With this entry of my “The East Area Rapist” series, I am covering the attacks on victim nine and thirteen. These two cases have interesting details that stand out in terms of clues and evidence. Also, in the discussion is the town hall meetings and the misconception that is sometimes attached to them.
On Wednesday, November 10th, 1976 in Citrus Heights, a sixteen-year-old was home alone watching television with her poodle in the living room. Suddenly, a large noise echoed throughout the residence that propelled the dog to start barking and growling viciously. Seconds later, an intruder wearing an apparent handmade balaclava appeared in the family room with a large knife. The teenager screamed in a panic as the man quickly jumped towards her with his knife against her throat. With clenched teeth, he hissed, “If you and your dog don’t shut up, I’ll fucking kill you both.”
Once he was able to subdue her, he used shoelaces to bind her arms and wrists behind her back. Subsequently, he forced her into the backyard. She noticed her bicycle had black shoelaces across the handlebars ready for use to secure her ankles; a premeditated decision. Now that she was immobilized, the man went back inside the home to replace the screening of a living room window he entered from.
Everything was going according to plan for the intruder and in typical fashion, he began asking if she or her family had any money. She responded with no. He then nonchalantly asked, “Do you have a boyfriend?” When she nodded with a yes, he questioned her further, “Have you had sex before?” She remained quiet as he was leading her away from her residence to a nearby canal as neighboring dogs were barking, but they were unable to deter him from his plan. He proceeded to tell the petrified teenager who was crying and whimpering, “If you don’t be silent, you’ll be quiet forever.”
He threw her down on the ground, but strangely, the aggressor was having difficulty remaining focused despite everything seemingly going his way. He would untie her ankles to begin the rape, tie them back up and walk away momentarily. This process happened multiple times. Something was causing him to be indecisive about his next move. Eventually, he went forth cutting her jeans off with his knife. Likewise, he took a few steps back and frustratingly mumbled, “This isn’t working right.” He abruptly knelt down in front of her staring directly into her eyes and asked, “I know you, don’t I?” She said no, but he continued looking at her intently before asking, “Do you go to American River College?” Again, she responded, “No, I go to San Juan High School.”
Her answer angered the individual, alluring him to react by placing his knife to her throat and accuse her of fallacy. Following that, he demanded to know her name. She responded by conjuring up a fake name in the heat of the moment. He unexpectedly replied, “I have to wait for my parents to leave so I can go home. I am going to take off in my car now. If you move or make any sound within the next twenty minutes, I’ll silence you forever.” The masked intruder casually walked away. The victim, thankfully unharmed, waited for a few minutes until she felt comfortable to run to her neighbor’s home who untied her wrists and called the police.
- This particular attack is quite different than his typical style. What’s fascinating is the similarities between this and the Visalia Ransacker’s attempt to abduct Beth Snelling. Why did he try and take her from her home instead of committing the crime inside as usual?
- In terms of the crime itself, what caused him to not follow through with the rape? Moreover, he didn’t even rummage the home.
- It’s possible this wasn’t an attack by EAR/ONS, but it more than likely is due to the blackout not being lifted yet. Plus, the criminal seemed well prepared prior to the attack. Not only did he have shoelaces with him for binding, but he also laid out a set of shoelaces on the bicycle stationed in the backyard.
- Did EAR/ONS accidentally choose the wrong house to attack? The sixteen-year old’s neighbor was attending American River College — the school the attacker asked his victim. It’s possible he struck the wrong house in general. While that seems hard to contemplate due to his methodical planning, he had to know the sixteen-year old’s parents weren’t present.
- Although EAR/ONS improvised occasionally, it didn’t happen very often. He generally knows everything” he feels he needs to about his upcoming victims, especially the layout of the home he’s about to break-in and attack. This also includes stalking the family for a week or two beforehand, as well as crank calling the residence.
- This attack was very close to the fifth victim, Jane Carson.
- The victim mentioned his demeanor seemed childish in retrospect and seemed to purposefully relay false information to throw off investigators, indicated by his tone of voice (can’t go home until his parent’s leave, asking if she had a boyfriend and the school she attended).
- In Roseville, California on December 21, 1976, a man put his 1961 Plymouth Valiant up for sale. A young male matching general descriptions of the East Area Rapist noticed the sign and bought the vehicle for $400.00. The seller described the buyer to be in his early twenties with light-colored hair and wearing a blue windbreaker with waffle-stomper shoes. Nearly a month later on January 16, 1977, in Folsom, California — thirty minutes away from Roseville — the same vehicle was ticketed and subsequently impounded. Nobody came to reclaim the vehicle. Two months later in March, employees at the impound lot opened up the trunk and discovered clothing, a wig, guns, and ammunition.
Town Hall Meeting
Victim nine was the only attack to occur during the month of November 1976. There are a few interesting things that happened during this month. For one, the media was able to start covering these cases because the blackout was officially lifted. The crimes were becoming mainstreamed to the citizens of California. Furthermore, the infamous town hall meeting(s) took place as well at Del Dayo Elementary School.
On the second evening of the town hall meetings being held by Detective Richard Shelby and his partner, Carol Daly, an angry man stood up from the aisle and frustratingly yelled that where he was from in Italy, this matter would have already been resolved, and no man would allow his wife to be raped in front of him. Soon after, he left the meeting. Afterward, two more nights of the conference were held.
The common misunderstanding relates particularly to the Italian man who berated the detective(s) during the second night assembly. Seven months later on May 17, 1977, the residence of this individual was attacked and his wife was subsequently raped. They became the 21st victims of the East Area Rapist. More interestingly, his home was practically across the street from the elementary school where the meeting was held. However, the misconception that ran its course was the victim was targeted and attacked in the following days of the initial outcry (other falsehoods stated the attack happened a week after). Thus, people began clamoring the notorious serial rapist was in attendance.
While it’s entirely possible the East Area Rapist was present in some of the meetings, it cannot be positively determined. That begs the question, why did he attack that particular family, and did he know about the proclamation of the husband? It’s possible it could have been a coincidence. A part of the aggressor’s MO is to survey his soon-to-be victims for an extended amount of time before striking. His planning was done meticulously, so it’s likely he took note of the Italian male for later. That being said, this criminal operated in this vicinity often. With fifty rapes, claiming this attack was coincidental isn’t that much of a stretch.
Next, the popular photos that are typically associated with the town hall meetings. This is an area where many people get confused on because of the extensive amount of misinformation, so I’d like to throw out a disclaimer now: Some people say these photos were taken during the first set of meetings in November of 1976. Others say they were captured in November of 1977 — the second annual meetings due to the perpetrator not being apprehended within the timeframe. However, the photographs taken happened in November of 1977 in Mira Loma.
The popular photos that many speak of featuring an individual nicknamed “The Puffy Jacket Guy” can be found here and here. Some people speculate this person could be the East Area Rapist based on a few composite sketches related to the murders of Brian and Katie Maggiore, or at the very least, one of the two suspects mentioned in their murders. This sketch is the official revised version. Other people think the man in the town hall photo can be matched with the Visalia Ransacker’s composite sketches which you can view here and here. The last sketch was from Detective William McGowen who encountered the individual on December 10th, 1975.
The murders of Brian and Katie Maggiore occurred on February 2, 1978, which means the town hall meetings were held in the previous years. Also, worth mentioning is the man in the town hall photo is not considered a suspect at all yet amateur sleuths and armchair detectives noticed similarities between the man in the picture and the composite sketches of the alleged killer(s) of the Maggiore family. Plus, this picture started circulating the internet primarily because of the misconception of the East Area Rapist attacking the Italian man’s family in May of 1977. Therefore, these photos can be considered a blessing and a red herring.
To reiterate, originally two people were considered as suspects in the murder of Brian and Katie Maggiore according to eyewitness testimony from neighbors. Here is a snippet of the newspaper clipping that was published on February 16th, 1978 in the Sacramento Bee. Two months later on April 16th, 1978, a new witness came forward that provided a much more accurate description of one of the suspects. That sketch is what many people are aware of today.
With that clarification, the Maggiore murders may or may not be the work of the East Area Rapist, especially if two people were seen fleeing the crime. Nonetheless, there are some fascinating clues that link these senseless murders to the infamous serial rapist. On a related note, I am keeping the discussion on the Maggiore murders very brief. There is much more to the story, but I’m saving that case for a future post to dive deep into; that’s why I left information absent.
This is a good article from The Fresno Bee that details more about the Visalia Ransacker and EAR/ONS.
On Monday, February 7th, 1977 in Carmichael, CA, a husband was leaving his home for work at approximately 6:45 in the morning. As he was walking to his vehicle he spotted a dubious van parked at Del Campo Park near the end of Heathcliff road. He immediately realized the vehicle didn’t belong to any neighbors, so he walked back inside and told his wife to lock the windows and doors after he leaves because their home had been broken into and robbed a month prior.
Now that she was alone since her husband left for work, she began her normal routine of cleaning up the kitchen. Despite locking all of the doors and windows, she felt a sense of paranoia. When she glanced over her shoulder, a man wearing a dark green ski mask and brandishing a handgun had somehow entered the home in an unalarming fashion.
He commanded her to the dining room, sibilating her to remain quiet or he would murder her; only wanting money and that was it. She was terrified, sniveling and telling him no as he was pulling shoelaces out of his windbreaker pocket to bind her wrists tightly behind her back. At this point, he guided her to the master bedroom. On the way there she recognized her seven-year-old daughter’s bedroom door had been closed, although it had previously been opened after her husband left for work.
Once in the master bedroom, he threw her on the bed and fastened her ankles with more shoelaces. She began to hear bath towels being torn when the assailant said to her, “I’m going to cover your face.” Bravely, the woman attempted to refuse by screaming, “No! Get the fuck out of my house!” This only agitated the aggressor more, prompting him to sit on top of her and cover her mouth with one gloved hand while he repeatedly punched her in the face.
Remarkably, she managed to untie her hands during the struggle and made a bold attempt to grab the handgun dangling from his windbreaker pocket. She was able to grab it, but before she could pull the trigger, he started punching her in the face more viciously, causing her to let go of the weapon.
He then terrorized her by threatening to cut her daughter’s ear off if she didn’t be quiet. The fearful mother reluctantly gave up fighting and he proceeded to blindfold and gag her, all the while taking his knife and gently moving it down her cheek in intimidation.
Suddenly, the man lets go of his restraint and the bedroom became suspiciously calm. The silence was overpowering, and after a few minutes of nothing happening, she started to escape from her bindings. That’s when she felt the hands of the intruder violently pushing her backward on the bed, now hissing at her, “If you move one more time, I’ll cut your toes off.” It was at this point when he ripped her pants off and lubricated himself with lotion and raped her.
For a brief moment, the rape went to a standstill and everything went dead silent once more. The mother’s seven-year-old daughter was standing in the open doorway watching the horror consume her mother. The man barked at the daughter to get into the bathroom, but she ran screaming with fear. He ran after her, picked her up and threw her on the bed next to her mother, secured their ankles before leaving the home.
- This strike was very close to the residence of his fourth victim.
- This tragedy happened on a Tuesday morning at approximately 6:45. His attack on Jane Carson (his fifth victim) occurred on Monday at 6:30-7:00 in the morning as well. Could this possibly hint at a day job or schooling?
- The husband spotted a suspicious van that didn’t belong to any neighbors. The police located the owner of the vehicle and were ruled out.
- Not only did the victim’s home get robbed a month beforehand, but the wife also received hang-up phone calls from an unknown caller.
- The seven-year-old daughter’s bedroom door is an interesting scenario. The mother recalls the door being open after her husband left for work, and even after locking all the entry doors and windows inside the home. This could mean two things. One, the daughter closed the door herself at some point, although unlikely according to their statements. Or secondly, the intruder was already in the home before the husband left for work. Once he left, the intruder snuck away from his hiding place and gently closed the bedroom door without waking up the child.
- The victim and her husband are smokers. Their brand of choice is Marlboro. There is an ashtray that’s located in the kitchen that contained cigarette butts, and one particular cigarette was of Vantage brand — a label that neither wife or husband partake in. The issue with this particular piece of evidence is the timeframe. Due to the suspect being in the home for thirty minutes, there would be no time for him to smoke a cigarette and put it out, specifically because he was with the victim the entire time.
- The suspect was estimated to be between 5’9 – 5’10 and wearing a windbreaker, which is a typical piece of attire according to victims. This piece of evidence is quite staggering in my opinion because prior to this attack, two separate witnesses reported a suspicious man wearing a jogging outfit. The day before the crime was committed, a neighbor was doing lawn work when she saw a lean young male with short blond hair in his early twenties wearing a jogging outfit and acting creepy according to her statement. He was standing in Del Campo Park (where the van was later spotted by the victim’s husband). He continually stared at the woman working on her lawn. When she would occasionally glance at him, he would turn his head away and look up at the sky. This testimony is reminiscent of the very first victim who was stalked for a month. When she would glimpse at the individual driving the car through the neighborhood, he would turn his head away to conceal his identity.
- After the attack on victim #13, a teacher at Kelley Elementary School spotted a man running in the park that is relatively close to the school at 7:30 a.m. This would be the approximate time the suspect left the victim’s residence. His description and clothing matched the victim and neighbor’s statements.
- Since the victim put up a fight with her offender in the master bedroom, there was a moment where the aggressor must have accidentally cut himself with his own knife, including the victim. Blood samples were taken and the analysis concluded two different answers. The victim’s blood type was Type B. However, another sample determined a Type A Positive blood sample which did not belong to anyone else but the intruder.
- Detective Richard Shelby is adamant in his belief that the East Area Rapist has a Type A Positive blood type. To further this proof, the rape examinations were done on prior victims at hospitals, along with other bodily fluids obtained from crime scenes, EAR/ONS was a non-secretor, which makes up a population of 20%.
- More information on the tenth victim which helps link the crimes together is the backyard fence. The suspect kicked the wooden fence down which left an imprint of his tennis shoe. It was determined to be a size 9.
The Ripon Ct. Prowler
It was 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday, February 16, 1977, in Sacramento, California at Ripon Ct. when a family of three were startled by a large thud directly outside of their home. Worrying someone was attempting to intrude on their privacy, the husband, and his eighteen-year-old son, Rodney Miller — a former cross-country runner in high school — went outside to probe their backyard. The two suddenly witnessed a young, athletic male with light blond hair down to his neck and a seamed cap on running with great speed across the street and jumping over a nearby fence.
The gumptious son pursued the stranger. As he hurled himself on the fence, before he was able to make it to the other side, a man had been waiting for him wielding a handgun in his left hand. He fired one shot that pierced him in the stomach.
The father ran to his son’s aide as he toppled down from the fence declaring he had been shot. The shooter had disappeared into the night. Police investigators and an ambulance arrived shortly afterward. The teenager was rushed to the hospital where the immediate surgery took place.
The bullet to the gun was determined to be a 9mm round. Shards had been torn apart and punctured the teen’s bladder, rectum, and intestines. Miraculously, he survived the wound thanks to the incredible medical staff.
Two composite sketches were developed from this incident. It’s not entirely clear if the shooter was the East Area Rapist. However, law enforcement is confident that he was the one responsible for the crime. The sketch created is one of three separate drawings the FBI used in their 2016 press conference to spread awareness to the public. The photos below are the second composite sketch created from the Ripon Ct. Prowler and a collage of sketches used during the 2016 press conference.
This concludes part two of this series on a serial rapist who has remained a complete mystery. Sadly, the story only gets worse as the perpetrator continues to hone his skill on being a prolific stalker and learning how to control his surroundings in unprecedented fashion. In part three, I’ll be diving into more of his attacks and the clear signs of his confidence growing to new heights as he continued eluding law enforcement.