The date was February 2, 1978. Location: Rancho Cordova. Time: about 9:15 p.m.
Brian and Katie Maggiore had left their La Verta Court apartment address to walk their little dog Thumper. They turned left onto Malaga Way and walked past La Loma. Here, on the other side, Malaga is called Capitales. They turned right on the next street, La Alegria. La Alegria forks ahead. To the left it continues; the right fork is called La Gloria. They continue to walk La Alegria. It is a routine enough walk in a quiet, safe neighborhood.
Brian and Katie’s apartment was perfectly situated. Brian, a sergeant in the Air Force, was stationed nearby at Mather Field. He is 21 years old, a graduate of Fresno High School. Katie, his young wife, is 20 years old. They have been married less than 2 years. La Verta Court was an island of apartments amidst a sea of middle class neighborhoods. It’s easy to go from here to the base. Paseo Drive is just a couple of blocks behind the apartments, down Malaga Way. Paseo becomes Mather Field on the other side of Folsom Blvd. It’s all very convenient.
They continue on La Alegria, strolling with Thumper past the single story, middle class houses. At West La Loma they turned right and at the next street, La Gloria, they turn right again and walk back. But before they reach where La Gloria merges again with La Alegria, something happens. What? It is not exactly clear. But there is a chase. It starts near the cul de sac of La Chova. Then 2 shots ring out. Glass is smashed.
Neighbors now hear cries. A woman is shouting “Help me!” More gun shots (3 shots). Someone scales a fence. Running footsteps are heard. Neighbors emerge to see what happened. One, young Karl Nollsch, is just two doors down La Alegria from the Ottlinger’s residence, where the sounds had come from. A man is running on the sidewalk toward him. He must be the one he had heard scaling a nearby fence from the backyard of the Ottlinger’s residence. He is running along the La Alegria sidewalk toward West La Loma. However, he was no further along the sidewalk than the center of the Ottlinger’s neighbor (abreast to a tree planted in the middle of the lawn which is still there to this day) when the fleeing man sees the 17 year old, stops in surprise, turns and runs back around La Alegria to Capitales. Nollsch specifically described him as mid-20s, short brown hair, slender, about 160 pounds, about 6 foot to 6 foot 2 inches tall, and wearing a brown leather jacket with a stain on the lower right side in back (seen when man turned and ran). He also wore dark pants and shoes.
When police arrived the scene is thus: Brian Maggiore’s body is found in the Ottlinger’s backyard, shot in the chest. Accounts vary. The bullet either went in the back of his neck and down into his chest or he was shot in the chest and the bullet exited his neck. Down along the narrow side of the yard, by the Ottlinger’s side gate, is found the body of Katie Maggiore. She had been shot in the head before she could get out of the gate. The police approaching from the front of the house noticed her blonde hair sticking out from under the gate to the driveway. One bullet had gone astray, smashed through the Ottlinger’s back patio window and then lodged in their wall. The bullet missed the homeowner, Nicholas Ottlinger, by inches. (“I threw my wife to the floor, and we just stayed there for a while.”) Their little poodle Thumper is found shivering in the neighbor’s pool.
Investigators suspected that Brian and Katie had encountered their assailant near La Chova, fled from him through the house on La Gloria, around the homeowner’s backyard pool, and then into the Ottlinger’s. Storm or work had brought some of the fence down between the yards, so it was possible to move between them.
All said and done, a young couple had been murdered while simply taking their dog for a short evening stroll. It’s a nice neighborhood. Some of the people still live there to this day.
Interestingly, police supposedly found ligatures in the vicinity, the kind The EAR would use to tie up victims.
What to make of this tragic and pointless crime?
Was their killer the East Area Rapist? If so, then this murder becomes a valuable clue. For one, it suggests that Brian or Katie Maggiore knew him. The events that occurred on that street don’t indicate some stranger was merely caught fudging with the law. The events indicate the Maggiores had to die. The scenario would be that the perp was seen in a compromising position— in other words, seen by them coming out of some neighbor’s side gate, over the fence or through a window. It had to be something that immediately identified him as the infamous EAR by people who could identify him by name. Karl Nollsch, the witness, wasn’t shot down by the man because he obviously couldn’t identify him (his gun may also have been empty).
There can be no doubt that the Maggiores had to die. Their killer shot Brian pointblank in the chest (or neck). He went for head shots on Katie in the dark. He wasn’t scaring them off. He wasn’t wounding them to buy himself some time to escape. They had to die. He was a good shot. It was dark. He could see well in darkness. He chased them and shot them while on the run. He essentially succeeded in killing them before they could escape.
They had to die. That is the thing. They could not be allowed to survive. Nollsch could be allowed to survive.
So whom did Brian or Katie Maggiore know? Brian certainly knew other military men. He also knew military men who weren’t of the most honorable caliber. Maggiore was an administrative specialist with the Security Police Squadron at the base. How could Katie have known EAR? I know of no such police investigations into her past, but apparently there was no connection between the crime and Brian Maggiore’s military position. They had only moved to Rancho back in August when Brian was transferred here. He was soon to be transferred to Germany.
On the surface there are some problems with the theory that EAR was the perpetrator. One, the suspect described by Nollsch is too tall to be EAR. Time would soon give us more details. The leather jacket bundled at the waist, like it had elastic, and it had an orange dragon on the left front pocket. The shoes the suspect wore were actually pointed boots— like cowboy boots— not something The EAR wore at all.
The biggest problem with dogmatically believing that EAR was their killer is the fact that 2 men were seen. The other man actually did not flee in any strict sense. He had merely been seen earlier on La Gloria. He is about 5 foot 8 to 10. He was wearing dark pants, dark shoes and had a dark jacket on with slash pockets. This supposedly hung down lower than his waist. He was in his early 20s. He had medium brown hair, thinning in front, short sideburns, and a mustache trimmed to the corners of his mouth. He wore brown gloves. According to an 11 year old girl, he had a gun in his trouser pocket. Except for the mustache, this sounds more like EAR. If it is, then there’s a problem. He’s not the killer. The circumstances point to the tall man who jumped the fence and ran down La Alegria in cowboy boots. The one on La Gloria is really not described as “fleeing.” He is merely one of two men seen earlier.
There were more than one set of composites done of both persons of interest. Mustache switches back and forth. No 1 is called No 2 in some sketches and reversed in others. Even the stain on the jacket moved about. Both are later credited with being in their early 20s, not mid-20s. The one that jumped the fence is said to have medium hair that came to the “middle of his neck and to his eyebrows.” He had thick lips. Early reports had said this one had the short brown hair. The jacket had a zipper. It was the bomber pilot kind. It is clear that confusion came to dominate since both persons of interest were near the same age. But Nollsch saw only one, and he saw the one most likely to have been the killer. This man was taller, had on the boots and the leather jacket with the dragon and the stain. He is not the one said to have been seen with a gun, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t have one. But, again, both descriptions seem confused.
It is hard to believe that EAR worked his terror campaign as a “conspiracy rape” and had a man looking out for him. Nothing indicates he had an accomplice. Therefore, the two men might have been in the neighborhood independent of each other. Therefore again, is EAR the one who killed them or the one seen on La Gloria before? In this scenario, he hears the gunshots and the cries for help. His hands may have been in his pockets when the shots ring out. He jolts and in removing them, the ligatures fall out. In this theory, he is casing the neighborhood. Essentially he is targeting a future victim. He has nothing to do with the Maggiores. The other man kills them and runs. EAR is taken by surprise and realizes he must flee too, for he has no excuse to be in the neighborhood.
Amended yet again . . .
I corrected the composites above to put the mustache on the man with the short hair. The one on the left would be the young 5 foot 10 inch man seen on La Gloria, wearing the jacket with the slash pockets. The other is the one who jumped the fence and who turned around when seen by Nollsch on La Alegria. He is the prime suspect here. . . .But . . .and always but. . .did the other one have a mustache too?
Both theories are rather tantalizing, but the theory that EAR is the killer I think has been preferred for discussion purposes because then it gives us a link to his ultimate identity. Trace the Maggiores’ past and ferret out The EAR. It must be, after all, someone that the Maggiores knew. The other theory doesn’t give us any link. It is simply coincidence that EAR was in the neighborhood. If that is so, then good luck finding EAR through studying the Maggiore murders.
It may be preferable to believe— perhaps to “hope” is the better word— that EAR was their killer, but there are some instinctive reasons to believe there is some connection. If EAR simply fled after somebody else shot the Maggiores, why were ligatures found? Yes, I have offered one explanation above. But another fits just as well. They might have fallen out from his pocket when he pulled his gun out to chase them.
Then there are some intangibles. The neighborhood is the kind that EAR would stalk. Behind the cul de sac of La Chova is Las Casas Way and Cordova Meadows Elementary. Perfect place for EAR to park. He approached homes from behind, jumped over fences and prowled through backyards, and he often struck on or near cul de sacs. Take, for instance, the attack (No 15) on Dolecetto in Ranch Cordova. He had consistently parked on Ellenbrook behind Dolecetto and moved through yards. The bloodhound traced his scent to a blind spot, where he had parked.
There is no real blind spot on Las Casas behind La Chova, but there is just down the street at West La Loma and El Chorlito. It’s only about a 6 house walk from here to those behind La Chova. At night, with the school dark and empty across the street, who is to see if EAR hops a front yard fence? Take all the stalking before Attack No. 11 in La Riviera. In more than one case, he was seen to simply walk up to a front house and even enter right through the side gate.
I do not belabor this point here academically. The suspect initially fled along La Alegria to West La Loma. This is the quickest way to El Chorlito and the blind spot. Being seen, he turns around and takes the long way around. In addition to this there are the apartments on West La Loma and Capitales. EAR also parked in front of apartments. In these crowded parking areas, he would merely look like a guest and no notice would be taken of him or his car. In running back around to Capitales, the suspect could have been going back around to the apartments. Thus he could have parked in either spot that night. La Alegria was the fastest way to each— a curious coincidence— but the suspect had to turn around because of Nollsch. This is significant. His first reaction tells us where he had to go— back to West La Loma.
These intangibles say that one of them could have been The EAR. Only the action to get back to West La Loma, and with this ostensibly to the apartments or the blind spot, indicate that the suspect running on La Alegria was EAR.
Still, it could merely be coincidence. EAR (if he was the other man) may have disappeared along La Gloria. The running suspect in the cowboy boots may have parked on West La Loma for other reasons.
Just because the Maggiores’ killer may not be EAR is no reason to walk away from this crime. The circumstances still indicate someone who knew them both, Brian or Katie, and was afraid of being identified.
I have to some extent followed the Maggiores’ past as best I was able amidst the enormity of this crime spree. The composites most definitely strongly resemble two men in Brian Maggiore’s past. It was to such an extent that, without any other motive, I started tracing them. The one I truly believed had the mustache (the one with the short hair) was fairly easy to find. He had a mustache back then. He still has it today. He’s had quite a past. Life has not been good to him; well, the system hasn’t at any rate. Sexual child molestation and a number of other nasties on his record.
Would Brian Maggiore have interrupted and confronted a sexual molester in or near the act? Probably. Would that molester have chased him down with a gun? Problematic. Curiously, a young girl was a witness, close enough to have seen a roscoe in one of the suspect’s pockets.
Aside from the “pervert from his past” scenario, what motive would someone other than EAR have for not only killing the Maggiores but for needing to kill them?
Both Brian and Katie knew a nebulous entity known as “Junior.” According to Katie’s mother (who had talked on the phone with her daughter that night around 7 p.m.) he was due by that night to teach them CB slang. Remember, it was all the rage back then . . . Someone with a leather jacket and a stain on it does rather sound like a Gear Jammer. Could it have been Junior or someone Junior then went to meet after teaching them slang? What could Junior or his contact have been doing? Who could be committing a grievous crime in such a normal neighborhood that would require such a reaction on the perp’s part if he was seen and recognized? A drug transaction?— well, that was hardly anything back then.
Brian and Katie would not have been expected in this neighborhood. Usually, they walked Thumper around Malaga up to El Caprice or Paseo. But since Brian had only been transferred to Rancho in August 1977, long after EAR struck along Paseo at Malaga, there would have been no miscreant for them to have seen in earlier walks. So if they did see EAR on La Gloria their murder couldn’t have been because they had seen him stalking on Paseo before and knew he was EAR. They had to have known him from somewhere else.
Somehow this always seems to come back to EAR. It is just too hard to think anybody else would so need to kill the Maggiores.
There is one other intangible that indicates EAR was involved. He would strike again soon in Rancho Cordova, but it was almost the furthest away from this location that he could get and still be in Rancho Cordova. But first he would strike outside of Sacramento again. Again, he went to Stockton. He would now start a reign of terror over the State. But he would conspicuously avoid where he began in Rancho Cordova.