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True Crime/Cold Case Files     EAR Crime Index

The Case of the East Area Rapist AKA The Original Night Stalker

261 Rape

Victim No. 14— WFA 37 years

Tuesday, March 8, 1977

About 3 a.m.

Thornwood Drive

  He is the real life Michael Myers. He looked like the average teen, except for his morose eyes. Yet he is the No. 1 serial offender in history. He was so careful, he is known only by his DNA. The East Area Rapist, as he was known, struck California communities for 10 years— 1976-1986. Toward the end he became a murderer now known as the Original Night Stalker. He has 50 rapes and 12 murders to his record. Then he vanished. He would be about 58 years old now, living what appears a normal life. These are the files on his crimes.

Sacramento/Arden Arcade

Over the River . . .
           and Through the Woods

East Area Rapist


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 NB-320-black2lines 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.

Wooded glen-icon

This angle accentuates why EAR chose Knollwood to park. It’s easier to go from here to the wooded area along the creek and then into the deserted power station and over into Thornwood. But how did he find the general location to begin with? This is the furthest afield that he had struck so far. It would remain an isolated case, and this is a clue.

Clairidge Way-Knollwood-icon
Knollwood Court2-icon

The map shows to what extent EAR confined himself within the area between Watt and Sunrise Avenue (marked by blue arrows). All of the attacks so far were between these 2 major north-south thoroughfares except 11, which was very close to Watt on the other side. 

Clairidge Way-icon


The house was a single story, detached middle-class home like in the previous cases.


Here the EAR added what would become a key ingredient of his stalking MO— one community separated from the other but connected by a walking path. He may have used this same tactical stratagem in the case of Victim No. 9, where a shallow canal divided two communities, one under construction, the other one older, but both connected by a game trail through a budding woodland. But here there are clues— that old yellow truck on Knollwood.

     According to Shelby we must assume this is the same truck that witnesses on Woodcrest reported parking behind the victim’s house. This too was a tactic used by EAR. He came up from behind. This probably was his first ever tactic. He seems to have used it on Victim No. 1, coming from the area of Del Rey Court behind it. He may have done that with Victim 3 as well.

     The reason why we must assume the the truck is the same is because Shelby does not mention the fact that the yellow side step Ford truck was seen parked on Knollwood. It may be his memory. But it is a fact that the Ford truck was known to have been parked on Knollwood Court, for a Sheriff Department memo submitted May 2, 1977 (and later released) mentions EAR’s actions to date, which included this incident. The profiler mentions the truck having been seen parked on Knollwood. There is no mention of Woodcrest Way.

     The area fits perfectly with the EAR’s MO for faceless stalking of a neighborhood. He could park on Knollwood in that old yellow truck, walk past the school in the wooded area, attracting no attention whatsoever, and reconnoiter the neighborhoods. He could then DSC05383-50%-iconreturn at night and home-in on a potential victim. This was made easier by the pumping station, which will become a significant clue later, as the large wooded area around it is off limits and as such unobserved at night because it is a part of a pumping station. This station is between Knollwood and Thornwood Drive.

   Victim was obviously stalked for at least a week prior.

     But was she the only intended victim in this neighborhood? If Shelby’s recollection is right then EAR did not assail the victim’s house from behind it that night but from the corner house a few doors down. The victim’s house can really not be observed from this location well, only parts of its front yard at an extreme angle.

     EAR selected a number of viable victims while initially prowling a community and then came back weeks later to strike, then weeks or months later to strike another. Was he intending someone else tonight, someone visible from under the tree down Thornwood?

     This was also one of the oldest victims he had so far struck. If she was an alternate choice, this would explain why he forgot his bag with its backup mask, gloves and unusual flashlight. After his 3 hours of mayhem in Victim 14’s house, he may have simply jumped DSC05384-50%-iconthe fence to get to Woodcrest where perhaps he had parked this night. If not, it is hard to explain how he could forget from what direction he initially came to the house from down the street.

     The possible scenario would be this: It is near 3 a.m. He puts on his mask and stows his bag in the hedge at the corner house, with its extra mask and gloves and flashlight. He now goes to the intended victim’s house. When she was not available he went down the street to the alternate, in the interim unable to locate his bag again. At 6 a.m., around the time he left, it was getting too light and he wasn’t going to browse the corner house again looking for his bag. He escapes, leaving behind a significant clue.

     Richard Shelby said that others on the block had received those hang-up phone calls, DSC04393-50%-iconespecially a mother and her two daughters. Neighbors along the entire block confirmed prowling had been going on for a while, and in the last week dogs had frequently been barking at something.

     According to Shelby another woman had seen a young man wearing a gray jogging outfit stare into the window of the corner house at Montclair and Thornwood at 6:30 a.m. on the morning of the attack. I cannot link this with anything, as EAR must have been gone already. She may have made a mistake about the day in which she saw this person.

     After EAR failed with an intended victim, he was usually meaner with the next. This seems true here. At this residence he was more interested in cruelty than rape, and spent 3 hours terrorizing the victim while lording over her house.



Files on the EAR/ONS




A Word About Rape

   Notes on Personal Investigation

Logic verses Instinct

The Folklore of “Copycat”




The Summer of ’76

Victim #1
— The Beginning—
Rancho Cordova

Victim #2
—Careful Selection—
Del Dayo

     Victim #3
— Foiled Attack—
 Rancho Cordova

Victim #4
— Violent Improvisation—

   Victim #5
— Selected Target—
 Citrus Heights

Victim #6
— Curious Tactics—
 Rancho Cordova

     Victim #7
— Baring Down—
 Del Dayo 

     Victim #8
— Interrupted Arrival—
 Rancho Cordova

Analysis of First 8 Strikes

Victim #9
— Revealing Mistake—
 Citrus Heights

Victim #10
— Fair Oaks—

  Living Dangerously
— The Year of the EAR—

Victim #11
— Cats and Fields—

Victim #12—
 Blind Spot Reveals—
 Citrus Heights

Victim #13
— Unexpected Jogger—

Ripon Court Shooting

 Victim #14
— Over the River . . .
and Through the Woods—

Victim #15
— Tactical Misuse—
 Rancho Cordova

Victim #16
— Opportunity Knocks a Clue—

Victim #17
— Unexpected Spoke in the Hub—

Victim #18
— Moving Upwards—
La Riviera

Victim #19
— Presentiment
 Impromptu Danger—

Victim #20
— Blind Spot
 and a
Stop Watch—
 Citrus Heights

Victim #21
— Tactical 1—
Del Dayo

Victim #22
— Tactical 2—
South Sacramento


  After the Lull—
1977’s Autumn of Fear


Victim #23
— Tactical 3—

Victim #24
— Switcharoo—
 La Riviera

Victim #25
— Follow Diablo—
 Foothill Farms

Victim #26
—  Dump Truck Biker—

Victim #27
— Condo Commando—
La Riviera

Victim #28
— Tail of Diablo—
 Foothill Farms

Victim #29/30
— Assault!—

Maggiore Double Murders
— Critical Clue—
 Rancho Cordova

   Yet Another Year— 1978


       Witness in Charcoal

Victim #31
— Distant Roaming—

Victim #31B
— Back to Rancho—
 Rancho Cordova

Victim #32
— Little Pocket, Big Clue—
 South Sacramento

Victim #33
— The Deep Dig—

Victim #34
— Co-Ed—

Victim #35
— Back—

Victim #36
— Forth—

Silent Victim
— Lateral—

Victim #37
— Forth North—

A New East—
 Contra Costa Corridor

Victim #38
—  Surreal Schedule—

Victim #39
— Opportunity Kicks—

Victim #40
— Cats and Fields Again—
 San Ramon

Victim #41
— The Way to San Jose—
 San Jose

Victim #42
— Sobbing in San Jose—
 San Jose

Victim #43
— Danville—
 Playing it Close


   No Stopping Him— 1979

Lacing with Ligatures— Thunderbird Place

Victim #43B
— Auld Lange Syne—
 Rancho Cordova

Victim #44
— Along the 680—

Victim #45
— Follow the Cats—
 Walnut Creek

Victim #46
— Sticking to Routine—

Victim #47
— Walnut Creek—
 Dig and Retreat

Victim #48
— Shouted Out—

Victim #49
—  The Unsuspected —


—Original Night Stalker—

— Doctor Duo—
 Dec 30, 1979

— Cats & Murder—
 March 13, 1980

Laguna Niguel
— Exclusive—
August 19, 1980

— Home Alone—
 Feb. 6, 1981

— Dig & Retreat Again—
 July 27, 1981

— Epitome of MO—
May 4, 1986


         Phantom Predator—
  Analysis of EAR Crime Spree

       Analysis of EAR Prowling MO

Portrait of Terror

The Lair of an Arch Rapist

     The Mystery of the Silent Dog

Phone Calls


Persons of Interest





Night Predator
Files on the East Area Rapist/Original Night Stalker

The Website of Gian J. Quasar