The son of the first alleged murder victim of accused Night Stalker suspect Richard Ramirez testified in court Monday how he stumbled upon his mother's body nearly two years ago.
Jack Vincow, whose mother, Jennie Vincow, 79, was found slain in her Eagle Rock apartment on June 28, 1984, was the first witness at the preliminary hearing for Ramirez, who is charged with 14 slayings in Los Angeles County and 54 other felonies.
Vincow said he and his mother lived at the same apartment building and the last time he saw her alive was the afternoon of June 27, 1984. He said he found his mother's body nearly 24 hours later, when he entered her unlocked apartment.
"I looked around (the living room) and I saw everything thrown around on the floor," he testified.
He said he found his "mother's dead body on the bed. . . ."
"I called her name several times and got no response. . . ," Vincow said. "When I saw she was dead, I shouted out to the manager, 'My mother's been murdered!' I said it several times, 'My mother's been murdered, call the police!' "
Under cross-examination from the defense, Vincow testified that his mother had lived in Brooklyn, N.Y., until 1981, with the witness's mentally disturbed brother, Manny. He said his brother had been hospitalized numerous times for emotional problems.
Vincow said his mother came to Los Angeles after a dispute with his brother and neither he nor his mother had stayed in contact with the New York resident.
Under further cross-examination, Vincow said police had asked him to take a lie-detector test about the killing. He said one reason police wanted him to take the test was that some witnesses reported seeing a man who looked like Jack Vincow in the woman's apartment before the body was found. Vincow said his brother, Manny, bears a strong resemblance to him.
Earlier, Los Angeles Municipal Judge James Nelson, who is presiding over the hearing, considered a defense motion to suppress an alleged incriminating statement Ramirez made to police after his arrest, but he declined to rule, saying he would reserve judgment for later.
Defense attorneys claim that Ramirez asked for a lawyer to be present at the time of the tape-recorded statement but that police failed to comply and therefore violated his constitutional Miranda rights.
Before the hearing began, Superior Court Judge Aurelio Munoz refused to overturn a ruling last week by Nelson that the proceeding should be open to the public and the news media. Nelson had ruled that pretrial publicity from the hearing would not prevent the selection of an impartial jury if Ramirez is ordered to stand trial. Television cameras and radio microphones were banned in earlier rulings.
Munoz's ruling, which the defense said it would appeal, cleared the way for the start of the hearing to determine whether there is enough evidence to try Ramirez. The hearing is expected to take up to four months.
Picture in Paper
The defendant, a drifter from Texas, an alleged devil worshiper and a former cocaine addict, was arrested in August by East Los Angeles residents, who chased him down as he reportedly tried to steal a car in an apparent desperate attempt to flee after seeing his picture in a newspaper.
Besides the 14 murder counts, he faces charges including rape, attempted murder and robbery. He also has been charged with a murder in San Francisco and with attempted murder and rape in Orange County.