EAR or EARs?– Beyond the Ski Mask.

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.

The Strange Case of J.M. Lacey

Due to a number of events, a story became very significant late in the case of the East Area Rapist. It contained what could be a valuable lead to his identity. It is the story of a man in his late 20s/early 30s entering the American River Hospital in Carmichael seeking treatment for an injured shoulder. He presented false ID. When the staff became suspicious he fled.

Sac Sheriff detectives backworked this case decades after-the-fact in a dedicated effort  to finally unveil the identity of the real life Michael Myers. This suspicious man came to the hospital in late May 1977, only a couple of days after the EAR’s attack on Victim 22 in South Sacramento– his only south Sac strike. Here the bloodhound had followed EAR’s trail to a cyclone gate in the fence that protected a small, narrow canal. Apparently EAR had jumped the fence. But there was very little room for landing on the other side. The lip of the canal was right next to the foot of the cyclone fence. They postulated that EAR had missed the landing and slid into the canal, injuring his shoulder. DSC06153-50%

What evidence?

On the spot evidence? Not to my knowledge. It is accumulative causes and effects hard to ignore.

When the Sac Sheriffs released parts of their intriguing investigation of the forgotten case of the Cordova Cat an impressive amount of data suggest a concrete link at many levels between him and EAR and even the man at the hospital. This Cat Burglar was active in Rancho Cordova and Carmichael/Citrus Heights in 1972-1973, laying down a pattern which the East Area Rapist, striking in the same areas, would follow between 1976-1978. Having exhausted all leads to expose the EAR based on the evidence and clues of his crime spree, uncovering the existence of the earlier Cat seemed a boon answered. If this was EAR then he could have left clues behind in this early crime spree that would lead to him.

Detectives backworked the old burglary reports. They discovered that in 1973 a neighbor in the area where the Cat had struck (Thornwood area of Carmichael) had lost his wallet– at least so he thought.  But knowing the Cat’s (and later EAR’s) propensity to prowl quietly and take things without any real major burglary, detectives thought it was possible that the Carmichael resident had his wallet stolen and simply didn’t know it at the time. By a strange twist of fate,  it was his ID that this suspicious man at American River Hospital presented in May 1978.

It was not illogical to put the pieces together and see the connection– EAR and the Cat were one and the same and after his attack on Victim 22 on May 28, 1978, he injured his shoulder and had to go to the hospital a couple of days later, there presenting some old ID he had stolen quietly 4 years before. This made following the leads of the case of the Cordova Cat vital.

In developing this old Cordova Cat crime spree, the Sarda Way Incident (Rancho Cordova) was uncovered, an attempted home invasion rape and possible murder of September 14, 1973– the late period of the Cat. An identikit of this perp had been done and included in the report. He looked very similar to the Ripon Court Shooter of February 16, 1977– and the Shooter was heavily suspected of being EAR. This seemed beyond coincidence. Then there is the prowler on Locust Avenue in January 1978 who followed an almost identical MO as the Sarda Way perp– ringing the bell of the house and then going in the backyard to prowl when the woman, home alone, hadn’t answered. In comparing the cases, it was obvious the perp was described as dressed similarly to the Sarda Way perp of 1973 as well. Moreover, this prowling occurred only a week before EAR’s attack on two sisters on College View Way right around the corner. Too many coincidences to be just that.

Sarda Way Suspect-adjusted  EAR-Composite5

The Sarda Way perp and the identikit identified as the Ripon Court Shooter.

Then we all of us were stunned in April 2018 to learn that Joseph James DeAngelo, an Auburn cop based up in the foothills, was arrested for being the infamous Original Night Stalker of southern California. ONS and EAR were also believed to be the same perp, the deadlier incarnation merely the later extension of his earlier violent rape period. There was DNA linking the ONS to 2 EAR attacks in Contra Costa County, but nothing linking him to the Sacramento attacks where EAR began in 1976.

There was always some suspicion there was more than one perp involved in Sacramento initially. But no one could prove it. When DeAngelo was charged with the murders, the case of the EAR was considered closed and the arguments seemed pointless, though all of us remained surprised that a fulltime cop could have pulled off the massive amount of prowling which EAR was believed to have done. (An incredible amount of prowling was revealed by sheriff canvassing of the neighborhoods. This revealed visual sightings of a prowler over several nights for days or even weeks in advance. Footprints confirming a trespasser. Dogs barking for nights in advance, indicating an unwelcome shape was moving through yards, and then hang-up phone calls, illegal entries, attempted break-ins.) The theory of EAR having been the suspicious man at American River Hospital was forgotten. EAR hadn’t been the Sarda Way perp, so it would seem, because DeAngelo’s features are captured in a formal police photo of the period (1973), and he most definitely had short hair. All a coincidence, unchancy coincidences.DeAngelo-cop-formal2

Ironically, the day after the solution buzzed over the airwaves I received an email from a researcher who basically said “I guess this case isn’t relevant anymore.” She was referring to a link she had attached. It was a Doe Network case she had come across. It was the strange case of J.M. Lacey.

J.M. Lacey

His body had been found in 2002 at Grant Park, close to Los Huecos trail in the Lakeside area of the park in the unincorporated area east of San Jose, California. It was deteriorated, of course. No one knows how long it had been there– Maybe 5 years.  From the effects in the clothes he had been quite a dandy for his time– his pants had the name stenciled on the inside waist.  From the skeletal remains, at some point in his life this mysterious J.M. Lacey had had a bad shoulder injury. Forensic facial reconstruction gave us a face that surprisingly looked like an aged version of the Sarda Way perp.

No one has ever discovered who this J.M. Lacey was. His name obviously wasn’t J.M. acey. He remains a dead Doe in an unlikely place, wearing heavy clothes (two pairs of pants), sweater, and a knit cap, and of the right age bracket and resemblance to be the Sarda Way perp, and a shoulder injury to match the suspicious man who came into the American River Hospital a couple of days after EAR’s strike on Victim 22.

Is this the man?

More importantly, was there another East Area Rapist? Did DeAngelo dovetail on the EAR’s MO in order to give himself an alibi? DeAngelo will certainly be tried for the murders, on solid evidence. But there still remains many inconsistencies in the case of EAR which points to a guy with a different eye color, lots of access to old cars, and some motive for halting activities in the Summer of 1977.

The trial will likely have to address the inconsistencies in the reports of the EAR’s Sacramento rapes. They will have to collate a coincidence between DeAngelo’s free time and the times EAR struck. Not only this, they will have to show that if he was the original EAR he had the free time to commit the massive amount of prowling attributed to EAR.

In another post we will begin detailing these dates and the those factors which must be addressed to firmly establish whether there was only one EAR.

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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.

East Area Rapist– the Juggling Game of Identity

Some things have become embedded into the narrative of the East Area Rapist that are hard to shake, and I suspect both the defense and prosecution are planning to deal with them. There is not only original sheriff detective Richard Shelby’s expressed views that a case could have been made at the time for 2 rapists, there are detailed stories– vignettes– in the massive Case of EAR that highlight details impossible to accept as applying to the accused Joseph James DeAngelo Jr.  There is also the rumor, heard by anyone from the foundation of their inquiry into the topic (at least if you are local to Sacramento area) that the Sacramento Sheriffs did, in fact, uncover who the probable East Area Rapist was, confronted him, and basically chased him out of town. The one who went on to commit the murders was another perpetrator.

Countering the last point is the fact that DNA does link DeAngelo to being both the murderer in So. Cal and the Rapist in Contra Costa County using the same MO as the East Area Rapist in Sacramento.

However, this blog article will touch on some of the inconsistencies in Sacramento and how they must be addressed.

Officially the East Area Rapist became active in June 1976. He ceased in Sacramento in 1978 and moved on to Contra Costa County. In late 1979 he went south and turned murderer as the Original Night Stalker. DNA links J.J. DeAngelo to these murders and he is being held on charges of having committed these murders.  However, for over 2 dozen rapes in the Sacramento area 1976-1978 there is only the basic evidence of modus operandi, etc., identifying the perp as the same person as the So. Cal killer.

We will come back to Shelby’s statements in his book Hunting a Psychopath at another time. But suffice it to say here that Shelby was highly suspicious of a reserve sheriff because of his interest in the case. Only someone on the inside, so it would seem, could get a hold of EAR’s unique repertoire in order to copy it. The East Area Rapist stuck to a routine, both of words and actions in a house.

The suspicion that DeAngelo is not the original EAR and was a copycat hinges on the same thing. As a cop he could have been in a position to hear just what EAR’s actual words were in order to imitate them to give himself a cover for his own thrill spree.

While this is only theory, there remains the fact that EAR’s overall description is consistent as smallish– on average 5 foot 8 or 9 inches and of compact, small size. Only on a few occasions he is described as taller– about 6 feet or more. Most often his offending organ is described as unimpressive. On a few occasions it is described as normal, the size of a dollar bill, and “bigger than my husband’s”– the last being subject to the most interpretation. DeAngelo is 5 foot 11 inches and in shoes most definitely 6 feet. He fits one, but not the original, description of the EAR.

EAR’s crime spree begins while he is wearing unlikely footwear for an experienced prowler– clodhoppers or “hiking boots” and maybe desert shoes. At Victim 7 he switches to tennis shoes. At this same strike the little Schultze kid insists that the assailant had deep blue eyes. He also had such a stark white tan line on his legs as to appear he was wearing boxer shorts.

In addition to the starkly different eye color here, the prosecution will have to address how DeAngelo has hazel eyes and also how a fulltime cop like DeAngelo had such a tan line. Were these indeed boxer shorts, here, and at Victim 3 where EAR is described the same? The defense and prosecution must address this. They must explain how a fulltime cop had such a distinct tan line in late 1976 (August to October) if these were not boxers. Shorts were short shorts in the 1970s, so that the tan line doesn’t seem to come from the usual recreational shorts.

The tan line is not a small matter here, for Victim 3, Rose, felt she could take out the assailant if he didn’t have a gun. This small size is repeated by many victims. Victim 15 estimated EAR in shoes could not have been taller than 5 foot 9 inches.

DNA has confirmed that the murderer known as the Original Night Stalker had 97% probability green to hazel eyes. DeAngelo does have hazel eyes. There is no question that DNA links him to the So. Cal murders.  But there is no DNA for the Sacramento strikes, and these are so numerous and the perp described so differently on occasions that the inconsistency of these descriptions must be addressed.

In addition to the size discrepancies between DeAngelo and most EAR reports, there are the numerous reports of dozens of different cars being associated with EAR prowling about a neighborhood in advance, and even on the night of attacks. There are 3 dozen persons of interest composites and Identikits at Sac Co. sheriffs alone, and only a few suggest DeAngelo. Most suggest a much younger man with longer hair, and one victim even noted EAR’s hair sticking out from under his ski mask around his shoulder.

The identikit of the Verla Street prowler (left) in Carmichael was released last by the Sheriff’s Department. More than all others it suggests DeAngelo (right). But this is only one of a few times that an identikit (of those released) features a subject that resembles DeAngelo. 

There must be some believable explanation for how a fulltime cop based far up the foothills in Auburn, California, could devote so much time to in situ prowling in Rancho Cordova and Carmichael. If Sheriff canvassing is correct, EAR spent an unbelievable amount of time prowling before-the-fact than he ever devoted to an actual attack. Prowling occurred weeks in advance, including the jumping of fences, the trespassing into back yards, and home invasion, and the setting up of “command posts” in unoccupied or empty houses wherefrom he conducted his reconnaissance of the neighborhood.

There is the case of Victim 22. Prior to DeAngelo’s identity as the Original Night Stalker, Sac Sheriff detectives advanced a very interesting and highly reasoned theory as to why after EAR’s strike on 4th Parkway (May 1977) he was inactive all during the Summer of 1977. There are suggestions here that he fell trying to hop the cyclone gate to the canal and in doing so hurt his shoulder. Two days later a suspicious man pops up at American River Hospital with ID stolen from a man living in an area vexed by the Cordova Cat (Thornwood area of Carmichael) a few years before. He has a bad shoulder injury. He doesn’t remain after the staff gets too curious. If this was not DeAngelo, then it must be explained how this person had the stolen ID, and we must consider the strange case of the Cordova Cat all over.


The fence guarding the canal remains unchanged to this day. 

There is also the Sarda Way Incident of September 1973, later suspected of having been the Cordova Cat in early action, and, of course, the Cat is an obvious first choice for being EAR in 1976-1978, especially in light of the suspicious man with the shoulder injury at American River Hospital who presented stolen ID from a resident who lived in the area where the Cat had been active in 1973 in Carmichael. On the face of it, it now seems unlikely this man at the hospital was DeAngelo. Moreover, a similar description of the Sarda Way perp and modus operandi is given to the prowler on Locust Avenue, the cross street to College View Way, in 1978.  A week or so later EAR’s attack happens on the two sisters on College View Way.

The Sarda Way incident perp was described as a bit of a dandy of 1973, and this introduces the next case of a dead John Doe to be discussed in the next blog 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.