It was about 3 a.m. in the still, early morning when victim, 37 years old, was suddenly awakened by a voice hissing in her ear. Something jabbed her neck.
“Do you feel this butcher knife? If you scream or do anything I’ll kill you. All I want is your money. I won’t hurt you if you don’t scream.”
The above lines are recounted by Lt. Richard Shelby (Hunting a Psychopath). Though he had to rely on memory, the lines fit with EAR’s unusual pattern to say ridiculously contradictory things like “I don’t want to hurt you” in the same breath where he snarls threats to kill them if they do not comply with the slightest act he has ordered. A burglar wouldn’t need to even awake a victim in order to rob the house. This was simply EAR’s way of awaking a vicim with a jolt and then trying to calm them until he had them tied.
Once he accomplished that here he bound the victim’s wrists far more tightly than necessary. He blindfolded her and gagged her while issuing the usual lines and threats and obscenities. (Details are not known in this case.)
He raped victim several times, ransacking and roaming the house in between, partaking of food, relaxing on the patio, then returning to rape her. He stole nothing of value.
According to Shelby, EAR squeezed victim’s thumb tightly for some reason. Shelby says there was blood on her thumb, but it wasn’t hers. He does not know what became of any blood analysis.
After the house was silent for a while, she was able to get the gag off and yell for help. It was about 6:45 a.m. Neighbor heard her and called the police.
Victim had apparently been stalked for a while. She reported she had received several of those hang-up phone calls for weeks. They had ended about a week before. She also reported a prowler had been in her yard before. She was also separated from her husband, and her young son was staying over at a friend’s house this night, thus making tonight a rare night when she was alone, something it seems the assailant knew (though the presence of a child never deterred him before). Assailant entered house by forcing a sliding glass window in the backyard after breaking a small hole near the latch. This corroborated the account of more than one witness on Woodcrest, the lane behind Thornwood. Around 3828 Woodcrest each night for a few nights preceding the attack, an old yellow Ford truck, dating to late 1940s to early 1950s, was parked and a young man, 5 foot 9 inches or so, was seen walking up to the neighbor’s backyard, which was roughly behind victim’s house. The witnesses thought he was visiting them. (This is according to Shelby’s recollection).
One 15 year old female also reported the truck. She had seen it off and on over the preceding few weeks. She had only seen it a few nights within that time, but these were spread out over that period of time and not back-to-back. It was usually there just a little past 7 p.m.
Further investigation uncovered the yellow side step Ford had been found parked for several days on Knollwood Court, behind the woods and canal on the other side of Thornwood. The two communities are connected only by a narrow walking path between homes that crosses the canal and parallels the school along a thickly wooded area.
Tennis shoe impressions, size 9, were found in the backyard. Significantly, however, an impression had been found by the bathroom window on the side of the house. This was significant because this particular impression was about a week old. From the bathroom window it is possible to watch the bedroom.
Canvas of the neighborhood revealed that for the last week at least dogs had frequently been barking at night.
The discovery of footprints coincides to some extent with a discovery that Richard Shelby made. While canvassing the neighborhood, he was informed by the residents of the corner house at Northwood and Thornwood, a few houses down from the victim’s, that the 20 year old son had discovered a “cloth bag” which had been hidden in the hedge that lines the front of the house. In this bag was a ski mask, a pair of gloves and a small single D battery flashlight that could be concealed in one’s hand. When they called the sheriffs about it, they were told to throw it out. Shelby was shocked. They threw it out but kept the flashlight.
The flashlight bore no mark and could never be traced to a manufacturer or retailer.
Branching out from here, Shelby discovered under a full but short tree at the corner of the property several footprints (zigzag pattern) and light filtered tip cigarette butts. It had seemed that someone had loitered under the tree for an extended period of time, perhaps coming back for several days. (Please see Analysis below for addressing the contradictions).
According to Shelby, Salem cigarette butts had also been found in the victim’s backyard. He also recalled that the victim had been tied with black and brown shoelaces, which were tied far tighter than necessary on the victim. She, too, had the impression that the rapist was more interested in binding her than in sex.
Victim never saw assailant. He spoke in a clear though angry whisper. His gloves felt like rubber; jacket seemed “shiny.” Shoe prints fit the size of EAR’s known shoe size.
The geography of the location testifies to The EAR’s subtle way of stalking a neighborhood. Here he clearly added what would become a key feature of later strikes. He would park in another community (on Knollwood) which is divided from the one in which he’d strike by a creek, canal, or park but it is connected by a narrow walkway. See below in pictures.