The Case of the Lisa Smith that was and was not and now maybe is missing.
I mentioned the case of the missing 17 year old Lisa Smith in Sonoma Coed Killer Part 3– Dressed to Kill– Freda’s Night Out. She vanished in March 1971, last seen hitching on Hearn Avenue in Santa Rosa. She had run away from her foster parents in Petaluma. She may have been the Lisa Smith who was tended in the Novato Hospital south of Santa Rosa before she vanished again.
I mentioned the case as representing a possible early victim of the Sonoma Coed Killer. A Santa Rosa Press Democrat article from 2011 likewise mentions her case. She is listed on Wikipedia as a possible victim as well, though that source is hardly ever stellar.
It wasn’t soon after the blog post went up when a lady who has followed the crime spree posted on my FB wall a clipping from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. The clipping was from April 1971, detailing the safe deliverance of Lisa Smith. She, in fact, did not vanish.
What happened to her thereafter? We do not know. The article mentions how she escaped from a man in a pickup truck who threatened to rape her after brandishing a gun. This clue is very tantalizing. Jeannette Kamahele was last seen getting into an older pickup truck with a custom wood camper on the back, at Cotati’s onramp north to Santa Rosa in April 1972, one month after Kim Wendy Allen’s bizarre murder while hitchhiking up from San Rafael.
Was the man Smith encountered the same fiend who would turn bizarre murderer in 1972, or does he sound too crude? The Sonoma Coed Killer would not kill them himself, technically. He let them choke themselves to death in a cruel bondage position, no doubt while he watched.
Rape, unfortunately, of hitchhiking girls was not uncommon and often wasn’t taken too seriously by authorities. Some even felt any girl was asking for it by hitchhiking. When Sonoma State College girls started a carpool and put in a switchboard to arrange bussing there was a curious reaction from the men. “Not one or two but 11 men on campus have protested the Switchboard effort, terming the raping of hitchhikers as ‘inevitable,’ some said the girl hitchhikers should ‘relax and regard it as a learning experience.’
‘Hell, the chicks like it,’ one said.”
You can gather that lots of rapes and attempted rapes went unreported. Lisa Smith could have encountered any number of nutcases prowling the highway.
The article from which the above quotations were taken was published on May 3, 1972, and can be accessed here:
From what I have laid out about the Sonoma Coed Killer he seems too sophisticated to brandish a gun and try brutality. He may even have known a couple of the victims and lulled them into a false sense of security. Yet we cannot be sure.
In any case, attempted rape was not uncommon and it seems Lisa Smith survived. It would be nice if she is found today. Perhaps she can still shed some light on the man who threatened to rape her. According to the article, she was taken to her real parents in Livermore afterward. So there is a clue to start the search.
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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. “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.