Welcome to part four of “The East Area Rapist” series. There are some captivating twists and turns in the four cases I will be discussing. When I was researching this information, a small part of me wanted to quit due to the innumerable amount of theories, speculation, and overall clues and evidence, but I buckled down and attempted to narrow down the data collected in these crimes in a concise manner that stays particularly relevant to each attack. With that being said, let’s begin.
On Tuesday, May 17, 1977, in Carmichael, California, a man woke up at approximately 1:30 in the morning. In his peripherals, he saw a silhouette of an unidentified male standing in the doorway of his bedroom’s sliding glass doors. The man sleeping attempted to keep his composure intact, pretending to be asleep with the hope of getting the upper hand on the intruder.
Suddenly, the trespasser started using his .45 automatic to tap on the door framing repeatedly saying, “Wake up, wake up, wake up. I have a gun.” The husband continued pretending he was asleep, but the intruder used his flashlight to wake up the wife, who immediately saw the assailant with his gun pointed directly at her. Instinctively, she pulled the bed sheets over her body and screamed, ultimately foiling her husband’s plan.
With the couple now fully awake, the assailant began stuttering, “Look at me! Do you hear me? I have a .45 magnum. Pull the covers down! Get on your stomachs. I’m going to tie you up and take all of your money and jewels,” as he took shoelaces out of his pocket and threw them onto the husband’s back, now commanding the wife to bind his wrists tightly.
He then focused primarily on the helpless wife and restrained her. After her submission, he walked next to the husband and placed a jewelry box on his back, all the while putting the muzzle of his .45 to his temple saying, “Don’t say anything! If you say a single word, she’s dead! She’s dead,” as he ransacked the master bedroom for valuables. After finishing the mundane task of rummaging the bedroom, he focused back on the couple and told them, “I’m going to go into the kitchen and make something to eat and do whatever else I please. If I hear any movement out of you two, I will kill everyone in the house and leave into the night.”
True to his word, the intruder spent thirty minutes unceremoniously eating food and browsing the living room for souvenirs. The afghans on the couch were draped over the lamps to create minimal light. To the couple’s dismay, he returned with a much ferocious personality, proclaiming he wasn’t able to find the wife’s purse. He forced her upright, making her locate her personal belongings. Meanwhile, the husband was squirming in an attempt to break free from his constraints, concerned for the wellbeing of his wife. The intruder jeered through gritted teeth, “If you move, she’s dead! The first thing you’ll hear is two shots.”
Though the intruder led the wife away from the bedroom in order to locate her purse, unknowingly to her, he was well aware of its location. He made her lay on her belly involuntarily, blindfolding and fastening her ankles tightly. He proceeded to grab dinnerware from the kitchen and put the dishes on the husband’s back, still threatening to murder his wife if he made any noise.
After returning to the defenseless wife, he grabbed a knife from the kitchen counter and placed it against her throat, ensuring no harm would come to her if she abided by his demands. The intruder walked away for a short period of time, grabbing food to eat from the refrigerator before resuming his sexual assault on the woman — straddling on top her back in order to put his penis into her hands that had lost all circulation, ordering her to “Rub it!”
When this became unsatisfactory, he propped her on her knees and grabbed the back of her head, making her provide oral pleasure. He angrily hissed at her, “Make it good or I’ll kill everyone in the house.” He then began feeling gratification, using her name while saying, “Oh, that feels good. I like that,” trying to construct a personal connection.
Thereafter, he sodomized her and calmly said, “I’m going to eat some more food and drink some beer in the backyard for an hour,” as he placed kitchen appliances on her back to alert him if she started moving. In the midst of this, his demeanor spontaneously changed erratically. He started speaking in a stuttering whisper, “If I hear these dishes clatter, I’ll come back to you and kill for the first time. Those fuckers! Those fuckers! Those pigs! I’ve never killed before, but I’m going to now. Listen, do you hear me? I want you to tell those fuckers, those pigs, I’m going home to my apartment. I have a lot of TVs. I’m going to listen to the radio and watch television. If I don’t hear about this tomorrow, I’m going to kill two people. People are going to die!”
He proceeded to return to the master bedroom for approximately ten minutes, repeating the same monolog to the husband; making it abundantly clear he had intentions to murder two innocent people if he didn’t see this crime spread through the mainstream media. After his rant, he paid one more visit to the wife, breathing heavily into her ear; continuing the same spiel, “Those pigs! Those fucking pigs! I’m going to kill them, too. Okay? Tell them I’m going to kill those fuckers,” before he disappeared into the night.
- This attack is extremely important and hotly debated. The victims were an Italian family. The husband was the individual who seven months prior, berated Detective Richard Shelby at the town hall meeting, exclaiming no man would sit idly by and let an intruder rape his wife. Their home was located across the street from Del Dayo Elementary School where the meeting took place. It’s worth noting that the infamous photos from that meeting weren’t taken during November of 1976.
- This area where the East Area Rapist attacked soon became a recognizable modus operandi. The neighborhood was very close to a school, parks and numerous biking trails. If a police chase ensued, they would have to be on foot instead of their police cruisers.
- The homeowner’s pet dog notoriously barked at anything remotely strange. However, their dog never made a sound when the intruder was inside the residence.
- When the police arrived at the scene, their bloodhounds tracked the scent of the trespasser two blocks away to Canebrake Court.
- The East Area Rapist seemed more violent than his typical outrages. Whether or not this has to do with the town hall meeting is unknown.
- Two months prior to the attack, a prowler was reported sneaking around in the backyard of his soon-to-be victims.
- In the early weeks of April of 1977, the neighbors of the soon-to-be twenty-first victims were approached by two people who were allegedly census workers. Every person who had contact with these men mentioned their questions were peculiar. Later that night, one of the neighbors heard strange noises outside of his residence. When he went to check on the commotion, it was discovered to be a stranger who managed to remove a window screen.
- Many oddities started occurring two days before the official attack on victims.
Those living in the neighborhood witnessed a young male shining a flashlight into cars parked outside of their homes. Additionally, a couple going for a stroll spotted a dubious person peeking into the homes near the vicinity of this region. Moreover, two strange vehicles were seen that did not belong to anybody living nearby. One was a brown Dodge Charger parked close to the residence of victim 21 and another was a brown El Camino with an AFC decal parked behind the victim’s home near the American River.
I won’t be diving wholeheartedly into the attack on victim #22, mainly because it’s practically identical to his previous attack. With that being said, there are a few interesting cliff notes worth sharing.
The East Area Rapist was starting to transition into a much more sinister criminal, particularly with his frustration with the police. This was evident with the statements he made to the wife during this attack, “I have something for you to tell the fucking pigs. They got it mixed up last time. I said I would kill two people. I’m not going to kill you. If this is on TV or in the paper tomorrow, I will kill two people.”
After the soliloquy, he started questioning the wife with a stutter, “Are you listening to me? Do you fucking hear me? I have TV’s in my apartment and I will be watching them. If this is on the news, I will kill two people.” His attitude abruptly turned into sobbing as he told the victim, “It scares my mommy when this is in the news.” He repeated this phrase three times, and according to the wife’s recollection, it seemed authentic.
Within two weeks of the attack committed upon victim #21, the East Area Rapist changed his mentality on wanting his crimes mainstreamed in media outlets. Whether or not his feelings were genuine regarding the press he was receiving, it’s not entirely a clear picture due to his pathological lying. That being said, he relished in creating terror, not only in his victims but to people living in Northern California.
The Afraid Letter
Despite the lack of information stemming from the attack on the twenty-second victims, it was the aftermath that put northern California in a state of cautious optimism during the summer of 1977.
Sacramento’s Sheriff’s Department was actively pursuing all leads, all the while on edge anticipating for the dispatcher to send them on another crime scene committed by the East Area Rapist. They had recently started using expensive helicopters to overlook the crime attacks hoping to locate the perpetrator before or after an assault.
Locals were doing their best to assist the police in any capacity to help bring the offender to justice. People would pair up in groups and be assigned neighborhoods to patrol. Families willingly uprooted their daily routines and changed their schedules the best they could to be a positive force in their communities.
Shockingly, the rest of May and the entire month of June went eerily silent. The anxiety between citizens and police were rising but they were thankful no home invasions and sexual assaults were being reported. As the month of July came and went, things were relatively peaceful. While there had been crimes committed of your average criminal–the cases were quickly resolved and taken care of.
By the time July ended with no incidents occurring by the East Area Rapist, people were officially adjusting to normal living conditions again. Families were beginning to relax. Children were allowed to play outside with a little less restriction and curfew.
When August arrived, things were still calm until Sacramento County Sheriff’s
Department received an anonymous letter from an individual calling him or herself “Afraid.” He or she claimed to have inside knowledge of the identity of the serial rapist. On August 17, 1977, The Sacramento Union published an article written by staff writer Veda Federigni about the incident.
Clue to rapist at last?
The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department is asking a letter-writer who signed himself “Afraid” to call the detective bureau to elaborate on inside information about the East Area Rapist. It could prove to be the first break in a case that has stumped dozens of investigators since the ski-masked rapist began his attacks nearly two years ago. “We’ve been given information, possibly valuable information,” said sheriff’s spokesman Bill Miller, “in a well-written, typed letter. It’s not from a kook.”
The information which Miller indicated could only be known by someone familiar with the details of the case that are not generally known to the public gives no clue to the identity of the suspect. We assumed the letter writer knows the person he or she is talking about. Our detectives want to talk to “Afraid,” said Miller, adding that “Afraid” wrote that if detectives wanted more information, you should indicate you do in The Sacramento Union or other local media.”
Miller emphasized that the information may not necessarily mean a break in the case. “We’re not sure of the information. It requires contacting all of the victims and taking time to check things out.” “But there is a statement in the letter of something that the letter-writer is aware of that is very, very interesting,” Miller said.
Miller said that informants can be guaranteed anonymity and urged “Afraid” to call the detective bureau, 413-3411. The man is known as the East Area Rapist began his string of 23 unsolved known attacks on October 21, 1975.
All but two of the rapes have been in the county, and until the last attack on May 28, the suspect concentrated in a huge, 70 square-mile section of the east area, encompassing the communities of Rancho Cordova, Citrus Heights, Orangevale, Carmichael, and the Del Dayo, Glenbrook, and College Greens neighborhoods.
On May 28, the perpetrator, who had earlier broke an established pattern of attacking women alone by beginning to break into homes where men were present, again changed his method of operation and struck in the south area. He has not struck since May 28, the longest hiatus since the first few attacks. More than $30,000 in rewards have been offered, and police and sheriff’s detectives have sifted through thousands of calls, followed up hundreds of leads, and interviewed several dozen potential suspects.”
As of today, many people — web sleuths in particular — question the validity of the “Afraid” letter even existing. Additionally, after this letter was received, it’s commonly believed that the writer never replied back to the questions law enforcement posed in the article. This is a possible misconception or simply a lack of information known to the general public because supposedly, the letter writer did come forward when asked and his person of interest was subsequently ruled out. Unfortunately, there isn’t much evidence to corroborate this statement.
Nevertheless, the terror had seemingly concluded. Nobody knew why. Nobody questioned it. People were content that the horror stopped. Other than the mysterious “Afraid,” nothing was happening. Whoever the East Area Rapist was, he finally disappeared. He moved on … so they thought. He never left. He was there the whole time. Watching. Planning. Waiting.
On Tuesday, September 6, 1977, in Stockton, California — an hour away from the typical hunting grounds in Rancho Cordova — a young wife awakened to an intruder making his way into the home through the master bedroom’s glass sliding doors. She immediately started nudging and shaking her husband to wake him up, but it was too late. The trespasser had already begun ordering the couple onto their stomachs, instructing the wife to bind her husband. He ventured to assure the family he was only wanting money and food for his apartment.
His tone quickly shifted, diligently telling the husband if he was untruthful about the location of his money, he would chop up his sleeping children and bring their ears to him. The onslaught continued as the assailant put a knife to the husband’s throat commanding him to remain still as he escorted the wife into the family room. She asked the intruder if she could have her robe due to being nude prior to his arrival. Strangely, he obliged and draped it over her shoulders.
With the wife now in the living room with her arms and legs fastened together by shoelaces, he took dishes from the kitchen and placed them on the husband’s back in the master bedroom. Out of the corner of the husband’s eye, he saw the trespasser digging through a carrier bag, pulling out a pistol and placing it on his temple, spewing more death threats if he attempted to be a hero.
After leaving, he resumed his prominent intentions on the wife. As he started to initiate the rape, he clenched his teeth and told her, “Ever since I saw you at the grocery store, I had to have you. You were so beautiful.” He persisted in mentioning that he lived only a block away and reiterated his purpose for being at their home; money and food for his apartment.
Once the first sexual assault was finished, he went into the kitchen and removed a Pepsi and jar of peanut butter from the refrigerator. During this break, the family’s six-year-old daughter woke up, unaware of the horrors taking place outside of her bedroom. While doing so, she made her way to the bathroom. That’s when she noticed the intruder in the kitchen doorway, wearing a belt containing two holsters with a gun and knife placed in each socket, although he was nude from the waist down aside from his tennis shoes. He saw her as well and said, “I’m playing a game with your parents. Do you want to help?” Since she had just awoken, she ignored the entire scenario and went back to bed.
Shortly after, the invader raped the wife two more times, frequently checking on the husband in between the assaults. Eventually, the home fell silent for an extended period of time. When the family felt safe, they managed to undo their restraints and call the police.
- The six-year-old daughter later went under a hypnosis session where more details
emerged from the intruder she encountered. A composite sketch was made from this meeting. The daughter also recalled two pistols engraved on the belt buckle. Moreover, she noticed the intruder had a tattoo on his left forearm resembling the Schlitz Malt Liquor Bull. Investigators followed up on this lead with tattoo parlors, but none of the businesses could remember a customer ordering this specific tattoo.
- The wife confirmed what her husband mentioned about the carrier bag. They later specified it being similar to a doctor’s bag. Here is a picture as a reference. This particular piece of knowledge would later become a key component in trying to identify the East Area Rapist. Many of his attacks were committed on people affiliated with military or medicine in some formality.
- The victim also made two interesting statements. Her rapist had an unsavory odor, but it wasn’t emanating from his armpits or breath. She also mentioned at one point she was raped by a rubber dildo.
- After the assailant left the residence, the family heard a Volkswagen engine rev up and flee the scene.
- The police unearthed shoe impressions in the victim’s and neighbors’ yards. Each imprint was a match consisting of a 9.5 size Converse All-Star shoes. This detail is consistent with other shoe implants at varying crime scenes, though the size was generally 9 inches.
- Up until the attack, there were many reports of suspicious activity beginning in August taking place between 10:30 p.m. to midnight. The list included banging on hardwood fences, dogs barking uncharacteristically, and the sound of someone walking and running on gravel.
- On August 2, 1977, a neighbor witnessed a white station wagon near the home of victim #23. The sighting of this vehicle also occurred on the night of the attack. This is significant because other testimonies from neighbors of previous victims mentioned seeing a primer-gray station wagon.
- A day before the sexual assault, a member of the community was taking an evening stroll through the neighborhood. He stumbled upon a suspicious person prowling in the area, and once he realized someone was watching him, he started jogging despite not wearing the proper attire. Furthermore, on this day many residents in the area received prank phone calls. When the homeowners would say, “Hello,” the anonymous caller would reply, “Go to hell, babe,” before hanging up.
- Two different vehicles were spotted at separate times that didn’t belong in the neighborhood. One was the typical white station wagon, while the other was a light blue Toyota or Datsun. The driver(s) for each car acted peculiarly — driving around the block multiple times. Once again, the station wagon comes into play, as well as a light blue colored vehicle (Sedan).
- Hours before the attack on victim #23, a neighbor was speaking to a friend on the telephone when she suddenly heard someone trying to open her back door. She instantly ended her call and crawled on the floor to her bedroom, remaining out of sight from windows. She managed to get there safely and retrieve a gun owned by her husband. Afterward, she sat on the corner of her bedroom waiting for the intruder to walk in but nobody ever did.
At 1:30 in the morning on October 1, 1977, a woman was awakened from her slumber by a flashlight beam and revolver pointing directly at her from the bedroom doorway. She hastily nudged her boyfriend sleeping next to her. The interloper immediately commenced the couple by saying with gritted teeth, “Shut up! Don’t make a move or I’ll kill you! I want your dope. I know you have some and I’ll look until I find it.”
In an enthralling fashion, the intruder started playing an exuberant game with the boyfriend. He flashed the beam onto his face and began directing the light towards the homeowner’s shotgun leaning against the wall; a process he did multiple times to challenge his bravery to defend himself. Unbeknownst to the boyfriend, this was merely a ruse. The intruder knew the gun wasn’t loaded because earlier that evening when the couple was away from home, he broke in and emptied the shells, placing them neatly in a single line under the living room couch.
After the boyfriend refused the intruder’s challenge, the masked man enjoined the girlfriend to tie her boyfriend’s arms and legs together. Now that he was immobile, he went to the kitchen to retrieve dishes to place on the back of the boyfriend. During this escapade, the homeowner’s seventh-month-old pit bull entered the room. Mysteriously, the dog growled momentarily but never barked at the individual. Nevertheless, the masked man took precautions and placed the animal in another room without harm.
Thereafter, he guided the seventeen-year-old girlfriend into the living room, where he subsequently blindfolded her and put a knife to her throat saying, “If you refuse to listen, I am going to slit your throat from ear to ear.” With everything going seemingly as planned, he proceeded to rape her twice, taking minor breaks in between to check on the boyfriend.
Once he climaxed on the second go-around, he went into the kitchen to eat food and relax by drinking the beer stored in the refrigerator. In a strange turn of events, in the middle of the recess, a car began honking twice outside of the victim’s residence. Suddenly, silence ensued for thirty seconds until someone knocked on a side window. Immediately following this, the doorbell started ringing profusely. The assailant casually walked outside of the front door for a few minutes before returning inside and leaving out the back door.
Meanwhile, the boyfriend managed to squirm the dishware off his back successfully without making noise. He purposefully rolled off the bed and onto the floor where he grabbed a pocket knife from his jeans and cut the bindings from his wrists and ankles. Afterward, he lifted his mattress to get his revolver that was secretly hidden. The boyfriend now started carefully browsing the interior of his home to find the trespasser, but the man had already left through a back exit after returning from his conversation with the stranger ringing the doorbell.
Thereafter, he helped his girlfriend get loose from her restraints and immediately stormed into his backyard, firing his revolver to alert neighbors and get police officers to the scene quickly, hoping this might lead to the perpetrator’s capture. Unfortunately, the sadistic rapist eluded nearby residents and police officers, once again vanishing into the dark.
- This attack was his first duplex. Moreover, the female victim was the first Hispanic woman to be raped. As for the boyfriend, he was labeled as a motorcyclist (Harley Davidson). In 1982, long after the East Area Rapist went south and officially became a murderer, he made a phone call to the woman at her place of employment at Denny’s. This phone call occurred in a period of time where the perpetrator went on a five-year hiatus between 1981-1986, after murdering Greg Sanchez and Cheri Domingo.
- It’s unknown how long the suspect planned this crime specifically because it could have backfired in many ways. The girlfriend was not living with her boyfriend at the time. Furthermore, earlier that evening the couple had a violent argument, so he drove his girlfriend back to her residence. During this interval of time, the intruder entered the home and unloaded the shotgun. However, during the boyfriend’s drive to drop off his girlfriend, they ended their disagreement, prompting the couple to go back home together.
- With the intruder’s increasing violence towards the police, there is speculation that the rapist wanted the boyfriend to make an attempt to get his shotgun in order to have an excuse to finally murder someone; giving him direct reasoning for that action in his own mind frame.
- The girlfriend told investigators about the car honking and doorbell ringing. She also mentioned the rapist was allegedly conversing with a female, although it can’t be certain.
- Despite the bizarre stranger coming to the residence during the attack, it’s widely believed to be the work of the East Area Rapist. This is corroborated by the manner of speech the intruder used when speaking to the victim and the following identical modus operandi while inside the home.
- Ultimately, if this attack was genuinely committed by the East Area Rapist, the question then has to be asked: Who was the person ringing the doorbell? Did the perpetrator have an accomplice? Was more than one person involved in the multitude of crimes prior to this strike? The fact remains, whether or not the other stranger is involved, they are certainly aware of who the criminal is. Thus, they are guilty by association and withholding pertinent information.