LOS ANGELES -- Police Saturday arrested the alleged Night Stalker, accused of 16 murders and two dozen other brutal assaults, taking him into custody after he was captured and beaten by angry citizens who grabbed him on a city street.
A television report Saturday evening also disclosed that most of the killings the suspect allegedly committed were linked by apparent Satanic symbols and activities. Police refused comment on those reports.
The suspect, his head bandaged because of wounds he suffered in his capture, was taken to a nearby police station, where officers matched his fingerprints to those taken from a stolen car used in the Stalker's last known attack.
'We are happy to announce that the individual we have in custody is Richard Ramirez, the Night Stalker,' police said after matching the fingerprints.
The suspect, dressed in black pants and a black T-shirt with a Jack Daniels whiskey emblem, was booked on one count of murder several hours later and was transferred to county jail.
Police said a warrant had been issued to aid in the investigation, but refused to give the location of where the search was to take place. They also gave no indication where Ramirez had lived while terrorizing California during a crime spree stretching back at least seven months.
Witnesses said the 25-year-old man was apprehended by citizens in the mostly Hispanic low-income neighborhood in East Los Angeles after he tried to steal several cars in a frantic attempt to flee.
'He shouldn't have messed around in East L.A.,' Robert Skinner, 62, told reporters outside the police station. 'He picked the wrong damn neighborhood.'
Police said Ramirez was first seen about 8:30 a.m. in a liquor store on the edge of Skid Row near downtown, where he picked up a newspaper, looked at his picture on the front page and quickly walked out and got on a bus.
The next sighting was reported about 10 minutes later in East Los Angeles, where he began running through the streets and several back yards, trying to break into homes and cars, including a red Mustang that was sitting on blocks.
He pulled one woman who was going to the market out of a gold-colored Ford, but could not start the car. After he attacked the woman, her husband hit the suspect over the head with a steel fence post.
Angry neighbors joined in the fracas, chasing and tackling Ramirez and then holding the suspect until police -- who received dozens of calls within a few minutes -- arrived at the scene.
'He said, 'Let me go. Let me go.'' Jaime Burgoin, 21, recalled. 'But we told him he wasn't going anywhere.'
Ramirez reportedly told officers, in Spanish, 'I'm lucky the police got here. It's me. It's me. It's me.'
Mayor Tom Bradley, a former police lieutenant, went to the station, saying he wanted to 'compliment the officers who did a magnificent job' as well as the citizens who helped in the capture.
'All I really want to say is congratulations to our men and how happy I am that the people of all of California can breathe a sigh of relief tonight,' the mayor said.
Noting the crowd of more than a thousand gathered outside in a festival atmosphere with ice cream vendors, he added, 'The people in the neighborhood are here to rejoice.'
KABC reporter Wayne Satz, meanwhile, revealed that the mysterious links in the killings had Satanic overtones -- including a five-pointed star suspended inside a circle, which he called a symbol of devil worship, that was scrawled on walls at several of the homes.
He also said a footprint found at some of the homes, which police had previously referred to only as a 'subtle but distinctive' piece of evidence, was from a particular brand of shoe 'found at a site in the hills of L.A. where devil worshippers are known to congregate.'
Satz said the killer also had done other things 'consistent with Satanic beliefs' and 'at least once tried to ritualistically gouge out the eyes' of a victim.
He also noted an earlier report that the Night Stalker sometimes wore a black baseball cap with the letters AC-DC -- the name of a heavy metal rock group that some say stands for the words, Anti Christ, Devil's Child.
Satz then noted an AC-DC song, 'Night Prowler,' with lyrics strikingly suggestive of the Night Stalker's method of operation - sneaking into darkened homes through unlocked doors and windows.
The lyrics include: 'What's that noise outside your window? What's that shadow on the blind? As you lay there naked like a body in a tomb, suspended animation as I slip into your room.'
Satz told United Press International that police early this week acknowledged that his information 'was true,' and told him its release would severely hamper their search. When contacted Friday night, authorities refused to comment on the broadcast.
The capture occurred less than 12 hours after authorities announced they had identified the Night Stalker as Ramirez, a native of El Paso, Texas, who has lived in California for several years and had a minor criminal record.