Welcome back! This is the sixth entry of my “The East Area Rapist” series. The six cases I will be covering offer strange clues regarding the progression of this heinous criminal. Not only is the perpetrator expanding his range to commit crimes, he is also transitioning into a much darker enigma, and possibly seeking new challenges for himself. With that being said, let’s begin.
Florin Mall Incident
On February 15, 1978, nearly two weeks after the brutal slaying of Brian and Katie Maggiore, a man with this composite sketch attempted a robbery on a seventeen-year-old girl at the Florin Mall Shopping Center located in Sacramento, California.
After the botched robbery, the suspect tried fleeing the scene in a stolen vehicle. During the pursuit of law enforcement, the criminal crashed into a thirty-nine-year-old California Highway Patrol officer by the name of Paul Lehner. The delinquent abandoned the vehicle in the process and managed to elude police on foot.
While many people in law enforcement don’t attribute this crime to the East Area Rapist — particularly because of the uncharacterized modus operandi — it’s the details of this person’s body stature, looks, and clothing that generally get mentioned when discussing the infamous case of the rapist.
This incident was published in the Sacramento Bee on February 20, 1978. According to eyewitness testimony, the suspect was in his twenties and had dark brown hair with hazel eyes (sometimes associated with the East Area Rapist) and was approximately 160 pounds. He was wearing a Pendleton-style t-shirt and a tan coat, along with beige colored pants.
- The Pendleton style t-shirt is a common piece of attire the East Area Rapist wore during his attacks. However, these types of shirts are rather popular.
- I haven’t been able to find what type of stolen vehicle the suspect was driving. Personally, I consider it an important piece of information in terms of comparing the vehicle to the alleged vehicle(s) the East Area Rapist may have driven throughout his reign of terror.
- There’s not much basis to go on when attempting to link this crime to the East Area Rapist other than the composite sketch and outward appearance of the individual. Though the notorious rapist is quite brazen and bold in his atrocities, he is also meticulous. With all of that aside, it’s worth mentioning this unsolved crime in the overall timeline of events. Two weeks prior, the murder of Brian and Katie Maggiore occurred in Rancho Cordova — a twenty-minute commute to Sacramento, California. The next confirmed attack by the East Area Rapist would take place two weeks later from the Florin Mall incident.
- If this attack was committed by the East Area Rapist, the question is why? For the sake of speculation, I can only assume it was an egocentric move if he was Brian and Katie Maggiore’s killer. Perhaps he thought if he could kill two people in a safe community and walk away without being arrested, he could easily commit a robbery in public. However, with it being a failure in terms of a clean getaway, he retreated back to his roots. Nevertheless, this is baseless speculation.
- All credit for the newspaper article information goes to the author, Jack Gray.
It was Saturday, March 18, 1978, in Stockton, California. It was approximately 1:00 in the morning when a young couple woke up from a flashlight beam on their faces. Simultaneously, a .357 Magnum was pointed in their direction and the intruder calmly said, “I won’t hurt you. Just be quiet. All I’m here for is money and food so I can live a little longer.”
In typical fashion, the intruder forced the boyfriend to lay on his stomach while his girlfriend tied him up, all the while threatening them, “Don’t move or try anything or I’ll blow your fucking heads off.” Once they were subdued the trespasser asked where they kept their money. The girlfriend said her purse was located on the kitchen counter and the boyfriend mentioned his wallet was on the coffee table in the family room.
The masked intruder left the master bedroom and began ransacking the kitchen and family room. He soon returned to the couple with a much more volatile response, placing the muzzle of his gun on the neck of the boyfriend and frustrated for being unable to find the boyfriend’s wallet. “Where is your wallet? You better not fucking lie to me again or I’ll kill you,” he said. The boyfriend listened intently and told him he must have placed it in the kitchen.
The aggressor demanded the boyfriend to lift up his head so he could blindfold him with strips of towels he had cut earlier. The boyfriend pleaded with the man, begging him to not cover his mouth because he had allergies, but the request fell on deaf ears. His attention was focused on the girlfriend as he ordered her, “Get up! Don’t look at me or behind you. If you don’t listen to me, I’ll fucking kill you,” while he proceeded to blindfold her.
After leading the girlfriend into the living room, the intruder continued to constrain her with more shoelaces as he routinely rummaged through the kitchen to get dinnerware to place on the boyfriend’s back — spewing more death threats if he tried anything heroic. Once he returned to the helpless girlfriend, he squatted down and rubbed his genitals all over her backside before placing his penis in her hands saying, “Play with it. You better make it good!” At one point during this procedure, he massaged his penis with the bottom of the victim’s foot, before smearing suntan lotion over her private parts and anally sodomizing her. Due to the immense amount of pain and fear, she started crying and screaming, but the rapist angrily hissed at her, “Shut up! This is how I fuck!”
Shortly thereafter, he left the victim crying in agonizing pain while he grabbed two cans of beer from the refrigerator and relaxed outside on the patio. When he came back inside, he issued more hostile threats towards the woman and her boyfriend before silently leaving the residence without their knowledge. The young couple eventually helped each other loosen their bindings and called the police.
- Authorities found the two beer cars empty on the victim’s lawn.
- The girlfriend said the intruder’s penis was three inches long, at best. Moreover, she mentioned he had a pot belly and spoke very quickly with a peculiar Mexican accent, but it didn’t seem entirely authentic. She also stated the rapist seemed to be sobbing and hyperventilating when he was on the patio.
- According to the victim’s neighbor, between March 1 – March 15, 1978, a green Ford along with a faded colored van were seen numerous times parked across the street from their residence.
- On March 11, 1978, another nearby neighbor living on Meadow Avenue mentioned seeing a young white male in his late teens or early twenties driving a rugged, faded colored van slowly down the road and adamantly staring into homes as he drove by.
- There was a lot of strange activity in the victim’s neighborhood during the night of March 15, 1978. Three days before the attack, victim #30 reported sounds of someone kicking their air conditioner. Interestingly, months prior, two door locks from the boyfriend’s home had been damaged. His girlfriend was receiving continual phone calls for two weeks asking if “so and so” lived there, who never did. At 10:30 in the evening on March 15, 1978, a neighbor spotted a prowler looking into her bedroom window.
- The following night on March 16, 1978, a resident living close by to victim #30 on Meadow Avenue heard someone rifling through her backyard. Furthermore, another neighbor started receiving obscene phone calls, asking the homeowner if she would talk to him while he masturbated.
- A neighbor saw a person using a flashlight in their backyard at approximately 9:30 p.m. on March 17, 1978. One hour later, a separate neighbor heard noises on the side of their home. Following that, a neighbor located on Meadow Avenue saw a white male who appeared to be between the ages of 18-22. He had blonde hair and was spotted stepping out of a 1972 green pinto with a red gas can and walking down the block. It’s unclear whether or not this green Pinto was the same colored Ford vehicle periodically in the two weeks of March 1 – March 15, 1978.
- Hours later at 3:30 in the morning — now March 18, 1978 — the official attack on victim #30 happened. Neighbors heard someone running down the block and moments later a car engine revved up and quickly fled the area. Strangely, another report mentioned somebody seeing three men running down Meadow Avenue and turning left on Coral.
In Sacramento, California on Friday, April 14, 1978, a fifteen-year-old teenager was asked to babysit a husband and wife’s youngest daughter while they went out to eat for dinner. The other children of the parents were away from home visiting friends, so the young babysitter happily accepted the proposition.
The teenager arrived at the residence close to 9:00 p.m. Roughly forty minutes later, she had put the child to bed and continued watching television in the family room. Unexpectedly, two loud bangs could be heard hitting the door leading into the house from the garage. This sound caused the babysitter to be startled, and suddenly another loud bang occurred, this time caving in the door.
A man wearing a ski mask quickly barged through and charged at the babysitter with an ice pick in his hand. Frightened by the entire ordeal, she felt paralyzed, unable to move as the intruder began threatening her. “Don’t move or talk, or I’ll kill you!” he said, as he forced her to lay down on her stomach and bound her hands and wrists together while throwing a baby blanket over her head for a blindfold.
Although she wasn’t a mother, her parental instincts to protect the child came forward, asking the intruder if she could get the barking dog to be quiet so it wouldn’t wake up the sleeping child. The man refused her request and continued spitting hostile threats to her.
With standard routine, the intruder assured the young teenager he wasn’t going to hurt her by saying, “All I want is the money and I’ll be gone,” before rummaging through the household. He returned moments later issuing her, “Relax and be quiet or I’ll fucking kill you. I’ve wanted to fuck you for a long time.” He proceeded to remove her underwear and as he was about to begin his rape, the landline telephone miraculously started ringing.
The trespasser remained undaunted, letting the phone ring until it eventually stopped. Suddenly, the phone started ringing again, agitating the rapist. He picked her up and led her to the phone and demanded her to say “Hello” calmly, all the while commanding her to hold his penis with her restrained hands. As soon as she gave the customary response to the caller, he ended the call.
Shortly thereafter, the phone rang off the hook for a third time, only infuriating the man even further. He angrily pushed her outside on the patio and attempted to resume his rape, but at that precise moment, the babysitter’s father walked into the home yelling his daughter’s name. She turned around and screamed out, “Dad!” As quickly as she had done so, the intruder had already vanished from the patio and disappeared into the night.
- This attack is generally associated with the name, “The Minnow Hole Jogger.” Around the timeframe of 10:15 – 10:30 at night, a wife and husband were fishing at a spot known as Minnow Hole in the Sacramento River. As she was heading up the embankment back to her vehicle, a man started jogging by. When he was fairly close to the woman he said, “Did you catch any fish?” She responded, “Nope.” He replied with, “Ah. My wife is going to be mad.” The wife reported this incident the following afternoon because of how suspicious the person was. She described him as a young white male in his early twenties. His height was approximately 5’8 – 5’10. He had a medium built frame with brown hair and a mustache, and he was not dressed in the proper attire someone would use for jogging.
- When the police were called to the crime scene, they brought along their bloodhounds and even a helicopter overlooking the area. Unfortunately, no substantial information was gained.
- The babysitter said the intruder tried disguising his voice by speaking softly.
- Between March 30 – April 10, 1978, the home next to where the attack occurred, had someone leave their gate left wide opened numerous times during the night.
- The victim’s mother was a teacher at Sacramento City College. Her father worked for the State of California in the Department of Water Resources. A few weeks before the assault, the victim had paid a visit to the local doctor. The week of her attack, she had visited the orthodontist. While this may not mean anything in and of itself, it’s worth mentioning primarily because the many victims claimed by the East Area Rapist had connections in some formality to the military and medical field.
- On April 11, 1978, the actual family members who were living where the attack occurred on victim #31, the fourteen-year-old daughter heard strange noises on their patio. When her mother turned the light on, they saw a person on their patio before fleeing.
- One big question is: Was the babysitter the intended target or the fourteen-year-old daughter? How would the East Area Rapist know the babysitter would be called that unfortunate evening? However, what’s captivating is that the babysitter had allegedly been receiving strange phone calls for the past two months at her own place of living. In one instance, the babysitter’s older sister answered the phone and the caller said, “I fucked your sister.” This indicates the babysitter was at least a considered target for the rapist.
- The neighbor of where the attack took place heard strange screeching and scratching sounds on the side of their residence at 11:30 p.m. on April 13, 1978, but the noises immediately stopped when their dog started barking.
- On the night of the attack on April 14, 1978, a mysterious Cadillac had been seen in the neighborhood over the course of two weeks. Around 9:15 at night — the parents had already left their home — the same Cadillac was supposedly spotted in the driveway of the home. Fifteen minutes later the dogs in the vicinity started barking ferociously.
- This next incident may not be the work of the East Area Rapist, but there are interesting tidbits to be learned. On March 30, 1978, a man who referred to himself as “Jack from the town of Quincy” visited Riverside Convalescent Hospital and conversed with one of the nurses. According to her, he said dubious things such as having sex issues and that his father had a girlfriend, but he didn’t. Moreover, he claimed to be a former patient at the psychiatric ward in Sacramento. Subsequently, he started singing “I’ll Walk the Line” by Johnny Cash, before the nurse told him to leave. Two weeks later on April 10, 1978, the same nurse was outside of her place of employment to make sure everything was tidied up. While doing so, the same man had snuck up on her unexpectedly and tried speaking about his sexual problems. She was rightfully terrified by the incident and demanded him to leave once more. She hasn’t had an encounter with him since. When she was relaying the details to authorities, she said he appeared to be in his early twenties, 5’8 – 5’10 in height, had light colored brown hair that was neatly trimmed, a medium-sized body frame, and was wearing a blue windbreaker. She described him as a person dressed like a jogger. Whether or not this was the East Area Rapist, it can’t be certain. However, there are many striking similarities in terms of reported appearances and clothing the individual. Additionally, the home where the babysitter was attacked was only a block away.
With nearly two months of silence, the East Area Rapist struck once more on June 5, 1978, in Modesto, California. The couple was awakened by repeated tapping noises in their bedroom. When they arose, a masked intruder carrying a .357 Magnum and a flashlight stunned them with the beam. He hastily ordered the husband to lay down on his stomach while he threw a pair of shoelaces at the wife, demanding her to bind her husband. When the couple was secured, the intruder tried easing their worries by saying, “I’m only here for many and food for my van.”
He left the two in the master bedroom and began ransacking the household, returning unexpectedly without their knowledge until they heard him scream at the wife to get up. In the process, he gestured to the husband, “I’m going to rape your wife now. Lay still.” The intruder proceeded to force the wife into the living room, pushing her down on her stomach. Afterward, he went to the kitchen to remove dishes from the cabinet and placed them on the husband’s back, continuing his bombarding threats, “If I hear these dishes rattle, I’ll blow your fucking head off.”
When he returned to the helpless wife, he spoke in a low, somber voice and had an unsavory aroma on him. As he made his advances with the rape, he paced back and forth in a disgruntled state after climaxing. During this scenario, his breathing grew louder and he began to sob momentarily. He regained his composure and threatened the couple a few more times before leaving the residence without their recognition.
- The wife had her wrists so tightly bound with shoelaces, the rope was penetrating through her skin.
- The couple detected a Mexican accent, but they firmly believed it wasn’t authentic. This would be the second account of a victim mentioning this particular accent that didn’t seem genuine.
- The strange aroma was later recalled to be that of beer, though it can’t be confirmed definitively, mainly due to the couple not having any beer in their home.
- When the intruder’s anger increased he would stutter his words. This is something that was becoming quite frequent for the East Area Rapist. His known incidents of stuttering occurred with victim #21 — the family of the husband who berated Detective Richard Shelby at the first town hall meeting in November of 1976, and the attacks where he angrily ranted about the police.
- According to the wife, the intruder appeared to be 6’0 in height and in his early twenties. He had also worn gloves but she wasn’t able to get a proper glimpse of them. However, the texture of them when he had touched her were described as leather or latex. Likewise, he was wearing dark clothing, and though the color can’t be verified, the wife said he was wearing a windbreaker. This is interesting because the same individual who introduced himself as “Jack from the town of Quincy” at the Sacramento hospital wore the same attire.
On Wednesday, June 7, 1978, in the college town of Davis, California, a young college student was woken up in her apartment between 3:00 – 4:00 in the morning by a jarring hand clamped over her mouth and a screwdriver pricked against her throat. The masked intruder said, “All I want is money and food. If you cooperate, I won’t hurt you.”
Though he attempted to control her, as he was restraining her hands and ankles the woman relentlessly fought off her attacker, but to no avail. He grabbed a handful of her hair and jerked her head back saying, “Don’t fucking move! If you do, you’ll never see your friends again!” Nevertheless, she remained steadfast and resilient, screaming as loud as she could in an effort to alert somebody. The trespasser quickly grabbed a pair of her underwear and shoved them into her mouth for a gag.
With her now being momentarily silent, the man rummaged through her bedroom. The victim kept her eyes on the individual, trying to loosen her constraints when he was facing the opposite direction. She managed to get the shoelaces tied around her ankles free, but the sound of her squirming caused the perpetrator to react, quickly jumping on top her and punching her with such an aggressive force that her nose had broken.
Despite the excruciating pain, she continued fighting with all of the adrenaline she had left, using her legs and feet to kick the man in his thighs and quadriceps. He retreated for a fleeting second before grabbing a nail file to use for a knife, placing the object near her eyes and creating a gashing cut. He quickly regained control of the situation and subdued the victim as he screamed obscenities, “Stop fucking moving and screaming or I’ll kill you! You’re never going to see your friends again, now!”
The assailant progressed with his primary goal; lathering his penis down with lubrication and hissing through clenched teeth, “Play with it!” A short time later he shoved her face into the pillow, holding the nail file steadily against her neck as he raped and threatened her until completion. The rapist hurriedly grabbed his belongings and vanished from the apartment complex.
- This attack is engrossing for many reasons. For one, the strike occurred in an apartment which is generally uncommon for this person. Secondly, it was only two days later from his previous attack in Modesto, California, which is an hour and a half drive from Davis, California. Lastly, he performed the rape in the victim’s own bedroom. Typically, the assailant would take his victim into the family room to commit his attack.
- Between 1972 – 1976, a criminal dubbed the Early Bird Rapist was partaking in similar crimes in California. He preferred to attack women living in apartment buildings. In total, he tallied up 41 victims. Furthermore, he was approximately 5’8 – 5’10 in height. However, he was described as stocky and slightly heavyset and appeared to be in his thirties.
- The victim told authorities her rapist was wearing a dark colored t-shirt that was inside out and was sporting a nylon stocking cap of the same color. His pants were brown corduroy and his tennis shoes resembled that of a runner. At one point he removed his gloves and touched her, to which she stated his hands felt very calloused. In her approximation, he was 5’10 in height and weight 175 pounds. He also had a small penis and was never fully erect during the sexual assault.
- This was the first time the criminal had attacked in Davis, California. Nonetheless, the apartment building was across the street from a public biking and walking trail — a typical location the rapist would use in order to canvas neighborhoods. With that fact, an interesting timeline of strange events can be pieced together by eyewitness testimony. On the afternoon of May 30, 1978, the janitor for the apartment complex in Davis, CA had seen a strange man a week prior to the sexual assault. He watching the victim as she swam in the pool. Then on June 5, 1978, the young college student saw a man similar to the janitor’s description. He had followed her while she went to retrieve her mail. He was described as a white male in his early twenties, roughly 6’0 in height and had a mustache. What’s odd is this event happened on the exact night the East Area Rapist attacked his victim(s) in Modesto, California. If the reports are accurate, this indicates the perpetrator stalked multiple victims at once and had the time to freely travel at excessive distances to perform such atrocities.
It was Friday, June 23, 1978, when the East Area Rapist returned to Modesto, California and attacked a sleeping couple at 1:30 in the morning. While the family was peacefully sleeping, their dog started barking hellacious. When they woke up to the sudden commotion, a flashlight immediately blinded them as a masked intruder said, “Shut your fucking dog up or I’ll blow your head off.”
The groggy husband abided by the intruder’s demands and managed to calm his cocker spaniel. Subsequently, the man forced the husband on his stomach and ordered the wife, “Tie him up, now.” While doing so, his anger kept persisting through his gritted teeth as he repeated, “Tighter. Tie him tighter!”
Thereafter, he put the wife in constraints and started placing items in his carrier bag while ransacking the master bedroom. He found the husband’s tennis shoes and removed the laces to bind the couple more substantially. While doing so, he told the husband, “All I want is money and food for my van. I’ll be gone soon. Just lay still. If you try to kick me, I’ll fucking kill you and your wife.”
With things going smoothly for the rapist, he left the bedroom to browse the rest of the home. Once he returned he accused the wife unjustly, “What the fuck are you doing? Are you trying to untie him?” Enraged by his paranoia, he untied the wife’s ankles and propped her onto her feet, pushing her down the hallway and screaming to the husband, “If you dare try anything, I’ll fucking kill her!”
Now that the wife was in a separate room, the trespasser grabbed dishes from the kitchen cabinets and stacked them on the husband’s back. Afterward, he blindfolded him with precut strips of towels and left him alone to return to the wife physically torture and rape her unapologetically. The suspect had spent forty-five minutes inside the home before leaving unexpectedly. When the husband and wife felt they were home alone, they helped each other free themselves and called the police, who quickly arrived at the crime scene.
- If this attacker was the same person who struck victim #33 in Davis, California, it’s interesting to realize he told the husband not to try and kick him while he was fastening his ankles together.
- The perpetrator ended up stealing the couple’s wedding rings and the husband’s own gun.
- The family never got a decent look at their aggressor, but they said when he had spoken through clenched teeth, he portrayed a Mexican accent that seemed artificial. Furthermore, the tone of his voice indicated the intruder was in his early twenties.
- It’s unknown what type of bag he carried with him. However, in a previous attack where he brought along a bag, the victim mentioned it appeared to be a doctor’s bag. This is fascinating because this couple was employees at Modesto City Hospital. Again, more victims that have connections to the medical field.
- The location the family was living was fairly new. They had moved in three months prior and the surrounding neighborhood was in the process of constructing new homes. This fact would later become a piece of evidence bringing forth new clues to the criminal’s possible employment history.
- Five days before the attack, a neighbor reported seeing a strange man walking through various yards. He briefly conversed with the stranger, who told the homeowner he worked for a Solar development company. When the homeowner questioned him further with keen interest, the stranger evidently didn’t know much, if anything, about his alleged occupation.
- The police received a tip from a taxi-cab driver one day after the attack. This person mentioned he picked up a man from the Modesto airport on June 22, 1978 — mere hours before the criminal attacked his victim(s). The driver said he dropped the man off at Sylvan and Coffee. However, on the drive to the location, which wasn’t far away, they came across a vacant field near the destination. The passenger then said, “This is good enough,” and got out of the vehicle. The stranger then proceeded to walk towards the general direction where the crime occurred which was only a half mile away. The taxi-cab driver said he was a white male possibly in his thirties. He wore all dark clothing and had neatly trimmed light brown hair, and was carrying a plaid cloth bag that included zippers.
This now concludes part six of my series regarding The East Area Rapist. These series of attacks are interesting to me because we are starting to see the criminal transition to other locales in California. Though this could be due to college or a new job, it also paints a sign of boredom, with the rapist seeking new places to explore and attack, possibly for a new heightened challenge.