On March 7, 1973, a police report was filed regarding a burglary on El Segundo Drive in Rancho Cordova, California. The thief managed to pillage an assortment of coins and other items that weren’t considered valuable.
Why is this interesting?
Three years later on October 9, 1976, the same family — particularly the daughter who was then nineteen-years-old — was viciously violated by the East Area Rapist while her parents were away from home for the evening. Subsequently, he stole her driver’s license and a single earring.
It can only be speculated as to whether or not the burglar from March 7, 1973, was the East Area Rapist or simply a common criminal. However, it’s the details that create a compelling coincidence; especially when the thief had stolen coins and jewelry — a common theme amongst many victims of the notorious rapist years later.
In nearly every attack throughout his ten-year tenure — whether successful or botched — featured clear signs via modus operandi (aside from DNA evidence) that linked the crimes to the offender. With this attack, however, he did something very perplexing all the while following his typical routine so I’d like to reexamine the details available pertaining to the perpetrator’s sixth confirmed victim the night she was sexually assaulted.
Once the suspect gained entry to the residence by removing a window screen from the dining room, he took a rope and went throughout the home tying one end to the bathtub faucet and all of the bedroom door-handles in the hallway other than the victim. This implies he knew precisely where she slept.
The question has to be asked: Why did he do this? This oddity was only portrayed once in his extensive crime spree.
When he entered the victim’s bedroom, he made a few remarks that are interesting given the context of the 1973 burglary, if indeed he was the perpetrator. As he woke her up, he used one hand to clamp her mouth shut as he whispered her name three times, “Heather, Heather, Heather” (this is not her real name, only a pseudonym given by Detective Larry Crompton and author of “Sudden Terror”). Throughout the attack, he mentioned he had dreamt about having sexual interactions with her for a long time, and if she dared to scream he would kill her because he lived down the block from her.
It’s typically believed the East Area Rapist purposefully threw out red-herrings to confuse investigators, whether this was by relaying fallacious information to victims or leaving behind false clues. For the sake of speculation, let’s consider the possibility he spoke some form of truth with this assault because if he was responsible for the burglary three years beforehand, it provides fascinating new outlooks.
First of all, many victims claimed their attacker was anywhere between being in his late teens to the early or mid-twenties. This victim mentioned her attacker could be in this suspected age-range as well. Additionally, she stated she believed he discovered her name from stealing her driver’s license shortly before assaulting her. This is a logical conclusion, but if we assume he was a young offender as women often proclaimed, that could suggest he actually knew her to some degree aside from learning her name from an identification card.
“Heather” was sixteen-years-old when her home had been burglarized in 1973 and nineteen-years-old when violated in 1976 which could indicate he was around her age as well. That assumption transitions to high school. Moreover, even if he was older than her by a few years, he could still have had contact with her to an extent considering the range between freshman and senior students. This could validate another option as to how he knew her name (especially if they shared any classes together) and would provide a reason to believe him when confessed about wanting to have sex with her for a long time.
Furthermore, what if he truly lived down the block from her or on a nearby street at the very least? To be fair, this theory is a stretch but not out of the realm of possibility. To continue with this particular angle, her 1973 and 1976 residence was within a few blocks from the first, third, eighth, and Brian and Katie Maggiore Victims.
Victim #1 lived on Paseo Drive, only one minute away from Victim #6 on El Segundo Drive. Victim #3 lived close by on Malaga Way, and Victim #8 lived on Los Palos Drive. Brian and Katie Maggiore were murdered as they were walking their dog in their Rancho Cordova neighborhood. They walked near Malaga Way, La Gloria Way, and La Alegria Drive.
As far as this theory is concerned, there is an intriguing story that comes attached to it that can be deemed suspicious or just another person trying to insert themselves into a criminal investigation, thanks in large part to the incredible and very talented author and researcher, Kat Winters.
Apparently, the victim had a neighbor in his mid-twenties who had recently moved back in with his parents. His bedroom was situated where he could look out of his window directly into the victim’s, and he would often watch her at night as she got ready for bed.
As law enforcement was tending to the aftermath of the crime scene, the same neighbor unexpectedly visited the investigators. He began to act strangely, even showing up with a bag full of jewelry that he claimed he discovered in parents’ bedroom but he was certain it didn’t belong to them and wanted to notify the police already at the scene.
Additionally, he uninvitedly made his way inside of the home where he proceeded to ask if the victim was okay and also explore various parts of the home. He even went on to show the officers on duty where his bedroom window was located from inside of the victim’s bedroom.
The police finally escorted the neighbor out of the home, but they noted him as being a potential suspect in the crime. Moreover, he matched the description of the East Area Rapist and owned a green Chevy Vega. This was profound because a green 1952 Chevy Vega was reported in Citrus Heights, California, when the perpetrator attacked his fifth victim, Jane Carson Sandler, four days earlier on October 5, 1976 (there is no clarification as to what year the neighbor’s vehicle was).
With law enforcement’s suspicion raised, they decided to keep tabs on the neighbor. According to the author of “Hunting a Psychopath” and Detective Richard Shelby — now retired — he was ruled out because the authorities received a call from dispatch during a stakeout detailing another victim had been assaulted on October 18, 1976.
There is another avenue to explore and that’s the victim’s personal life. According to her statements, she would often frequent Mather Air Force Base to go dancing; a hobby she partook in for years before the assault (I’m not sure if it pre-dated the 1973 burglary). While the theory of the East Area Rapist having military connections is very common, if he was the assailant behind the 1973 and 1976 incidents, that would provide more substantial credence on his statements about fantasizing about her.
In conclusion, what are we to believe? Unfortunately, we can only speculate, create theories or add on to the ones already made available, since there is no pertinent evidence that can pin down a specific answer that would open this case wide open. Sometimes, we are left with coincidences, but maybe one day a coincidence will become more. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Edit and Update — 2/27/2018 – There is a discrepancy between the living locations. I initially believed the victims lived on Dawes Street located one block away from El Segundo Drive. A huge thanks to Mike Morford for clarifying this information for me and the latest information released by the Cold Case Investigations Unit from Sacramento County Sherrif’s Department. This family (victim #6) was not living on Dawes Street in 1973. They were living on El Segundo Drive the entire time. The day of this burglary, two other residences were broken into, one of which was the victim’s neighbor. Additionally, the latest information also details a set of thirty break-ins in the Rancho Cordova area between 1972-1973, but it’s not certain to be the work of the East Area Rapist — however, the suspicion is pointed in his direction.