Well, sadly, this month marks a milestone. Come the early morning hours of June 18, 2016, it will be 40 years since the East Area Rapist began his crime spree in Rancho Cordova. Over the years following he would become the real life Michael Myers, an unstoppable villain whose face remained nothing but a mask. He is known only by his DNA. He was that careful.
Dozens of victims fell before him. There are those who like to exaggerate serial killer victims, writing that “8 victims are known but it may be as much as 80” or some such rot as that. But for EAR the tally is pretty much known, and it is at least 65 victims of both rape, murder, sadism, terror, ransacking, whatever penal code you want to put on it.
Last year I strolled the area of Paseo and Malaga on the evening of June 17, 2016, where EAR began. I usually don’t do things like that. But appreciating the ambiance of a night so long ago does help put in perspective what the villain had to do to pull off his crimes.
Over the last 5 years of investigating him, the accumulated dossier has revealed a methodical and highly careful phantom. He left behind some shoe prints– size 9 (he wasn’t a big guy), jimmied doors and windows, ligatures, blood, sobbing, some DNA. Little else until he killed. Then he left behind bodies bludgeoned beyond the need to kill.
We don’t know what he looked like, but we can deduce one thing. He was someone who was totally unsuspected. That makes him a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The sheriffs and police went scouring about for a sex pervert. But he probably looked like an average guy at work.
In contrast to the famous villains in the halls of True Crime, EAR still remains quite obscure to the general populace. It took 20 years for law enforcement to finally tally his victim count with any certainty. EAR had maintained a 10 year hobby, for so it seems to be, one of true passion in which the average members of the community were carefully stalked and targeted for terror and eventually murder. Then in 1986 he faded away.
Though I liken him to Michael Myers, he was no automaton of evil. He carefully preplanned everything. He even kept a ledger of victim’s phone numbers and their neighbors. It must have been a thick address book. Over the period of his crime spree he must have made thousands of hang-up calls, dozens to each victim to assess their household routines. Even more calls went to potential victims. Even more than these went to members of the neighborhood, probably just to check on what their schedules were like. He knew when he could walk a community and no one would be around to see him. He succeeded. Years later he even called some of his victims again, threatening to kill them. He must have had some notation in his book marking the number of the victim to distinguish it from all those around it who were only neighbors or alternate victims he never struck.
I highlight this only to underscore it is no small effort to solve this crime spree. This was the ultimate stalker. He is not walking mindlessly along, a zombie like killing machine. This is the most calculated predator in crime history.
In any case, The East Area Rapist/Original Night Stalker started in Rancho Cordova this month 40 years ago. It was a different world back then. If EAR is still with us he is not even retirement age. He started as a villainous youth like, once again, Michael Myers and is becoming an eternal phantom behind a ski mask, a haunting visage with clenched teeth frozen as they were when hissing and snarling threats at his victims.
This is one crime spree we cannot let devolve into folklore. Even if we just end up putting a name on a dead man, it must be done. I have tracked many potential suspects. I have a few right now, as many know. But so far like Dr. Loomis I have looked out the balcony to see the body gone, the evidence evaporate. Each time rather I find more clues proving how careful this night predator really was one.
Few of the victims speak out. Here the sister of his final victim does.