This is my third entry in my “The East Area Rapist” series. The three cases I’m covering present intriguing pieces of clues and evidence that could be used to paint a portrait of who the unidentified serial rapist and killer is. Furthermore, these cases show the extent of how far and wide he planned his crimes in advance.
In Rancho Cordova, CA, on Friday of March 18th, 1977, a sixteen-year-old arrived home at 10:45 p.m. from her job at Kentucky Fried Chicken. Curiously, the porch light was not on, which was uncharacteristic, especially because earlier that evening, her mother and father were going away to Tahoe City, California for the weekend, while her sister was at an outing with friends. They advised her to stay with a friend for the weekend for extra precautionary measures, so as she walked inside and set down her belongings, she was about to use the landline phone on the kitchen counter to call her friend.
As she was doing so, a beckoning noise echoed behind her. When she turned around, an intruder was a few feet behind her. He was wearing an open-faced green ski mask. In his gloved hands, he had a green ax raised above his head already in an attacking motion. He threatened to kill her if she started screaming and she was instantly paralyzed with fear. She still had the phone in her hand as the assailant stripped it from her hands and the wall socket. He then forced her to the living room where he commanded her to lay on her stomach so he could bind her arms and wrists behind her back with shoelaces. He then grabbed a precut cord from the family iron to tie her ankles together, indicating he had been in the house for a while before her arrival.
With the victim finally immobilized, the perpetrator began rummaging the home. During this, the second landline phone in the parents’ bedroom began to ring. This caught the intruder off guard momentarily, but he quickly regained his composure and hissed through clench teeth, “My car is a block away. I’ll kill you if you don’t do as I say.” She was pleading to not be hurt, and he tried assuring her he was only there for cash and everything would be fine if she heeded his instructions. He restrained her even further, along with gagging her with strips of towels he had cut earlier with a pair of scissors.
Once more, he started rummaging through the house for an extended period of time, periodically intimidating his victim by slamming the blade of the ax and scissors next to her face. The master bedroom phone started ringing randomly again during this process. According to the victim, she counted 30 rings before the caller gave up. This caused concern to the intruder, however. He removed her gag and asked demandingly, “When is your family coming home?” She told him her family was gone for the weekend and her sister was out visiting friends.
It was at this point he started to proceed with his rape. He interestingly asked, “Have you ever fucked …” and gave a personal first and last name. The victim was in tears, telling the intruder no as he continued his questioning, along with complimenting her body just as he did with victim #7, also mentioning her full name. That’s when he squatted down on her back where her bound hands were, placing his penis in her hands and ordering her to play with it, exclaiming to her it was eight inches long. Afterward, he physically raped her and ransacked the home, a process done numerous times during this stretch of horror.
At 11:40 p.m. the victim suddenly heard her front doorbell ringing along with continuous knocking on the door. This startled the rapist and he quickly fled the house through the backyard. The person ringing and knocking was the victim’s friend she was supposed to call and spend time with, but due to not answering the phone, the friend was concerned and went to check on her well-being. That’s when she discovered her friend bound and raped, quickly rushing to the master bedroom to call the police.
- The weapon of choice was an ax that belonged to the family. This was bizarre because the attacker primarily used a knife and handgun.
- The victim — and the entire family in general — had been receiving prank calls prior to the attack. There is a discrepancy. Some say the calls were occurring for six months while others state for a few weeks. Regardless, at a certain point, the mother got annoyed and blew a whistle into the phone. This goes to show the obsession with the East Area Rapist, providing a look at the extent of time he would take to survey his victim(s). What’s even more frightening is one of the victim’s neighbors were also getting similar phone calls for approximately a month between January and February. Another neighbor who housed two teenage girls discovered their bedroom windows open with pry marks on the sealing five days before the 15th victim was claimed.
- Although the rapist claimed his penis was eight inches long, the victim told authorities it was a lot smaller.
- In the backyard, the police found imprints of a size nine shoe in the ground, the ax used by the assailant, and an empty can of Dr. Pepper. On the roof of the home was a jar of Vaseline the assailant used for lubrication during the rape, but it did not belong to the family; thus, he purposefully brought it with him.
- The police brought along bloodhounds to track the scent of the East Area Rapist, which led them to another street nearby before losing the scent. At the area where the dog stopped, there had been reports and witness testimonials of a suspicious 1966/1967 gray Chevy Belair station wagon being parked there on and off for the past month. The car hadn’t belonged to any neighbors and the driver was never seen.
- The rapist had stolen the driver’s license of the victim and her sister, along with two earrings.
- Earlier in the day before the break-in and rape occurred, the police station received three phone calls of a man laughing and claiming to be the East Side Rapist at approximately 4:15 and 4:30 p.m. A third call was placed at 5:00 p.m. This time the person said, “I am the East Side Rapist and I already have my next victim planned. You can’t stop me.” According to released information at the time, the rapist was specifically coined the “East Area Rapist,” but on some occasions from the newspaper company, The Sacramento Union, he would be called the “East Side Rapist” (The Sacramento Bee dubbed him The East Area Rapist).
- The victim of this attack later went under hypnosis and a composite sketch was made from her memory. The victim got a brief glimpse of his face. Law enforcement had her look through yearbooks and she identified a male who matched her attacker’s description. He was never ruled out as a suspect but there wasn’t enough evidence to pin him to the crime. Here is a hypnosis composite sketch and a revised version created later on.
At 2:30 in the morning on April 2nd, 1977 in Orangevale, California, a couple was awoken by a masked intruder wearing a white ski mask, brandishing a firearm, and shining a flashlight beam onto their faces. He immediately threatened them, “Don’t move! I want you both to lay on your stomachs. I have a .45 with fourteen bullets and two clips. Where is your money? That’s all I want. If you lie to me, I will kill you. If you try to move, I’ll kill you as I did those people in Bakersfield.”
The boyfriend listened intently and told the burglar his wallet was in his pant jeans laying on the bedroom floor. Still barking orders, he ordered the female to bind her boyfriend. The woman was whimpering and asked, “With what?” The invader flashed his light to the corner of their bed; a pair of white shoelaces had already been placed before he woke them up.
Her boyfriend tried soothing her by telling her to remain calm and listen to what the man instructed. The masked intruder then padded his way towards the boyfriend and put the barrel of his .45 to his temple saying, “Don’t look at me. If you see me, I’ll have to kill you both. After I get your money, I will leave for my camp at the American River.”
Once the boyfriend was secure with binding, he guided the woman into another section of the house proclaiming, “I’m going to take you into the hallway so you aren’t able to untie each other.” As the two were walking down the hallway, he forced her to lay down on her stomach in the family room.
The typical commonalities continued; using strips of towels that had been cut to fasten her ankles and blindfold her. Now that she was contained, he started rummaging through the kitchen. Seconds later he approached her asking, “Where are your matches?” In response, she told the intruder she didn’t know because she isn’t a smoker. “If you lie to me, I’ll kill you,” he replied, as he proceeded to take dishware from the kitchen cabinets to place on her back. He persisted to tell her, “If you move at all, I’ll hear the dishes clatter and I’ll come back here and kill you,” as he went to the master bedroom to check on the boyfriend. He performed the same formality as he did the girlfriend, proclaiming he would murder him if he heard the dishes rattling on his back.
With everything under his control, he walked back into the family room and told the woman, “I’m going to get your purse from the car,” which was located in the detached garage. By the time he returned, his pants were completely removed. He took the dinnerware off her back, squatted down and placed his penis into her tightened hands. He hissed at her through clenched teeth, “Hold my cock. Be gentle with it.” He was unable to get a satisfactory sensation, prompting him to roll her onto her back and take her underwear off.
Before he began his rape he asked the girlfriend, “Have you and your boyfriend had sex tonight? Don’t lie to me or I’ll fucking kill you.” Crying with fear, she told the intruder no as he started providing cunnilingus, assuring her, “If you make this good, I will leave.” After ejaculating, the rapist went to the kitchen and started eating their food, chewing and smacking deliberately loud to raise the terror in his victim. He returned to the woman moments later and raped her again on the carpeted floor. The man then forced her to her feet as he sat down on a kitchen chair, commanding her to sit on his lap for his third rape. Once he finished, he angrily shoved her on the floor and rebound her ankles.
Suddenly, the house became eerily quiet. The woman was paralyzed with fear unaware of what was going to occur next. The very next noise she heard was the poodle dog sniffing around her. The boyfriend in the master bedroom also recognized the distinctive silence and gained the courage to hobble out of his room to untie his girlfriend and call the police. As for the rapist, he had long disappeared from the household.
- This was the first attack committed against a couple. Not only that but this was the first time he stacked dishes on the back of his victims. It’s unsure how much planning went into that thought. However, considering this was his first attack against a couple, it was a very smart move, but also presented clear signs of paranoia.
- It’s possible this attack was partially improvised. The couple was not married and the boyfriend had his own separate residence. The intruder kept referring to the boyfriend as “husband” and since the boyfriend didn’t live with his girlfriend, how could the rapist have known he would be there with his girlfriend? According to reports, the shoelaces placed on the bed were only enough for one person.
- The girlfriend was a mother of a boy and girl between the ages of seven and eight. They were sleeping in the next room over and never awakened during the attack. An hour prior to the attack, the couple returned home after attending a drive-in theater.
- The female victim indicated to investigators that the man’s legs were shaved and his thighs were very wide, which is consistent with a bicyclist that we know the East Area Rapist indulges in; driving a vehicle and parking blocks away, then stealing a bike from the home of someone nearby, and using that to continue towards his attack and flee on occasion. Additionally, shaved legs and wide thighs are compatible with a runner and swimmer.
- In January of 1977, a neighbor of victim #16 (attacked on April 2, 1977) witnessed a prowler peeking into the home of another neighbor who was a single woman. He chased the individual, but the person managed to get away. The neighbor said the man appeared to be 5’9-5’10 and possibly 25-30 years old.
- In February of 1977, another neighbor’s home was broken into and robbed.
- Victim #14 was attacked on March 8, 1977. With the blackout lifted since November of 1976, the Sacramento Bee covering that crime articled how the East Area Rapist never attacked a couple, preferably with a man — boyfriend or husband — being present in the home.
- In March of 1977, a neighbor of victim #16 witnessed a person dressed as a police officer walking around the home of the soon-to-be victim. The following day the neighbor asked if something was wrong due to the police officer being in the vicinity, but the woman said no and they never even called police or talked to anyone of that nature.
- More strange activity was reported in March of 1977 in the same neighborhood. During the afternoon, a person dressed as a meter reader was walking down the sidewalk. The city worker stopped directly in front of the home of victim 16. A neighbor noticed him and the meter reader said, “Good evening.” A minute later the neighbor saw a light-colored sedan flee the area. The person was posing as a fraudulent meter reader because the city had no work conducted in the area. It is important to note that a blue sedan was seen near the attack on victim #11 on January 18, 1977, in Sacramento, California.
- Close to midnight on March 18th, 1977, a person reported a dubious white Chevy station wagon with brown trimming backing out of a neighbor’s home. Strangely enough, this was in the neighborhood where he attacked his 15th victim. Whether this could have been the 1966/1967 Chevy Belair primer-gray station wagon is unknown.
- At 10:30 p.m. to approximately midnight, dogs owned by neighbors of victim #16 were repeatedly barking throughout the night. Although it’s unclear what they were barking at, it’s assumed to be the East Area Rapist prowling the area, planning his attack the very next evening.
- On April 1, 1977, neighbors of victim #16 reported a suspicious primer-gray station wagon driving on Winterbrook Way five separate occasions — a road that is next to the victim on Richdale Street. It was a vehicle that had never been seen or reported prior to the month and attack. The car also did not belong to any residents in the neighborhood.
- Not only did the rapist eat food from the kitchen, he also chewed gum that he left behind.
- Type A blood was discovered at the home that did not belong to the victim(s). It’s believed to be the attacker’s considering the same blood type was found at a previous crime scene.
- This was the first account where the intruder turned the heater (furnace) off. The assailant also cut the television cord for extra material to bind the victims.
- The poodle that was owned by the female victim never barked or made a sound at the intruder which was uncharacteristic. Neighbors who gave their statements mentioned how the dog is always barking at people walking or running down the street, even neighbors who the dog actually knows.
I’d like to mention a few significant details regarding the next attacks on victim #17 and #18. The seventeenth strike happened on April 15, 1977, and is practically identical to the sixteenth victims. However, there are a few clues that can be gathered from this crime scene.
For one, there was a half gram of coke inside of the refrigerator and a pill bottle containing marijuana in the bathroom; both items were stolen. Secondly, being as this was the second attack on a couple, more dishes were used to stack on the victim’s back. The rapist also had cut the phone lines from the kitchen and master bedroom. Thirdly, the woman who was raped told investigators that not too long before the attack occurred, she recalled seeing a sedan slowly drive by her residence to look at her because she was outside washing her car in shorts and a bikini top.
It’s unclear if victim #17 was originally a target in the neighborhood. This is substantiated due to the victim not receiving any hang-up phone calls prior to the event. Seemingly, she was singled out because of her apparel. That occasion prompted him to slow his vehicle down to get a better look at her, ultimately creating an instant obsession. That source of information could mean the East Area Rapist is very easily enticed.
With victim #18, a few notable clues can be gathered. The attack occurred in Sacramento, California on May 3, 1977. The victims involved a wife and husband, but they had two children. Their home was oddly designed, and from my knowledge, this was the first account of the East Area Rapist attacking a two-story home rather than single leveled. The first floor contained the bedrooms and the kitchen and living room were located upstairs.
As per usual, the typical formalities ensued with the East Area Rapist. However, there are a few captivating statements he made towards the victims. He told the female, “If you try to grab me, I will kill you and everyone else in the house, then I will leave and go to my camp at the river.” In one specific dialogue with the husband, the intruder asked if he had been in the military. He replied, “Yes, in the Air Force.” The intruder responded by saying, “I got thrown out.”
The wife told investigators at one point the rapist started shivering as if he was in the midst of withdrawal similar to a drug addict. She also mentioned that his behavior seemed staged. With that being said, it is important to reiterate that his previous attack on victim #17, the East Area Rapist did steal marijuana and a half gram of coke.
Also discovered were the shoelaces he used to bind his victims which all belonged to the inhabitants, indicating he had been in the house for a decent amount of time to unlace the shoes before attacking his unsuspecting victims. Moreover, the wife had been receiving hang-up phone calls for a week prior to the attack. What’s interesting is the calls would happen shortly past midnight when she arrived home from school.
There are other perplexing details regarding victim #18. In December of 1976, a neighbor found a plastic bag in her bushes that contained a flashlight and a pair of gloves. Additionally, five months later on the night of the attack, the same neighbor heard someone walking on gravel that was in her driveway at 1:00 in the morning. Paranoid by the sound, she got up and made sure all of her doors and windows were locked. Unknowingly, the attack on her neighbor took place two hours later at 3:00 a.m.
Earlier that year in April, six neighbors of victim #18 received persistent phone calls from an unknown caller. The person would immediately hang-up as soon as the homeowner said hello. Likewise, during April two neighboring homes were burglarized. The following year in January of 1978, victim #18 received a phone call believed to be the East Area Rapist. In clenched teeth, he said, “I haven’t struck in a while.”
Out of the eighteen attacks committed, this crime is exceptionally unique. From all indicators, this was possibly improvised and completely spontaneous. Not only that, it can be considered opportunistic rather than intentional.
At 10:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 5, 1977, in Orangevale, California, a young female accompanied by her two dogs was driving to the home of a new male acquaintance she had met six months prior. Though she was enjoying her evening, she mentioned having an unnerving sensation somebody was watching them. Nevertheless, she continued onward with her male friend chit-chatting and watching television while her dogs were running amok in the fenced backyard. For approximately an hour the dogs would repeatedly bark and growl, but remain relatively close to the back door. The woman would periodically glance outside to check on the commotion, but everything seemed in order.
At a little past midnight, the female decided to head home. As the homeowner was being courteous and walking her to her vehicle, the two dogs quickly rushed out of the home and made a beeline to the side of the residence, barking hellishly. Suddenly, a masked intruder appeared from the shadows brandishing a handgun, forcing them back inside of the home and threatening to murder them and the dogs if they refused to listen.
Once inside, he commanded them to lay down on their stomachs. He proceeded to tell the female to tie up the homeowner with shoelaces he had thrown at her. Afterward, he made her take the dogs to another room and close the door in order to keep them contained. Now in complete control over the entire situation, he began binding her next to the homeowner, stacking kitchen dishes on their backs as he told the two he was only wanting money.
After a brief moment, the intruder took the female to a nearby bedroom, now wielding a large knife towards her throat, demanding her to remain still. He started removing her blouse, using his knife to cut loose her bra. He then raped her for the first time, afterward rummaging through the entire household, opening cabinet drawers and throwing personal belongings onto the floor.
Thereafter, he raped the female three more times and made her give oral pleasure. He then said to her, “You better swear to God you didn’t see a van down the street!” He brusquely made her repeat the sentence three times although she was crying from the excruciating agony from the rapes, promising not to say a word to anyone. Once the intruder obtained what he came for, he went back into the kitchen to make himself something to eat before leaving the residence permanently.
- While the East Area Rapist reportedly prowled Orangevale, California after this attack, he never struck again in this specific region.
- The woman reported the man’s penis was five inches long or shorter, and it was as thin as the circumference of a quarter. She also mentioned he had trouble getting aroused.
- All the shoelaces used for binding did not belong to any of the victims of this attack.
- Investigators recovered two semen stains and sent them to the laboratory for sampling. As another previous attack, the evidence concluded the East Area Rapist was a non-secretor. At the time, this was quite rare with only 20% of the population having the same results.
- This was the first time the woman had been to her new friend’s home. Apparently, their relationship was strictly platonic. The reasoning for spending time with one another was to discuss business matters. Furthermore, the homeowner had just relocated to the home ten days beforehand and was still in the process of unpacking.
- The homeowner’s phone line was cut.
- On May 2, 1977, a neighbor of victim #19 (the male homeowner) reported seeing a gray Plymouth parked near the residence. The vehicle did not belong to any neighbors in the vicinity. He couldn’t make out the year of the vehicle, but this car brand was witnessed in other attacks prior to this incident.
- This attack had to be spontaneous since only a male was living at the residence. There are a few things to consider, however. If this attack was spur of the moment, the East Area Rapist had come prepared with an overabundance of shoelaces and weaponry. That indicates a possible attack on another family rather than this one, thus going for an opportunistic attempt instead of a pre-planned crime. Or, the other option which seems unlikely but still in the realm of possibility, the East Area Rapist was originally surveying and planning to attack the female who lived in another area. Instead, he started following her from afar without her knowledge and decided to strike as she was being led to her car by the homeowner.