Forging Folklore– The Visalia Ransacker and EAR-ONS

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.

https://theconversation.com/how-police-underestimate-break-ins-as-gateway-crimes-for-sex-predators-95102

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.

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Here Kitty, Kitty– Looking for the Cordova Cat

As more information comes out on the cat burglar and home invasion artist who operated in Rancho Cordova and the East Area over 1972-1973 and perhaps later, it becomes increasingly clear this guy had some issues beyond your normal burglar. As I begin to put it into sequence on Q Files, I thought I would highlight just one here.

Collectively, I have placed all this home invasion, ransacking, and cat burglary under the heading of the “Cordova Cat.” There are enough distinctions to differentiate, as the SSD does, between the crime sprees to label one The Cat Burglar and the other the Cordova Meadows Burglar, but there is also enough to suggest they are one and the same perpetrator who shifted his MO due to circumstances.

The “Cat Burglar” was an oddball, but he was an oddball whose MO was slightly different from the Cordova Meadows Burglar because technically speaking only the “Cat Burglar” was a cat burglar. The victims have to be in the house in the wee hours for the burglar to be considered a “cat burglar.” As such, he didn’t ransack. He didn’t pull the plug on the forced air furnace. But he said stupid stuff just like EAR did. When a homeowner awoke and sat up in bed, seeing him standing by the dresser in her bedroom, all he said was: “I took a dollar from your dresser.” The suspect in the Maggiore Double Murder (believed to be EAR) when seen lurking in a homeowner’s bushes, said: “Oh, I guess I’m trespassing.”  The Cordova Meadows Burglar entered a house when no one was home. As such he could afford to ransack and pull the plug on air furnaces (to maintain silence ostensibly).  He also hated little dogs and killed a terrier and little poodle by blunt force.

But both (if they were not the same) were odd, and among a number of similar oddities with EAR is the oddity of stalking a community from afar. The most notable time EAR was known to have done this was in the case of Victim No 11. He stole her car and drove it quite far away from Glenville Circle to Great Falls Way, implying this is where he had started his night prowling earlier and somewhere nearby had parked his own car. If you know the area, these two locations are far apart.

The Cat Burglar apparently did that on occasion as well. In his Birdcage area strikes (3 in one night), he walks south (apparently) on Primrose, crosses Madison Avenue, walks through a golf course (dark at night, of course) and then on a pathway (probably a golf cart pathway) connecting to the apartments south of the course (Fairway 2 Ave or Pineridge) dumps the purses, wallets, whatever he had rifled through. This is a long walk with stolen goods, and right back to an apartment building. EAR parked by the apartments on Great Falls Way. He had done that at other stalking locations, most recently revealed the apartments on Locust Ave. while stalking Haskell Avenue.

This is just another unusual specific clue within a greater corpus of a similar MO that links the Cordova Cat to EAR. The cat burglaries of that night, of course, were all within a block of houses that EAR would hit in the neighborhood a few years later.

As I now finish with the EAR-ONS section overhaul on Q Files, I prepare to put in order as much as I can of the Cordova Cat, the arguments dividing between two burglars, and those arguments supporting a single perpetrator; and, of course, how this links to EAR.

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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.

EAR-ONS— Faces to Qualify

I am backlogged with getting some stuff fact-checked and some clarifications on circumstances. So these are notes to self on my queue of queries. Others may be interested.

Regarding sketches and composites: Several float around on the web or have been an insert in the recent docs. The circumstances that warranted the identikit have not been clarified sufficiently. Those of most interest are those that show a similarity to a sketch in perpetration, such as the following of the Maggiore Double Murder:

image_large-Maggiore suspet

Above, the suspect in the Maggiore Double Murders. Below is the unqualified identikit that bears a resemblance and was of a man seen in relation somehow to the 4th Parkway area strike.

composite-1977-05-28-No22

The above also bears a resemblance to the accepted Identikit of the Ripon Court Shooter, suspected to have been EAR, below.  It requires only that he comb his hair back.

EAR-Composite5

In relation to the Maggiore Double Murders there was a man seen standing in the shadows of La Alegria and West La Loma. He was never I.D.’d. He was said to have brown curly hair. The following is of a man seen in the area of No. 35 in Davis.

Seen near 35

Of special interest are those attributed to someone prowling, a prowler who had great agility. The following is attributed to the “Fence Jumper” of La Riviera and it bears a certain similarity to the above.

 

Primrose

The following is credited to Verla Street, which runs parallel to the polar axis of the East Area (Manzanita).

HNL2

These are not the identikits usually given high profile. Rather over the current century others have been released favoring the theory EAR-ONS was quite young. Some of these have proven to be of POIs that had, in fact, been identified and cleared. They nevertheless continue to influence. With the evolving evidence that EAR was between 25 and 35 in 1976, original identikits representing older POIs are of greater interest. The purpose is to finally establish which ones most likely actually closest represent the East Area Rapist/Original Night Stalker.

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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.

EAR-ONS Agenda . . .

I have been in the throes of updating and revising all of the Q Files section on The Night Predator. The goal is several fold. To reduce a lot of noise on this blog and static in general. That which is of lasting import will go on Q Files. The rest is blitzed. Evolving evidence over the Cordova Cat requires an overhaul of all analysis. We must adjust EAR’s age upwards. I kibitzed between 17 and 33 for POIs, so this adjustment has not altered anything for me behind the scenes.

In fact, I should qualify here about the status of the POIs. A few years ago I lit the web on fire with saying I was 99% certain I had the guy, an estimation I have never altered. I had a network, as you all know. The prime POI who had inspired my confidence was never triaged, however. As you know, I supplanted him for RP due to my leaning to the popular view EAR was quite young, and a reinterpretation of the strike map which indicated a heavy dependency on Highway 50. My prime POI’s lair also leaned that way, but once again age became the determining factor to run with RP.

With many more contacts at my disposal now, I was able to submit the original prime last October and officially sent my dossier in on November 10, 2017. I got a response from the investigator assigned by the supervisor in OC on November 14 that he would proceed to investigate. I heard little thereafter, but I deduced that it would take more boots on the ground work to warrant DNA or to eliminate without DNA. Fortunately,  SSD is doing that now. One POI was eliminated based on later military service. I threw another to the wolves recently just because of the Cordova Cat link.

My prime POI was the eldest in my network. So as you can imagine I greet with relief the evidence that suggests EAR was older than thought to be. Whether he is or isn’t EAR, the theory that I have championed– I think it is fair to say that– has come to consume more than me on an official level, and if the link lies here it will be uncovered. So even if I have not tagged him, I have at least in part done what I said my investigation is for: to either solve or help solve the case. This gives me some considerable satisfaction now.

From what I’ve picked up from boots on the ground detectives, they’ve done a lot of pretty impressive unsung detective work in eliminating (decades after-the-fact, mind you) door to door insurance salesmen and even Scientologists who went door to door in those days selling Dianetics.  So I think the auto-wrecker connections will be fine combed.

My contribution will be to continue my own avenue within this theory that I have championed. To this end I need Q Files’ Night Predator section pristine and up-to-date so that I no longer need worry about adjusting it. Hopefully, then all I will need to add is the information on the very intriguing Cordova Cat connection and what my own investigation yields.

If my prime POI is finally triaged out, I cannot see any other avenue exposing EAR-ONS but a meticulous canvas of those 40 years ago who could get license plates AND cars. Too many older cars were associated with being in a neighborhood with untraceable plates or plates traced to wrecked cars, too many for us to consider that EAR merely lifted plates. He got cars as well.

At what level of auto-wrecking was he? I prefer at the owning level or a close family member. Yet the latter has come hard to believe. Though inaccurate DNA was slipped into the public forum, one thing about it is true: EAR had no close relatives. Period. Adoption cannot explain it. This would merely change his surname. But his biologic father and mother would still have siblings and if not siblings they would have cousins. One would have partaken of the fad by now, you would think, to pay their 99 bucks and discover their DNA ethnicity and family connections. They would still pop up in the system as a relatively close relative, one through which LE can find EAR’s identity. But none ever have.  There is perhaps a 20th cousin in the system.

The only real clue that can be tasted right now are those license plates, and the fact that the odd Cordova Cat is known to have covered his trail once in the same way 3 years before in 1973.

I have probed into towing and even an auto mechanic using customer cars or, better, one who fitted-out used car dealers’ newly acquired vehicles before they went on sale. Car hauling for a dealership is yet another.  This is basically old news, but I wish to reiterate here that I want Q Files streamlined and the case put in stone so I can be free of putting in place history and continue with what has set Q Files apart– the result of my own current investigation, analysis and pursuit in the present time.

One thing we must grudgingly accept– we must no longer regard ANY sketch or composite as representing EAR. More need to be released with full circumstances attached in order to finally assess the probability of which (if any) one captured EAR’s appearance. Otherwise it is simply more static.

EAR did not protect himself at night while prowling as much as he did days or weeks in advance while he selected communities during the day. At night if seen he was only a figure, safe because of the mantel of darkness.  He was a phantom in daylight. Not night. Because in daylight his features could be seen.

Thus I want to underscore here the fact we seek an outline and nothing more. The license plates for me are like ectoplasm, the only remains of a phantom. It is all I have to go on. I do not trust sketches. We cannot be certain of his looks.

The facts must be fixed and their context itself fact-checked. I now have this privilege. The hypotheses must be developed from these meager dots, and we must be ready to alter and erase hypotheses and move on with more. The process of elimination requires it. But I will not let go of those license plates.

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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.

Contemplating the Cordova Cat

Despite waiting for feedback on more than one POI, I must always be ready for a negative reply. Thus I must be ready for alternative action in refining more POIs.

As I contemplate the Cordova Cat’s ramifications, more questions must be asked about the East Area Rapist’s motivations. Starting as a cat burglar underscores his thrill motive. And as it escalated into rape, his desire for greater levels of thrill becomes increasingly apparent, and with this his arrogance and self indulgence. He went from thrill burglar to thrill rapist. When both lost their thrill he escalated it to thrill murderer. All were dependent on his agility and expertise to prowl a neighborhood– his skill as a cat burglar underpinned everything. In fact, everything he did was dependent on his cat burglar skills

What is the next thrill level after home invasion murderer? Establishing this might help track him.

It is clear he was gone for 5 years. But I don’t think he jacked up his thrill elsewhere because he returns to a familiar neighborhood and strikes again following his tried and true thrill home invasion murderer’s MO.

After 1986 was he simply losing his unusual agility and therewith the ability to so adroitly prowl a neighborhood and escape? The result is he simply gives up?

Or did he have to find another outlet for his thrill? To what level did he take his thrill? It would have to be something that was no longer dependent on his gymnastic ability.

*         *        *

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.

EAR/ONS Forming and Following Hypotheses

I have been reminded that I do not always deduce, but often induce. So’kay. This is how one forms hypotheses and then follows them through.

As it becomes more and more apparent to me that EAR was the Cordova Cat, we must both deduce from the map of EAR strikes that he avoided eastern Rancho Cordova as EAR for a reason. We must induce this reason and put in order facts that support or reject the reason. Was it to avoid a connection to being the same Cordova Cat? And if so, was it because some incident had occurred that could identify his features or be used to track him, even years later?

In my wanderings of photography, I meandered the canal that wends through most of suburban Rancho. Coloma Rd is a major traffic bulwark, but the canal goes underneath it and continues on in open beyond it, paralleling Dolecetto, past my uncle and aunt’s street of Augibi Way, and slinking under a couple of other streets and then through two sections of a park.

The area is prime hunting ground for EAR, but he never hit, and I don’t think there were even prowling reports. Parks, school, canal– why no EAR?

The Cordova Cat had struck the area back in 1973, and he seemed to know the canals. There is that strange and violent Sarda Way Incident in 1973– a young mother (28) attacked in her home by a man scouting the area like EAR, then trying to get in, then when thwarted remaining determined and going into a rage to get her. A very intriguing identikit was made of this perp.

DSC07203

A cloudy spring day in 2015. The canal is on my right. I’m in the park. The elementary school on my left. Turn left ahead and the next street over is Sarda Way. The area remains a time capsule of the 1970s (in a good way), but EAR never seems to have prowled the area.

Sarda Way Suspect-adjusted
The Sarda Way perp

 

The house backed a school. It was a quiet Sunday morning at 11 a.m.

Is this the event EAR wished to avoid reminding the sheriffs? Or did something else happen in 1974? The records are not yet accessed. But in 1976-77 EAR certainly may have thought the encounter was significant and capable of leading to him.

We can only hope more records come to light.

Long before the Sheriff info dump (Feb 27, 2018) and even before the national news conference (June 2016) I had been approached by one woman who had lived nearby and as a young girl had a similar strange man come to her door.  She used the identikit of the Ripon Court Shooter, sending it to me with her written encounter in 1977-78 and saying this is the man. This identikit of the Ripon Court Shooter, of course, bears a remarkable resemblance to the Sarda Way perv.

Coincidence is beguiling. It could be this is another perv stalking similar area, or if EAR he did in fact stalk eastern Rancho but never struck.

We still need to definitely ascertain his age and facial features in order to accept or reject any such anecdotal accounts. Hopefully, this will happen soon.

*         *        *

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.

The Cordova Cat– EAR’s Prehistory

Why am I so hip for the Cat? Because I think it finally is the segment, the prequel to the franchise if you will, that can out the identity of EAR/ONS. As I have been hearing it, very coherently put, everything is pointing to this 1972-1973 crime spree being a mirror of EAR activity or, I should say, EAR is a mirror of this Cordova Cat’s activity.

As we all know a serial makes his mistakes in the beginning. So far, there is no mistake that EAR made early on that betrayed him. It took the entire crime spree in Sacramento to help me place his lair south of Highway 50. The EAR was not as prolific as the Cat. The Cat could strike 3 or 4 times a night, both in the East Area and in Cordova. Revealing all these hits may give us his pattern– and this can at least reveal his lair for the period 1972-1973.

The Cat becomes doubly important when you accept that EAR’s success can only be explained as the acts of a developed cat burglar. And the known MO of the Cat fits with the pattern EAR left over his known crime spree of 1976-1986. The Cat did things for his own demented thrill. He didn’t steal much of value. This thrill must  have gotten old and he slacked off, disappearing for the most part in 1974. But from what we know, he liked cars and he liked to drive. It makes perfect sense such a thrill seeker returns as a Cat Rapist. EAR steals of little value, but adding now a captive audience– ransacking, raping, terrorizing. He first rapes with gusto. He slowly loses this thrill but continues to assault of homes, ransacking and terrorizing. After 3 years the ultimate crime now offers itself. He carefully plans his murders down south, waiting months in between. He follows the same stalking pattern. He even adds an interesting bit of protection. He uses a blunt object around the house. He therefore arrives and departs without the murder weapon. Altogether he never left a clue that could lead to him.

This is an arrogant individual for whom the night and the sanctity of American suburbia was his yard to prowl in and do as he wished. All three stages above are linked by this one thrill factor, this one solid bit of presumption all things exist for his thrill.

As time has proven, between 1976-1986 there is NO one case that can lead to him. He made no mistakes in northern Cal at any crime scene. He made none down south. They didn’t even know they had a single murderer for 15 years.

There is only one chance he made a mistake and that is in the beginning. Practice makes perfect even for a serial rapist/murderer. This beginning could be the Cordova Cat.  At least  50 cat burglaries, and the bludgeoning of 3 small dogs, need to be considered.

Remember EAR used a gun when he had to. But a Cat knows to be quiet. He killed dogs by bludgeoning. When he turned premeditated murderer, he killed his victims the same way. He could kill a man with one blow. The Cat had hit a dog so hard he had disemboweled it.

Though I have POIs pending in the triaging process, I am prepared for negative replies. I am prepared to add the Cat. The Cat can only help refine the same process. He liked to drive. He used a plate from a wrecked car for cover once. The indications remain the same. He had links to auto wrecking.

This creep truly is the Bogey Man. And it is time we learn and accept his evil prehistory.

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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.