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DNA connects a serial rapist to several murders in Southern California.

A serial rapist terrorized the Sacramento area

Suspect:

Gender:Male
DOB: 1958 to 1965
Height: 5’7” to 5’11”
Eyes: Blue or hazel
Defining Characteristics: Medium build, very thick legs

CASE DETAILS

He tied up the man and stacked plates on him

In October of 1976, a woman was tied up and raped in an affluent suburb just outside of Sacramento, California. This rape victim, who asked that her identity remain confidential, is one of more than 50 women believed to have been assaulted by a serial rapist who terrorized the Sacramento area during the 1970s:

“I remember waking up, with a flashlight shining in my face.   And I was looking down the barrel of a gun.   And, he said, don’t move, don’t make a sound or I will kill you.   And within a moment’s notice, my life was all of a sudden in the control of somebody else.”

The mysterious attacker, known to police as the “East Area Rapist”, was never identified. And in recent years, dramatic advances in law enforcement technology determined that the same man was responsible for a series of murders in the 1980s.

DNA tests linked the rapes to the killings

The East Area Rapist displayed some unusual habits, including lingering in victims’ homes for hours.   On the night of the attack, the unidentified victim sensed her attacker was smoking in her living room:

“The police felt that he had gotten into my refrigerator.   I think he was in the house anywhere from two and a half to three hours. I lay there for what seemed like… a long period of time… and then, all of a sudden… I couldn’t see, I couldn’t move and I couldn’t yell. And I remember wondering is this it?   Is this the way I’m going to die?”

How many were killed in Southern California?

After sexually assaulting his victims, the rapist would quietly sneak away.   Detective Carol Daly of the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department interviewed many of the rapist’s victims:

“The East Area rapist definitely did a psychological rape along with the physical rape.   The manner in which he would threaten the victims, the length of time that he stayed in the home, made his crime different and unique.”

The first fifteen attacks occurred in homes only inhabited by women and children.   But then the rapist became even more brazen.   According to Carol Daly, he began targeting homes in which a man was also present:

“When the rapist would come in he would, at gunpoint, order the female to tie up the male in the house. And then he would remove the female to the other part of the house where he would also tie her up.   And then he would put dishes on the husband.   While he was in the other room occupied with the sexual assault, he could hear whether or not the male was trying to get free… I think that he liked the excitement of the game.   I think it was as much a game with the investigators as it was for what he was doing to the victims.”

The sadistic “game” being played by the rapist often extended beyond the attack itself.   The unidentified victim, along with several other victims, reported receiving disturbing phone calls from the rapist years later:

“I felt by what he said to me that he had been still watching me and stalking me. I felt absolutely terrified.   I think the phone calls were just his way of saying, you’re still my hostage. Even though I’m not in your house, psychologically, you’re still my hostage.”

By the late 1970s, the East Area Rapist had moved 50 miles west to Contra Costa County.   Five more assaults were reported there.   Then, according to Lieutenant Richard Selby of the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, the attacks abruptly stopped:

“Everybody speculated about where this guy might have gone and why… he might have stopped.   And, there was nowhere to go with it.   We had no real physical description.”

He patiently waited in the victim’s house

The trail eventually grew cold.   But over the years, criminalist Paul Holes of the Contra Costra Sheriff’s Department, continued to work the case.   He ran DNA profiles on semen recovered from the five rapes in his county.   He then attempted to track down the rapist.   Holes began contacting agencies across the state. 400 miles south, in Orange County, forensic scientist Mary Hong had used DNA to link six rape-murders in her county to a single killer.   In 2001, Mary got a call from Paul Holes:

“Independently, he was thinking that this guy has to be committing these crimes somewhere else.   So, he actually was calling these agencies and finding out if they had any cases that fit his profile. I had him read me the profile that he had on his case, and I compared that to the profile that I had on our cases, and they matched all the way across.”

The Sacramento Serial Rapist could be anywhere

The East Area Rapist had become a Southern California killer, leaving a trail of deaths in his wake. Larry Pool of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department headed up the Southern California investigation:

“I don’t know of anyone like him.   He’s a very unique offender.   Fifty rapes that we’re aware of, ten murders that we’re aware of.   We suspect that he’s probably responsible for more rapes and murders and crimes, outside of what we’ve identified.”

With the biological link to the Northern California rapes confirmed, investigators now had 50 additional cases to comb through in search of new clues to the serial killer’s identity.   According to Larry Pool, the East Area Rapist’s m.o. of stacking plates on the victim’s partner during the assault is believed to be particularly unique:

“It’s a signature aspect of our offender.   Is it possible that someone abused him and treated him the same way terrorizing him, perhaps, as a boy when he grew up?    It’s possible… I don’t want to end my career without having solved this.   And if it’s not solved by the time I retire, I’ll think about it until the day I die.”

Police believe that the East Area Rapist is Caucasian.   He has a medium build and stands 5’7″ to 5’11”.   Victims repeatedly described his legs as being “very thick.”   He would now be over 50 years old.

UPDATE: In the early hours of April 25, 2018, Joseph James DeAngelo was arrested in this case.  A former police officer, DeAngelo was living in Citrus Heights. He has been charged with capital murder in two killings and is believed to have killed many more.

Investigators found DeAngelo by initially submitting the DNA obtained from the crimes to a genealogy site. From the distant relative matches they received, authorities conducted interviews to narrow down the pool of suspects. DeAngelo’s DNA was then obtained through a discarded sample, and it came back as a match. We will bring you more information as this story develops.


Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season twelve with Robert Stack and in season seven with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.

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35 Comments

  1. Instagram unsolved mysteries

    He has been caught!! He is now 72 years old.

    Reply

  2. Eric Childers

    He was caught today near Sacramento!

    Reply

  3. mike

    Have you considered cable installers. Back then cable TV was all the rage, & it was still being set up. A cable installer gets an overhead view of the neighborhoods to check out an area to become knowledgeable of an area to plan is attacks & escapes.

    Reply

    • April

      No cable in Sacramento during the seventies

      Reply

    • DJ

      I just watched this case on ID…I seriously think he had no job. Think about all the hours he had to watch these people to know that much about them. The other thing is he ate at their homes. At some point in time he dropped papers that would have been kept at home not in his pocket. I know they said he took items and pictures…but he may also have lived with others now and again. The other thing is that he actually stayed at vacant houses while watching these people. It is just hard to believe that he was never caught. He seemed to be dependent upon the fear of the people during his rapist time, as he progressed the people seem to be the ones becoming brave…I think that is why he started to beat them to death…I mean after all isn’t rape a control thing. I would think it would make him mad if they were no longer afraid of him. I think that I would check some of the homeless shelters and see if a familiar name popped up in the two different areas.

      Reply

  4. Dave

    This case makes me sick. I can’t believe this coward still hasn’t been caught. No fault of the police. Not much to work with and nobody in the California prison system is a DNA match. But I refuse to believe nobody knows who this guy is. Someone knows and isn’t speaking up. Perhaps a spouse that’s scared? Maybe family that’s protecting him, maybe not to protect him as much the family name.

    I mean I get it. If I knew who he was and related to him, I’d also be fearful of what people would think. I don’t care who likes me and who doesn’t, but being linked to a coward pig like the Original Night Stalker, people would blame the entire family and think we’re all like that. So I get not wanting to be linked, but this pig raped and murdered. Ruined lives. Would call and taunt his victims. I could not keep silent.

    I’m fairly certain if anyone knows his identity won’t read this, but if by some miracle of miracles, please inform law enforcement. And if by some chance the pig reads this, one day the police will find you. Coward

    Reply

  5. Mike

    Is it just me getting confused, but wasn’t there another rapist who placed dishes on the husbands’ backs?

    Also, BTK stopped killing in 1979 only to return in 1986, the same exact timeline when The Golden State Killer/EAR-ONS was active…

    Reply

  6. Tippy

    Look at Stephen Paddock…that could be his motive. He sure fits the profile.

    Reply

  7. Anonymous

    Hey Tough guys, place your address online and wait for someone to come and we will see how many plates you break. I’m going with none and if you do you would be shot right after your loved one is raped and killed.. What a tough guy plan, perfect.

    Reply

  8. Anonymous

    Just a thought, the areas are all surrounding an area not touched or reported. Long Beach , Ca. there are so many Homeless people and Mentally sick people walking around the streets day and night…He should be old now and maybe sick that he cannot physically able. Have any DNA reports been linked to that area?

    Reply

  9. Anonymous

    Rod Riddle, the plates were on the men’s BACKS, not laps and their hands and feet were tied.

    Reply

  10. Anonymous

    Hey, Mr. Macho Rod Riddle! “wouldn’t be a plate left in tact”, huh? So, are you admitting to us that you’re ignorant? These people were awakened with a gun to their faces . . get it? That means he was in control at that point. The only possible thing that could help anyone at that particular moment is if you slept with a gun under your pillow but even that would be extremely risky because you’ld have to reach for it when he already had the drop on you! Then, instead of attempting to assure everyone stays alive, the sound of your wife being assaulted in the next room would get the best of someone like you wouldn’t it? While your hands are tied or even if you managed to free your hands, you’ld jump up and just let those plates crash to the floor like a train wreck . . right? Then what? Run to get your gun that he most likely has already found as he shoots you with it? More simply, he’d probably just rush up and shoot you with his own gun within seconds of hearing the plates crash! . . . Get real! The rest of us out here in California can pretty much guess what would happen next. He would no doubt, put a bullet in her head after he was done with her but you would be spared from seeing that part because you would be dead . . . “riddled” with bullets . . Mr. Riddle. So, before you go dragging “masculinity” into the equasion, take a good look at where it would take you first, Macho Man! What gives you the right to stereo type people from California anyway? Jerk!

    Reply

    • Chris M

      Mr Riddle is right.
      I will not stereo type California, I am from the hard streets of NYC. I can tell you most men would not allow something like that to happen and not even put up a fight. Cmon you hear a your woman screaming in the next room and you do not at the very least try to do something to stop it. Cannot happen, I know myself and not afraid to die, as death is a part of life. Men must live with honor.Not shame. If you wife is raped and you sit there and did not do anything to stop it. You will have to live with shame for the rest of your life!

      Reply

      • Dave

        Sure you would tough guy. You’re not afraid to die? Easy to say. Even if true, do you love your wife/girlfriend? Do you value her life? You try anything, not only would you get killed, but your spouse as well. This guy was messing around. Those like you, who bark the loudest are always the first ones to run away. Zip it tough guy.

        Reply

      • Chris

        You remind me of that guy who ran his mouth at the town hall meeting and then found himself in the same situation.

        Reply

  11. Kevin

    I remember that time period. I was 13 in 1976. The guy had to be older than 50. I’m 53 now. I remember hearing about cookie sheets he used too.

    Reply

  12. Charles Smith

    I think that The East Area Rapist has left The United States and may be living in Australia. Why? In Brisbane and The Gold Coast, 4 attacks have occurred there over 8 years which have a very simular MO. Police there have no suspects. For more info, just google The Brisbane Attacker.

    Reply

  13. Brittany Oldham

    I can relate because I was raped and I know it can be very scary please help them find this sicko

    Reply

    • Paul

      Hi Brittany, we have something in common, and know how terrifying it is. I later became a rape crisis responder, helping others helps our own healing as well. Let’s hope they bring this monster down soon.

      Reply

  14. charly

    Just a thought stacking dishes? maybe he was a dish washer or cook in the area where he assaulted women. Maybe he was treaded for the thick leg problem. Any victim’s go tot he same restaurant?

    Reply

  15. deedee

    Why hasnt he been found yet…. crazy

    Reply

  16. Michelle

    This is an interest for some others, others who were impacted more directly may not know where to go with this information. If I can help with the information I have please let me know.

    Reply

  17. sara

    do you think that investigators used a geographic style of profiling ?

    Reply

  18. Chris

    1965 age range puts him at 11 in 1976.

    Reply

  19. Chris

    So the East Area Rapist started at 11 years old 1968?

    Reply

  20. Dan

    Ron and Chris read the Quester Files and then you can see what you would have been up against. If it would have been either of you, you would have my sympathies.

    Reply

  21. Rod Riddle

    Not one broken plate in any of the rapes involving male partners present. Only in California. In Texas there wouldn’t be a plate left in tact in any instance. Just shows you the difference between real men and the metro sexuals in California. They just sat there with plates on their laps while their wife was being raped in the other room. Thru decades of liberalism men in California have had their masculinity stripped from them. Lastly, not one liberal victim had a gun to be able to fend against the rapists own weapon. Liberalism kills.

    Reply

    • Chris M

      I agree with you. How can a man with any type of balls hear his woman screaming while be raped by that scum and that same man lie down there are allow that to happen.

      This could never happen in Bronx NY, a place where men have balls and we keep our doors locked.. 50 rapes in city ! Pure Insanity and inept Sacramento Police department. They should be ashamed of themselves

      Reply

    • Ben Gerard

      Ever dawn on you the rapist threatened the life of the wife if he heard one plate break? How was anyone supposed to defend themselves with weapons while behind tied up. Your narrow way of thinking is as boring as your lame personal opinions of “liberals” and insulting the entire male gender in California.

      Reply

    • Margaret Wardlow

      Not really sure what was going on there. But I doubt it was as simple as you make it sound. I heard it rumored that EARS had removed a gun, on his visit, prior to the rape of the wife. But I can say, my Awesome neighbor, Gary, (don’t remember his last name, I was only 12 years old) came to the screams of my Mother after this man attacked me at our home. And yes, Gary DID COME TO OUR HOUSE WITH A SHOTGUN IN HIS HANDS! The EARS really got off on frightening people. As a 12 year old girl who knew this, he was no match for me! I was fearless and confrontational with this creep!

      Reply

  22. markie hill

    if you have any information regarding this case please write us at unsolved mysteries po box 11449 Burbank ca 91510

    Reply