The East Area Rapist – Victim #6 and the 1973 Burglary

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, 6, close

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 Mather Air Force Base Official.jpgher 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.

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The East Area Rapist – Hospitals and Jack from Quincy

The East Area Rapist and Original Night Stalker operated for ten years in the state of California. There could be more years that we are unaware of, but what we do know is that he frequented at least twenty different towns throughout northern and southern California. However, it’s important to remember that he wasn’t the only criminal at this time; there were several rapists and serial killers who were in the general area overlapping each other.

As such, the ample amount of details we have of incidents happening in the neighborhoods of victims prior to being attacked is substantial. Not everything can be attributed to him, especially when strange coincidences potentially rule him out. For example, the East Area Rapist attacked his forty-fifth victim in Walnut Creek on June 2, 1979. Shortly thereafter, two people were detained for having possible involvement but they were ruled out.

One was an individual who was in the proximity and swerving in-and-out of traffic in a 1978 Cutlass. The police pulled the suspect over on the suspicion he was under the influence of alcohol. When the police spoke to the man, they noticed he matched the attacker’s description given by the victim. She also claimed her offender had a large hunting knife in its sheath during the assault. Coincidentally enough, this man had a knife in its sheath and a pair of gloves in his car, but he was heavily questioned and his alibi was confirmed.

The second incident also happened shortly after the assault occurred. A nearby neighbor called the police to report a peculiar man who was prowling in the area with no pants on. The police managed to locate the male rather quickly. He claimed he was a janitor in Pleasant Hill, California, and he was in the area looking for his missing cat. Inside of his vehicle was a camera and a stash of photographs of women taken in secret with a zoomed lens. The latest picture he took was of a woman at a car wash earlier that evening. After the police escorted him to jail, he was questioned and subsequently let go (although there aren’t any details publically on why he was released).

These two events taking place mere minutes after the victim was attacked is quite astonishing, especially when the proximity of these incidents were very close to one another. This anecdote presents that fact that coincidences happen frequently, and that leads me to the point of this post that I’m trying to convey.

At approximately 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 30, 1978, at Riverside Convalescent Hospital in Sacramento, California, a man approached a young nurse and introduced himself as “Jack from the town of Quincy.” He appeared to be in his early twenties with a medium-sized body frame and between 5’8-5’10 in height. He had neatly trimmed light brown hair and was wearing a blue windbreaker. As he spoke with the nurse, he began relaying uncomfortable information–stating he was upset because he had sexual issues and his father had a girlfriend. He went on to mention being a former patient at a psychiatric ward in Sacramento. Thereafter, he started singing “I’ll Walk the Line” by Johnny Cash, which prompted the nurse to ask him to leave the premises.

Two weeks later on the evening of Monday, April 10, 1978, the same nurse was outside of the hospital building making sure the windows were all secure. Unexpectedly, she was approached from behind by the same man she encountered weeks beforehand. He attempted to bring up his sexual problems again but the nurse was adamant about being busy and unable to speak but offered to make a phone call to set up an appointment with a counselor if he would like. He refused by saying he was already seeking help from a psychiatrist. She kindly asked him to leave and he never returned.

We can’t say with concrete certainty this was the East Area Rapist. However, I’d like to present two reasons — albeit circumstantial and anecdotal — as to why it could possibly be an authentic encounter with the suspect.

Number 1

The most important reason is the location and timeline of events. For starters, the Riverside Convalescent Hospital was located on Riverside Boulevard in Sacramento, California and the two encounters the nurse had occurred on March 30, 1978, and April 10, 1978. Four days later on April 14, 1978, the East Area Rapist attacked his thirty-first victim living on Casilada Way — only two minutes away from the hospital.

Hospital

Additionally, suspicious activity started happening in the soon-to-be victim’s neighborhood on April 1, 1978. There is evidence that pinpoints the offender targeting the victim earlier that year in February with prank phone calls, but the unsavory activity increased drastically in the beginning of April.

Furthermore, the innocuous stranger claiming to be “Jack from the town of Quincy” last visited the hospital on the evening of April 10, 1978. The soon-to-be victim reported hearing strange noises emanating from her backyard patio during the night of April 11, 1978. It’s not specified whether this happened late in the early morning hours or the following night that would lead to April 12, 1978.

Regardless, the dates coincide with the young man at the hospital matching the East Area Rapists’ description and his stalking prowess that generally happened in the course of two weeks before an assault. The peculiar activity in the targeted location included residents having their side gate doors left sprawled open overnight, scratching noises on windows, dogs barking hellaciously throughout the night, and a dubious dark-colored 1960 Cadillac seen in the vicinity.

Number 2

The next reason is psychiatric hospitals. Granted, this is purely conjectural. If we are to believe “Jack from the town of Quincy” was the East Area Rapist, he briefly stated he was a former patient in a psychiatric ward in Sacramento, California. Another incident where a similar statement was made occurred on Friday, January 6, 1978, when a man professing to be the East Side Rapist (this moniker was used for a while until the East Area Rapist moniker dubbed by the Sacramento Bee stuck) called a counseling service.

Transcript

Caller – Can you help me?

Volunteer – What’s the problem?

Caller – I have a problem. I need help because I don’t want to do this anymore.

Volunteer – Do what?

Caller – Well, I guess I can tell you guys. You’re not tracing this call, are you?

Volunteer – No, we are not tracing any calls.

Caller – I am the East Side Rapist and I feel the urge coming on to do this again. I don’t want to do it, but then I do. Is there anyone there that can help me? I don’t want to hurt these women or their husbands anymore. Are you tracing this call?

Volunteer – We are not tracing this call. Do you want a counselor?

Caller – No. I have been to counseling all my life. I was at Stockton State Hospital. I shouldn’t tell you that. I guess I can trust you guys. Are you tracing this call?

Volunteer – No, we are not tracing this call.

Caller – I believe you are tracing this call.

Throughout the phone call, the unidentified caller would repeatedly change his tone. His attitude shifted from normalcy to violent and angry when he would ask if the phone call was being traced. This was prevalent in the East Area Rapists’ series of attacks where his disdain for the police increased as he spoke about them, while he would sporadically sit in a corner and weep, hyperventilate, and ask forgiveness from his mother after he sexually violated an innocent woman.

Likewise, the investigators followed up on the hospital lead but were unable to obtain information from Stockton State Hospital because they didn’t have the name of the caller; thus, the administrators couldn’t provide any names or results of the patients because it would compromise confidentiality.

While this phone call can be considered a prank by someone else entirely, it transpired during a time where the East Area Rapist was making phone calls to the police and victims in a frenzy — particularly in a period of time where he wasn’t attacking women. His cooling down period was between December 2, 1979 – January 28, 1978. Perhaps there was some form of truth to the statement he made about not wanting to commit crimes anymore but the urge was overpowering him?

When he did return from out of the shadows on January 28, 1978, in Sacramento, California, he attacked two young teenagers. According to the crime scene, he seemed to use a much more volatile approach by kicking in the front door to the home, as if he couldn’t contain his angst and desire more subtly. Moreover, days later on February 2, 1978, the tragic murder of Brian and Katie Maggiore occurred in Rancho Cordova–in a cluster area where many other victims in the town were earmarked.

Afterward, he visited Stockton, California on March 18, 1978, and attacked his thirtieth victim. Following this, the mysterious “Jack from the town of Quincy” paid a visit to Riverside Convalescent Hospital, and the thirty-first victim was subsequently attacked on April 14, 1978, in Sacramento, California. The conversation with the counseling service and the interaction between the nurse featured involvement in counseling and psychiatric wards in Stockton and Sacramento — the two locations where the East Area Rapist targeted his subsequent victims and it would be the last time he operated in these locations.

There are other reasons that could further substantiate my conclusion, however; including the appearance and apparel of the male. The blue windbreaker is what sets this encounter apart because the suspect was often reported wearing a similar jacket during his crimes. Unfortunately, one thing that makes this case exceptionally difficult is the description of the notorious assailant essentially matched the majority of young males in high school and college.

Another likely reason is the stranger indicating he had sexual problems. There is no elaboration on those issues but it’s a well-known fact the East Area Rapist had performance problems ranging from maintaining an erection and climaxing.

In conclusion, these are the reasons why I believe “Jack from the town of Quincy” could be the East Area Rapist. The coincidences are staggering, but this case has many of these stories that turned out not to be the perpetrator. Nonetheless, all of these bits and pieces combined provide a possibility the stranger was the man law enforcement has been pursuing for over forty years.

Side Note

There is one final intriguing aspect about the man at the Riverside Convalescent Hospital introducing himself as “Jack from the town of Quincy.” It’s possible this name could have been a reference to the television show, “Quincy M.E.” The program centered around Jack Klugman, a coroner who investigated the deaths of people that could have been murdered. The first episode aired on October 3, 1976, and was titled “Go Fight City Hall … to the Death,” and was about the rape and murder of a civil servant. The show ultimately concluded after eight seasons on May 11, 1983.

Quincy M.E.

Speaking of hospitals and false names, there is an interesting story that was recently released to the public. I will be upfront – I am skeptical of this event, but considering it’s relatively new information, I’ll discuss the story provided by the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department via the Sacramento Bee newspaper.

At 11:47 a.m. on Tuesday, May 30, 1977, a man matching the description of the East Area entered the American River Hospital in Carmichael, California, that has since been closed. He sought treatment for a shoulder injury. When he filled out forms before seeing a doctor, the information he used was false, including his driver’s license for identification that featured someone else’s photo. It was later discovered to had been stolen in 1975 from Local 18 Warehouseman’s’ Union.

The nursing staff felt uncomfortable by his presence and he wouldn’t give them his name so one of the nurses used her initials — BK (Barbara Kennedy) — to sign the medical form. All of these things seemed suspicious to the employees and they promptly notified law enforcement, but by the time they arrived the patient fled the hospital.

The current investigators on the East Area Rapist case seem to believe this could the infamous serial-rapist. The main reasons why are the description of the man, the stolen identification card, and the shoulder injury which comes with a (kind of) convincing story.

The East Area Rapist attacked his twenty-second victim just two days beforehand on May 28, 1977, in Sacramento, California. After the assault, the offender scaled a fence that led to a precipitous canal. Thereafter, he disappeared for three months during the summer before reemerging on September 6, 1977, in Stockton, California. Due to those details, investigators are under the impression the East Area Rapist may have possibly injured his shoulder when fleeing the crime after the assault; which in turn was the reason for his sudden three-month break.

These are logical deductions and could be very accurate. However, this can only be hypothesized. There is no factual evidence that suggests the offender hurt his shoulder afterward. Furthermore, I’m not sure why this lead wasn’t presented to the general populace much sooner. The detectives who released this information on February 2, 2018, aren’t the same people who were assigned to the case in the 70s, so we can’t make an astute judgment on the original investigators thought process.

However, this information should have been made public as soon as the police learned of it because it was pivotal. It would have propelled the community to be on the lookout for someone they know or have seen with an injured shoulder. The tips the police could have received would have been substantial. Instead, it was released forty years after the fact primarily due to current investigators looking over old files. There aren’t many people who will be able to recall someone with a shoulder injury four decades ago. Moreover, due to the extensive delay, a lot of people — if they had valuable information — could have already passed away, thus causing potential evidence to be cast aside.

Ultimately, this case is very enigmatic and my opinions have fluctuated often throughout researching its historicity. There are days I uphold the belief the offender was young when he began his rape spree — possibly in high school — but other days I think he was a lot older than I initially presumed. Sometimes, I think he could be the notorious ransacker that operated in Visalia, California, and on other days I find it hard to comprehend. I have trouble reconciling these things, and maybe one way to propel this case forward is to let go of preconceived notions and follow the footsteps of Jack Klugman and continue pursuing the truth.

The St. Louis Jane Doe of 1983

StL Jane Doe ApartmentOn a brisk Monday afternoon on February 28, 1983, in St. Louis Missouri, two rummagers went looking for scrap metal for their car in the basement of an abandoned apartment building — which has long since been bulldozed —  located at 5635 Clemens Avenue. One of the individuals pulled out his lighter to light his cigarette and that’s when they stumbled upon a gruesome sight.

There was an African American girl estimated to be between the ages of eight to eleven and approximately 4’10 – 5’6 in height. She was wearing a blood-stained yellow V-neck sweater with no tags and she was positioned face down with her pants and underwear removed. Her head had been decapitated and mold was growing on her neck. There were two coats of red nail polish on her fingers and her hands were bound by the wrists with red and white nylon rope.

When homicide detectives Joe Burgoon and Herb Riley arrived at the crime scene they initially thought she could have been a prostitute until they examined the body and realized the victim hadn’t gone through puberty. They determined she was beheaded elsewhere — possibly by a large carving knife because of how cleanly cut her head was removed — due to the lack of blood and was subsequently discarded at a later time. They did find some traces of blood on the side of the walls leading to the basement that indicated she had been carried and her body brushed against it during the process. An autopsy conducted by Mary Case from St. Louis’s Medical Examiner’s Office showed she had been raped and her cause of death was by strangulation three or five days prior to being found.

St. Louis Jane Doe Newspaper 1

As for the child’s head, it was never recovered despite an extensive search from Jerry Thomas and Frank Booker. This hindered the investigation because dental examinations couldn’t be provided nor a facial reconstruction through forensic technology programming. The investigators scoured a list of all children at the surrounding schools but everyone was accounted for. They proceeded to look through the database of missing children yet there had been no reports of a young child matching her description being missing, and she was ruled out as being five possible victims of ranging from several states including a Jane Doe from Northampton County, North Carolina.

At one point, detectives sought out assistance from a group of psychics who performed a seance. Herb Riley gave them photos of Jane Doe’s fingerprints, and as they passed the photocopies around they all had the same conclusion; her head would be located on a boat in the Gulf of Mexico and he should immediately contact the Coast Guard. This lead was pursued in-depth but it proved to be a dead end.

St. Louis Jane Doe Newspaper

Jane Doe’s case quickly turned cold and after ten months of exhausting all possible leads and nobody coming forward to claim her body, she was buried in December of 1983 at Washington Park Cemetary in Berkeley, Missouri.

Ten years later in 1993, investigators mailed her blood-stained sweater and nylon rope that bound her hands to a psychic residing in Florida for further analysis but this was a fruitless endeavor because the evidence was lost in the mail delivery. In 1996, the original homicide detective Herb Riley passed away and Jane Doe’s case was one of two cases he never solved during his tenure with the police department.

Twenty years passed by and in June of 2013, investigators were able to exhume the child’s remains with the hope of gathering new forensic evidence by modern advancements made in science and technology. This task proved difficult because the cemetery she had been buried in was unkempt, appeared long forgotten, her grave was unmarked, and many people were displaced because of insufficient care with the burial records.

With the help of willful volunteers and other various resources, Jane Doe’s remains were unearthed and transported to the St. Louis Medical Examiner’s Office where researchers from the Smithsonian Institution and University of North Texas recalibrated bone sampling and minerals (stable isotope analysis) to attempt to narrow down her native origins based on the water she had drank. The testing revealed she had spent most of her life in one of the numerous southeastern states including Georgia, Mississippi, Arkansas, Texas, Tennessee, Florida, Louisiana, and North or South Carolina.

Though new scientific testing provided a glimmer of hope to the child’s case, the police say it’s rather unlikely she will be properly identified unless someone comes forward with vital information. If any light can be shed on this devastating tragedy, it would be the nicknames she was given — “Hope” or “Little Jane Doe” — and her reburial in Calvary Cemetery on West Florissant Rd. in north St. Louis, Missouri, funded by the nonprofit organization, “Garden of Innocents,” where the plot of land is regularly maintained.

Overall, the list of suspects was unfortunately very short. With a lack of evidence from her murder, finding a person of interest was difficult. The authorities suspected a family member may be involved due to no reports of a child being reported missing, but considering they were unable to determine where she was from, that theory was hard to substantiate. However, there was one suspect that caught the eyes of the investigators.

Vernon Brown StL Jane DoeVernon Brown was born on October 1, 1953. He had a very troubled upbringing and suffered from excessive physical abuse from his grandfather. He dropped out of high school and in 1973 he was convicted of molesting a twelve-year-old girl and subsequently spent four years in an Indiana prison. After his release, nine-year-old Kimberly Campbell disappeared under mysterious circumstances. She was later found raped and strangled in a vacant residence that was owned by Vernon’s grandmother. Though he was considered the prime suspect in the case, there wasn’t enough evidence to charge him with the crime. In 1985, Vernon relocated to Enright Avenue in St. Louis, Missouri, living under the false name, Thomas Turner, where he was living with his wife and stepchildren.

At approximately 3:00 p.m. on Friday, October 24, 1986, he had just arrived home after picking up his stepchildren from school. Afterward, he sat outside on his front porch watching children walk home after being dropped off from the school bus. That’s when nine-year-old Janet Perkins, a bright young student at Cole Elementary School, was walking to her home a few blocks away, excited for the weekend. Vernon took notice and lured her into his home. His stepchildren saw her come inside and he ordered them into their bedrooms and locked their doors from the outside.

Vernon led Janet down to the basement where he bound her feet and hands by using a wire coat hanger. Moments later, he began to strangle her with a rope. Vernon’s stepchildren could hear her screaming and pleading for her life as her voice echoed through the air vents. Thereafter, he discarded her body and went on about his day as if nothing ever happened.

The following day, the police discovered two trash bags containing Janet’s body in an alley behind his residence. Two days later on Monday, October 27, 1986, the police arrested Brown, and a relative of a neighbor testified on his behalf saying they witnessed Janet enter his home. Throughout questioning him by detectives he confessed to murdering Janet on videotape.

Surprisingly, he admitted to murdering nineteen-year-old Synetta Ford one year beforehand on March 7, 1985. She was found strangled by an electrical cord and stabbed multiple times in an apartment basement where he had worked as a maintenance man. At the time, the authorities arrested him for the murder but he was let go after he gave homicide detectives a false alias.

While he was in prison in Bonne Terre, Tom Carroll — a homicide detective in St. Louis — frequently visited and questioned him about other possible murders he may have committed, particularly about the young Jane Doe found in 1983. Brown never confessed to her or anyone else’s murder. However, detectives believe he could be involved with at least twenty unsolved homicide cases but they don’t have enough tangible evidence to conclusively prove their stance.

On Wednesday, May 18, 2005, at 2:35 a.m. fifty-one-year old Vernon Brown was executed by lethal injection. His last words were, “You’ll see me again. To all my friends, don’t think of me as being gone, but there with you. And to Jazz, who has my heart and love. Peace, love. Vernon Brown.” If he participated in any other murders, he took those secrets to his grave.

Jane Doe’s case has never been solved and is one that haunts the original and current investigators, but as long as her case stays in the light, as her nickname given by the police suggests, there will always be “Hope.”

The Unsolved Murder of Eva Davidson Taylor

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 Eva Davidson Taylor Newspaperscrewdriver 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.

Gerald ParkerOne 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.

Bedroom Basher Newspaper Clipping

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?