As I prepare some of my material for my new series on Q Files detailing the Cordova Cat, I have been preparing some Visalia Ransacker information. There are some who want to make a connection between him and EAR, and a lot has been thrown out there recently that is being taken as “new” or accurate information on a connection between the two perps. I thought it best to introduce a little historicity here.
It was with the reports of the murder of Claude Snelling on September 11, 1975, that wisps of information, and only wisps, reached Visalians’ ears that there had been for the previous year a burglar afoot in south Visalia known as the “ransacker.” No descriptions were given.
The first clear description came with the Bill McGowen incident on Kaweah on December 10, 1975. The perp was described as 200 pounds, about 5 foot 10 inches, blonde hair, wearing a knit cap pulled low. He was 25 to 35 years old. Over a few more Visalia Times Delta articles, the “Ransacker” evolved very little. He was between 180 and 200 pounds, baby face, short, short hair, sandy colored. Visalia Police checked out barber shops in order to get a lead because the guy’s hair was so short.
After Sacramento’s East Area Rapist became state news (May 1977), Visalia PD wanted to forge a link. Two of the detectives, McGowen and Vaughn, came to Sacramento and shared details and reports. Sacramento Sheriffs compared 9 points of MO and discounted 6 of them. Apparently there were some words between the two jurisdictions, and SSD got tired of the Visalia detectives and “cut off communication.”
On July 22, 1978, it hit the fan. The Sacramento Union ran the story that the Ransacker and EAR were linked, relying heavily on Vaughn and McGowen. This was a year after the two jurisdictions had shared information and rejected a link. SSD was stunned. Bill Miller, SSD’s venerable spokesman, was upset. He responded to press calls at his house. He said the Union was irresponsible for running that story. He said that Vaughn and McGowen were unprofessional and irresponsible. There was no link ever made except by those two.
In Miller’s polemic response, we get more snippets of the Ransacker’s description. “McGowen said in a report that the Ransacker ‘looked like a baby and acted like a homosexual; he did not run very fast and ran in a funny manner like his knees were together. He had large, round shoulders, large hips, large rump, large legs, fat thighs, fat calves, and fat short feet,’ Miller said quoting McGowen’s report.”
Miller continued: “We’ve got 39 victims and none of them even come close to ever describing the east area rapist in that regard.”
In this July 23 response we also discover that SSD had the Visalia reports, and that in January 1976 the Ransacker had been seen again in Visalia. Miller said he flat out didn’t look like the description of the EAR as seen in the October 1975 rape (considered then to be EAR’s first, and being reconsidered today). It seems certain the Ransacker was still active in 1976 from he Times Delta as well, which ran a long article detailing his prowling on Dollner Street in March 1976. He was even chased by a resident and described similar to the sketch based on McGowen’s sighting.
Over the years several articles have come out in the Times Delta speaking of the Snelling murder and then enlarging without evidence that the Ransacker was frequently seen wearing a ski mask, another link to EAR. In reality, the Ransacker was not frequently seen at all. He invaded homes when people weren’t around. He wore a ski mask at the Snelling attack.
Miller confirmed for us that the Ransacker and EAR did NOT have the same shoe size.
The stink was so bad in July 1978 that the Chief of Visalia Police said he would call Sac Sheriff Duane Lowe to ty and iron it out.
Sac Police deputy chief Ed Martin said in the article that they hadn’t completely dismissed a connection, but that the descriptions were at odds. The Ransacker may have been a “later bloomer,” he ventured, and lost all that baby fat. There was no question the Ransacker was a heavy guy with a baby face.
Thanks largely to a recent TV documentary, people are being sold on the idea there are 50 points of similarity between the Ransacker and EAR. There are, in fact, none. Not even the modus operandi in the house was the same, and we have a vivid description in the Times Delta of what the West Laurel house looked like on the night of December 10, 1975.
Today it is evolving that the Ransacker made hang-up phone calls, another one of EAR’s trademarks. There was never any mention made of that back then, and it is sounding more and more like inventive history.
In a comparative chart displayed on the documentary, we are shown the stats of the two villains compared. The Ransacker is now suddenly only 160 pounds, and EAR is 160 to 180 pounds, a total reversal to the original weight disparity between the two. Contemporarily EAR was reliably estimated to be between 140 and 160. He was a little guy that one of the victims believed she could have taken if he didn’t have a gun. “He had a good build.”
There is no need in detailing the arguments of 40 years ago here right now. This will be reserved for an article on Q Files. A recent Canadian study, however, may be worth reading. For just Canada alone it details 6 categories of B and E’s and how similar they are.
The Ransacker and EAR are cases constantly compared now in the narrative, and this gives the false impression that they are unique in terms of B and E’s when they are not. We are led to believe that the Ransacker and EAR must be the same merely because of surface comparisons to B and E. There is, indeed, a deep vault of data on B and E as the article will imply. It is hardly overwhelming that there was one perp in Visalia and one a couple of years later in Sacramento 4 hours away.
With the mounting evidence that the Cordova Cat was EAR, we have a villain who operated in the same area as EAR, followed the same MO, and was described similar to EAR. . . . and again radically different from the odd Ransacker. The Cat was about 5.6 to 5.10, brown hair, and 140 to 160 pounds just a year before the fat, baby face Ransacker made his appearance in Visalia.
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Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester or Q Man. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.