The Golden State Killer – California’s most prolific serial killer eludes police for over 40 years
// June 17th, 2016 // Serial Killers
He was originally known by two names, the East Area Rapist (EAR) and the Original Night Stalker (ONS). Once police realized the two were one and the same person, the Golden State Killer moniker took hold (often referred to as EAR/ONS by case researchers). Altogether, he is believed to have burglarized more than 120 California homes, raped between 45-50 women, and slain 10-12 people during the years between 1976 and 1986. Today, police are no closer to capturing the man who has eluded them for more than four decades.
The East Area Rapist’s first known attack occurred on a Friday, June 18, 1976. The assailant snuck into the Paseo Drive home of a 23-year-old Rancho Cordova woman in the middle of the night. The victim awoke to find a man, wearing nothing but a navy T-shirt and white ski mask (with eyeholes cut out), standing in the doorway of her bedroom. Before she could scream, he leaped onto her bed and holding a knife to her right temple, whispered through clenched teeth:
“If you make one move or sound, I’ll stick this knife in you.”
After the victim was certain he had left the premises, she loosened her bindings and ran to the backdoor which she found had been left open. She tried to kick it shut with her foot but it bounced back – oddly, the deadbolt was sticking out.
She called the police who arrived to find the house had been ransacked, items strewn all about the rooms. Outside the home, police found evidence indicating the attacker attempted to cut the phone wire (he was unsuccessful). Wood chips were found on the patio near the backdoor indicating he had jimmied the door jam in order to pry the door open.
Later the victim remembered seeing a medium-sized, older, dark-gray American car (she could not identify the make or model) driving suspiciously through the neighborhood. When she watched as the car passed by, the driver would turn his head away, avoiding her gaze.
Two weeks after the attack, the victim began receiving a series of anonymous hang-up phone calls.
The second attack took place exactly one month later. On Saturday, July 17, 1976, two young girls (15 and 16-years old) were home alone on Marlborough Way in Del Dayo, their parents away on a three-day church outing. They watched television until about 10:00 PM, then went to bed, each girl retiring to her own room. Around 2:00 AM, one of the girls was roused from her sleep by a hand covering her mouth.
The attacker ordered she be quiet. He placed a sock in her mouth and tied a towel around her head, restricting her vision. He then tied her wrists behind her back before binding her ankles. After rummaging through the house for several minutes, he returned to her room and raped her four times (pausing between each attack to ransack the house some more). Two hours later, at around 4:30 AM, he left. The victim freed herself and ran to her sister’s room where she found she had also been bound with twine.
When police arrived, they found footprints outside the home indicating the attacker had watched the girls through the window for some time before entering the home. They discovered the back patio sliding glass door had been pried from its track. Curiously, there were no footprints outside the master bedroom window hinting the attacker knew the parents were out of town.
A foiled attempt (August 1976)
One month later, the attacker struck again. On August 29, 1976, at Malaga Way in Rancho Cordova, a 12-year-old girl awoke to the smell of aftershave. Peering from her bed, she saw a masked man standing at her bedroom window, prying at the corner of the screen with a knife. Their home was only four houses down from the attack that took place on Paseo Drive two months earlier – she knew who was trying to get in. As their eyes met, the figure slowly lowered himself out of sight.
The girl ran to her parents’ room where her mother was fast asleep (the father had left for work only a few hours earlier). Shaking her mother awake, she explained that a man with a mask was trying to get into her room. Her mother initially thought the girl simply awoke from a bad dream but daughter in hand, the two moved through various rooms in the house, checking each room as they passed. Reaching the eldest daughter’s room, they woke her up and explained what was happening. Still half asleep, the eldest daughter told them to call the police and dozed back to sleep.
The mother took the younger daughter back to her room and as they stepped into the room, the mother noticed the window was open, the masked figure standing silently, staring at them. The mother rushed from the room into the kitchen, grabbed the phone, and dialed the Operator for assistance (this was before the 911 emergency phone system was in place).
As they waited for the Operator to answer, they heard a crash in the living room. Almost instantly, the masked man was standing next to them. He wore a brown T-shirt and a tight-fitting ski mask with slits cut out for his eyes. Holding a gun in one hand and a club in the other, he demanded she hang up the phone. The Operator had never answered the call.
The mother protested and a struggle ensued. Despite the attacker savagely beating the mother with the club, she was able to grab her daughter’s hand and run from the home to a neighbor’s front yard.
Meanwhile, hearing the commotion downstairs, the eldest daughter had awoken, climbed out her window, and jumped over the fence of the house next door. Neighbors across the street recall seeing four people running from the house – a man, a lady, and two teenage girls. The man ducked behind a bush while the three women ran to the front porch of a neighbor’s home where they were ushered to safety inside the house. Together they watched through the window as the man stood from his hiding place and slowly walked away. He was naked from the waist down.
Sheriff deputies arrived on the scene at 3:28 AM. Inside the home they found pre-tied bindings on the floor and a towel fashioned into a hood. Black shoelaces were found in the living room. The hallway phone had been ripped from the wall.
From the description of the attacker, police knew the assailant was the same man who assaulted the two women in June and July only a short distance away. He was given a name, the East Area Rapist, and for the first time, authorities realized that a serial rapist was on the loose. Before the year ended, ten women would be attacked.
Portrait of a killer emerges
Descriptions of the East Area Rapist were consistent. All victims described the attacker as a white male, about 20-25 years old, slightly less than six-foot-tall, with blonde hair and an athletic build. They recalled the man’s legs were muscled, but thin, and he spoke in a high-pitched voice.
After the first dozen attacks, the East Area Rapist’s modus operandi was easy to discern. In the middle of the night, he would pry open the windows or doors of a single woman’s home while they slept. Wearing a ski mask and often carrying both a knife and a gun, he would wake them with a bright flashlight shone into their eyes. He would then tie them up using knotted shoelaces, drapery cord, electrical cords, or piece of clothing, then throw a towel or article of clothing over their head and rape them.
Some of the victims were single mothers with children sleeping in another room. If a man was at home (a few of the later victims were young couples), he would tie him up, sometimes with glass objects such as dishes balanced on the man’s back, and force them to wait while he carried out the assault. The man was given strict instructions: “If I hear the dishes rattle, I will come back and shoot you in the head.”
Occasionally he cut or disabled the victims’ phone lines. During several attacks, he placed a towel over lamps or an illuminated television to alter the lighting. One more than one occasion he arrived and fled the scene on a stolen bicycle (likely riding to a car parked some distance away from the scene).
After the attack, he would take with him a small memento from the crime scene – driver’s licenses, wedding rings, coins, cuff links, or a small piece of jewelry. He would often eat food from the victim’s refrigerator before leaving.
Police recognized that many of the victims’ homes were located near a school, creek, parks, or other open space that afforded an easy escape. They noted that reports of prowling, peeping Toms, or break-in attempts often occurred in the area just prior to an attack.
Portrait of an insecure rapist develops
Oddly, many of the victims noted that during the initial moments of the attack, the Golden State Killer seemed childlike, almost frightened, and remained that way until the victim was tied up and firmly under his control. They say before the act, he spoke in a high-pitched voice (many witnesses recalled their attacker attempting to disguise a high-pitched voice) and seemed fidgety, moving in and out of the room as if garnering enough courage to assault the bound, defenseless woman.
One victim who struggled with the rapist described him as physically weak. After one woman tried to complement him on his sexual prowess (in an attempt to befriend him and earn his trust), he stopped the attack and told her that he had never been told that before. He said women usually made fun of him “because he was small” (a later victim described the attacker’s penis as being unusually small).
Another victim recalled hearing him weeping in another room after the attack. Yet another recalls hearing his tearful cries, “Mummy, mummy, mummy”.
According to Orange County sheriff’s detective Larry Pool:
“He’s a small guy, diminished, and he does everything he can to get the upper hand at the beginning and to keep it to intimidate and terrorize people because he doesn’t want to confront them physically.”
The killer seemed to react to degrading media reports too. When the Sacramento police told the media that the rapist only attacked single women and young girls, he began assaulting young couples. When a man stood at a crime prevention meeting at Del Dayo Elementary School and questioned how a husband could fail to protect his wife, they became victims themselves (case number 21).
Soon the killer began taunting his victims, sometimes before the attack, sometimes after. Days after one of the attacks, the victim received this terrifying phone call.
On the other end, a man breathes heavily for several seconds, then whispers:
“I’m going to kill you.”
“Gonna kill you.”
“Gonna kill you.”
Other victims reported similar harassing phone calls (see Additional Information below for transcripts).
A taste of murder (February 1978)
On February 2, 1978, around 9:00 PM, Brian and Katie Maggiore were walking their poodle, Thumper, in their Rancho Cordova neighborhood when they noticed a man running from the backyard of 10154 La Gloria Drive. A neighbor recalls seeing the man chase the couple down before shooting them. Another witness saw the man jump a gate at La Alegria Drive and flee west toward La Loma Drive. Their dog was later found in a backyard swimming pool.
Witnesses described the Maggiore’s killer as a white male wearing a brown leather jacket with a peanut-shaped stain on the lower right side of the back. A single pre-tied shoelace was found in the yard near where the Maggiore’s were shot.
Knowing the neighborhood had been the location of several East Area Rapist assaults, the FBI surmised that the couple had run across the East Area Rapist entering a home and desperate to conceal his identity, he killed both. Thus the East Area Rapist had evolved yet again, earning a new name – the Golden State Killer.
The assault of 13-year-old girl (June 1979)
On June 25, 1979, the 47th known assault occurred on San Pedro Court in Walnut Creek, California. At about 6:00 AM, the victim, a 13-year-old girl, awoke to find a man atop her, hand covering her mouth. He ordered her to remain quiet and explained that all he wanted was money. With a knife pressed to her neck, he bound her wrists and ankles with white twine he had brought with him. After rummaging through her room for a while, he returned to her bed, untied her ankles, and raped her. She remembers he made an unusual demand:
“Give me a good drop or I’ll kill you.”
She had never heard the phrase “good drop” before.
After the attacker left, she loosened her bindings and woke her father and 16-year-old sister.
At first police thought the crime was unrelated to earlier East Area Rapist attacks. After all, the girl was quite young and knowing that he preferred to attack single women, noted that a man and another daughter were present in the home. It was a risky move, one the East Area Rapist would likely not make.
Bloodhounds were brought to the scene. They tracked the attacker’s path through an open gate, down San Pedro Court to San Carlos Street where the trail ended. They knew the spot well. A few weeks prior the bloodhound had tracked the East Area Rapist trail to the same location.
Another foiled attempt (July 1979)
On July 5, 1979 at around 4:30 AM, a woman and her husband awoke to see a figure standing in a doorway leading to their upstairs room. The man wore a dark vinyl jacket, gloves, and a dark ski-mask. In his hand he held a set of white shoelaces.
The husband was a large man, about 6′ 2″ and 220 lbs. He sprang from the bed and demanded to know what the intruder was up to: “Who the f*ck do you think you are?” Fortunately, the husband and wife had already rehearsed what to do if the East Area Rapist ever attempted to attack their home. The man blocked the intruder’s progress while the wife ran past, down the stairs, and into the yard screaming, “Help! Help!”. A neighbor called the police as the East Area Rapist fled the scene.
The husband later told police that when he confronted the intruder, he just stood there, motionless, staring at him as if unable to decide what to do. It was the East Area Rapist’s 48th known attempt and one of only a few failures.
One last foiled attempt before the killings begin (October 1979)
On October 1, 1979, the Golden State Killer was almost caught on Queen Ann Lane in Goleta, a town only minutes west of Santa Barbara. By this time, the victim count was near fifty. After breaking into the home around 2:20 AM and ordering a woman to tie up her boyfriend, he led the woman into the living room and threw her to the floor behind the couch. She recalls hearing the killer rummaging through the kitchen muttering to himself. While the attacker gathered the courage to begin the attack, the woman freed herself and ran screaming into the street.
The woman’s neighbor, an off-duty FBI agent, saw the suspect flee the home. Wearing a Pendleton shirt, the attacker jumped on a silver Nishiki 10-speed bicycle (later reported to have been stolen) and peddled furiously from the scene. The agent gave chase but lost the man on the 5400 block of San Patricio Drive. In that area, they found the bike and a black-handled steak knife.
Soon after, the Golden State Killer began killing his victims, ensuring none could identify him.
The death of Robert Offerman and Debra Manning (December 1979)
On Sunday, December 30, 1979, William and Joan Oakley arrived at 767 Avenida Pequena in Goleta, the home of their friend, 44-year-old Dr. Robert Offerman. The house was only a half mile south of the residence the Golden State Killer was nearly caught at two months earlier.
Finding the door of the condo ajar, William and Joan stepped inside and called out to their friend. When nobody answered, they looked about the house and found the body of Offerman and Debra Alexandria Manning, Offerman’s girlfriend. Manning lay beside the bed her wrists bound with white 1/16 inch #3 strand twine, the same twine found at earlier attack sites. Offerman lay at the foot of the bed. Two rings were found near his body, hidden between the mattress and bed frame.
Neighbors told Santa Barbara sheriffs they heard gunshots at about 3:00 AM – one shot, a pause, and then three more in rapid succession. Police found pry marks along the door frame and presumed the Golden State Killer had forced his way inside the house in the middle of the night, raping Manning and shooting both to death. Offerman was found with one shot in the chest and three shots in the back indicating he had likely made a futile attempt to flee. Manning died from a single gunshot to the back of her head.
Police found leftover turkey pieces and bone wrapped in plastic on the patio and realized the after murdering the couple, the killer had helped himself to their leftover Christmas dinner.
As with many of the other attack sites, the area around Offerman’s home was spacious. His home (a condo) was set amidst parkland with winding walking paths and the San Jose Creek bordering one side of his property. On the backside of the property was a large utility corridor.
A search of the area revealed many rambling size-9 Adidas Runner tennis shoe prints (a prior witness had recalled the attacker wore black tennis shoes). The flowerbed of the vacant home nextdoor had been trampled and inside the house police found evidence the killer had watched Offerman and Manning from the home’s bathroom window. A few curious 3-toed footprints were found, likely belonging to a large dog.
Police noted that a series of break-ins had occurred in the neighborhood in the hours preceding the murders. Several neighbors found their gates had been left open and four homeowners discovered pry marks on their sliding glass doors. One couple who lived a half-mile from Offermans, pulled into their driveway around 10:15 PM to find a man sprinting through their home towards a back door. They described the man as a white male in a dark fisherman’s hat and dark jacket. Inside the home they found their dog had been attacked and brutally beaten.
In the days following the murders, police continued to discover pieces of nylon twine dropped in various locations around the neighborhood. The killings left residents of Sacramento in a state of panic. Throughout the late 1970’s, hardware stores sold out of guns and police helicopters hovered in the sky each night.
The murder of Charlene and Lyman Smith (March 1980)
Charlene and Lyman Smith (who was about to be appointed a judge) were the next victims. The evidence was consistent with prior murders: hands bound behind their backs with drapery cord using an unusual Chinese knot known as a diamond knot. Size-9 Adidas footprints were found in the yard outside the home. Police were now certain that the East Area Rapist had evolved into a serial killer.
The murder of Keith and Patrice Harrington (August 1980)
On August 21, 1980, the bodies of 24-year-old Keith and 27-year-old Patrice (Patti) Harrington were found by Keith’s father in their home on Cockleshell Drive in the Niguel Shores gated-community in Dana Point. They had been killed two days earlier (August 19).
Roger, an intelligent, athletic man, was found lying face down in the bed. Patti was found on the bed next to him, covered in blood. Both had been bound with brown macramé cord and bludgeoned to death – Keith by a single blow, Patti by many (investigators say far more than was needed to kill her). For the first time, the cord used to bind the victims had been removed from the scene but pieces were found on Keith’s lower back indicating it had been cut away and taken by the assailant. No weapon was found on the scene but a piece of brass was found embedded in one of Patti’s wounds. Keith had been installing a sprinkler system in the yard and brass sprinkler heads were scattered all about the property.
Evidence showed Patti had been raped.
Although the MO was slightly different from prior attacks (evidence was removed, the home had not been ransacked, to reduce blood spatter the bodies were covered before being beaten), years later DNA evidence tied the murders to the Golden State Killer. As the investigation deepened, his MO continued to evolve.
The murder of Manuela Witthuhn (February 1980)
On February 6, 1980, 28-year-old Manuela Witthuhn was raped and murdered in her Irvine, California home. As with the others, she had been tied up before being bludgeoned to death. The ligatures were missing from the scene. Manuela was married but her husband was hospitalized with a viral infection during the time of the attack. A crystal curio and some other sundry pieces were found to be missing. The tape was missing from the answering machine and even stranger, their television was found in the backyard, laying against a fence.
Despite being in the hospital, police at first suspected her husband, David Witthuhn as the culprit. Many years later, DNA evidence would tie the Golden State Killer to the crime and police would realize that the many anomalies found at the scene were attempts to disguise the crime as a botched burglary.
The murder of Cheri Domingo and Gregory Sanchez (July 1981)
On the morning of July 27, 1981, a realtor discovered the bodies of 28-year-old Gregory Sanchez and 35-year-old Cheri Domingo in the 400 block of Toltec Way in Goleta, California. Domingo, who had recently been laid off from her job, had been watching the home for a deceased aunt while the house sat on the market. The home was located at the end of a cul de sac, a large park on one side and a heavily wooded creek beyond.
Her body was found facedown on the bed, covered with bedding, ligature marks on her wrists and ankles indicate she had been hog tied (ankles bound and attached to her wrists behind her). Both victims had multiple blunt-force trauma wounds on their heads (Cheri’s was much worse than Gregory’s). Sanchez had been shot once, a non-fatal wound in his cheek. Given that the bedroom door produced a distinct scratching sound when opened, police surmise that Sanchez awoke when the killer entered the room and a struggle ensued. He was likely forced to kneel before being shot. The wound, proving non-fatal, allowed Sanchez to rise and defend himself until the finally succumbed to head injuries from a blunt weapon.
Neighbors recalled hearing a calm voice come from the home, “take it easy”. As with the Offerman-Manning case, neighbors heard gunshots around 3:25 AM but did not call the police.
Several saw a suspicious man in the area before the crimes. One neighbor saw a white male leaning against a tree on Merida Street around 9:45 PM. About 15 minutes later, a man and his wife recall being followed by a blonde man, young, shoulder-length hair, about 5’ 10” tall. An hour later, around 11:00 PM, a mother jogging with her daughter saw a man standing on the sidewalk in front of a home on Merida Street – the house was directly behind the home Domingo was housesitting in. The woman described the man as a white male, around 20 years old, with blonde hair and a German Shepherd dog by his side.
In the tool shed, police observed the dusty outline of a missing crowbar. They noted that once again, the killer had taken the ligatures with him.
The Golden State Killer hibernates (1981)
Around 1981, the crimes suddenly stopped and other than a vague description of the killer, the police had little to go on. For instance, his car was described variously as a white station wagon (maybe a Chevrolet), a two-tone Ford Mustang, and a light-colored Volkswagen Bug. Several however, noted that the vehicle had a noisy exhaust. But nothing could definitively identify him until 2001 when DNA tests were run on evidence found at the scenes.
Police are unsure why he stopped the attacks. At the time, the Domingo and Sanchez murders were not conclusively connected to him (they would be connected later via DNA evidence). However, if they were, it’s possible the Golden State Killer was injured during his struggle with Sanchez – bad enough to cause him to reconsider his pastime.
The Golden State Killer resumes – the murder of Janelle Cruz (1986)
Cruz was home alone with a boyfriend (her parents were out of town, vacationing in Mexico) when around 10:15 PM, they heard a noise in the backyard. It sounded like a door closing. Cruz felt it was just a cat. Later they heard the noises again. The boyfriend was spooked and told her he had to be on his way. Neighbors recall hearing the distinct sound of Janelle’s Chevette leaving at 10:45 and returning 30 minutes later.
As with several of the other cases, the home was for sale. The following day, Sunday, May 5, 1986, at 5:00 PM a realtor discovered Cruz’s body in her bedroom. She had been raped and bludgeoned to death (probably with a pipe wrench that was missing from the backyard).
Police found tennis shoes prints on the east side of the house. Thread and lint were found indicating she had been gagged with a towel (the towel was missing from the scene). Ligature marks were found on her wrists. Police suspected the Golden State Killer was the assailant. Their suspicions were confirmed via DNA many years later.
Janelle Cruz is the last known victim of the Golden State Killer. Was he imprisoned, killed during one of his break-ins, or frightened after the August 1985 capture of Richard Ramirez, the Night Stalker?
Ray Biondi, a retired Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department detective, told the Washington Post,
“It is mind-boggling that he committed so many crimes without a slip-up.”
Initially, police did not tie the murders to the East Area Rapist crimes. In 2001, DNA evidence from multiple crime scenes definitively tied The Golden State Killer to more than 200 criminal acts as far north as Sacramento to south of Los Angeles.
2013 – new evidence emerges
Police noted that many of the attacks occurred near construction sites or areas experiencing high levels of real estate development. On September 9, 2013, Santa Barbara Sheriff’s investigators released new information to the public – traces of paint had been found at three crime scenes in Irvine and Sacramento. This lead police to believe the killer was a construction worker, possibly a painter.
2016 – FBI refocuses on the case
In June 2016, the FBI partnered with local law enforcement and announced a $50,000 reward for any information that would help authorities track, arrest, and convict the anonymous killer. Officials believe that if still alive, the Golden State Killer would be from 60 to 75 years old.
“It may push somebody over the edge who knows something. It could provide us with that one tip we need.”
Cold case rewards such as this are rare but when they do occur, it is typically after police have found some sort of case altering evidence. Possibly the capture of the Golden State Killer draws near.
The photo gallery below contains pictures of various Golden State Killer crime scenes, evidence discovered by the police, handwriting samples from “the homework” evidence, maps of the assaults, artist sketches, and more.
The Visalia Ransacker – did the Golden State Killer start earlier than we think? (1974)
Some investigators believe the Golden State Killer may have began his assaults prior to 1976. They recall a series of ransackings in four neighborhoods in Visalia, a small town in Central Valley, 200 miles farther south than the Golden State Killer’s known turf.
By September 11, 1975, the Ransacker progressed from petty burglary to assault when the 16-year-old daughter of Claude Snelling, a journalism professor at the College of the Sequoias, awoke to find a hand covering her mouth. The man told her, “You’re coming with me. Don’t scream or I’ll stab you.” Her father heard the whispers and rushed into the room. As he entered the room, the Ransacker shot Claude in the chest with a .38-caliber pistol (same caliber used by the Golden State Killer). He then kicked the daughter in the face three times before fleeing the scene. A previously reported stolen gun tied the man to prior ransackings.
Two months later, on December 10, 1975, Detective Bill McGowen found the Ransacker about to enter a house he had burglarized three times before. He drew his gun and fired a warning shot. The Ransacker turned, raised his hands, and in a high-pitched voice, plead, “Okay, don’t hurt me”. As the Ransacker reached to raise his ski mask from his face, he pulled a pistol with his other hand and shot McGowen. The bullet hit McGowen’s flashlight which exploded, showering broken glass into his eyes, temporary blinding him. The Ransacker escaped but the burglaries ended after the incident. A few months later the East Area Rapist attacks began.
Evidence left behind? (December 1978)
On December 9, 1978, the Golden State Killer raped a woman in Danville, Contra Costa County (the 42nd known attack). Bloodhounds traced his exit trail to nearby railroad tracks where they suddenly ended. Police assumed it was at this location that the Golden State Killer entered an automobile. Where the trail ended were several interesting items that police surmise fell from the car as he entered the vehicle.
The homework pages
Several college-ruled notebook pages were found. They were three-holed pages that had been ripped from a spiral-bound notebook. One page appeared to be a homework assignment on General George Armstrong Custer.
Another page appeared to be a journal or a self-help homework assignment documenting the author’s terrible times in sixth grade. It began with “Mad is the word” and ended with “I’ve never hated any teacher as much as him” (an unusual clue given male teachers in the 1960’s were fairly rare).
On another page was a well-drawn map leading investigators to theorize the artist could have been a landscape architect or engineering student. On the back of the map are a series of doodles and girls’ names. The word “punishment” appears on the page prefaced by the sentence “Come from Snelling” (see The Visalia Ransacker above). Police have been unable to determine what area the map depicts.
Text of the Mad is the Word journal entry
The following is a complete transcription of the “Mad is the Word” page.
Mad is the word that reminds me of 6th grade. I hated that year
I wish I had know what was going to be going on during my 6th grade year, the last and worst years of elementary school. Mad is the word that remains in my head about my dreadful year as a 6th grader.
My madness was one that was caused by disappointments that hurt me very much. Disappointments from my teacher such as field trips that were planned and then cancelled. My 6th grade teacher gave me a lot of disappointments that made me very mad and made me built a state of hatred in my heart, no one ever let me down that hard before and I never “hated anyone” as much as I did him.
Disappointment wasn’t the only reason that made me mad in my sixth grade class, another was getting in trouble at school especially talking thats what really bugged me was writing sentences, those awful sentence that my teacher made me write, hours and hours I’d sit and write 50-100-150 sentence day and night I write those dreadful paragraphs which embarrassed me and more important it made me ashamed of myself which in turn, deepdown in side made me realize that writing sentance wasn’t fair, it wasn’t fair to make me suffer like that, it just wasn’t fair to make me sit and wright until my bones ached, until my hand felt ever horrid pain it ever had and as I wrote, I got mader and mader until I cried, I cried because I was ashamed I cried because I was discusted I cried because I was mad and I cried for myself, kid who kept on having to write those dame sentances. My angriness from sixth grade will scar my memory for life and I will be ashamed of my sixth grade year forever.
Excitement’s Crave poem sent to the Sacramento News
In December 1977, letters were sent to the editor of the Sacramento Bee, the Sacramento mayor’s office and the KVIE 6 TV station titled “Excitement’s Crave” written in poem form by an individual claiming to be the East Area Rapist. The letters read:
All those mortal’s surviving birth
Upon facing maturity,
Take inventory of their worth
To prevailing society.
Choosing values becomes a task;
Oneself must seek satisfaction.
The selected route will unmask
Character when plans take action
Accepting some work to perform
At fixed pay, but promise for more,
Is a recognized social norm,
As is decorum, seeking lore.
Achieving while others lifting
Should be cause for deserving fame.
Leisure tempts excitement seeking,
What’s right and expected seems tame.
“Jessie James” has been seen by all,
And “Son of Sam” has an author.
Others now feel temptations call.
Sacramento should make an offer.
To make a movie of my life
That will pay for my planned exile.
Just now I’d like to add the wife
Of a Mafia lord to my file.
Your East Area Rapist
And deserving pest
See you in the press or on T.V.
Transcripts of phone calls made to victims
Below are transcriptions of some of the phone calls victims received after their attack.
“Merry Christmas” call (December 9, 1977)
A previous victim received a phone call during the Christmas period of 1977. She identified the caller as the man who had previously attacked her.
“Merry Christmas, it’s me again!” (hangs up)
“Watt Avenue” call (December 10, 1977)
On December 10, 1977 a Sacramento Sheriff’s operator received a call threatening an attack. The call was recorded, and the caller was subsequently identified as the same individual who had made the “Merry Christmas” call. No attack took place on December 10.
“I am going to hit tonight. Watt Avenue.” (hangs up)
“Is Ray There?” call (January 2, 1978)
The same victim who had received the “Merry Christmas” call later received another call on January 2, 1978. The call was recorded and the victim identified the caller as the same individual who had made the previous call.
“Yeah, is Ray there? Is Ray there?”
“Gonna Kill You” call (January 2, 1978)
Later that evening, the same victim received another call, much more sinister in nature. This call was also recorded and identified by the victim as being the voice of her assailant.
“Gonna kill you…gonna kill you…gonna kill you…bitch…bitch…bitch…bitch…f**king whore.”
After criminologists matched serological evidence found at the southern California murder scenes, a psychological profile of the Original Night Stalker was compiled. According to Leslie D’Ambrosia, who was the primary author of the profile, it’s likely that the Original Night Stalker would possess the following characteristics:
- White male
- Emotional age of 26 to 30 at the time the crimes were committed
- Likely began as a voyeur in his late teens or early twenties
- Lived and/or worked near Ventura, California, in 1980
- Had some means of income, but did not work in the early morning hours
- Drove a well-maintained car
- Dressed well and would not stand out in upscale neighborhoods
- Would appear harmless
- Intelligent and articulate
- Neat and well-organized in his personal life
- Possibly unmarried and did not enter into long-term relationships
- Would have been described by those who knew him as arrogant, domineering, manipulative, and a chronic liar
- Had some knowledge of police investigative methods and evidence-gathering techniques
- Was a skilled and experienced cat burglar and may have begun that way
- Was in good physical condition
- Had a criminal record as a teenager that was expunged
- Engaged in sex with prostitutes
- Peeped into the windows of many potential victims who were not attacked
- Engaged in deviant paraphilic behavior and brutal sex in his personal life
- Sexually functional and capable of ejaculation with consenting and non-consenting partners
- Self-assured and confident in his abilities
- Hated women for real or perceived wrongs
- Would continue committing violent crimes until incapacitated by prison, death, or some other intervention
- If married, probably has a submissive spouse who tolerated his sexually deviant behavior
In addition to describing the characteristics of the Original Night Stalker, the profile also speculates about the fate of the killer. According to the profile, the Original Night Stalker could have been incarcerated following Janelle Cruz’s murder or killed in the commission of a similar crime. His speculation is however, only partially true – the last known contact with the Original Night Stalker was rumored to be in 1991 when he made a taunting phone call to one of his victims (some researchers have said still more calls were made after 1991).
List of victims
California law enforcement authorities estimate fifty rapes in the California counties of Sacramento, Contra Costa, Stanislaus, San Joaquin, Alameda, Santa Clara and Yolo were committed by the Golden State Killer. DNA evidence conclusively links him to eight murders in Goleta, Ventura, Dana Point, and Irvine, California, with two other murders in Goleta linked by MO but not DNA. Some investigators also suspect the same perpetrator in three other murders, two in Rancho Cordova and one in Visalia.
Below is a numbered list of the East Area Rapist crimes followed by another numbered list of the Original Night Stalker crimes. In 2001, it was determine that all were the work of the Golden State Killer.
East Area Rapist Crimes 6/18/76 to 10/1/79
|#1||6/18/76 Fri 4:00 AM||Rancho Cordova, CA||Woman alone|
|#2||7/17/76 Sat 2:00 AM||Del Dayo. Carmichael, CA||Teenage girl|
|#3||8/29/76 Sun 3:20 AM||Rancho Cordova, CA||Teenage girl (escaped)|
|#4||9/04/76 Sat 11:30 PM||Citrus Heights, CA||Woman alone|
|#5||10/5/76 Tue 6:45 AM||Citrus Heights, CA||Woman|
|#6||10/9/76 Sat 4:30 AM||Rancho Cordova, CA||Woman alone|
|#7||10/18/76 Mon 2:30 AM||Del Dayo, Carmichael, CA||Woman|
|#8||10/18/76 Mon 11:00 PM||Rancho Cordova, CA||Woman alone|
|#9||11/10/76 Wed 7:30 PM||Near Greenback Ln, Citrus Heights, CA||Woman alone|
|#10||12/18/76 Sat 11:30 PM||Carmichael, CA||Woman alone|
|#11||1/19/77 Wed 1:00 AM||Glenbrook/College Greens||Woman alone|
|#12||1/24/77 Mon 3:00 AM||Primrose Dr., Citrus Heights, CA||Woman alone|
|#13||2/7/77 Mon 6:45 AM||Crestview Drive & Madison Ave., Citrus Heights, CA||Woman|
|Attack interfered with||2/16/77 Wed 10:30 PM||Ripon Court , Glenbrook/College Greens, East Sacramento, CA||18 yr old Youth shot in stomach after confronting and chasing prowler.|
|#14||3/8/77 Tue 4:00 AM||Robertson & Whitney Aves., Sacto, CA||Woman alone|
|#15||3/18/77 Fri 10:45 PM||Rancho Cordova||Teenage girl|
|#16||4/2/77 Sat||Madison & Main Ave.||Couple|
|#17||4/15/77 Fri 2:30 AM||Madison & Manzanita Aves. , Crestview Area, Sacto, CA||Couple|
|#18||5/3/77 Tue 3:00 AM||Glenbrook/College Greens||Couple|
|#19||5/5/77 Thu 12:15 AM||Orangevale, CA||Couple accosted outside home|
|#20||5/14/77 Sun 3:45 AM||Greenback Ln & Birdcage St., Citrus Heights, CA||Couple|
|#21||5/17/77 Tue 1:30 AM||Sand Bar Circle,
Del Dayo, Carmichael, CA
|#22||5/28/77 Sat 1:00 AM||Fourth Parkway, South Area, Sacto, CA||Couple|
|An unexplained three-month break in East Area Rapist attacks occurs between June and September 1977.|
|#23||9/6/77 Tue||Lincoln Village West, North Stockton, CA||Couple|
|#24||10/1/77 Sat 1:30 AM||La Riveria & Toulomne Dr, RC, CA||Couple|
|#25||10/21/77 Fri 3:00 AM||Gold Run Ave., Elkhorn Blvd., Diablo Drive, Foothill Farms, Antelope, CA||Couple (forced entry)|
|#26||10/29/77 Sat 1:45 AM||Mission & Eastern Ave., Sacto, CA||Couple|
|#27||11/10/77 Thu 3:00 AM||La Riviera Dr. near Watt Ave.||Teenage girl molested|
|#28||12/2/77 Fri 11:30 PM||Lobrett & Revelstok Dr. Foothill Farms, CA||Aborted EAR attack. Woman alone with child. Husband not home.|
|Attack interfered with||12/12/77||La Riviera Dr. & Watt Ave.||EAR suspect wearing ski mask spotted riding bicycle on Watt Ave. Bridge by Sheriff Deputies. Suspect eludes capture. Bicycle reported stolen from Redding, CA left behind.|
|#29||1/28/78 Sat 10:15 PM||Winding Way, E. of Walnut Ave.(near American River College.)||Teenage girl #1|
|#30||1/28/78 Sat||Winding Way, E. of Walnut Ave.(near American River College.)||Teenage girl #2 (sister to above)|
|2/2/78 Thu 9:00 PM||10165 La Alegria and La Gloria Dr., Rancho Cordova, CA||Maggiores murdered.|
|#31||3/18/78 Fri 1:05 AM||Parkwoods, Stockton||Couple|
|Possible related attack||4/6/78||Rancho Cordova||Woman|
|#32||4/14/78 Fri 10:00 PM||Piedmont Drive, Seamas & Riverside Aves. South Sacramento, CAounted||Unknown|
|Attacks move from the Sacramento area to Modesto and Davis|
|#33||6/5/78 Mon 3:50 AM||N.E. Modesto, CA A mile from other Modesto Location||Couple|
|#34||6/7/78 Wed 4:00 AM||Davis, CA Apartment, N. side UCD||Woman alone|
|#35||6/23/78 Fri 1:30 AM||North East Modesto||Couple|
|#36||6/24/78 Sat 3:00 AM||Davis||Couple|
|6/28/78 Wed||EAR Copycat Attack|
|#37||7/6/78 Thur 3:00 AM||Westwood Div., Davis, CA||Woman alone (two sons present)|
|After a one-month pause, the attacks move to Contra Costa County and southward|
|#38||10/7/78 Sat 2:30 AM||Concord, CA||Couple|
|#39||10/13/78 Fri 4:30 AM||Ygnacio Valley, Concord, CA||Couple|
|#40||10/28/78 Sat 4:30 AM||San Ramon, CA||Couple (aka “Sunny Walther”)|
|#41||11/4/78 3:30 AM||San Jose, CA||Woman|
|#42||12/2/78 4:30 AM||San Jose, CA||Couple|
|#43||12/9/78 Sat 2:00 AM||Danville, CA||Woman|
|#44||4/5/79 Thur 1:00 AM||Fremont, CA||Couple|
|#45||6/2/79||Walnut Creek||Teenage girl|
|#46||6/11/79 Mon 4:00 AM||Danville, CA (two blocks from #43)||Couple|
|#47||6/25/79 Mon||Walnut Creek||Teenage girl|
|#48||(Occurred 4/6/78)||Rancho Cordova||Woman|
|#49||7/5/79 3:45 AM||Danville, CA||Couple (Aborted attack)|
|#50||10/1/79 Mon||Queen Ann Lane, Goleta, Santa Barbara County, CA||Couple (escaped)|
|12/30/79 Sun||Avenida Pequena Ave., Goleta, Santa Barbara County, CA||Alexandria Manning (murdered)|
|#2||12/30/79 Sun||Avenida Pequena Ave., Goleta, Santa Barbara County, CA||Dr. Robert Offerman (murdered)|
|#3||3/13/80 Thu||High Point Drive, Ventura County, CA||Charlene Smith (raped, murdered)|
|#4||3/13/80 Thu||High Point Drive, Ventura County, CA||Lyman Smith (murdered)|
|#5||8/19/80 Tue||Cockleshell Dr., Dana Point, CA||Patrice Harrington (raped, murdered)|
|#6||8/19/80 Tue||Cockleshell Dr., Dana Point, CA||Keith Harrington (murdered)|
|#7||2/5/81 Thu||35 Columbus, Irvine, Orange County CA||Manuela Witthuhn (raped, murdered)|
|#8||7/27/81 Sun||Toltec Way, Goleta, Santa Barbara County, CA||Cheri Domingo (murdered)|
|#9||7/27/81 Sun||Toltec Way, Goleta, Santa Barbara County, CA||Gregory Sanchez (murdered)|
|#10||5/4/86 Sun||13 Encina, Northwood Area, Irvine, Orange County, CA||Janelle Lisa Cruz (raped, murdered)|
FBI reward offered for capture of East Area Rapist / Golden State Killer
In June 2016, the FBI seemingly refocused on the case, offering a reward for the capture of the Golden State Killer. Their official statement read:
Campaign to Identify East Area Rapist/Golden State Killer
Forty-Year-Old Cold Case Unites Law Enforcement Agencies in the Hunt for Subject Who Stalked Citizens in Multiple California Counties
FBI Sacramento June 15, 2016
Public Affairs Specialist Gina Swankie (916) 977-2285
Today, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office, and Contra Costa Sheriff’s Department held a press conference to announce the launch of a reward and national campaign to help identify the East Area Rapist/Golden State Killer, a violent serial burglar, rapist, and murderer who terrorized multiple communities in California throughout the 1970s and 1980s.
The digital media campaign includes the launch of a webpage, www.fbi.gov/EastAreaRapist; digital billboards throughout the country; social media outreach on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube; and audio broadcasts via podcasts and radio PSAs. The public can play an active role in helping law enforcement find the subject by sharing links to the website and official social media content.Law enforcement asks the public to consider the following information when reviewing information about the case:
Did they live in one of the areas of criminal activity and remember someone in the area who matches the physical description of the subject or may have been known to spend a considerable amount of time in the areas?
Have they discovered a hidden collection of items among the belongings of a friend or family member—notably coins and jewelry—as described on the FBI webpage about the crimes?
The subject, who may be 60-75 years old now, was described as a white male standing approximately 5’10” tall and having blond or light brown hair and an athletic build. He may have had an interest or training in military or law enforcement techniques, as he was familiar and proficient with firearms.
People who know the subject may not believe him capable of such crimes. He may not have exhibited violent tendencies or have a criminal history.
Detectives have DNA evidence from some of the crime scenes that can either positively link or exclude a suspect. This enables investigators to quickly exclude innocent parties, and the public should not hesitate to provide information—even if it is the name or address of an individual who resided in the areas of the crimes—as many parties will be quickly excluded by a simple, non-invasive test.
Between 1976 and 1986, this single subject committed 12 homicides, approximately 45 rapes, and multiple residential burglaries in the state of California. All the crimes have been linked by DNA and/or details of the crimes. His victims ranged in age from 13 to 41 and included women home alone, woman at home with their children, and couples.
The subject was active in the greater Sacramento area from June 1976 to February 1978.
Burglaries and rapes began occurring in the Sacramento area during the summer of 1976. During these crimes, the subject would ransack the homes of his victims and take small items such as coins, jewelry, and identification. These cases include the homes of families, couples, and single women; burglaries in a neighborhood tended to precede clusters of sexual assaults. On February 2, 1978, Rancho Cordova couple Sergeant Brian Maggiore and his wife, Katie, were on an evening walk with their dog and were chased by the subject who overcame the couple and shot at close range.
His activity continued primarily in the East Bay Area of Northern California in 1979, and, by October 1979, his activity escalated into rapes and homicides/attempted homicides along the California Coast with homicides in Goleta (October 10, 1979; December 3, 1979; and July 27, 1981); Ventura (March 16, 1980); Laguna Niguel (August 19, 1980); and Irvine (February 6, 1981 and May 5, 1986). During the commission of the homicides, the subject tied up both victims, raped the female victim, and then murdered the couple.
After July 1981, no associated incidents are known to have been reported for five years. In 1986, an 18-year-old woman was raped and murdered in Irvine. No additional crimes have been connected to the subject after this incident.
A graphic illustrating the general location of these crimes is available on the FBI’s webpage.
The following is a listing of local law enforcement agencies who have investigated a crime believed to have been committed by the subject and the number of crimes in their jurisdictions:
Agency Sex Assaults Homicides Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department 24 Two Sacramento Police Department Four One assault with a deadly weapon Contra Costa Sheriff’s Department Five None Concord Police Department Two None David Police Department Three None Fremont Police Department One None Modesto Police Department Two None San Jose Police Department Two None Stockton Police Department Two None Walnut Creek Police Department Two None Irvine Police Department None Two Orange County Sheriff’s Department None Two Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department None Four, two attempted Ventura Police Department None Two
Police department memo – May 2, 1977
The following is an internal department memo that was released to officers on May 2, 1977. It is based on evidence that was available early in the investigation.
All that is known about the suspect at this time is that he is young (White Male Adult, 19-25 yrs), slender (140 lbs to 180 lbs.) muscular build, and agile. The suspect has been described as a:
WMA, 19 to 25 years old, 5’8′ to 6’0′ tall, with dirty blonde to medium brown, collar length hair, bright blue or hazel eyes. He wears a size 9 tennis shoe and has Type “A” blood.
He usually wears dark clothing, with a penchant for Army green. He always wears a mask and gloves.
The younger victims tend to describe the suspect as older, in the middle to late 20’s. The older victims describe him as young, 18 to 19 years of age. Assuming a woman in her late twenties and early thirties is a more accurate judge of age, it would appear to place the suspect in the early to middle 20’s.
Most victims have described the suspect as about 5’8″ or 5’9″ tall, hwoever, a 16 years old victim is 5’8 1/2″ tall and walked beside the suspect from the kitchen to the ffamily room. She states, with her high heeled shoes on, she was the same height as the suspect. This would indicate the suspect is about 5’10” or 5’11” tall.
The suspects weight has been estimated from the descriptions of his build. He has been described as slender with an athletic build. Well muscled, not heavily muscled as a weight lifter, but more like a runner or a swimmer.
None of the victims have gotten a good look at the suspects hair. One did state that it was hanging out from under his ski mask and appeared dirty blond. Pubic hair and head hair recovered from the scenes has been predominatedly dark to medium brown. There is no direct correlation between single strands of head and pubic hair and the color the hair appears to be. A single strand of hair taken from a black haired person might be blonde or brown. From all indications, and the opinions of the investigators, the suspects hair should be medium brown. A witness, who observed, what is believed to be the suspect, running from a victim’s residence, also described the suspects hair as dirty blonde.
The victims have described both tennis shoes and lace-up boots as footwear worn by the suspect. Numerous shoe sole impressions have been discovered at the scene of both prowler and burglary scenes. At this writing, shoe sole impressions have been found two rapes. During one investigation shoe sole impressions were found in a rape victim’s rear yard. More recently, in Rancho Cordova, shoe sole impressions were located in the master bedroom of the rape victim’s residence. Both times the impressions were of a Herringbone pattern and measured 10″, which is consistent with a size 9 shoe.
TYPE “A” BLOOD
During an attack, the victim gained control of the suspect gun and during the struggle to retrieve his weapon, the suspect apparently cut himself with his knife. Blood was found in the victim’s hair and on her bedding. These samples were classified by the Crime Laboratory as type “A” blood. The victim has type “O” blood.
The suspect always has worn a ski mask, usually the commercially available knitted ski mask. He apparently does not wear the same mask twice. On occasion the suspect wears a mask that appears to be homemade. One time he had on a leather hood, another time he wore a hood with his eyes, nose and mouth exposed. This hood was Army green and made out of canvas or heavy denim material.
The suspect habitually wears gloves, taking them off only during the sexual assault on the victim. On one occasion he kept his glaves on during the entire time, including during his sexual assault. These gloves are usually of the black leather type, or in some cases more recently, he wore heavy cotton, brown in color, with heavy stitching.
The suspect often talks through clenched teeth. No particular trace of an accent but he appears to be disguising his voice. With older victims he speaks in more normal tones and appears to be gruff only with the younger victims.
Brown lace-up boots.
Ankle high brown lace-up shoes.
Desert boots, brown leather.
Black square toed boots.
Black tennis shoes.
Red, white and blue tennis shoes.
Black high top military boots.
Fatigue pants, baggy pockets
Numerous suspicious vehicles have been checkedand eliminated. Still outstanding is a 1952 or 1953 Ford or Chevrolet, bright yellow step-side pickup. This vehicle was seen on Knollwood each day for three days prior to the rape on Thornwood.
It is assumed that the suspect travels by automobile. On five separate occasions dogs have tracked the suspect to a location one would expect a vehicle to be parked. The suspect could use other means of travel. There is some evidence that he has travelled drainage ditches, vacants fields and Park areas on foot.
In addition to the blood sample, head and pubic hair and shoe sole impressions, latent fingerprints have been recovered from every scene. These latents have been cross compared without a match.
Numerous reports have been received from persons who have observed someone who looks like the composite of the East Area Rapsit. There has been only one composite made of the E.A.R. and it has not been given wide circulation until now.
This composite was made, while under hypnosis, by a 16 year old Rancho Cordova victim.
The suspect enters a residence in the night time through an unlocked sliding glass door or window. He will pry unopened doors and windows when necessary.
Once in the residence the suspect threatens the victim with a knife, gun or club. He ties her with shoelaces he brings with him, then he uses strips of the victim’s toweling and electrical cord to further bind, blidfold and gag her.
He usually cuts the telephone cord and covers a lamp with something to dim the lighting.
The suspect will spend from one to three hours in the residence. During this time the suspect will sexually assault the victim several times. In between sexual assaults the suspect wanders about the house eating and drinking. He wanders in and out of the house. Beverage containers have been found outside where the suspect apparently stands, possibly watching for anyone approaching the house.
Because of his wanderings, the victim rarely knows when the suspect actually leaves the premises. It is usually thirty minutes to an hour before the victim is able to free herself and sometimes needs the assistance of a neighbor to get loose from her bonds.
SCENE OF THE ATTACK
The suspect attacks a single story, single family dwelling in a middle or upper middle class neighborhood. Except for Rancho Cordova (Beat 12) the residence is usually located near a drainage ditch, vacant field, new construction or park area or there may be a row of houses between the victim residence and such areas.
Considerable research has been conducted in an attempt to find some common factor between all of the victims, without success.
Failing this it is believed that the suspect identifies his next victim by prowling and burglarizing. Burglaries of particular interest are those in which no loss or minimal loss occurs.
During the rape the suspect will frequently take small items of costume jewelry: class rings, an earring, etc. He looks through photograph albums and lingerie drawers.
Also of interest are prowler reports, particularly those where herringbone footprints are found.
Over 150 suspicous persons, including 290 registrants, ex-convicts, etc. have been investigated. Many have been eliminated, but most cannot be completely excluded at this time.
At present there are no strong suspects.
The investigators are checking all suspicious persons and vehicles with the thought that the suspect may pose as a meter reader, insurance salesman, real estate samesman or some other person that has or appears to have legitimate access to the neighborhood.
Investigators are also reviewing all sex offenses, burglaries, and prowler reports for possible connections to the East Area Rapist.
HYPOTHESIS AS TO M.O.
A hypothesis is defined as an unproved theory tentatively accepted to provide a basis for the further investigation. Modifications in the original thesis may be necessary as the investigation proceeds. However, effort within the framework of the hypothesis generally gives superior results to activity on an undirected basis.
From a reading of the reports the following impressions were gained:
1. The first few cases of the EAR seems tohave been conducted on an individual, somewhat opportunistic basis. His attacks were confined to cases of young girls he had apparently determined to be in defenseless situations. Later he refined his technique and began to attack married ouples. The remarks below apply to his operations in this later phase of his development.
2. He seemingly finds a neighborhood to his likeing in which there is a home for sale or under construction. These specimens may be studied for such features as floor plans, locations and types of indow and door locks, etc.
3. Preferably there should be an open field, schoolgrounds, levee, or concrete-lined ditch at rear of the development. His getaway through such areas is attended by only negligible chances of being spotted in the early hours of the morning.
4. He next spends sometime in prowling and/or burglarizing in the neighborhood, perhaps picking out a suitable victim, studying her and her families habits, and further familiarizing himself with the interior of the house or houses he intends to break into.
East Area Rapist evidence summary – December 8, 1977
Similar to the internal memo released to officers eight months earlier, the following is an updated internal summary of evidence created in December 1977.
Dec. 8. 1977
Long and laborious investigations of the activities of the offender known as the East Area Rapist have developed a great body of subject matter. However, because of the well-thought out modus operandi of the offender, which minimize the chance of accurate observations, very little significant material can be gleaned from the reports of wintesses. This is true not because of the paucity, but because of an over abundance of such reports.
Errors of observation arise from a vaiety of causes. One, for example, derives from the relativity of size – to a short person, another of medium height may appear tall, and vice versa. another is the limited vocabulary of a majority of the population. Thus, the term of “red” may mean scarlet, crimson, vermillion, etc. Odors, too, are particularly difficult to describe. Colors are subject to much variation in reporting because of differences in individual perception and because lighting can cause apparent shifts in color characteristics. And finally, there is an extreme range of individual ability to observe and remember accurately.
In this case, the subject has been said to between 5’6 and 6’0, with short blondish to dark long hair, driving many different makes and models of vehicles. The reported license numbers which have been checked out have invariably led up blind alleys.
The task of following up on each lead in this welter of dubious information is obviously time consuming and non-productive. An alternative methodology is proposed herein – one which starts with the end event, the attack on the victim and works backward. The key feature of this approach is the formulation of a hypothesis as to the EAR’s mode of operation and the selection of data from the huge body of investigative material which will support elements of the hypothesis. If a coherent explanation can be arrived at, it can be tested experimentally and either confirmed or discredited.
In studying the temporal distribution o the EAR cases, the median rather than the arithmetic mean (“average”) was used. A few extreme cases – one of car theft in the early evening hours and others in which the subeject deviated from his usual pattern to take advantage of special situations such as the absence of parents or husbands would have distorted the “average”. The median gives a more typical value, in that it lies in the exact center of the distribution and ignores the cases at the ends. The average deviation was calculated to give the expected range around the median.
In this case the median time was found to be 0325 hours, the range from 0240 to 0430 hours. There are 1:1 odds that the EAR will strike in the one hour and fifty minute span included in the range.
The day of the week distribution indicates that 13 of the 27 attacks took place on Friday or Saturday. Since the ods are 50-50 for both events occurring separately, the chances of their occurring simultaneously are 1/2 x 1/2 or 1/4. Thus, the odds are 1:3 that an attack will take place on a Friday or Saturday between the hours of 0240 and 0430.
However, even these odds offer operational advantages since a concentrated surveillance effort can be mounted for three hours and forty minutes out of 168 hours for the full week. In terms of time and cost, this represents a reduction of 45 times.
The geographical distribution of EAR attacks shows some puzzling factors, but others which may be of tactical value. Cases 1, 3, 6, 7, 15 and 24 are in the Rancho Cordova Area. Except for #24, they are rather thgtly grouped. Since this is the scene of the first operations, it may serve as the prototype of his subsequent depredations. It shows a tendency to return at roughly regular intervals at the outset and then after longer periods. Counting 6 and 7 as one incident, the intervals are 2, 2, 5 and 6 1/2 months.
Numbers 2, 8 and 21 occurred between Fiar Oaks Boulevard and the American River South of Arden Way. The same tendency to a lengthening frequency is evident here, though on a smaller scale. Here the intervals are 3 1/2 and 7 months.
The same observations apply to the territory bounded by Manzanita Avenue, Auburn, and Surise Boulevards, Greenback Lane and Madison Avenue, the locus of #5, 9, 12 and 19. Intervals: 1, 1 1/2, 3 3/4.
A neighborhood near Folsom, between Main Avenue and the American River was the site of #16 and 20, which were 1 3/4 months apart.
The area enclosed by Fair Oaks Boulevard and Manzanita Avenue and Madison and San Juan Avenues, saw incidents 4, 10, 13 and 17, separated by 3 1/2, 1 2/3 and 2 1/4 months.
Between Watt and Howe Avenues, U.S. 50 and the American River attacks 11, 18 and 27 took place, 4 and 6 months apart.
Single incidents, #25 in Foothill Farms and #26 in Carmichael are removed from the main concentrations and may represent the nuclei of new cluster of assaults.
The average time span between attacks in these major groupings is about two months. However, there is little interval regularity within groups; about the best that can be said is that the first incident in a new area is generally followed by another in two months or less.
The monthly pattern is continuous from the middle of 1976 to May 17, 1977. Then on May 28, the incident in South Sacramento came to light, which up until then, had been completely outside the habitat of the EAR. The situation remained quiet for over three months when the subject resurfaced in Stockton.
The location of these two incidents suggest that the offender left his usual haunts for some reason, the exact nature of which cannot be determined at present. It seems that this excursion was a one-time event and probably will not be repeated. At any rate he returned and started functioning again on his old turf on October 1, 1977.
Case #28 occurred after the material for this study was gathered. It is therefore interesting to speculate on the degree it could have beed anticipated on the basis of the foregoing statistical analysis. The time – 11:30 pm – is outside the predicted probable range. However, the location is in an area suggested as one far likely exploitation by the subject (the neighborhood of #25) and the day of the week – Friday – is one favored in the past.
VEHICLES: As noted before, almost every vehicle in the Blue Book has been sighted near the scenes of the crimes. However, the only one that recurs with any degree of consistency is a Volkswagen. Two days before an attack, a neighbor observed an old VW, dark green with gray rear wide fenders and wide tires parked in the field behind the residence at about 6 pm. A neighborhood resident of the another victim saw what he described as a silver blue VW without lights sometime after 4 am leaving the area. An investigative officer measured the width of the tire tracks and found them to be 4’9″. In another case, footprints led across two fences to a dirt area, where tire tracks were found. These tracks measured 4’3″ center to center. According to the officer who made the measurements, VW wheels are 4’4 3/4″ apart in the front and 4’3 3/4″ in the rear. Assuming that the vehicle does have wide tires, and the measurements were from the edges of the tread instead of from the center, the two observations could be reconciled. In the Stockton incident, a witness heard what he identified as a VW engine start soon after the interloper left his house.
The EAR also has an apparently extensive wardrobe of informal clothing, and a wide assortment of knives, handguns and flashlights.
HYPOTHESIS AS TO M.O.
A hypothesis is defined as an unproved theory tentatively accepted to provide a basis for further investigation. Modifications in the original thesis may be necessary as the investigation proceeds. However, effort within the framework of the hypothesis generally give superior results to activity on an undirected basis.
From a reading of the reports the following impressions were gained:
1. The first few cases of the EAR sem to have been conducted on an individual, somewhat opportunistic basis. His attacks were confined to cases of young girls he had apparently determined to be in defenseless situations. Later he refined his technique and began to attack married couples. The remarks below apply to his operations in this later phase of his development.
2. He seemingly finds a neighborhood to his liking in which there is a home for sale or under construction. These specimens may be studied for such features as floor plans, locations and types of window and door locks, etc.
3. Preferably there should be an open field, schoolground, levee, or concrete-lined ditch at rear of the development. His getaway through such areas is attended by only negligible chances of being spotted in the early hours of the morning.
4. He next spends sometime in prowling and/or burglarizing in the neighborhood, perhaps picking out a suitable victim, studying her and her familiy’s habits, and further familiarizing himself with the interior of the house or houses he intends to break into.
5. In this intelligence gathering activity he studies several residences so that he may operate in the neighborhood at a later date with a minimum of reconnaisance.
Real Estate Operations – In one case there were two nearby homes for sale. This was also true in the Stockton incident. In another incident, a Century 21 was directly opposite the victim’s house. A neighbor of another victim was showing his own home for sale. About two weeks prior to the attack, a prospective purchaser inspected the house. He purportredly was transferring from Las Vegas to McClellan AFB. He is described as being in his 20’s, thin, blond, with “short” haircut and blue eyes. Two signs from Kastaros REalty were in the backyard of another victim. It appears the house had been shown earlier. The house of another victim had previously been owned by (redacted) who related that while the house was in process of being put on the market, a very unusual realtor called. According to Mrs. (redacted) he paid no attention to the interior of the house, but inspected the south and west exteriors. He asked her where her husband worked and why her daughter wasn’t at home. He is described as extremely well-dressed, light brown hair, darker complexion and medium frame. In the vicinity of another victim, there were several newly constructed and unsold homes. There was a vacant residence (condominium) for lease near another victim’s home. The garage window at this location was open. Yet another victim had recently moved into their house, which still bore a “SOLD, Aim Realty” sign at the time of the attack. A neighbor of another victim was was marketing her home through Jones, Brand & Hullin under a multiple listing plan. Another victim’s home had just been sold and the victim was planning to join her husband in the Bay Area, where he had already moved. A new home was being constructed next to the home of yet another victim.
This listing is probably not exhaustive in that other instances of real estate or buidling activity may not have been reported.
Nearby Terrain – Unfortunately a compilation of locations abutting open areas was not made. From memory only, it seems that a preponderance of victim’s homes offerned escape route through open fields, schoolgrounds, parking lots of apartment complexes, the levees of the American River, or concrete lined drainage ditches.
Prowling: There is scarcely a case in the file which does not contain mention of suspicious activities near the victims’ homes. Prowlers were sighted through windows, footprints found, noises late at night near doors and windows were heard, dogs barked at unusual times, non-response phone calls were received, locked doors were found open, minor burglaries were suffered, etc.
As examples of the many cases of the EAR’s preknowledge of the victims’ situations, the following may be cited:
(redacted) – father out of town for weekend
(redacted) – father on vacation
(redacted) – sister at friends, parents at Christmas Part
(redacted) – parents out (redacted) – rapist knew family habits and work hours
(redacted) – Husband in Bay Area
(redacted) – husband on business trip
(redacted) – husband just left for work
(redacted) – separated, son visiting father
(redacted) – Parents away for weekend
(redacted) – knew her purse was in car
(redacted) – knew where garage door opener was located
(redacted) – this is the one case in which the offender’s intelligence data became garbled. He was certain that the victim attended American River College, however, a neighbor girl, (redacted) who strongly resembles victim, had attended American River College. It is possible that the offender has been in the (redacted) home as well as the (redacted).
(redacted) – Old footprints from wishbone-pattern tennis shoes, which were repeatedly found in other cases, were discovered under bathroom window.
(redacted) – Outside lights on timer. Intruder knew how to turn them off.
(redacted) – Husband started night shift only two days previous to attack.
(redacted) – Suspect stated he’d seen her at Mather Officer’s Club, knew her husband was a captain in the Air Force.
Multiple Intelligence Gathering – This characteristic is inferred from the suspect’s habit of returning repeatedly to the same vicinity. It seems logical that he would gather the maximum amount of information at one time rather than by a series of individual operations.
The EAR is a WMA in his late teens or early twenties. He is about 5’8″ in height with a pale skin, light colored eyes (blue or hazel) moderately long, dark blond or light brown hair and a slender build. He most probably drives an older VW of a nondescript color, slighted under varying lighting conditions and reported variously as dark green, gray or silver blue. It may have expanded rear fenders and wide wheels. He has the tendency to return to areas he appears to have familiarized himself with. These areas seemingly can be distinguished by homes up for sale and escape routes where he can avoid detection during the early morning hours .
Sources: Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Quester
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