It was a breezy summer night in Goleta. The murder of Offerman-Manning was a year and a half old. There was little reason to worry. Besides, it had seemed as a burglary gone bad. There wasn’t much to burglarize at Cheri Domingo’s home. It had belonged to a relative who had recently passed away and she was housesitting. She had been laid off recently and this fit her schedule. It’s never easy to be laid off at 35, but she had prospects. She was contemplating going into a consultant business on her own. She had worked at Trimm, a computer furniture manufacture, and had enough contacts to make a stab at what was soon to become the biggest business of the 1980s— computer technology and all the ephemera that came with it. This wouldn’t be for long anyway. The house was for sale, and it wouldn’t take long to find a buyer in a nice town around Santa Barbara.
There was another reason not to feel any worry. Her old light o’ love had come by to visit. Greg Sanchez was a big guy, handsome, and only 28. They had broken off their relationship months before but had remained good friends. The house was also a nice home in a cul de sac, Toltec Way— and people in cul de sacs are usually well aware of what goes on outside in that still little asphalt lagoon they live on. It should be a safe place.
But behind the house was another house, and this house was on a street that had a park on the other side and then a heavily wooded creek beyond. It was the same San Jose Creek near which the Queen Ann house was located and off of which the condos on Avenida Pequena were built. In fact, Toltec Way, though divided by a CAT corridor from the condos, was just down the road. Las Perlas connected both areas.
The CAT corridor was not detractive. It no longer had huge towering power pylons. It had specially adapted tall power poles similar to, though much larger than, regular power poles. Much of the area to one side of Las Perlas, the street that connected these communities, was devoted to a Christmas tree farm.
But neither Cheri nor Greg knew that Avenida Pequena had been the Deep Dig. EAR had scouted the area in his usual way. He had parked on the other side of the creek, in an entirely different part of Goleta, and found a footpath across at the end of Berkeley. He could scout out the communities for quite sometime, ride down Las Perlas to the condos or, at night, walk across the CAT corridor, through the Christmas tree farm situated there, and go to the condos. But now Berkeley and his Deep Dig would be used for the last time. As always with his Deep Dig and Retreat he would strike closest to his point of entry this time. The condos were far away compared. But Toltec Way was just a street away up Merida from the Berkeley footpath.
EAR had stalked here before. Even before the attack on Queen Ann Lane (October 1979) over a year and a half before. On September 24, 1979, a young man was walking his dog, which was off its leash and wandered into a yard off Berkeley. The dog returned badly cut up. No one was home when he knocked on the door. He then bothered a neighbor and called somebody to come help him. A man came and picked him and his dog up. It required 70 stitches. He returned to the homeowner who had helped him and left a solitary rose in gratitude for allowing him to call.
That October EAR would attack at Queen Ann Lane. That December 30, he would attack closer to Berkeley at Avenida Pequena.
Now on the night of July 26, a local resident on Merida saw a white male leaning against a tree at 9:45 p.m. Later at 10 p.m. a man and wife were walking. They were followed by a blond man, young, shoulder length hair, about 5 foot 10 inches tall. At 11 p.m. a mother was jogging with her daughter. They saw a white male standing on the sidewalk in front of the house on Merida that was right behind Cheri’s house. He had a dog with him. They described the young man as in his 20s, white, blond, and the dog a German Shepherd.
Safe in the house neither Cheri nor Greg knew of this. Why should it be a big deal anyway? A late summer night. People are out and about. But at 3 a.m. all was quiet. The sky was indigo. The streets were awash with the bloodless light of the halogen lamps.
Around 3:25 a.m. a neighbor, Virginia Wood, heard a gunshot. There was a scream. Dogs barked for about 45 minutes. It was quiet again.
Because the house was for sale a real estate agent came by around 12 noon to show it. The door was locked. She let herself in. She walked around and came to the front bedroom. There, nude, partially in the closet, slumped over and covered with some loose clothes, was a man. It was clear he was dead. A body was under the covers on the bed. There was blood splattered about. She called the listing agent. “I don’t know what to say, but there is the body of a man face down in the bedroom,” she reportedly said.
The police arrived to find the scene. The body was, of course, Greg Sanchez. It took days for the coroner to finally determine he had been shot once in the cheek (non fatal) and then beaten 24 times on the head. Pulling the sheets down revealed Cheri Domingo. Nude, her hands were behind her back. It was clear her ankles and wrists had been bound in a “hog style” manner. Curiously, the ligatures had been removed. She, too, had been bludgeoned to death. One account says it was gruesome and far more than was necessary to kill. Larry Crompton in Sudden Terror says she was hit only once by the same weapon that had killed Sanchez.
Greg Sanchez had been shot, apparently while kneeling or at a downward angle from the assailant. He then must have gotten up, been hit again, stumbled back. He had then been beaten maniacally until he fell and slumped into the closest. The killer then threw clothes on him.
It was a cross between the Manning-Offerman murder and those bedroom murders in Ventura, Irvine and Dana Point. Santa Barbara sheriffs were now suspicious it was the same guy. They labeled him “Night Stalker.”
Even when in 1997 DNA tests definitely linked all the crimes as done by EAR, there was no link with Goleta. It remained only suspicion. There was no DNA evidence from the Queen Ann attack, of course; and Offerman and Manning had been murdered too quickly for EAR to commit rape. Hence no DNA. Supposedly that was true here too. But in 2011 tests were done, apparently on DNA samples, that indicated EAR was definitely to blame here as well. There was little surprise, but now there was legal proof. Thus Cheri Domingo, sadly, had also been raped.
The sequence of events is thus quite complex and convoluted. When did Greg Sanchez get loose? With Offerman, since there were wrist but no ankle ligatures on him, he seems to have made a play for EAR before he could even finish binding them. EAR’s MO was to make the woman tie the man, then he would tie the woman and then tie the man’s ankles. He would then take the woman to another room and rape her. By the looks of the bed in the spare bedroom in Ventura, he did the same there. In each case, the men must have been left alone, bound, but apparently without any dishes on their back to alert EAR they had gotten loose. None of the men had gags, though they might have been removed. It is interesting to note, however, that the ligatures were not removed from the Smiths, but there still were no gags.
But there was no evidence that Sanchez had been bound at all. Yet Cheri Domingo was elaborately trussed up. What on earth was the sequence of events here?
In a summary of these events written by detective and profiler Leslie D’Ambrosia, she called attention to a sequence of events she believed must have taken place.
“Evidence reveals that the male victims were likely eliminated prior to the sexual assault and murder of the female victims. KEITH HARRINGTON was struck in the head with a blunt instrument. A crime scene assessment indicated that scratches and chipped wood on the headboard were likely made when KEITH HARRINGTON was struck in the head. A wood chip was discovered in the bed sheets between PATRICE HARRINGTON’S legs. The location of the wood chip would support the theory that KEITH HARRINGTON was struck first. Because this happened in the HARRINGTON case, it is likely that the offender struck and killed the male victims first in all the cases.”
The problem with this assessment is that D’Ambrosia didn’t have any of the Goleta information. Clearly, the Domingo-Sanchez murders change that. EAR did not shoot Sanchez and then remain around to truss and rape Cheri Domingo. A gunshot means he had to move quickly. He beat Sanchez and then must have beaten Domingo. This means he had already raped her. Yet there is no evidence that Sanchez was ever bound. If this is true it is hard to imagine how EAR could have left him alone somewhere while trussing or raping Domingo elsewhere. One thing seems certain: Sanchez challenged EAR. He went berserk, shot him in the cheek, probably while struggling with the gun, and then beat him 24 times over the head. Twenty-four times. How someone could collect themselves after this rage to “hog tie” and rape a woman is hard to imagine.
There can also be a different interpretation to the Harrington chain of events. Keith Harrington was hit once, leaving no blood, but it killed him. He had been covered with the bedspread first. In this case, the other side of the bed would be covered with the spread as well. It is unlikely that the wood chip would find its way under the covers. Rather, if EAR beat them both one after the other, when he pulled down the spread to removed their bindings, a wood chip laying on the edge of the spread or by a pillow could have come with it and fallen between Patti Harrington’s legs.
From the looks of Greg Sanchez’s high school grad photo, he was fatalistic. In the space allowed under the name for those students who wish to leave a sentiment, he had written: “even lucky men die.” The question is, when did he die?
Cheri Domingo had been trussed in a fashion called “hog tied,” meaning that not only were her wrists and ankles bound, the legs had been drawn up behind her and tied to the wrists. It takes a while to hog tie someone. How could EAR risk doing this with Sanchez unbound? How could he risk doing this after firing a gunshot and then going berserk with some unidentified bludgeon?
As in other cases, the weapon was gone. There was no sign of forced entry. However, EAR had gotten in by removing the screen on a small window in the bathroom. This allowed him to reach in and unbolt the door that leads to the patio. Nothing appears to have been stolen. The house was not ransacked.
Who was the young blond man with the white German Shepherd? Many have promoted him as being EAR on the prowl because what appeared to be 3 toed German Shepherd footprints were found at Offerman’s. Were they coincidence? This same young man appears to be the one who had knocked on a door on Berkeley months before because someone had stabbed his nosey dog when it intruded into a house’s yard where the family was temporarily gone. It sounds like EAR did the stabbing and was not the young man with the dog. Recall the Windsor Court incident in which the family saw someone in their home when they pulled up. When they entered they found their poodle beaten to death.
That was EAR’s method. Berkeley fit his Dig and Retreat MO. Strike in deep in one community from an adjoining footpath to another community. Then when he returned strike closer to his point of entry, in this case a home closer to the footpath at the end of Berkeley, which comes out on Merida just down from Toltec. After he accomplished this, it always signaled he would never return, and indeed he did not. Instead he returned to Irvine. Curiously, however, it was almost 5 years later.