Doreen Lioy was working as a freelance teen magazine editor when she first heard of Richard Ramirez.
Ramirez, also known as The Night Stalker, was in San Quentin Prison awaiting trial for a string of murders, sexual assaults, robberies and carjackings he had carried out throughout Los Angeles and San Francisco in 1985.
His murderous crime rampage and the race to catch him is documented in the new Netflix true crime doco-series, Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer.
Doreen saw Ramirez on television and was struck by his "vulnerability". She, like many women at the time, decided to write to him in prison and the pair began a pen pal relationship. Doreen also attended his trial. According to The San Francisco Chronicle, Doreen sent Ramirez 75 letters over 11 years, while he was on death row. She always believed he was innocent of the crimes he was convicted of, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
Watch the trailer for Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer. Post continues below.
"He's kind, he's funny, he's charming... I think he's really a great person. He's my best friend; he's my buddy," she once stated according to a CNN report.
According to the same report, Doreen was well aware that people might think she's crazy.
"Or stupid or lying," she said. "And I'm none of those things. I just believe in him completely. In my opinion, there was far more evidence to convict O. J. Simpson, and we all know how that turned out."
Ramirez proposed to Doreen in 1988, and in 1996, after more than a decade of correspondence, one of America's most prolific serial killers and the young journalist who fell in love with him, tied the knot.
Ramirez's brother, sister, niece, lawyer, and an author who was writing a book about the convicted serial killer attended the 15 minute service at San Quentin. Doreen reportedly wore a short white dress and gave Ramirez a platinum ring. After the wedding, she changed her name to Doreen Ramirez.
According to Doreen's family, they instantly disowned her and distanced themselves from the scandal.
"It's unfortunate for me that I've been linked with all of this. I was taken aback by the news. To be related by birth is fine. ... I don't want to be a part of this. It's been a painful event for the family," her twin sister told the San Francisco Examiner in 1996.
Doreen later admitted to CNN that being married to a death row inmate was a "lonely lifestyle". She knew it was hard for people to understand why she would want to marry a man who had been convicted of such heinous crimes.
"It'd be hard for me to understand if my best friend came to me and said, 'You know, this guy Timothy McVeigh, who just got convicted? I really think he's cute and I'm gonna write to him.' I mean, I would think that's kind of strange."