In this series of blog posts we will be exploring the clues that support the possibility there was more than one East Area Rapist and the clues that with hindsight support only a single perpetrator. It must be qualified that neither proposition excludes the accused perpetrator, JJ DeAngelo. There was from the beginning some suspicion that more than one guy was responsible for the series of terrorizing home invasion rapes in Sacramento. No DNA was preserved here, so we must assess the cases in the old style– based on witnesses descriptions, MO, etc. In addition, today, there is the ability to uncover the whereabouts of the accused JJ DeAngelo at the time of the attacks back then to see if his whereabouts can be definitely accounted for. If they can be accounted for during an attack by the EAR then it is definite he was not the sole perpetrator. This investigation is no doubt continuing behind-the-scenes.
The concept of two EARs is not new obviously. It was fostered by certain changes in EAR’s MO and physical description back then. These changes, of course, are subject to interpretation. For example, by Victim 12 (Primrose) EAR seems to have lost his aggressive thrill for rape, and thereafter in his attacks he is usually more lackluster. The use of “mother—-r” arrives a bit late in his repertoire and is often overused. There are moments of stuttering and then there are not. The overuse of the sobbing routine came a bit late and can be interpreted as a response to the psychological theories reported in the newspapers. Much of EAR’s repertoire, in fact, is subject to interpretation, and the dominant interpretation is that he was laying red herrings. He was trying to sound like a cheap punk, a psychotic, and someone far less educated than he was.
Some things, however, are hard to disguise– the offending organ is one of them, and it is often noted that on a couple of occasions it was described as quite normal rather than the usual under endowment.
Let us begin:
Commencing with the assumption that JJ DeAngelo is also the Visalia Ransacker, there is the inconsistency of footwear that must be explained in early EAR attacks. The VR was a skilled prowler, so it would seem. He struck up to 11 homes in a single night and there is no real description of his appearance during such prolonged stalking. Supposed footprints of the VR exist in photographs. One shows a tennis shoe print.
On the other hand, the East Area Rapist did not wear a tennis shoe until Strike 7. Before this he used very unconventional footwear for silent night prowling–hiking boots, desert shoes. The VR was a skilled home invasion artist. EAR’s first official attack on Paseo Drive has the hallmark clues of an amateur– the attempt at cutting the phone line outside, the whittled door frame on the kitchen door. Inside EAR forgot to cut the phone cords. At the next victim he cuts the cords, then at No 3 there was no chance, then he cut them at No 5, 6, 7; at Victim 8 is was not applicable. These are just a few examples. At the October 1975 rape on Dawes Street, long suspected and then later re-suspected of having been EAR, the cords were cut.
The attacks on Victim 1 (Paseo) and 3 (Malaga Way) stand out. He did not cut the cord inside the house at Victim 1, and could not do so at Victim 3 due to the altercation with Rose, the mother. Yet it seems this is the same perp at Victim 7. At both Victim 3 and 7 the perp’s tan line is so distinctive it appears he is wearing boxer shorts (from a distance). EAR now seems to have progressed to the routine of cutting phone cords, but at Victim 1 he seems quite inexperienced.
Remaining focused only on the first cases in Rancho Cordova– The later murder of the Maggiores in another section (quite nearby though) of town than the previous rapes was preceded by an excessive amount of prowling. It was not originally (or for decades) attributed to the East Area Rapist. Thus the EAR task force did not know the details of the neighborhood canvassing which had been conducted by homicide detectives. When this was later reviewed by SSD detectives (decades later) it was uncovered that this very suspicious prowling of the area took place weeks in advance– sometimes even months– indicative of the pattern EAR had (by then) established in some of his strikes. Enough prowling details are known so that on the night of the murders the movement of the alleged perp can be reasonably backworked. (See Quester Files). The whereabouts of JJ DeAngelo must not only be established for this night (February 2, 1978), but for several of the prowling incidents, which include a perv entering more than one home and even leaving bodily fluid behind on a window in Toro Court.
Only one sketch or composite exists of the perpetrator of the Maggiore double murders where a face can be seen. The witness came into the SSD a month or so after-the-fact, and it only vaguely suggests DeAngelo. Almost all sketches and composites prior to this capture the features of a man with longer hair. They could all be of some other young man visiting the neighborhood, but some of them are remarkably consistent. Take, for instance, the following:
These three sketches represent perps on Ripon Court (1977), Sarda Way (1973), and East Area, 1977.
These type of descriptions were so numerous that the first officially released composite, though just that, used the hair style portrayed last above. The young boy at Victim 7 was so certain that EAR had blue eyes that this became fixed in LE and the popular mind. DeAngelo has hazel eyes, and DNA has confirmed that the perp who murdered in So. Cal had hazel eyes. But there is no DNA in the Sacramento cases.
There are examples of sketches or “suspicious” persons, though few, that suggest DeAngelo. They arise rather late in EAR’s crime spree. They are:
The Verla Street Prowler (1978), The Maggiore murder suspect (1978), DeAngelo 1973 (bottom).
The descriptions between The Visalia Ransacker and EAR were so radically different Sacramento Sheriffs at the time refused to accept they could be one and the same. There was quite an acrimonious exchange between Sac sheriff’s spokesman Bill Miller and the Visalia PD detectives contained in the Sacramento Bee that later required the sheriff and the chief of police of Visalia to exchange phone calls.
Because DeAngelo was a cop in Exeter, a small town next to Visalia, at the time of the VR rampages, it is now popular to believe that VR and EAR are indeed one and the same. Despite the Ransacker being described as having blonde hair, DeAngelo is credited as being the Ransacker. There is a slight resemblance between him and one of the VR sketches. However, a description that even comes near to DeAngelo’s does not pop up in Sacramento investigative folders until late in EAR’s game, and then it is never directly related to his attacks. The Maggiore Double Murders, for instance, were not associated with EAR back then, and the Verla Street prowler was just that. No EAR attacks ever occurred around Verla Street or the area where the Maggiores were murdered.
From a perusal of all sketches prior to 1978 one would have to say that another perp was responsible for EAR attacks and that DeAngelo came later and dovetailed on EAR’s MO as a cover for his own thrill home invasion rapes.
However, it would be unwise to say there are no consistent links between the early EAR attacks of 1976 and the later (1978-’79) attacks also attributed to EAR. One very subtle one is that the perp on Victim 8 in Rancho Cordova (October 1976, Los Palos) took the victim’s car and parked it mid block on nearby El Segundo Drive. This indicates the perp fled back over the canal (via which he seemed to have arrived) to Moraine Circle. In like manner the Maggiore Double Murder suspect beat a retreat right back up to this same area in February 1978.
It becomes unbelievable to say that EAR was prowling the same neighborhood on the night of the Maggiore murders and was equally startled by the murders (committed by someone else) and fled back to Moraine Circle on foot. Yet it is equally hard to believe that prior to 1978 all the composites and sketches of a “suspicious” person seen in relation to an EAR attack before-the-fact were always of somebody else, and that it was merely coincidence that on several occasions this innocent bystander in far-flung neighborhoods looked similar.
Later EAR attacks (25, 28) also favor a perp coming from the foothills up Highway 80, where DeAngelo was based. But early EAR attacks are the farthest possible from Auburn, Ca, and still within the East Area. Yet they are concentrated where DeAngelo grew up and later lived for a while.
We must pursue more pros and cons 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.