The Shenandoah Mystery

The arrest of the Visalia Ransacker/East Area Rapist/Original Night Stalker or Golden State Killer as he would be called in more recent times has left a void in my life. I was enjoying my breakfast and almost spat my food across the table when the news broke at the arrest of Joseph James DeAngelo. I had resided myself to the unfortunate possibility to that what I thought was the ultimate “Who done it?” may never be solved.

By no means am I sad that it saw a resolution. I commend the efforts of investigators across generations that this case has affected and now look forward to not only seeing the final chapter of this case being written with trial of Joe DeAngelo but the advancement in the field of DNA being tested for an offenders Ancestry matches. I can only imagine how many more unsolved cases may see a similar resolution with further advancement and utilization of these techniques.

Still the closure brought to all the surviving victims and the families of the accused, Joe DeAngelo, means more to me than my own personal void of where to redirect my insatiable curiosity. I am aware of the selfishness hinted at in such a statement but as happy as I am for the families and victims of the EAR/ONS as I still personally to call him in abbreviated terms, I wonder where should go next.

The Colonial Parkway Murders are yet another series I still follow from time to time. Yet another series where I hold out hope for a resolution. One could make the argument that in this case, the mystery is even greater as not everyone can even agree a serial killer was active from 1986 to 1989 along the Parkway in Virginia.

Varying victimology, the modus operandi across each case varying. Even with one although a probable homicide, still the proximity to the series of prior cases connect it to the case by circumstance. I’ve always personally wanted to believe that all these cases are connected and given the close-minded nature given to cases of prior generations which has hampered investigations, I still do believe they are connected.

Does it have the classical signs of what you could call the more traditional serial murder crimes? No. The modus operandi various significantly in each case. From strangulation, slashed throats and various other knife related injuries to one couple being found shot to death while one never being found unto this day. Still I cannot help but shake the notion from my mind that these cases share a connection that lies beyond the simple geographic location in which they were committed.

But that does not limit the thoughts I have about this. My over-active imagination constantly guesses about such classic cases of “Who-dun-it”. The case of the Colonial Parkway Murders have left a trail of speculation of whether it was the same offender given the varying nature of each instance attributed to the series of crimes.

Years have passed since these crimes were committed but that doesn’t limit the speculation generated by us Cyber-sleuths and those personally affect by this case. If one were to ask me personally about a personal theory that I have about the case, it might not be that the Colonial Parkway Killer may be responsible but the Colonial Parkway Killers.

The theory of an evolving killer or no serial killer at all both have their own merit yet still in passing years I have come to wonder if there were a pack of offenders that fell under the same umbrella. Given the varying nature of each case attributed to this series, it has wondering if that a group of offenders, if not a cult were responsible in each case.

Much like the case of Janine Balding in Sydney, Australia, I wonder if multiple offenders were present in this case. Given the fact that couples were victimized and if a knife was the apparent murder weapon that was used to control the victims then one could wonder if multiple offenders were present in at least the Thomas-Dowski case. Signs of strangulation and rope burns were present after the fact. It is impossible at least to me, for a lone offender to inflict these wounds.

A slight struggle was indicated at the scene so I wonder how a lone offender managed to control both of them since once his intent would be realized or one victim was attacked the other should flee for their lives. Unless they were restrained by an accomplice.

Growing up in Australia, the murders of Janine Balding and Anita Cobby come to mind when I think of this case. Not that either case was related but in that of multiple offenders being present in each case. It isn’t unheard throughout the history of criminology of lone serial killers being responsible of the murder of couples parked on lovers’ lanes but when armed with a knife it seems hard to believe he could have been able to maintain control without help.

It could also help to explain the varying victimology in this series. The leader of the group approaches as if he were a law enforcement officer before the rest of his accomplices appear to take control of the scene. Then the victims would be unable to escape such a horrific fate. Maybe a couple could overcome a lone offender armed with a knife but an offender carrying a knife yet accompanied multiple accomplices, would be too much for a lot of people to escape.

Another aspect where I disagree that the assessment that these cases were unrelated because the Thomas-Dowski case seemed to fit the hall marks of a hate crime. Personally, I have always thought that the motive of the suspect or suspects were that of hatred towards the couples and their romance. It had nothing to do with the gender of partners, but more of a seething rage towards those in relationships.

Thinking back to cases of Janine Balding and Anita Cobby, although both cases were unrelated I cannot help but wonder if these couples along the parkway fell victim to a group of predators perhaps seeking some kind of perverse thrill through these heinous acts. Evidence of sexual assault was not recorded perhaps the motive was that of pure violence and hatred towards the victims for the romance the offender or offenders perceived.

I’m no profiler or even a psychologist, my only background in the field is taking what is basically psychology 101 in high school. Still while, I see a connection geographically and circumstantially between these cases that drives my belief that this is a serial murder series. A suspect motivated by his or their hatred of romance perhaps because of a failed relationship in their own life. Maybe there were even more than two offenders.

Perhaps even a group of suspects. Both Janine Balding and Anita Cobby were separate and individual cases. Still both cases involved a pack mentality that left their victims defenseless. There are many more differences than similarities in these cases and realize that many may claim that I am grasping at straws in comparing them. Yet it would take multiple individuals to control their victims which is why I primarily make the comparison.

Going back to the recent arrest of the Golden State Killer and the theories that the Parkway killer was a Park Ranger or a Law Enforcement Official. Joe DeAngelo – the accused Golden State Killer worked as a Police Officer during in Auburn, California, approximately thirty miles away from Rancho Cordova where the first East Area Rapist attacks occurred.

While I’ve never been to the Parkway myself, from the videos and images I have seen it looks like it would have long stretches of the road that would be incredibly dark at night to the point that it would be incredibly hard to make out the vehicle tailing you or even sometimes oncoming in the opposite direction. In saying that I picture myself driving along the parkway or even parked in a secluded area and a vehicle approached from behind, much like the Zodiac Crimes also, by instinct I’d reach for my wallet to present my ID thinking it was some kind of law enforcement official.

Putting all these cases into perspective has me wondering if perhaps the perpetrator or perpetrators worked in a neighboring jurisdiction. In a time before the internet when many neighboring offices didn’t share information like they do today on cases and communication was primarily word of mouth, perhaps officials in other jurisdictions never got the information they needed to suspect one or even a few of the members of their department maybe involved.

Maybe even like DeAngelo in the later stages of the East Area Rapist crimes, after he was terminated by the Auburn Police Chief for shoplifting, there were officers fired in other jurisdictions nearby that with some digging my reveal a suspect. Perhaps someone or persons terminated for an unrelated offense that in later years make sense and connect them to this series.

I wish I could prove definitively that these cases are connected. But without DNA or perhaps a surviving victim to verify some the theories about this case. We may forever be left guessing as to what caused these young couples to be cutdown before they had entered the prime of their lives. I hope that much like the case of the East Area Rapist/Original Night Stalker/Golden State Killer, even if it takes decades to see a resolution this case will eventually see one…

Cathleen Thomas was found with a clump of hair in her hands and perhaps that holds the DNA evidence that may not lead directly to a suspect but at least can provide enough genealogy evidence that like the Golden State Killer can provide a final resolution to this mystery…

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