Terror in the Night – Part 2
The Rapist Returns – September 6th, 1977
Despite being dormant all summer, Detectives in still spent many hours investigating the case of Sacramento’s sudden terror. The East Area Rapist had not been heard from or linked to a single case for the duration of the summer period. That however would change on the morning of September the 6th, 1977, when the attacker moved into a new neighborhood almost an hour away in Stockton.
Detectives still working the case received a call from the Stockton PD and after going over the preliminary reports they became increasingly convinced they were dealing with the same man. The behavior of the offender eerily mirrored that of the rapist from Sacramento, from waking his victims with a flashlight and holding them at gunpoint with the threats of death to the methods used to bind the victims and the dishes that were placed on the male victims back.
Just like in all of the Sacramento cases also, the victims failed to get a proper description of the offender and reported that he attempted to disguise his voice. The female victim reported that the rapist seemed to have erectile problems and that he may have brought a rubber penis with him, which had also been reported in various assaults in Sacramento county.
There was still lingering speculation that it may be the work of a copycat, however the detectives investigating the case felt as if the MO employed here was too similar for it to be the work of another individual. The attacker had become even more brazen with this latest assault as two young children were present in the home while their parents were assaulted by the rapist.
While canvasing the area, the officers found shoe impressions in the backyard of the victims home and also a few of the adjoining properties that were later identified to be Converse All-Star tennis shoes. Along with the standard reports of barking dogs and strange cars being seen near the area day prior, this was a significant development for law enforcement given the continued lack of evidence left behind at the previous scenes.
While under hypnosis, one of the daughter of the latest victim believed she saw a tattoo that investigators later established to be the Schiltz Beer Bull on the rapist’s arm. Despite leaving a knife behind at the scene also, no finger prints were recovered as the intruder wore gloves at all times. Overall this attack provided authorities with much of the same old information but the tattoo and the sneakers finally gave the investigators something else to move forward with when investigating new suspects.
Almost a month later the East Area Rapist returned to Rancho Cordova, claiming his 24th victims when he assaulted a seventeen year old girl who was at home with her twenty-one year old partner. Just a few days prior to this assault the female victim had undergone an abortion and had been staying with her boyfriend and she had not been feeling well until the rapist struck.
Just like in many of his previous assaults, the victims shotgun that had been kept next to the bed was discovered to be unloaded by the crime scene technicians. The shells were found to be lined up under the bed, most likely by the rapist while the victims were not home. Police had been becoming increasingly concerned as the victim count grew and his behavior deteriorated that the individual responsibly for these attacks had the ability to kill his victims. Now one can only wonder if he would have killed these victims had they had been able to reach for the shotgun as he was already beginning to taunt victims by placing his gun to their heads and cocking it before backing away.
While stealing the belongings of his victims, the attacker began taking photo identification belonging to his female victims and would use it to make harassing phone calls even months after the attacks. Despite the best efforts of law enforcement to trace the phone calls, many victims reported to be continually harassed and while the rapist continued to strike almost at will. One of these calls was captured on a victims answering machine and all it consisted of a growling voice whispering insults and threats of death before hanging up.
Perhaps it was the already deranged offenders way of prolonging the victims terror and prevent them from rebuilding their lives. Reminding them that they were still his hostage and that he was still out there watching them. Eventually all that the police were able to ascertain from these calls was that the rapists behavior was deteriorating and that it may only be a matter of time before he turns to murder to satisfy his sadistic desires.
2/2/1978 – The Maggiore Murders
A young couple were out walking their dog one night in Rancho Cordova, enjoying each others company and the warm weather. Police speculate that all was well until the male victim, Brian Maggiore must have noticed something suspicious about an individual he spotted in the area. As a member of the military police one would assume he felt like he could hold his own against most others and decided to confront the suspicious individual until things took a turn for the worse.
The suspect drew a weapon and aimed it at Brian, forcing he and his wife Katie to flee for their lives down the street. In an attempt to hide from the man who gave chase, they entered the backyard of one of the homes along La Gloria Avenue. The owner of the property looked out his window to see what could possibly be causing such commotion at such a late hour. To his horror all he managed to see was the suspect catch up to Brian and shoot him at point blank range in the chest before continuing the chase for Katie.
Katie made it as far as the adjoining backyard before the suspect caught up to her and shot her in the same way he just shot Brian. While still being watched by occupant of the first house, the suspect calmly exited the scene down the side of the house next door. Another witness emerged from one of the adjoining homes and almost had a confrontation with the suspect who calmly looked at the witness before turning away and fleeing down the street.
Speculation ran wild in the early days of the investigation about the identity of the suspect. Some suggested that the murderer was the East Area Rapist simply by the location of the crime. But it wasn’t until pre-cut bindings that were discovered at the crime scene and the specialist knot tied in them that provided a definitive link to the masked maniac. The bindings featured the signature Diamond-Knot of the man who had already claimed approximately thirty victims and may have just recently graduated to murder.
The Rapist Moves South – 1978
Police worked with the witnesses of the Maggiore Murders on developing a composite sketch of the suspect. Some still had their reservations that this was the work of the man who had been terrorizing the local area for over a year now. However after the new sketch of the Maggiore’s killer was released, the rapist disappeared once again. This time however, with a twist.
Claiming his thirty-second victim on the 14/4/78, a teenage girl. The rapist claimed his last victim in the area that had been his stomping grounds since the beginning of this terrifying series. Similar to other serial offenders such as Ted Bundy, the East Area Rapist had already shown to be a highly mobile offender with his attacks in Stockton. This time however, he would take that characteristic to a whole new level. On the 6/5/78, the suspect struck in northern parts of Modesto.
Normally a place with a small town atmosphere and low crime rates, the man who had terrorized the state’s capital for almost two years made his presence felt when he attacked a married couple while their child slept in the next room. Despite being in another jurisdiction, Sacramento detectives were quick to arrive on the scene and talk to the victim. They informed the local authorities that the MO of the attacker was identical to that of their serial offender and began to share all of their existing information with the local agencies.
Modesto was not the only suburb to fall prey to the deranged assailant. Within months of his arrival, rapes with similar profiles began occurring in other places including Davis, Concord, San Jose, San Ramon and Walnut Creek. Contra Costa County was now experiencing the same terror that the had plagued the Sacramento suburbs for two years and but in some cases it got worse. With each case attributed to the suspect, the fear that the next time he struck the victims may not survive.
The overall demeanor of the rapist continued to become increasingly bizarre. The he would make became increasingly terrifying and the way he would particularly treat the female victims when a man were present suggested his hatred for the gender was only growing with each assault. The psychotic assailant was beginning to add elements of physical torture to this already psychologically torturing experience.
Victims were reportedly gagged after being bound so tight that it cut off the blood circulation. In addition, the rapist was beginning to physically assault his victims whilst being in control of the scene. Investigators would find victims suffering lacerations and bruises along side the rape that was reaching almost forty separate cases over half the state of California.
In many of his cases he was still taking the belongings of his victims at the conclusion of the sexual assault. In his latest cases he had stolen almost fifteen hundred dollars from one victim and the wedding bands from another couple. Amazingly however, all of his victims were fortunate enough to escape with with their lives.
His final attack in this area occurred on the 7/5/79 in the suburb of Danville when he stalked another couple in the late hours of the night. This time was different however. The husband, who along with his wife were aware of the East Area Rapist, had a plan in case he ever attacked their home. Incensed by the thought of a man preparing to their home to rape his wife, jumped out of bed confront the attacker and appeared to catch him off guard.
Rather than carry out his common threat of “blowing their *expletive* heads off”, the rapist seemed stunned by the husbands display of courage as his wife was able to exit the scene. The man reported to police that at as he lay in bed he heard a noise outside his house and realized that a prowler was lurking outside his bedroom window. After looking into a mirror he saw a man placing a dark colored mask over his head and holding what appeared to be shoe laces.
Upon jumping out of bed he proceeded to shout obscenities at the individual. These seem to startle the suspect who seemed to become disorganized. Completely disregarding the possibility that the suspect may be carrying a weapon, the man continued his tirade towards the suspect knowing his wife was out of harms way. The man’s wife had made it to the front of the property to call for assistance and it was not long before neighbor had alerted law enforcement.
The suspect managed to flee before the police arrived who through the use of a sniffer dog picked up on his scent and followed it from the property to where it was lost. However the handler claimed that the dogs behavior would suggest that the scent was only few minutes old. Interviews conducted with witnesses also provided information that helped investigators attribute to the case to the East Area Rapist. A jacket worn by the suspect matched descriptions from other earlier victims.
A neighbor reported hearing a prowler on her porch at approximately 2am before proceeding over the five foot fence onto the property of his intended victims. The man who confronted the prowler also reported seeing the suspect donning his disguise. This begged the question of the rapist becoming so arrogant and confident in his abilities that did he only utilized his veil when he was ready to strike?
This may explain the lack of any kind of weapon being reported by any of the witnesses as the suspect may have placed them aside while covering his face. Back in one of the earlier Rancho Cordova cases a witness noticed a man in a ski mask entering the house opposite her property. This would become just another example of the rapist becoming increasingly brazen, only this time his face was almost seen for the first time.
The Rapist Vanishes Again, or does he? – October 1979
With the onset of October, many of the Contra Costa County officers were expecting the East Area Rapist to strike again. October had been one of his prime periods after a summer of silence. With the exception of the Stockton attack in 77, four victims were claimed in October ’76, three in ’77 and another three in the same month of ’78. They braced themselves for the call of another case matching the all too familiar MO of the offender but nothing came.
Many of the detectives began to feel a level of relief that the offender was no longer harming people in their community. However many felt disappointed that they were never able to apprehend the man who’s victim count that now stood at almost fifty. Almost fifty women had fallen pray to this phantom predator yet there was almost no solid evidence in the case to provide a prime suspect to detectives. Time continued to pass and speculation on the case continued as one of the lead investigators on the case, Detective Larry Compton in Contra Costa continued to work the task force that had been established years prior.
He theorized that the offender had never really stopped committing these crimes but had likely moved to another part of the country as he had already proven to be a mobile offender. It would not be until years later that he would be proven right as cold case investigators managed to link a series of horrific murders and a single attempted murder in Southern California. Through advancements in DNA technology and an MO identical to that of the East Area Rapist. The suspect was about to finally graduate into what investigators had feared for years now, a serial killer…
To be continued…