EAR/ONS . . .ON THE AIR

Sunday September 25 begins the radio appearances discussing the case of EAR/ONS. This first appearance is on Midnight Movie Cowboys– co-host John Grace is very keen on the case, so it was best to start with people who are very familiar with it. They had Cameron Cloutier on before discussing his project in the works “Bird with a Broken Wing” centered on the life of EAR/ONS’ last victim Janelle Cruz’s life.

Joining me on this show will be Michelle Cruz, Janelle’s sister. It will be about an hour and a half listen and it is a podcast.

Both Michelle and I are scheduled for October 25, 2016, on Dave Schrader’s late night show. He sometimes guests hosts on Coast to Coast, so that is a big step for the subject matter. It will be a 2 hour show. Since I have likened EAR/ONS to the real life Michael Myers, I thought the Oct 25 booking would be optimal.

Tim Binnall will be booking to pre-recorded Michelle and I as well, though I do not known when it will air.

A couple of more radio hosts have expressed interest but no bookings yet.

Michelle released some information for the first time on the show, and I think listeners will find it very interesting. I introduce and summarize the long crime spree and then Michelle comes on to speak and clarify matters.

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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.

Monday the 13th– details emerge

It is not my intent to get into details here of the crime scene at Camp Scott. Those can be gleaned on the web. Rather I wish to introduce facts that came out during the pre-trial and trial.

First off, the existence of that note in April 1977, months before the murders, was confirmed. Michelle Hoffman’s mother called the camp director, Barbara Day, and confirmed it for her. The note had most likely threatened death against 4 girls, not 3 as was later commonly said. (The pre-trial uses both numbers.)

Of course in April this had meant nothing. Only Michelle and her friends knew of it, and they took it as a crank note. With hindsight, however, we can see it was implying a murder late at night in a tent, since 4 girls are routinely billeted in a single tent. Only three were in this particular tent, June the 13th, because of a mistake in assigning a girl to another camp.

The existence of the note is disputed, and the pre-trial would not pursue it because it was not something that anybody present was involved with in direct knowledge, and Michelle Hoffman was not called.

582fcd8fd8be9b635dff651477d9ba0e
The killer crept by the counselors’ tent and stole things on a nightstand by the tent flap.

However, the idea that there was premeditation does not hinge on the note. Someone was clearly hanging around Camp Scott for at least a week before it opened for summer camp. This is easy to deduce because it would be impossible for a stranger to know what campsites were going to be used until the week before Camp Scott opened, when the Ranger Bill Woodward would put up the tents. Camp Scott was a big, woodsy place, and it would take some stalking indeed to locate the few camps that were going to be in use.

 

While empty and waiting for occupation that week before, Camp Kiowa had been visited by someone. A slice was found in one tent, and then a 4 to 5 foot swath was cut out of another one (tent 5 I believe).

Altogether we have a number of clues that reveal the killer’s careful selection.

First, the killer struck on the very first night of camp, a night when none of the girls were too familiar with the area yet and were probably more than dog tired after their long orientation day.

The killer intentionally left behind evidence– a flashlight, a pair of glasses he had stolen from the counselor’s tent, unique engineer’s tape.

A search of the surrounding hills found an abandoned campsite. Pieces of a newspaper were found there. They had been used for toilette paper. This newspaper matched a piece of newspaper that had been found in the flashlight to help make the batteries make contact. Thus it was quite elemental to associate the killer with this abandoned campsite. He didn’t take the flashlight back with him, apparently, because it was dawn by the time he was finished and he didn’t need it anymore.

The tape was unique. It was easy to trace. It belonged to a farmer on the other side of the hills, who had been robbed that very night. It was thus easy to backwork what the killer had done. That night the killer had raided the nearby house (empty because the farmer was in town) and stole the tape he would use to bind the girls. Boot prints were found in the ground around the house and storage area. They had been left after it had rained that night, so that the theft occurred late night June 12.

The farm house, used only part time by the farmer, had been robbed before. Clearly the killer knew the stuff he needed was available inside. This seemed to point to the campsite in the hills, which had been occupied for a while. The killer thus had been living in the hillside for sometime and had robbed this farmhouse before when he needed something.

camp-scott-billy-027
Abandoned to this day, the old Camp Scott is a spooky reminder of the late 1970s.

 

Thus the killer appears to have gone down the hill to the farmhouse, broken in and robbed it of the things he’d need for that night. He also stole a 6-pack of beer and some other things. He must have returned to his campsite and soon set out with the flashlight to go down the hillside several miles to stalk Camp Scott.

A dim light had been seen by a counselor in Comanche as it passed along the wooded fringe of the camp late that night. Someone was walking in the field of the neighbor. When the flashlight was found after the murders, the lens had a piece of tape over it with a hole in the middle. This had effectively dimmed the light. The dim light seen that night was clearly the flashlight in the hands of the murderer.

From Comanche, it was clear by the direction of the light that the person holding it was going right to Camp Kiowa.

Later, after midnight, one of the camp counselors in Kiowa heard a strange sound like a frog or foghorn. She had never heard it before. She went to bed. When asleep, the killer must have crept quietly by, stolen a couple pairs of glasses off the counselors’ nightstand and then proceeded to walk around the camp and select the most isolated tent, which was Tent 7. This is the tent of the victims. Curiously, one pair of the counselors’ glasses was found by the bodies, the other conveniently at the killer’s campsite in the hills. Thus yet another link between the campsite in the hills and the killer.

When the police found the campsite in the hills, there was no piece of ripped tent found, such as had gone missing a few days before the crime from Tent 5. This missing 4 to 5 foot piece of tent was one of the mysteries of the preceding week. A few days before the murders one of the tents in Kiowa was found to have a piece ripped from it.What for?

From start to finish we have a complex chain of events which cannot simply be explained as the result of an impulsive act. I suggest to you that the killer had torn the 4 to 5 foot piece off the tent days before to use as a hobo knapsack. After the murder he knew he would have to abandon the area. He returns from his bloody act to his campsite in the hills, he loads up what he has, including the beer, in the piece of tent, ties it up and leaves.

aerial-camp-scott
1, is Kiowa, 5 Comanche. The killer had walked along the tree line in the field, heading to Kiowa.

 

How far someone without a car thought he could go with all this I do not know. But the chain of events indicates the murders were preplanned, though without any announced purpose. The killer left and got away. The escape was no doubt preplanned as well.

Gene Hart was associated with the killer’s hillside campsite because a Cherokee law enforcement officer said the signs around the campfire indicate Cherokee signs. Gene Hart was a Cherokee. Photos were found at the campsite, folded and tossed aside on grass, wet from the rain. Thus they had been tossed aside before the killer even went to the farmhouse. These photos were linked to Gene Hart through an extraordinary claim. The claim was made that they were wedding pictures he had taken in prison in 1969, while serving a sentence for rape. Yet this proved doubtful. How did he keep them with him all those years. Moreover, why? The Sheriff testified that when Hart was transferred to another jail in 1973 he basically came with the shirt on his back. No pictures are in the records as being in his possession. He had taken many photos while in jail. Why should he have kept these for 8 years?

Gene Hart was loose at the time of the murders and on the hideout because he had broken out of jail and was a renegade. When he was finally captured he was living in the wilds and with Cherokee friends in outback cabins who protected him.

At the trial it was becoming increasingly difficult to link the popular Gene Hart with the campsite and therewith the murders. He was found not guilty. Thus the Camp Scott murders are officially “unsolved.”

I have formed no opinion on Gene Hart, one way or the other. But I stress the killer had to go through a sequence of preplanning that very night and it is unlikely it was spur of the moment. The farmhouse had been robbed first. The house had been robbed before, and clearly the killer knew the things he needed and wanted were there this night. He knew the nice and very rare engineer’s tape was there. He took what he wanted, returned to his camp, bundled up his things, most likely in the torn tent flap, covered the flashlight lens with tape to soften the light, marched off to Kiowa at Camp Scott, bound the girls with the tape, murdered them, and got back in early dawn. He then took his goods hobo style and, remarkably, got away without ever being seen hitching a ride. Or, somehow, he now had a car.

Whether it was Gene Hart or not, this was premeditated by someone who had been stalking Camp Scott from that hillside camp for months, left that note Michelle Hoffman found the previous April, had previously robbed the farmhouse for necessities, knew therewith the tape and flashlight were there for tonight’s bloody deed.

Gene Hart had a peculiar penchant to take women’s glasses and even wear them. One of Camp Kiowa’s counselor’s glasses was found in the abandoned hillside camp. This too linked Gene Hart with Kiowa and with the murders. However, the defense attorney had muddied the water enough so that the jury believed evidence was planted. It did seem suspicious that the killer would steal 2 pairs of glasses, leave one by the bodies and one up in the campsite, to create an easy link. For someone who had to go through the preceding planning to prepare for the opening night murders, it does seem odd they should carry a pair of glasses back with them just to leave them before trundling off with their hobo knapsack of beer and other goodies.

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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.

My Own Little EAR

The late Michelle McNamara wrote of her correspondence with a retired police lieutenant regarding crime investigation. Of it he declared: “Controlling cops is a lot like herding cats. Like blind hogs they sometimes find an acorn, but mostly they just tear up the ground and muddy the waters.”

A little disparaging, but on the whole analogies sock home the point intended. It is actually all very innocent. Each detective develops his own theory. They set parameters of what they consider the vital clues that will lead to the perp. Everything else gets mentally locked out. We all do it. It’s not just detectives. Anyone who has investigated anything for a long time gets an instinct for it. Since instinct is a synthesis of broadly spanned facts and experience it is often hard to explain. But the result is that each reacts and assesses the next clue’s importance  according to his instinct.

Sometimes this instinct becomes the bulwark to progress. One investigator in Santa Barbara was sure that the Goleta attacks and murders were done by a local, and this influenced him to discard any and sometimes overt links to EAR/ONS. DNA, finally, confirmed the link. Other investigators, you see, followed the clues and went for the evidence. It wasn’t a local perp. Just like his pattern in the Contra Costa Corridor, EAR had been moving up and down the highway systems north-south.

Again, the mucked up theorizing was innocent. But innocence is also blinding, is it not? A tipster would be up against a brick wall trying to convince a detective that his person of interest was the actual perp if that said POI did not fit the mold created by that detective. The other detectives might not even hear of said POI in order to follow through on their own. Perhaps you can humorously call it herding cats, but for Cold Case there is usually only one cat remaining on the block, and after 40 years he doesn’t know what the other cats had been up to as well.

I have experienced instinct’s bulkhead many times. They are attitudes that some of the best investigators form. It is always best to be friends with them, so you can be frank about your disagreement with them. There is no room for acrimony.

Many famous cases are linked today in Cold Case by instinct. For the Domingos/Edwards double murder of 1963, the synthesis has linked the  case to ZODIAC, but there is simply not enough evidence for my taste yet to commit myself.  Riverside PD insists ZODIAC is not involved in the Cheri Jo Bates murder, but there are those in SF and Napa who think he was. There are those who still believe that Leigh Allen was ZODIAC despite all the exculpatory evidence.

Misinformation and, frankly, grandstanding in the public forum can be far worse.  There are those who like to promote the illusion that “LE” is on their shoulder giving them information, and that they are as a result the link with undisputed, pure facts. Anybody who has investigated anything knows there is no such animal in existence. For Cold Case,  clues or tips are processed against a new suspect. The tip information is compared to the facts and evidence that would be considered conclusive to getting a conviction against the suspect. The case is not reinvestigated. It is unlikely there is one detective who has a complete enough knowledge of a 40 year old Cold Case as broad as EAR/ONS to sift through the folders and feed information to people in the public forum.  No detective has the time.

In the June 15, 2016, EAR press conference long time buffs of the case were surprised to see a sketch promoted as definitive, and yet it is a sketch that has been in the public forum since the crime it is related to (Maggiore Double Murders, February 1978), and it is highly contended whether EAR was involved in the incident and it he was it is highly doubted he is the one in the sketch.

The late Michelle McNamara also noted a fact that I have encountered in my years of investigation and, for many of us, what we know has been recorded in a number of books. When a Cold Case is solved, even decades later, invariably it is discovered that the  culprit was on the original suspect or POI list. I believe this to be true of ZODIAC. We all know it is true of Ridgway and Bundy. Blame is hurled at one cop by the others, and it all comes back to what that lieutenant told McNamara about herding cats.  EAR1977composite

I do not believe it is true of EAR/ONS, but that is merely my instinct. I do not know if my main and other POIs were on the list, but I highly doubt RP ever was. He was high school in Placerville, and that just didn’t seem to fit with the instincts at the time, and frankly I could not blame any detective for not considering it. What could they actually do unless RP had been turned in?  RP may have been turned in back then, but he wasn’t perhaps followed-through. 40-years later it is more difficult to follow through. It is nobody’s fault.

I don’t harangue any law enforcement to get updates on him.  I continue to refine the data. It makes it so much easier for everybody.

It is always best to just follow the clues, then the evidence, but mostly the clues. Evidence is defined strictly. Clues are not. Many clues simply lead to evidence, but they never can be introduced as evidence. How can EAR’s stalking pattern ever be considered evidence? In a real sense it can’t because it can’t convict anybody. But it is a clue as to his movements and the chronology of how he developed his crime spree. It is a clue that led me to forsaking the East Area theory and to develop the Long Range theory, the pattern he would overtly us in his Modesto, Davis, Stockton, CCC and So. Cal strikes. If he began with it, then Placerville fits in with the theory.

No one can cast the first stone.  Everybody wants to get EAR now. A lot of mistakes will be made, but it is a part of the process. A lot of delays will happen. A lot of instincts must be shed. The facts, the clues, alone must lead us forward.

Instincts can beguile us. We must follow the clues instead.

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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.

Visalia Ransacker Meets NorCal Rapist

How I would love for the title to be true. I have wanted to link the two predators, largely because I don’t want the Visalia Ransacker to slip into the void. He was a bizarre, young man who terrorized with impudence the small California college town of Visalia in 1974-1975. Had it not been for popular attempts to link him to EAR/ONS, the latest True Crime sensation, the bizarre Visalia Ransacker would have faded away.

All of his crimes have long passed the veil of the Statute of Limitations. He is only a suspect in the Claude Snelling murder of 1975, but I don’t know if Visalia could ever get a conviction on anybody and then, if they did, assert successfully that Snelling’s killer was the VR.

It is tragic that someone like this got away, pure and simple, whether he is Snelling’s killer or not.

As I said, he was a young man, actually a chunky young man, who often wore camo fatigues. Some, those who believe they encountered him prowling afore-the-fact, thought he was a little tetched, to put it politely. He talked to someone who wasn’t there. So there’s a reason for even a conservative observer to think there was a problem. Perhaps that really wasn’t him. This fatigue-wearing young man was thought to be VR because on a VR stakeout one night a Visalia detective encountered a prowler. He shined his flashlight on him. He received for his trouble a bullet straight into his flashlight. The VR, if that was him, was a good shot. This detective, McGowen by name, described the man and a sketch was made. It seemed to conform to the few details they already had on the VR, based on what those other witnesses had said of the chunky guy.

visalia-ransacker
The Visalia Ransacker

 

But it is nevertheless true that the only undisputed visage we have of the Visalia Ransacker is the carnage left in his victim’s homes. He got into their houses at night, while each family member was away, and he ransacked the homes. He stole very little, but he delighted in making a mess, rearranging things and even lining up the women’s undies in certain places.  Exactly. You are right. That kind.

Considering that the Visalia Ransacker had over a 100 victims, at least in terms of houses, we know he was quite adept at prowling and stalking. He never made a mistake. Each house was empty. He would strike more than one house a night. So he learned the movements of quite a few people before the fact. He would strike the same street more than once, even when people were on the alert. This was a small town. Still, no lead led to any viable suspect. He had a deadeye as well, being able to shoot a flashlight out of a cop’s hand.

This doesn’t seem like the discipline of a slightly demented young pervert, but time has shown he was an exception to many rules. For a chunky, half witted villain he was also quite adroit. He hopped fences and ran off and transposed into the darkness with ease. McGowen described his appearance not so flatteringly as wide in the hips and knock-knee– in the parlance of the time, buffalo-butted.

Visalia PD preferred to believe he was Snelling’s murderer, but it seems that he can only be said to be another Twilight Zone villain, unimaginable in the real world, but sadly all too real.  full4

The NorCal Rapist is a taunting, cleverly premeditative villain. He was by last estimates a middleaged rapist. He started in the early 1990s in northern California. He wasn’t prolific. In fact, his attacks were spread over years. He seemed a little tetched too. Sometimes he called to apologize to his victims later. Maybe it’s taunting. Maybe it’s sincere, in the sense of a brief flurry of regret. Maybe he has a screw loose, even beyond the usual loose screw of rapists. But he comes back for more. He is a careful stalker. He learns of his victims before-the-fact. Nobody knows how. Finally he visits them at night in their home. It began in Rohnert Park, California, 1991, and it finally ended in 2006, 10 years ago, in north Sacramento’s Natomas area. Thus he is “NorCal” because he was a traveling rapist over northern California.

I know the locations of only the first and last hits in detail. They are in communities with a direct and major road to the nearest highway, indications he wasn’t local. In between these attacks he had struck far afield, from Vallejo and Martinez in the north Bay Area of San Francisco Bay, to Woodland, Davis, even the college town of Chico. Actually Davis is a college town too. So is Rohnert Park. His first and last strikes are united by the fact that he seems to come from afar and has carefully surveilled potential victims, though, once again, how nobody knows. He gets their phone numbers, addresses, knows before-the-fact their house floorplans and knows, moreover, that their houses are in a good location for easy cruising to and from the highway.

The Visalia Ransacker limited himself to his college town 16 years before the NorCal started. The followed the identical MO. It’s not a unique MO, of course. But it does indicate the perp is careful. VR came into the communities he trashed from a main road. He wanted a quick and easy exit afterward.Identical.

NorCal, as last seen in 2006, possibly while stalking Ivycrest in Natomas.  The Visalia Ransacker of 1975.

NorCal’s weight has fluctuated but he was heavyset, then got leaner, then heavy, heavy, by his last time.

I would love for one to be the other, but age becomes a very great problem. If VR was born in 1956, he could have been 18 or so when he started. But he appeared older to those witnesses that described the chunky buffalo. He could by 2006 have been 50, but NorCal seemed younger to his victims at this time.

Ann Marie Shubert, Sac’s DA, pioneered filing against DNA. She had this done against NorCal’s last strike in 2006. She thus got around the Statute of Limitations. NorCal can still be prosecuted for 2 rapes in Sacramento.

He struck over a 15 year period, and then in 2006 finally quit– fat, middleaged, still taunting. He seems through, though not removed from the long arm of justice.

Could they be the same?  Could the chunky, slightly goofy but hideously premeditative Visalia Ransacker/Snelling murderer, and the taunting, mask-wearing theatrical NorCal Rapist be his older incarnation?

Alas, we need more information. Much more. Both deserve to be caught. After EAR/ONS, both deserve to be rated True Crime’s poster perv– VR as yet another true night stalker, as yet another monomaniac to emerge post antiestablishment and send waves of terror through a small town like Haddonfield; NorCal for being the hypocritical, stalking rapist, performing like the Phantom of the Opera, calling to taunt and terrorize. 3360_jpg

NorCal liked masks. He didn’t just wear them during his attacks. After he used the credit cards of victims, which he stole while lording over their house,  he used them at ATMs, keenly aware of the  surveillance cameras, into which he looked, his face protected by his face-distorting mask. Nine or ten victims fell before this theatrical villain over a 15 year period. He took his time and enjoyed planning each attack silently. Who knows for how long. Despite apologizing afterward, he enjoyed his little hobby immensely. He was The Phantom of the Opera, performing for his captive audience, bound and gagged and double-knotted. On his Halloween 1996 attack in Martinez, he appeared before his victim wearing, yes, indeed, a Halloween mask. What a macabre touch! How long had he planned this attack?  He even intended to dress for the occasion. How long had he walked around amidst the cheer of the crowds of trick-or-treaters hidden behind the ghoulish garb that is the night’s attire? How long did he then wait in a dark car until the street’s quieted? The “Scream” phantom then lumbered silently through yards, jimmied a way in, and there he materialized to create his own Fright Night. “Trick-or-treat,” his devilishly wicked voice, muffled ominously by the mask, declared.

If VR and NorCal are different they are nevertheless united by both being arrogant but skilled prowlers, thieves, stalkers, maybe even a murderer. They are also both within reach today.

*         *          *

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.

The Lindbergh Phenomenon– Two Plots?

Because Charles Lindbergh took almost complete charge of the investigation into the kidnapping of his 20 months baby, Chas. Jr., the Lindbergh Phenomenon was born– a world of conspiracies and mysteries. From the very first moment the police arrived at the secluded country home, they found Charles Lindbergh in charge. He wouldn’t let the staff be interviewed. He took the police around and showed them the key areas of the crime. We really don’t know if the kidnappers trail was followed to see where they might have parked. Not in any real way, anyway. Today the phenomenon is nurtured by uncovering the unusual paths that the investigation had taken and by some very strange things that developed but were never pursued by the investigation.

It is unquestionable that the prosecution believed that more were involved with Bruno Hauptmann. But they burned him alone for the crime of kidnapping and murder. They would have commuted his sentence if only he’d confess who were the others involved. Hauptmann went to the chair claiming total innocence. He never named another.

There has always been a vociferous group that believed him. They note that both Lindbergh’s haphazard way of running the investigation, along with other facts, indicate that the extortion plot might have been a separate enterprise to the actual kidnapping.

For instance, the first ransom note was left on the window sill of the nursery at Lindbergh’s country home. It demanded 50,000 bucks for the kid’s return. It warned that only notes that carried the complex signature that it carried at the bottom of the page would be authentic. It was a unique artistic design.

Lindbergh-letter

The artistic design on the lower right of the page.

The Lindbergh Phenomenon people ask ‘Why did Lindbergh go straight to the mob in order to try and make headway and get information?’

Considering the note was written by someone who seemed to have a German background, this was a curious act. Perhaps the kidnapping seemed too sophisticated. How could some individual or amateur group have found his new home set deep in the woods of New Jersey?

In any case, Lindbergh’s agents went about the dim retreats of New York hoodery showing the letter to see if any recognized the style. None did, but could any of them have imitated it later?

Enters the fullness of the extortion plot. The Bronx Home News was hardly the Times. Within this local publication well-known Bronx school teacher, Dr. John Condon, placed an ad declaring he would add $1,000 bucks to the ransom if the kidnappers would turn baby Lindy over to a Catholic priest. For a kidnapping that occurred far away in the woods of New Jersey this was an interesting gesture. It was grandstanding or it was catering to the theory that the mob was involved, and this must have meant the Bronx was a part of it.

Lindbergh-condon
Condon at yet another press conference.

 

Surprisingly or not, Condon got a personal reply. The writer of the note said he was one of the gang that did it and they authorized John Condon to be their intermediary in dealing with Lindbergh’s people. Charles Lindbergh ran with it and appointed the verbose grandstander to be the middle man to arrange for the transfer of the ransom.

From this point all things  eventually led to Bruno Hauptmann. He lived in the Bronx, conveniently between the two places used as the meeting spots– Woodlawn Cemetery and then St. Raymond’s cemetery. His connection to the crime seemed certain when the police found a stake of the ransom money in his garage. It was close to $15,000 dollars, a huge sum back then.

Hauptmann said he was completely innocent. But the DA had the original ransom letter before him. Hauptmann was a German immigrant, and the letter spelled a couple of things in a German way– “anyding” and “gut.” Over several investigations of Hauptmann’s house, it was said that a floorboard had been found removed in his attic. The attic floor wood matched the grain in one of the side rails of the makeshift ladder left at the Lindbergh house, indicating the side rail was the missing floorboard.  It was this  that tied Hauptmann to the ladder and to the actual crime of kidnapping. This is what burned him.

Arguments persist today that the examination of the ladder was hardly scientific. Those who argue that the evidence was doctored (even a retired police investigator) note how earlier searches didn’t uncover this evidence in the attic, and that the adjacent floorboards did not entirely match up with the runner in the ladder.

Lindbergh-house1932

If true, this leaves open the possibility the extortion was separate than the kidnapping. Hauptmann may have been a part of an extortion plot, and with a couple of other Bronx underworld buddies took advantage of Condon’s public plea. He therefore had nothing to do with the murder or kidnapping at all.

The Lindbergh Phenomenon can accept that Hauptmann could have been a part of a separate extortion plot, but many prefer to think him totally innocent else he would have named other gang members as he was asked to do in order to get a commuted sentence. They believe his excuse 100 percent.  (Hauptmann claimed that the money he had was money that a former partner, Isador Fisch, left behind wrapped in a parcel, before he returned to Germany, where he unfortunately died soon thereafter from tuberculosis. Fisch owed him money, so he started spending it once he discovered there was money in the box and not the important papers that Fisch had said were in there.) Hauptmann therefore is a victim of circumstances.

Total innocence is a big concept.

A couple of points of logic, of course, contradict the “Phenomenon.” How could this band of Bronx impersonators think they could get away with their plot knowing there were real kidnappers involved who had left a ransom note at the house? Would they figure that because they were first to make approaches they would naturally be favored as the real kidnappers? That’s a dicey long shot. Isn’t it too much of a coincidence that the extortioners should also be German, like apparently the writer of the original ransom note?

Yet there are those other puzzlements that favor the “Phenomenon.”  If Hauptmann was really a member of the kidnapping gang, what a coincidence that Condon and members of the kidnap gang lived in the Bronx so as to see the ad in the paper. What a remarkable thing that the kidnappers had gone to such pains to find the reclusive Lindbergh’s home in the Jersey woods, devise a complex signature, watch the house, kidnap the kid, and then not have any clue as to how to get their money so that they would actually act upon impulse when Condon put an ad in the local Bronx blatt.

The reason why there are those who believe that the extortion ring was entirely separate to the original sin is that they believe something extraordinary. They believe there was no kidnapping. They cite many points of logic that argue against the notion there was any gang of criminals who had the ability to find the remote house, get into the grounds without trace, have the audacity to kidnap America’s most famous baby and think they could get away with it. They believe that Charles Lindbergh himself was responsible.

In our next post we will continue with the conspiracy theory that Lindbergh set in motion all that happened to cover his own bad joke gone sour.

*         *          *

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.

Lying Doggo– In Quest of Lord Lucan– From London to Newhaven

Within a couple of hours after the murder at 46 Lower Belgrave it was still a jumble as to what exactly had happened. Lady Lucan was incoherent in the hospital. Lord Lucan could not be reached. The dowager Countess, Lord Lucan’s mother, had whisked away the children to keep them safe.

The clues in the bloody kitchen indicated somebody planned out a brutal murder, a murder most foul. But their planning showed they weren’t too skilled. The murder was by bludgeon. It is the clumsiest and messiest way imaginable. Not only is bludgeoning the messiest way to kill someone, it would be a messy act indeed to then, in total darkness, try and fold the victim’s body up and shove it in a large canvas mailbag. The person must have had blood all over them, especially their sleeves after having maneuvered the bleeding corpse into the sack, shoved it in, then drew the draw strings.

At the Plumber’s Arms, Lady Lucan had only identified her attacker by the line “he tried to kill me.”

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Despite being a peer of the realm and living an expensive Bond-type of lifestyle, “Lucky Lucan” was strapped.

The only clues we have about her estranged husband’s location at the time of the crime comes from his mother.  The dowager Countess had said her son called her and said there had been a “terrible catastrophe” at the house. Please go get the kids. This alone had told the police that Lord Lucan had been by the house. He therefore must have been the one who locked the front door when he left. But why did he leave the house? The police were right to ponder this.

Roy Ranson became the chief detective on the case. However, his own account of what must have happened, and indeed his account of his own investigation, does not illuminate significant clues, nor does he follow through on them. This seems largely because he believed that very night that Lord Lucan was guilty. He believed the peer had wanted to kill his wife, mistook the nanny in the darkness for her, then realizing his mistake he tried to kill his wife but was emotionally and physically too fatigued now.

Examples of clues not followed up are the mailbag. He doesn’t mention how Lord Lucan stealthily got a large canvas mailbag. Surely this unique item, the item vital to carting off the body, merited its provenance being uncovered?  Nor did Ranson try to explain why a former Guardsman like Lucan would choose the most inconvenient and messiest way to do-in his wife and then think that a canvas mailbag was waterproof and capable of holding in all the blood and bodily fluids.  There was a pool of blood around it when the police found it.

Ranson was, however, sure he was able to trace Lucan that night from the house. Around 10:30 p.m. the mother of one of Lucan’s eldest daughter’s school friends,  Madelaine Florman, heard a knock on their front door. They lived nearby in Chester Square. She was alone with the kiddies, and did not answer.  Soon the phone rang. She answered. She was sure it was Lord Lucan. He was somewhat incoherent. She noted no “pips” when she picked up. The “pip” was a distinctive sound indicating the caller was using a payphone. She couldn’t figure out Lucan’s incoherent  call and eventually hung up. Soon thereafter, Lucan, more possessed of himself called his mother.The dowager Countess  said that at 10:45 p.m. her son had called her and didn’t explain much either. She heard no pips as well.

The next day Mrs. Florman called the police. She had noticed bloodstains  in her front doorway. They were tested. They were a mix of blood groups A and B– Lady Lucan’s and Sandra Rivett’s. Ranson deduces something strange: that Lord Lucan, dripping with blood, called at the house of a relative stranger, then called her later on the phone.

Ranson admits that the location from which Lucan made these calls is an enormous mystery. His flat on Elizabeth Street was undisturbed, all things neat and lying in suspension like when Lucan had left it, almost as if he left when preparing to change for dinner. Ranson figured that had he returned to make the calls, he would have left blood here. Thus Ranson concluded he had not come home. His Mercedes was found outside; cold engine, it had not been used. But Ranson soon learned that 2 weeks before Lucan had borrowed an old dark blue Ford Corsair from his friend Michael Stoop. He gave no reason why he needed the old Ford.

Thus Ranson assumes it was Lord Lucan at Mrs. Florman’s door; that he walked there dripping with blood, then got in the Ford and fled to some unknown location and called her, the mother of his daughter’s school chum, and then called his mother.

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Posh Belgravia

Ranson never explains the time element here. We have two conflicting times from the inquest. Lady Frances, the 10 year old daughter, believed that Sandra descended to the kitchen around 8:40 p.m. Lady Lucan thought close to 9 p.m. Lady Lucan says that at 9:15 or thereabouts she went down to check on the delay. Lady Frances says about 9:05 p.m. her mother and father came back into the bedroom.

If taking Lady Lucan’s estimate, this would mean that at least an hour and 15 minutes passed after she was attacked until Lord Lucan left the house and walked just around the corner to Chester Square to the Florman’s townhome. Yet by her account it doesn’t seem that much time passed since she came into the bedroom and then fled the house, certainly not an hour’s worth.

However, at 11:30 p.m. Lord Lucan definitely turned up outside of London in Sussex, at the country home “Grants Hill House” of his friends the Maxwell-Scotts in Uckfield. This is south of London, about 15 miles from the coast of the Channel. Ian was not home, but his wife Susan was. She let him in. He was disheveled and not his usual prim self. She said he was only wearing a sweater and dark gray trousers. There was no blood. He told her of the horrifying events at 46 Lower Belgrave. He had a whiskey and soda and penned two notes. They were to his brother-in-law, Bill Shand-Kydd.

The first sentence implicitly conveys that Shand-Kydd would already have spoken with the dowager  Countess by the time he received the letters.

Dear Bill:                                                                                     7 Nov. 1974

The most ghastly circumstances arose tonight which I briefly described to my mother. When I interrupted the fight at Lower Belgrave St. and the man left Veronica accused me of having hired him. I took her upstairs and sent Frances up to bed and tried to clean her up. She lay doggo for a bit and when I was in the bathroom left the house. The circumstantial evidence against me is strong in that V will say it was all my doing. I will also lie doggo for a bit but I am only concerned with the children If you can manage it I want them to live with you– Coutts (Trustees) St. Martins Lane (Mr Wall) will handle the school fees. V. has demonstrated her hatred for me in the past and would do anything to see me accused For George and Frances to go through life knowing their father had stood in the dock for attempted murder would be too much. When they are old enough to understand, explain to them the dream of paranoia, and look after them.

Yours ever,

John

The second letter was merely an afterthought. It was a listing of financial matters. Put together it was clear that the noble lord was not going to just lie doggo for a bit. He was not coming back. One can’t exactly say these words were implying suicide, but “Lucky Lucan” wasn’t coming back– a rather precipitous decision considering all the tumult that still existed back in London.

From the Maxwell-Scott’s country home, Lucan drove away in that ratty old dark Ford.  He was never seen again. But the Ford was found parked on Norman Road in Newhaven. Again, there is a time discrepancy. People who lived on the street thought it wasn’t parked there until around 5 am. Yet the Maxwell-Scott’s home is only 16 miles away. It didn’t take over 3 hours to drive to Newhaven, and if Susan Maxwell-Scott was clear about one thing it was that Lucan left about 1:15 to 1:30 a.m.

Lord Lucan had once raced boats before, but none were docked here. Yet he was never found again. No body washed up. No boat was missing or found derelict in the Channel. Where had Lord Lucan gone?

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Lucan in his robes of state

By the time the car had been found, on Sunday, November 10, Lady Lucan had squarely blamed her husband in the hospital. Scotland Yard already had the letters Lucan had sent his brother-in-law. (On Saturday Bill Shand-Kydd received the letters and then had taken them to Ranson.) Forensics confirmed that a couple of the stains on them were blood despite Susan Maxwell-Scott saying she saw no blood. Interviewing her had revealed that essentially Lord Lucan had told her the same story he had given to his mother. He was passing the house and he had seen a man fighting with his wife. He rushed in and slipped in a pool of blood. Thus a few things are implicit in Lucan’s account– the nanny was already dead, in the canvas bag, and his wife was struggling with a man in the basement kitchen, he also had to account for why he had blood on him. His letter to his brother-in-law tells us why he fled afterward.

On Monday, Ranson was surprised to find that Lord Lucan had sent Michael Stoop a letter as well. Stoop only gave him the letter. He said it came in an unstamped envelope and it had gotten thrown out.

By this time investigation of the car in Norman Road had revealed the front seat, dash and floorboard had blood on them. The boot (trunk) had an identical piece of pipe wrapped in tape, a full bottle of vodka, and a Lion brand notepad. The notepaper on which Stoop’s letter had been written matched the notepad.

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Police photo of the car Lucan presumably drove to Newhaven, seen here in situ on Norman Road.

The note to Stoop is a pointless note, really, one again that implies Lucan is not coming back. This is the truth of it. Lord Lucan was never found again despite Britain’s national obsession to find him for decades.

Ranson leaves many things open for us. It may be his writing style, or he may truly have convinced himself from the beginning that Lucan was guilty and therefore interprets all things in that light and doesn’t proceed with some obvious clarifications. In noting that the paper of the letter Lucan had written to Stoop had matched the paper in the boot (trunk) of the Ford Corsair he had driven, Ranson doesn’t tell us if envelopes were also present. If not, it would have been impossible for Lord Lucan to have gotten an envelope and mailed the letter to Stoop. Ranson also doesn’t make it clear if he is guessing that Stoop’s man received the unstamped letter and paid the 7 P for it. Nor does he tell us this man testified to that fact at the inquest. We only know that Stoop brought in a handwritten note and no envelope. Without the clarification above, we do not know whether the letter was merely handed to Stoop and there never was an unstamped envelope to lose.

There are reasons to wonder. Over 3 hours are lost between Uckfield and Newhaven. Time enough to have come and gone from London yet again.

By the time Ranson is at Lucan’s flat that night, he doesn’t tell us whether Lady Lucan has implicated her husband yet. Yet he writes as if he believed Lucan was guilty. In describing Lucan’s clothes laid out for dinner, and the usual contents of a pants pocket lying nearby, he declared that Lucan must have removed everything from his pockets to prevent anything from falling out during the murder and thus constituting a clue he had been there. He obviously immediately assumed guilt that very night.

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Roy Ranson

Ranson admits to two great mysteries. The location from which Lucan made 2 phone calls in London, and over 3 hours of lost time. Yet there are others. How did Lucan get a mailbag? Why did it take over an hour for him to appear at Mrs. Florman’s doorstep nearby?  How did Stoop truly get that final letter?

If Lucan had gotten an envelope somehow, he might have sent it from Newhaven. In an oblique way the postmark would have told his friend where his missing Ford was. Yet why not just say so in the letter?

In sum total this is all we know of the movements of Lord Lucan after-the-fact.

There was deep animosity between Lord and Lady Lucan over their separation and the welfare of the children. Lord Lucan was sure that his wife was completely mad. She was on drugs for her mental condition. Even Ranson notes it was bizarre that she showed more concern at the hospital just after being brought in for her brown jumper. Though covered with blood, she objected to it being cut off her because it was her best one. In this state she fingered her husband. In his farewell to Bill Shand-Kydd he asks him to explain the “dream of paranoia” to his children one day to explain all that has happened.

Lucky Lucan, despite being a gambler on the way down, deeply loved his children. There was no denying that. He doted on them and was at his best around them. He didn’t want them dragged through court, nor to see their father dragged through court. But was he capable of killing his wife in such a grotesque way just to get custody of his children? And was he dumb enough to think such a sloppy way was feasible and a canvas mailbag could handle a bloody body?   Would he then go to Mrs. Florman’s covered in blood?

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Lord and Lady Lucan

Rumors have smoldered to this day that some evidence was doctored.  The second led pipe in the Ford wrapped in tape, for instance. Why would he need an extra copy? One doesn’t carry led pipes like they are six shooters, one strapped on each hip.  Without that in the boot of the car one can only say that Lucan had blood on him when he drove off. Curiously, the blood on the floorboard revealed traces of Lady Lucan’s blood, but not Sandra Rivett’s. Curiously again, the led pipe found at the top of the stairs where Lady Lucan was attacked also revealed a strand of her hair, but none of Sandra Rivett’s, though they were supposedly both attacked by the same instrument.

The murder of Sandra Rivett was a press sensation, and so was Lord Lucan’s mysterious disappearance. He was immediately convicted in the popular forum. The coroner’s inquest, to which we must go to next,  also convicted him. This would be the last jury allowed to convict anyone by name. The inquest would bring up many points that contradict as well, paving the way for Britain’s national obsession with looking for Lucan.

*         *          *

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.

EAR/ONS and Fatal Skepticism

On The Quester Files section devoted to my investigation of EAR/ONS I have tried to be as objective as possible. But I think we can express some healthy skepticism here regarding a few controversial associations.

The first  is whether EAR/ONS truly is the murderer of Brian and Katie Maggiore. The second is whether EAR is even the Ripon Court Shooter.

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Personally, I deeply question that he is. Doubt does not come from any particular piece of evidence in either case. It comes from the overall pattern. Doubt certainly exists on my part due to specific clues and evidence, but most of all the nagging feeling I have comes from the big picture. EAR’s crime spree doesn’t appear to have altered in any way after the murders than it appeared before them.

In each attack after the murders, EAR goes through his routine, his laborious routine, in each victims’ home. Nothing indicates he was moving closer to murder. Nothing indicates he was more sadistic.

Yet, yet, on the other hand after EAR most definitely killed Offerman/Manning, his spiral into the ultimate crime is easy to follow. He evolves in very predictable ways.  The upshot is that he clearly developed a taste for murder, once he had sampled it.

I do not think he came to Goleta the second time to kill. Rather Offerman challenged him and EAR shot him with the gun he always carried handily. He then summarily dispatched Manning with a single shot to the head and seems to have quickly fled.

After this EAR no longer strikes frequently. Once he struck sometimes 3 or 4 times a month. That pace is over. There is a difference now. Realizing he is committing the ultimate crime, he takes many more precautions. Months worth of precautions between each strike. In the interim he is probably salivating on what he has done and on what he intends to do to the next victim.

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Offerman. His body was found in a way that proved he had gotten up to challenge his house breaker.

From the big picture there is no evidence EAR ever lived in southern California, not in any real way other than a trailer or perhaps part time while there for some form of business.

A few things to consider from the “big picture.” Over the next two years he racks up 9 victims. That’s 9 too many, but the math shows that they are spread over an increasingly larger span of time. Offerman and Manning were killed in December 1979 by gunshot. The next victims perish in March 1980, the next in August 1980, then a huge span to the next victims in February 1981 and then the last in July 1981. These others are all killed by bludgeon, one always found on the property and one which EAR knew was already handy.

From the pattern above, it is obvious there is no monthly striking. EAR carefully, and probably from a long distance, stalks as he is able. He then returns and kills. He strikes in Spring-Summer, late February to March, then in July/August.

Stalking from afar is underscored by the fact he vanishes for 5 years and then strikes his last time in May 1986, just a mile or so from where he had killed an earlier victim. Had he lived in LA that entire time he would have uncovered many other communities that fit his stalking and striking requirements, even incidentally.

But back to the original point here. EAR’s spiral into murder is clear. He begins with the weapon he had with him for protection and intimidation. But thereafter  each victims is clearly targeted to die. It is to be a personal death, by bludgeon, after his usual terror rampage through their house. A taste was developed because he had one. He refined his evil palate to a contact form of murder. Silent. Deadly. Gunshots make noise. Bringing a bludgeon is bringing a trail of clues. Taking a bloody bludgeon with you leaves evidence in your car. This is a calculating villain whose only clues until DNA were the overall pattern of his stalking.

Now, if EAR was the Ripon Court Shooter and the Maggiore Double murderer, he certainly had a taste of three spontaneous moments at killing people. In two he had succeeded. Yet nothing changes in EAR’s modus operandi with his rape victims. He goes on completely undisturbed, same pace, same repetitious MO.

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Brian and Katie Maggiore

In both Ripon Court and with the Maggiore Double murders, a sketch was made of a possible perp. In each case, the young man had his hair parted on the right (and in the case of the Ripon Court Shooter we are not even sure if that sketch really is supposed to be him). But it is a fact that it was a passing but common fad, especially in the area of Del Dayo at that time. This hair fashion for men can easily be appreciated by looking at the Rio Americano 1974 yearbook online. About a third of the graduating class of men have their hair parted on the right.

Drug dealing was also a new amateur past time for some, and certain areas of Rancho and Carmichael were known pass-off areas. Gunfire in an otherwise nice middleclass neighborhood does not necessarily indicate it was EAR.

Second guessing mental changes that may have occurred in EAR gets nowhere, and they presume EAR had moved south, when nothing indicates he permanently relocated. Facts and not bygone mental metaphors are what we must concentrate on. The one fact that encourages belief that EAR had moved down south is that he no longer struck up here in between the murders down south.

It is nevertheless a fact that if EAR shot Rod Miller in February 1977 it did not lead to murder. It is equally a fact that if EAR killed the Maggiores in February 1978, it did not lead to murder of the next victims. It is only after Offerman and Manning in December 1979 that EAR turns murderer, consistent, no variation, no failed attempts. The monthly thrill he needed before is replaced by a caution that sometimes spans 6 months.

This is not the only area where interpretation and theorizing may be blinding to the actual clues. We must look at another in our next EAR post.

*         *          *

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.