Distinctive Obscurity– The Visalia Ransacker After-the-Fact

It is a paradox. How does a villain in such a small town as Visalia crawl back into the shadows, especially after having left a single very distinct image of himself for that one moment he was caught in the light?

He was, supposedly, young, about 25, 5 foot 10 inches tall, stocky at 200 pounds, pale complexion, baby face, high pitched voice, stubby fingers on small hands, and he had small feet. His hair was blonde to sandy, and butched really short on the sides so that it didn’t even touch his ears.

From my recent series of posts, and even from one quite a while ago, I have left the door open that perhaps we do not have the true image of the Ransacker. Villains do stop, but the Ransacker stopping so suddenly is grounds to wonder.  Did he go elsewhere? Or did he really look quite different and simply and easily faded into the background?

Where would this elsewhere be? Visalia PD checked the barbers and ice cream shops over the whole area. No one had recognized Bill McGowen’s composite. Even if this composite wasn’t of the Ransacker, you would think they’d still recognize him.

I would love him to be some villain I am currently after — like NORCAL. But who is to ever know? There is no DNA from the Ransacker. It is even difficult to link him to Claude Snelling’s murder in 1975. Both villains were said to be the same height and proportion and left handed. But Snelling’s killer struck in the wee hours of the morning and had worn a mask. The Ransacker was in bed by midnight usually.

Without a lot of detailed information, it is impossible to even track the Ransacker. People have offered more information, but then they flake. Some that do offer information will not clarify a source, and thus it is not reliable. Some people equate their personal deductions with facts. This goes nowhere.

But we must start from somewhere. Let us accept McGowen’s composite. There’s reason to. As I mentioned above, if this was just another prowler, why didn’t a dragnet identify his unique features? Time and MO has shown us that the Ransacker was actually a lot more cautious than you might imagine. He put some effort into covering his identity. No one wants to go to jail. Thus the very fact a distinctive prowler who shot at a cop could hide from the dragnet is a clue that this distinctive looking prowler was one and the same with the notorious Ransacker, who had committed about 90 robberies and remained obscure.

Yes, the police canvassed the neighborhoods far too long after-the-fact and got responses from neighbors that they had seen such a man in their neighborhoods. But think about that. Had he been that obvious, neighbors would have long been chatting that such a man had been seen and the police would have known about it for at least over a year. We’re talking about 90 robberies. Neighbors hear when a neighbor is robbed. Anybody suspicious in the neighborhood is going to go mentioned in the grapevine. Yet apparently none ever did. Not enough anyway to warrant a composite.

When Visalia PD tried to link the Ransacker with being EAR, this fact must have puzzled and irked Sacramento Sheriffs and PD. You canvased only after-the-fact? A 2 year crime spree and you have no other composite from the residents?

One simply can’t blame Visalia PD for this alone. The residents clearly weren’t speaking out much– else one would imagine that Visalia PD would attempt a composite of the person of interest seen in these neighborhoods. But there is nada. Either gross incompetence is at work in both the community and the police or the Ransacker was a little more careful in his stalking than we realize.

And this we do know after-the-fact. The Ransacker was a prowler. He left footprints all over the neighborhood yards testifying as to how his checked each home and discovered who was not home. How else could he have possibly known? This may have gotten him reclassified as a peeper, but he was actually looking for a house with nobody, not with people to watch.

So for the sake of argument here, let us accept we have a very distinctive Ransacker. He was not only distinctive in a appearance but seemed a little off the beam as well. He has  maintained this double distinction in obscurity. This is a clue. Where does it lead?

*         *          *

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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