to ask for more details, then knocked on their door at 6 to get all the information they could, it was clear this case was different.
L.A. Public Library/Herald-Examiner Collection
Long story short, the stolen car was abandoned, police were able to identify it and pull a single fingerprint that hadn't been wiped like the rest, and the print was identified as belonging to Richard Ramirez, who was on the books for drug and traffic violations. Ramirez's face was plastered across the news, and a week after he had been creeping around James' yard, the Night Stalker was taken into custody.
James had to go through the harrowing experience of picking Ramirez out of a lineup and testifying at trial, where Ramirez tried to intimidate him. He still has the occasional nightmare today. But he was also showered with rewards that ranged from an ATV to Rams tickets. And, you know, today he's a successful family man, while Ramirez died alone and hated in prison in 2013. So there's that.