Serial killers – they’re the ultimate outsiders. They don’t follow the rules of normal society, choosing instead to stalk and slay multiple victims, often in the most gruesome and terrifying ways. Yet not all of their victims die. Some very, very lucky people have managed to escape the clutches of these maniacs and got away with their lives. But at what price?

In part one of our five-part series we learn about victims who were lucky enough to escape the clutches of one of America's most terrifying serial killers - 'Nightstalker' Richard Ramirez.

Rex Features

Rex Features

Infamous serial killer Richard Ramirez – better known as the Nightstalker – was sentenced to death 1989 after a 14-month reign of terror in the Los Angeles area. During that time he committed 13 murders, 5 attempted murders, 11 sexual assaults and 14 burglaries.

His modus operandi was usually to break into someone’s house in the middle of the night, then rape and murder his victims in their beds. Some he shot, others he stabbed, hacked or beat to death. But whatever the form of killing, he was utterly without mercy. Yet a handful of victims managed to survive Ramirez.

Serial killer survivors

One victim of his brutality was 81-year-old Nettie Lang. After breaking in to the house Nettie shared with her sister Mabel Bell, 83, Ramirez grabbed a hammer from the kitchen and bludgeoned disabled Nettie before tying her up. But worse was to come. After bludgeoning, binding and using an electrical cord to shock Mabel, Ramirez then raped Nettie Lang, drawing a satanic pentagram on her thigh as a sick calling card. Both women survived the attack, but Mabel sadly died of her injuries.

Not that Ramirez cared. His rampage of rape, attack and murder continued.

One victim in particular left a lasting impression on Ramirez – 16-year-old Whitney Bennett. On July 5 1985, Ramirez climbed in through her open bedroom window, and beat her with a tyre iron. He then tried to strangle her with a telephone cord, but when sparks flew from the cord Ramirez freaked out. Despite calling himself a ‘satanist’ he was convinced the sparks were a message from Jesus Christ. So as Whitney Bennett spluttered and choked, Ramirez fled – leaving the tyre iron and an incriminating bloody footprint on Whitney’s bed. Whitney Bennett survived but needed 478 stitches to her head. Thankfully, as the first couple of blows from the tyre iron rendered her unconscious, Whitney doesn’t remember much about the attack. But she remembered enough to help convict Ramirez in 1989. Whitney has needed extensive cosmetic surgery since then, but is reported to be happily married. Ramirez died of cancer while, on death row, in June 2013.