So concrete was it to Sacramento Sheriffs in May of 1977 that there was no link between the Visalia Ransacker and The East Area Rapist that they wrote off the whole idea quickly and completely forgot about it. When over a year later in July 1978 the Sacramento Union ran an article about how Visalia believed a link was possible the Sac Sheriffs hit Visalia PD with the kitchen sink. It was over a year now since their last contact. The Sheriffs’ Department couldn’t imagine that those two Visalia detectives were still fomenting some kind of link. They weren’t even homicide detectives, and they were also insisting there was a link with the murder of Claude Snelling in Visalia in September of 1975 and the Ransacker.
Even putting aside the radical difference in both perps’ appearances (based on composites), there were many other things that didn’t match. The Ransacker loved to take blue chip stamps. EAR, though a petty thief as well, was harder core. One time he even took drugs. EAR drank beer, which apparently sometimes he brought with him. The Ransacker preferred ice cream. It was such a repeating trait that the Visalia PD had checked the ice cream parlors. EAR was thought to have shoulder length hair in the beginning (Summer of 76), but the Ransacker had such distinctly short hair, with his hair line above his ears, that the Visalia PD had checked all the barber shops in Tulare and Kings County. By contrast there was something very childlike about the Ransacker whereas EAR was a vicious sexual terrorist.
The East Area Rapist had also struck over a fairly wide area by the Summer of 77. By contrast, the Visalia Ransacker remained in a confined area for about 2 years–1974-1975. College of the Sequoias was the center of his turf. Highway 198 was the northern perimeter, Walnut Avenue was the southern perimeter, and Demaree was the western perimeter, with Mt. Whitney School being the eastern limit.
It would seem amazing that the supposedly unique looking Ransacker could operate for 2 years in such an area and not go captured or identified. Sac Sheriffs didn’t have Google Earth back then, but they may have gotten a map of Visalia. This limited turf was not suggestive of EAR. Maybe also they uncovered that Visalia PD put together the profile of the Ransacker after-the-fact; that he had merely been a burglar to them during his crime spree and they hadn’t even canvassed neighborhoods for prowlers. There might have been nothing sexual about his motives. Women hide their jewels in their undees drawers sometimes, and this could explain why lingerie was spread over the master bedroom and the drawers emptied. Sac might have thought that the Ransacker might not have needed to be very good to slip through Visalia PD’s hands.
Sacramento County Sheriffs have a much larger gene pool, so to speak, from which to promote investigators than Visalia Police. At the time Visalia was a town of about 20,000 people. The resulting attitude is unavoidable: Visalia PD were full of rubes. The Sheriff spokesman, Bill Miller, condemned them as publicity seekers and irresponsible.
The controversy aside, there are several clues for us in the Ransacker’s limited area of operation. It was centered on the college and it was accessed by a couple of main thoroughfares that led to and from Highway 198. Given his unique look, and the fact that (to our knowledge) he was never in the dragnet, we can deduce he came to the area along the highway. He was not a local boy necessarily.
But there is the fact that no barber recognized the composite. According to the Visalia PD they checked over two large counties.
Where did the Ransacker come from? Did his mama or dad cut his hair? Did he live on one of the farms? Where did he go?
Either the composite is grossly in error or he was on the dragnet list and they didn’t know how to check him off properly. If not that, he moved away quickly and no one seemed to have ever paid attention to him while he lived, well, wherever it had been that he had lived.
Or did a family realize their son was the Ransacker and commit him or send him away?
Before this case can be brought forward it must be fleshed out and much data released. I don’t know if that will ever happen, but if it does it must start with those citizens who went through this and are still with us. They must clarify much information about the Ransacker crimes in their homes.
We have a very general appearance today for his turf. It is centered on the college, and yet he does not seem to have been a student. He limited himself to this part of town. We must develop this in our next post.
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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.