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Arts and Entertainment

Sean Penn Once Was In Jail With Serial Killer Richard Ramirez

Sean Penn at the Oscars (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
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Actor Sean Penn (currently known on Twitter as #penndejo) once exchanged messages with a man who also had his own nickname: Richard Ramirez, the Night Stalker. Penn is an Academy Award winning actor and director who recently made people upset for a 'green card' joke at the Oscars. Ramirez was one of America's most infamous serial killers, with 13 murder convictions though authorities believe he had other victims.

While speaking for students at Loyola Marymount University's School of Film & TV on March 4, Penn spoke about many topics, but also about the time he once encountered Ramirez in a Los Angeles jail, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Ramirez's crime spree began in 1984, and he was finally caught in 1985 when a partial print on a stolen car identified him. Shortly after, residents of East L.A. recognized him, chased him down and subdued him until police could take him to into custody. He was later sentenced to death. Penn was arrested in 1987 for reckless driving as well as punching an extra on the set of Colors in the face. He was sentenced to 60 days in County Jail, the L.A. Times reports.

During the course of Penn's 60 days, Penn said Ramirez spotted him and wanted an autograph. Ramirez eventually got one of the deputies to go ask Penn for it. Penn didn't initially trust the deputy and was worried that he might get in trouble for passing paper around, which he said was considered contraband. Plus, Penn had gotten in trouble before and didn't want any extra days. So, he asked that the sergeant approve the autograph and that Ramirez first write to Penn.

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"So I get the thing from [Ramirez] and it says, 'Hey, Sean, stay tough and hit them again," Penn said. It was signed with Ramirez's name, a pentagram, a drawing of Satan and '666.'

Penn said he wrote back:

"I said, 'You know, Richard, it¹s impossible to be incarcerated and not feel a certain kinship with your fellow inmates. Well, Richard, I've done the impossible, I feel absolutely no kinship with you. And I hope gas descends upon you before sanity does, you know? It would be a kinder way out.' And they gave it to him. And then my house burned down years later and that damn thing of his burned with it."

Ramirez's many appeals eventually saved him from the gas chamber, but only because they delayed his execution. Ramirez died while on death row in 2013 of B-cell lymphoma.

Penn isn't the only Angeleno to have written Ramirez. You can find letters from Ramirez at the Museum of Death in Hollywood in their serial killer exhibit, alongside paintings from Illinois killer John Wayne Gacy.

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