Throughout the East Area Rapists’ ten-year reign in northern and southern California, many people wonder if there were other crimes he had committed before and after his first and last confirmed attacks. As such, there remains one unsolved case that often gets spoken about the East Area Rapist being possibly involved and that is the brutal slaying of Eva Davidson Taylor.
On Thursday, April 18, 1974, at 5328 Parejo Dr. in Goleta, California, an unknown assailant used a Raytheon screwdriver to pry open the sliding glass doors leading into Eva’s living room. Once the intruder gained access he made his way to her bedroom where he bludgeoned the seventy-three-year-old to death. The following morning Eva’s daughter made the ghastly discovery and notified law enforcement.
According to an official statement from the police, her death was considered to be part of a burglary gone awry. The crime scene indicated Eva’s bedroom had been partially ransacked. Nothing of substantial value was stolen aside from a costume jewelry locket and wedding rings, but the assailant left behind the much more prominent jewelry.
Prior to the murder, there had been several reports of prowling occurring in the neighborhood. One eyewitness mentioned seeing a young person jumping over Eva’s fence hours proceeding the killing. Law enforcement followed up on the leads they were given but the information was limited and sparse. The case quickly turned cold and it remains one of many unsolved crimes in the town of Goleta, California.
There are a plethora of reasons why Eva Taylor’s unsolved murder has circulated through various investigations into the East Area Rapist and Original Night Stalker, which I will elaborate below.
First of all, the point of entry has striking similarities to how the East Area Rapist often gained access to homes he was targeting. He would frequently pry open glass sliding doors with a screwdriver. On other occasions, he would remove the window screen. Nevertheless, using that particular tool isn’t uncommon for break-ins and many homes in California have sliding glass doors so it wasn’t necessarily unique.
Secondly, Eva’s bedroom was ransacked but the items stolen didn’t have much value. He took inexpensive jewelry despite diamond ring(s) being visible. In many of the thefts by the East Area Rapist, he would often leave behind valuables that held significant worth. There are numerous incidences where he would take one earring rather than a set and steal coins instead of paper money.
Thirdly, there were reports of prowling in the neighborhood days leading up to the murder and an eyewitness claimed to see a young male jumping the back fence of Eva Taylor’s hours before the intrusion. Once again, this is a common trope amongst criminals, especially for the East Area Rapist, who would often stalk neighborhoods of a victim he was targeting at night and tamper with side gates to fences, doors, and windows to homes, and prank phone call the soon-to-be victim and surrounding neighbors.
The next reason is the location. Eva Taylor was residing in Goleta, California. When the East Area Rapist transitioned to southern California in the fall of 1979, he targeted Goleta and had a failed home invasion on the first of October. Thereafter, he committed his first confirmed double-murder in Goleta against Dr. Robert Offerman and Debra Manning on December 30, 1979. In the summer of 1981, he emerged again and horrifically killed Cheri Domingo and Greg Sanchez. In a compelling coincidence, Eva Taylor’s home was in proximity to where the botched invasion and future murders occurred. All of the victims lived within a three-mile radius of each other.
Lastly, the final reason is the murder. Eva Taylor was bludgeoned to death by an unknown object. In the majority of murders committed by the East Area Rapist, he would use a blunt force instrument. However, there were several times where he used a firearm but in those particular cases, the weapon was used for intimidation and self-defense.
If you examine his murders where a firearm was used, it seemed to only occur in the midst of a struggle. Dr. Robert Offerman and Debra Manning were gunned down, and the crime scene indicated that Offerman managed to get partially free from his bindings and lunged at the attacker. This action prompted the perpetrator to panic and shoot him numerous times and subsequently use this style of murder on Debra Manning.
When he murdered Cheri Domingo and Greg Sanchez, the crime scene portrayed clear signs as to what occurred. The couple was in bed together when strange noises coming from inside of the home alerted Greg. As he got out of bed to check on the commotion he encountered the intruder. Greg attempted to fend off the assailant but he was shot in the cheek. The wound wasn’t fatal but it made him fall down into the opened bedroom closet. Afterward, the attacker lunged at him and used a blunt force object to strike him in the face twenty-four times. He followed this up by a single blow to the head on Cheri Domingo with the same object before fleeing the home.
There are two other occasions where a firearm was used but these events aren’t conclusively proven to be committed by the East Area Rapist. However, they are often associated with him and law enforcement seems convinced he is behind them.
The first incident happened on February 16, 1977, on Ripon Ct. in Sacramento, California. At approximately 10:30 p.m. on a chilly Wednesday night, a family of three heard strange noises emanating from their backyard. The eighteen-year-old son went outside to check on the disturbance when he saw a male matching the general description of the East Area Rapist sprinting away from the home and leaping over a fence. The son chased after the prowler and as he hurled himself over the same fence, the man was waiting for him and used a firearm to shoot him and make a clean exit. Thankfully, the victim survived the encounter.
The last event took place on February 2, 1978, in Rancho Cordova, California. Brian and Katie Maggiore were walking their dog, Thumper when he managed to get loose from their grasp and run into a nearby backyard. As they chased after their dog they stumbled upon an adult male. This happenstance caused the stranger to react by pulling out a handgun and chasing the couple who were sadly gunned down when they were attempting to run away.
Nevertheless, none of these facts about the East Area Rapist means he committed the murder of Eva Taylor. There are reasons to substantiate this as well, such as this tragedy occurring two years before he made himself known six hours away in northern California, although there is circumstantial evidence suggesting he was active in Rancho Cordova in 1973 and 1975.
Furthermore, if he was the ransacker in Visalia, California, who operated between 1974-1975, it’s hard to comprehend one-man traveling in such extensive distances. However, for the sake of speculation, the ransacker didn’t commit any burglaries on the day of her unfortunate murder.
Likewise, Eva wasn’t sexually violated — something that was evident in the majority of the East Area Rapists’ crimes, hence the moniker. Moreover, his victims were in a specific demographic between thirteen – forty years of age.
Ultimately, not every home invasion, sexual assault, and murder can be connected back to the East Area Rapist and Original Night Stalker. Though it’s awful to think about, there were many other serial killers operating in the state of California during the 60’s – 80’s.
One such a killer was Gerald Parker, also known as “The Bedroom Basher.” He operated in Orange County, California, between 1978-1979, claiming six victims in total. His modus operandi had similarities to the East Area Rapist but there were differences as well. In 1980, he was sentenced to prison for six years after raping a fourteen-year-old. In 1996, he confessed to a string of murders that still remained unsolved until DNA evidence became relevant in forensic science. He was convicted in 1998 and the following year he was given the death penalty by lethal injection.
At the end of the day, Eva Davidson Taylor’s case remains unsolved. She deserves justice and her daughter deserves answers. Answers can always be obtained and they can come in the tiniest of spaces. Sometimes, all it boils down too is perseverance and a desire to continue pursuing the truth. Her killer has a name and somebody knows it. Do you?