With this post, I am going to analyze interesting details the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department unveiled to the public on February 27, 2018, regarding criminal activity occurring in Rancho Cordova and other East Sacramento towns between 1972-1973.
First and foremost, I’d like to examine what this bombshell news could mean. Since the information isn’t necessarily confirmed to be the work of the East Area Rapist, speculation and theories will be a big proponent of this analysis while remaining grounded in the known facts for the East Area Rapist/Golden State Killer case.
This may be overwhelming if you’re a newcomer to the case so let’s start with the basics. The East Area Rapist is a serial rapist and killer who operated in Northern and Southern California for ten years between 1976-1986. For three years he violated fifty women — teenagers, single, married — inside of their homes. In late 1979, he traveled south and turned into a cold-blooded killer. He committed his last murder on May 4, 1986, and vanished into thin air and has remained elusive ever since.
M.O. (modus operandi) and Signature:
- Extensive prowling of neighborhoods
- Speaking through clenched teeth or a harsh whisper
- Waking victims up with a flashlight and gun saying he is only there for food and money, often for his van
- Having the female bind the male and then remove her from the bedroom
- Stacking dishes on the male’s back and threatening to kill him if he heard them rattle
- Forcing the female to masturbate him with her hands bound behind her back
- Prank calling or hang-up calls before and after the home invasion and rape
- Using shoelaces and cutting towels into strips for binding
- Ransacking the home in-between numerous rapes
- Eating and drinking food from the victims’ kitchen
- Sometimes crying and hyperventilating after raping the women
- Stealing odd items that had little value despite items of expensive worth being present (taking coins instead of cash, one earring instead of two, etc)
Physical Description and Characteristics:
- White male
- Early to mid-twenties (could be in his sixties to seventies as of now)
- Blond or brown hair (medium length)
- Athletic build and between 160-175 pounds
- 5’8 – 5’11
- Size 9-9.5 shoe
- Blue or hazel eyes
- Type A blood
- Sometimes stuttered and had a high-pitched voice
The first confirmed victim of the East Area Rapist occurred on June 18, 1976. However, there is circumstantial evidence suggesting he may have been active as early as October 21, 1975, when an unknown assailant dressed in camouflaged apparel with a homemade ski mask, and brandishing a large buck knife gained entry to a Rancho Cordova, California home through an unlocked garage with three occupants inside; a mother and her two daughters, ages seven and eighteen.
When he was inside, he cut towels into several strips and proceeded to wake up the oldest daughter, subsequently binding her and threatening to kill her if she screamed. Once she was restrained the perpetrator shifted his attention to the mother and followed the same routine–placing the two women in the same room together. Thereafter, he made his way into the seven-year-old daughter’s bedroom who was still asleep and fastened her hands and ankles and kept her away from her family.
Throughout the course of the night, the mother made numerous pleas with the intruder to leave her family unharmed but she was met with harsh whispers ordering her to be quiet. The mother and oldest daughter were repeatedly beaten and raped. Once he finished, he ransacked the residence — stealing inexpensive jewelry and an assortment of coins before fleeing the home at 6:30 a.m.
The authorities arrived at the crime scene shortly after and took the victims’ statements. They described the assailant to be in his early twenties and 5’7 in height. They also claimed he could have been a black male but couldn’t provide a definitive conclusion because of how dimly lit the home was during the attack.
For approximately a year this assault was considered to be apart of the East Area Rapists’ timeline once he made his presence more apparent in summer of 1976 and the media blackout being lifted the subsequent November. More victim testimonies started piling in and the descriptions of their attacker was that of a Caucasian male. As a result, the October 1975 attack was removed from having any connection to the East Area Rapist.
It wasn’t until a 1977 follow-up interview conducted with the 1975 victims that they recanted their initial statements on their attacker’s ethnicity. They said he could have been a white male. With the inconsistent testimony, the assault was never officially put back in canon with the East Area Rapists’ emergence, but the main consensus amongst the original detectives is that he was responsible.
Aside from this sexual assault, there weren’t many detailed incidents of similar criminal activity available to current detectives predating this crime because the reports were on microfilm. They were recently transferred to digital and Sergeant Paul Belli and other investigators in Sacramento County’s Sheriff’s Department began examining all of the 35,000 plus reports that were filed in 1973 — particularly those that featured similarities to the East Area Rapists’ modus operandi — and are now being presented to the public with the hope of garnishing new leads and tips. With that, let’s look at the latest information revealed by the Cold Case Investigations Unit.
A cat burglar operated in the Rancho Cordova and eastern Sacramento County during 1972 and 1973, striking over 30 times during that time period. His crimes were linked by M.O. and it was recognized by detectives of that time that the crimes were the work of one man. Only one other cat burglary series (albeit brief, and with a different M.O.) was occurring simultaneous to this series. When caught, the suspects in that case said they saw the success the cat burglar of Rancho Cordova was having, and thought it was an easy crime to commit (for them it wasn’t.) A gap occurred at the end of 1972, but by spring of 1973, his offenses began anew and his re-emergence was documented by detectives. His method of operation was to enter a home quietly after the occupants were asleep. The burglar typically exited out a different pre-opened door from his point of entry, and evidence indicated the door was likely opened immediately upon entering the home as an escape route. The front door was frequently the exit point. A commonly hit area was the area between Dolecetto Drive and Malaga Way and near Coloma Road with over a dozen strikes. He also struck other areas of Rancho Cordova, and branched out to Carmichael, Citrus Heights, and other nearby areas. He was known in the reports as “the cat burglar that strikes the Rancho Cordova and East Areas of Sacramento.”
Once inside, the burglar went throughout the home as the occupants slept and took purses and wallets belonging to the victims. Victims included families with children, couples, and single women. Evidence from many of the scenes indicated the burglar had spent extensive time searching the residence, but most of the time items of value outside of the purses and wallets were disregarded. However, the burglar would sometimes take coin collections, silver, or other items including food and alcohol. The burglar also spent considerable time in the bedrooms of the victim(s) as they slept, without disturbing them. The purses/wallets were typically found nearby in an adjacent yard, or on the sidewalk of the residence.
Occasionally they were left elsewhere in groups with other victims’ property from the same night. The only item typically taken from the purse was money, but occasionally small items or identification was also missing. In a few instances, victims awoke as the suspect was in the residence. The suspect would flee the residence out of one of the open doors, sometimes with the victim in pursuit. Additionally, the suspect would frequently strike multiple houses in a single night.
On one occasion, the suspect touched a woman’s breast as she slept, but left when she told him he needed to leave her house. That woman was alone at the time of the attack. In another case, a victim was awakened by a noise in her bedroom. She looked up and saw a man standing near the bedroom door, approximately 8 feet away. She sat up in bed and the suspect pointed a gun at her. The victim said nothing to the suspect, but an odd interaction occurred. The suspect stated “I just took a dollar off your dresser.” The woman told the suspect he should put it back and leave. The suspect complied and returned two dollars to the dresser, despite claiming he had taken only one dollar. He walked down the hallway, but stopped and looked in at the 17-year-old daughter, who then yelled at him to leave. Though the suspect left the residence without further incident, he took a quarter and a nickel from a table near the exit door.
The suspect in this series was seen by several victims and witnesses. Most only observed him briefly and in very low lighting conditions. Descriptions were of a white male in his 20’s, 5’6” to 6’0”, with a slender to average build.
Extensive investigation was conducted in attempts to apprehend this cat burglar, but it does not appear he was ever identified. The areas targeted include Rancho Cordova, Carmichael, Whitney/Mission area, and Citrus Heights. Three of the Citrus Heights cat burglaries were each within a block of one of the two East Area Rapist strikes four years later. The Rancho Cordova strikes were within blocks or closer to the Rancho Cordova EAR attacks. It was also believed the suspect had extensive knowledge of the drainage canals and of the American River Parkway.
Why does this information have valuable importance to the East Area Rapist? The locations are very significant. Rancho Cordova seems to be a vital area for the emergence of this prolific cat burglar. Moreover, he struck residences in Carmichael and Citrus Heights. Not only did he tally up a large number of home invasions, he targeted homes that were in the proximity to future sexual assault victims where the East Area Rapist often frequented between June 18, 1976 – May 17, 1977.
Another intriguing detail is the cat-burglar touching a woman’s breast while she slept. The East Area Rapist hardly ever focused on that region of the body; as if he was uninterested entirely. One of the rare incidents where he focused on the upper-chest was in Walnut Creek, California, on June 2, 1979, when a seventeen-year-old babysitter was raped and had bitten her nipple numerous times. The victim described her assailant to be a slender white male approximately 5’6 tall.
As for the evidence law enforcement has to conclude this cat-burglar had extensive knowledge on drainage canals, the reasons are unclear, but in future events with the East Area Rapist — specifically in the Rancho Cordova area — tracking dogs would often pick up his scent from crime scenes that lead them to canals which were used for making a quick exit. In the targeted locations, there is a significant drainage canal that is easily accessible from each home that was attacked. This trend transcended through several towns he earmarked including Goleta in southern California.
On several occasions, indecent exposures occurred within a couple blocks of the Rancho Cordova cat burglaries, on the same day and in the following days. It is unknown whether these incidents are related to the cat burglaries or if the responsible was a separate offender.
This indecent exposure suspect also struck other areas of Rancho Cordova and Carmichael, on nights where no cat burglaries were reported. These incidents involved a male suspect who would knock on the front window, front door, or sliding glass door of the residence wearing only a t-shirt when a woman or teenage girl was standing near it. It appears based on the timing that he had been watching for a period of time until the desired victim was near the window/door. He was observed by the victim(s), committed lewd acts, and did not leave immediately. He was not observed to be holding anything including pants, and was occasionally chased by males who were also in the home. In one case, the suspect knocked on the front door, stood in front of the victim naked from the waist down, and demanded: “Give me a match.” She screamed, and alerted others in the house, but when they checked outside, the man was gone.
On another occasion, a teenage girl left a party and was walking home on Newton Way in Rancho Cordova at approximately 12:30 a.m. During the walk, she realized a man was following her. She walked faster and the man quickened his pace, but was still a considerable distance away. The girl ran to the home of a stranger and knocked, prompting a middle-aged woman to answer the door. Both parties then observed the man walk to the edge of the driveway, look up at them, and drop his pants to his ankles exposing himself. He stood staring briefly, and The subject then walked from the area on foot. The description of the suspect in the above cases is as follows:
20 to 25 years old
Light brown/reddish brown hair to dark brown hair
5’8” to 6’0”
Thin to average build, 160-170 pounds
I have a hard time believing this Flasher was the East Area Rapist. While the physical description matches, it’s not an uncommon illustration amongst many males in that era. What is notable, however, are where these events transpired and how oftentimes they occurred on the same nights as the cat-burglaries; making it difficult to completely disregard.
There aren’t any details pertaining to the East Area Rapist being bold enough to knock on someone’s front door without a mask on and expose himself as the occupant(s) opened the door. However, there are a handful of incidents that portray his brazenness. A prime example would be his third attack on August 29, 1976, in Rancho Cordova on Malaga Way.
The occupants were a mother and her two daughters ages twelve and fifteen. Their father had recently left for the night shift at his new job. Shortly after 10:30 p.m. the youngest daughter awoke to sounds resonating from the backyard. When she peeked out of her bedroom window she saw a masked individual with gloves on creeping toward her window and attempt to remove the screening. The two locked eyes and she screamed in horror as she quickly ran to her mother’s room.
The mother panicked and quickly ran to her oldest daughter’s room to notify her of the situation but she shrugged it off and continued sleeping. Thereafter, she ran to the kitchen with her youngest clinging to her side and tried calling the authorities on the landline phone. All of a sudden, a loud thud was heard emanating from the youngest daughter’s bedroom. A few seconds later they were confronted by a masked intruder nude from the waist down and armed with a handgun and club.
He immediately blitzed them and the mother attempted to wrestle away his gun. The man retaliated by clubbing her on the head several times until she fell unconscious. He proceeded to force them into the living room where the mother tried resisting the assailant again. She sprinted for the front door and in the process, she was struck again multiple times but managed to break free and scream for help with her youngest daughter following close behind. They hurriedly ran to their neighbor’s home and the oldest daughter met up with her family as she escaped from her bedroom window.
The police were called and they arrived within two minutes. A neighbor living adjacent to the victims told authorities she heard the commotion and glanced out of her window. She claimed to see three women running away while a fourth person wearing a ski mask was pantless and fled across the street to hide behind a set of bushes. Moments later, he stood up and casually walked away into the dark.
It has been theorized the East Area Rapist lived in Rancho Cordova — particularly near his victims — because of him walking away in a calm demeanor without wearing pants of which were never found. This theory can be substantiated if he was the 1972-1973 cat burglar that successfully invaded thirty homes.
Another example showing the perpetrator’s bold demeanor is of him not being deterred from his desired goal. In his seventh attack in Carmichael, California on October 18, 1976, a ten-year-old boy woke up to his dog barking relentlessly. He went to check on his dog and they both went to the kitchen’s sliding glass doors that lead to the backyard. When he let the dog outside, he spotted a man tampering with the kitchen window. The dog darted after the assailant, and he sprinted toward the backyard fence and perched himself atop it until the dog calmed down. The boy immediately ran back inside to alert his sleeping mother and in the process, they heard stampeding footsteps echoing from the hallway to the bedroom, where the intruder pressed onward with his attack.
This level of confidence was built over a period of time as he continued to hone his abilities and escape without being apprehended. If the East Sacramento Flasher was the East Area Rapist — which would mean he successfully outran people chasing him — all of those things culminate into him having the audacity to dive deeper into darker atrocities and still feel in complete control.
The last example would be after his fifteenth attack in Rancho Cordova, California, on March 18, 1977. The media began to point out his cowardliness — mentioning he was only attacking women who were alone, and wouldn’t dare attempt to strike when a male was present — husband, boyfriend, teenager. The East Area Rapist must have kept up with the news coverage because his very next attack was on April 2, 1977, on a couple living in Orangevale, California.
Ultimately, it’s hard to see the connection between the East Sacramento Flasher and the East Area Rapist. Though these crimes were taking place in similar geographical areas, their M.O.’s are vastly different. An argument could be made where — if the two are the same people — the Flasher was relatively young in his criminal maturity. As he got older, he developed a higher level of sexual appetite and was acting on those fantasies in a more upfront way. However, it seems inexplicable that a prolific cat burglar in 1972-1973 would act childishly by putting himself in danger by exposing himself to people when they answered the knock on the front door. It detracts a lot from the methodical nature that was the 1972-1973 cat burglar and the East Area Rapist.
Cordova Meadows Burglar (1973)
A burglar operated in the Cordova Meadows subdivision and nearby area in 1973. He struck at all times of the day and night, including when people were home. It is unknown whether his activities are related to the cat burglaries occurring in the greater Rancho Cordova and East areas of Sacramento that were previously described, but the few descriptions of the suspects are somewhat consistent. These burglaries were occurring at their heaviest in the first half of 1973, and included over 20 burglaries by mid-March. Some of the items taken include coins, piggy banks, jewelry, binoculars, hunting knives (some in scabbards), photographic cameras and movie cameras, two-dollar bills (numerous,) Blue Chip Stamps, handguns, food, alcohol, and prescription medication. Larger items, most electronics, and other items of value were noted to be disregarded by the suspect.
The burglar exhibited numerous quirks both in his behaviors as well as things he chose to steal. On one occasion, the burglar dumped the contents of a bottle of prescription Codeine pills into the sink, but took the empty bottle with him. Among the unusual items stolen by the offender were two sets of two car magnets, which are signs placed on the sides of vehicles typically to advertise a business. Two of the signs taken by the burglar advertised a painting and drywall company owned by the resident, and the other two were for a different business venture, also operated by the victim. Also taken during some of the burglaries were photos of female occupants, including a set of nude photos taken by the model’s husband. Additionally, single earrings were taken from pairs.
Not all of the incidents have all M.O. factors in common, but many are present simultaneously on some of the crime scenes, and some are present on most all of the cases. Geography and links via date and time of occurrence were also considered. Some of the M.O. factors (some quite rare) that frequently crop up in this series include the following:
Entry through a kitchen or sliding glass door.
Opening of a window in a back bedroom and placing of the screen on the bed or inside
Deputies processing the scene noted that, in these instances, the window was as being used as an emergency escape only and was not the point of entry or preferred exit. This escape exit was used on two occasions where the homeowner interrupted the burglary
Unplugging of forced air furnace
Secondary securing of front door by chair, security chain, or other blocking item
Killing of small dogs by blunt force
Heavy ransacking of bedrooms and scattering of clothing articles on floor
Women’s undergarments stacked in other rooms
Ransacking of kitchen
Leaving numerous burnt matches on the floor of the home
In addition, this burglar was responsible for other burglaries of the same type as that suffered by the family of a future EAR victim. The burglary to her home in March 1973 was one of three M.O.-linked burglaries that happened the same day, including one at the residence next door.
In the burglary of the home next door to the future EAR victim, the suspect stole a movie camera, other related equipment, and money from a piggy bank (bank broken by suspect.) The burglary to the future victim was believed to have been a “no loss” burglary, and it occurred at the same residence where she would later be assaulted early in the East Area Rapist series, three years later. This victim also had a single earring stolen from her during the sexual assault incident (1976).
A strange burglary occurred the same night and based on the timing is believed to be the last of the three. This burglary occurred across the river in Carmichael near Mission Ave and El Camino Ave that included the theft of eighty two-dollar bills and silver coins. There was heavy ransacking of the bedrooms, and a small poodle was also killed by the suspect.
In another suspected related burglary two days prior in Rancho Cordova, entry was made through a side kitchen door. The suspect blocked the front door with a barstool, and ransacked the bedrooms heavily with drawers open and clothing scattered on the floor. The suspect took a Ruger, 7 shot .22 caliber revolver, watches, three rings including a ruby “Elks” head ring and an engagement ring, old silver coins and bills, a left handled hunting knife in a scabbard with name “Walt” printed on the scabbard, a single earring, Avon “Model A” yellow after shave lotion, and a broken lamp. Other items of value were left behind.
Hang-up phone calls and odd communications were also present in this series, and were reported by victims in the area. One particular victim, a 17-year-old girl, was living in the 10100 block of La Alegria Drive. She received a suspicious unsigned letter stating:
“I love you.” She then received numerous hang-up phone calls and a final call where a subject with a low, adult male voice, stated: “I love you, this is your last night to live.”
This victim lived next door to the home where the killer of Brian and Katie Maggiore jumped the fence and fell into bushes in his escape from the crime scene on La Alegria Drive five years later.
Out of all the recent information released, this is probably the most significant. There are a few details in the summary above that stand out to me. First of which is the proclivity for Rancho Cordova. Secondly, the modus operandi has many facets of which the East Area Rapist expanded on as he fine-tuned his skills by experience. Third, the stolen items are very common with what the future EAR/ONS would be infatuated with. Here is a comprehensive list of stolen items created by “EchoMint” from the EAR/ONS/GSK ProBoards. I also have created a list of stolen items per home with added context and suspicious vehicles in the area that can be viewed here.
From the list, you can see the glaring similarities between the two offenders and the items they preferred to steal. Additionally, one particular burglary stands out more prominent than the rest. According to the description from the Cordova Meadows Burglar in 1973, he once took:
On one occasion, the burglar dumped the contents of a bottle of prescription Codeine pills into the sink, but took the empty bottle with him.
If you look at attack seventeen committed by the East Area Rapist on April 15, 1977, in Carmichael, California, you will see how similar to a theft the two incidents were. To provide additional context, after the rape he found a bottle of codeine in the victim’s purse that was prescribed by her dentist. He took the pills and discarded the bottle into the kitchen sink. It’s unclear whether or not he actually consumed the pills because he told the victim he was in need of a “fix,” but the following afternoon their neighbor discovered a plastic bag with watered down pills in his backyard.
Overall, there are some slight deviations in the modus operandi. Just because there are similarities doesn’t mean they are the same individual. However, considering the 1973 burglar was focused primarily on stealing — although a sexual component can be attached to it — the method of operation will be different to an extent because the motives vary.
Likewise, the East Area Rapist often gained entry to homes by prying open sliding glass doors or removing window screens. He would occasionally turn off the thermostat inside of the home as well. The theories surrounding that detail have ranged far and wide, but many people believe he did this in order to hear better inside of the home.
Another interesting component of the Cordova Meadows Burglar is how he provided extra security by blocking the pathway or placing something in front of a door to alert him if someone came inside. The East Area Rapist followed the same pattern when he was attacking his victims. Once he began targeting couples, he would take dishes and stack them on the subject’s back and tell them if he heard the appliances rattle he would come back and kill them. Everything these two offenders did was done under the circumstances where they seized control of the entire scenario from beginning to end.
The article also states how a burglary in 1973 happened on El Segundo Drive, and three years later, the occupants — primarily the nineteen-year-old daughter — was a victim of the East Area Rapist. Whether this was a coincidence or something more is interesting. In fact, I have provided an in-depth analysis of these two events. You can read more about those two events by clicking this link.
There are two more characteristics mentioned in the article that I’d like to briefly discuss. The first one is:
Killing of small dogs by blunt force
There aren’t many incidents where animals were killed conclusively by the East Area Rapist, but one explicit account happened mere hours before Dr. Robert Offerman and Dr. Debra Manning were brutally killed by the perpetrator.
A family living on Queen Anne Lane — two minutes from where Offerman and Manning lived on Avenida Pequena — was returning home from a night out when they spotted a stranger inside of their home running into the backyard and jumping a fence leading to Mountain View School. As the homeowners went inside they found their poodle dog had been injured (Some accounts say the dog was murdered while others mention the dog was injured). There were shoe impressions left in their yard and they were soon matched with the prints found at the Offerman and Manning murder scene hours later.
The next characteristic I’d like to bring up is:
Leaving numerous burnt matches on the floor of the home
This may or may not have any significance, but leaving behind burnt matches has its own connections to the East Area Rapist. At the crime scenes of the Goleta murders and the murder of Manuela Witthuhn in Columbus, Irvine, on February 6, 1981, investigators found burnt matches littered throughout the residences. Whether there’s a connection or not is undetermined, and whether or not it has any meaning to when the East Sacramento Flasher said, “Give me a match” is unknown.
Last but not least, we can’t ignore the Visalia Ransacker, who between 1974-1975 was heavily active. His modus operandi and physical description are similar to the Cordova Meadows Burglar and the East Area Rapist. He managed to successfully burglarize upwards of 120 homes. On September 11, 1975, he attempted to abduct sixteen-year-old Beth Snelling, and as her father, Claude Snelling — a professor at the College of Sequoia — went to her aide, he fatally shot him in the stomach and he passed away. Three months later on December 10, 1975, Detective William McGowen encountered the suspect. The assailant shot at him and pierced McGowen’s flashlight. The force caused him to fall down to the ground. The criminal eluded the swarm of police officers and vanished into thin air. Afterward, he never appeared again. Six months later on June 18, 1976, the East Area Rapist made his presence known with a similar modus operandi in Rancho Cordova, California.
Finally, I want to examine the last bit of information released by the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department:
Burglary and Assault September 14, 1973
Just before 11:00 a.m. on September 14, 1973, a 28-year-old woman had just put her 18-month-old son down for a nap when she heard a knock on her front door. Assuming it was a religious solicitor, she disregarded it and did not answer. Additionally, she had only a few minutes earlier seen a man in the backyard, prompting her to arm herself with a handgun, although she believed it was just an electrical utility man. He eventually left the area. Within a few minutes, she heard a noise in the rear portion of the home where the bedrooms are located. She went back to check on her son, and when she came to the master bedroom she observed the suspect attempting to break into her house via the master bedroom window. The suspect was removing the screen, and she observed the gate that opened to the school behind her home was open. The suspect, upon seeing the victim, ducked and ran around the side of the house.
The victim secured the residence by checking every door and window. She made sure everything was locked, and put a chain lock in place on the door from the garage to the kitchen. The overhead garage door was open as the victim had been doing laundry in the garage. She called her husband at work and advised him of the incident. A few minutes later, the suspect forced open the door between the garage and kitchen. He also defeated the chain lock by forcing the door open with enough force to pull the nails holding the lock away from the frame base. The victim, still armed, raised the handgun and yelled to the suspect that if he came in she would shoot him. With that, the suspect walked away from the door and out of the garage. The victim called the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department to report what happened.
While the victim waited for the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department, she heard the screen door between the garage and kitchen opening and the suspect came through the still broken door rapidly and attacked her. He grabbed her hands and they struggled over the handgun. The suspect forced the gun towards her, but she was able to quickly pull it up. The gun then discharged over her shoulder and the suspect fled out the garage door again and did not return. The victim passed out briefly as she was recovering from a recent surgery and was medically fragile, but she awakened and began writing a description of the suspect as she waited for the Sheriff’s Department. They arrived and a check of the area was conducted, but the suspect wasn’t found. The investigating deputies felt the incident was likely sexually motivated, and noted the persistence of the suspect.
With this Sparda Way incident on September 14, 1973, a composite sketch was created. What’s shocking is how the sketch is practically identical to one (of two) composite sketches created of a prowler and shooter on Ripon Ct. in Sacramento, California, on February 16, 1977. A big thanks to Mike Morford from True Crime Guy Blog that created a side-by-side comparison.
The two sketches are staggering in their resemblance. However, it needs to be reiterated that this doesn’t mean they are the same person. As the article released by SCSD represents, there were at least three people operating in Rancho Cordova between 1972-1973. These three people could be the same person, but as of right now we have to consider them separate individuals. Subsequently, in 1976 the East Area Rapist emerged, thus making four prolific criminals roaming the area.
There is one more offender who was active for four years between 1972-1976. He was dubbed the Early Morning Rapist and attacked thirty-six women (possibly forty-one) who were typically living in apartment buildings — a characteristic that differs drastically from the East Area Rapist. He often ambushed women at knife-point and forced them into lewd acts. The victims described him to be a white male in his mid-twenties to the early thirties, between 5’8-5’9 in height, and approximately 170 pounds with a stocky frame and potbelly.
Many original detectives who worked these cases — particularly Richard Shelby — believe they know the identity of the suspect but didn’t have enough evidence to convict him. In the spring of 1976, the suspect relocated with his family to Montana. The case officially remains unsolved.
In conclusion, we are left with more questions than answers. Were all of these people separate individuals or were they of one man — the elusive East Area Rapist? We don’t know. What this new information does tell us is that criminal activity is very common, especially for the 1970s.
Likewise, despite variations between the modus operandi of all of the possible offenders above, a lot of the believed-to-be unique traits aren’t as distinctive as commonly thought. Delinquents do not want to be caught or identified. If they have the urge to seek out their desires by home invasions and thievery, they are going to make logical decisions to enhance their possibility of escaping.
While this new information does create more questions, it also allows law enforcement to narrow down a point of origin which could lead to a viable suspect that may or may not have been overlooked. Whatever the result may be, new information is always beneficial. The questions may be growing but the net is closing in. Answers are on the way.