Authorities Renew Hunt for 'Original Night Stalker' Serial Killer, Believed Responsible for 12 Murders and 45 Rapes in 1970s and '80s
The FBI on Wednesday announced they were offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to the capture of one of California’s most elusive alleged serial killers, who has by turns been known as the East Area Rapist, the Golden State Killer, and the Original Night Stalker.
The suspect, who was linked through DNA evidence, is believed to have committed 12 murders, 45 rapes and 120 residential burglaries between 1976 and 1986 from Sacramento to Orange County. His victims ranged in age from 13 to 41 and included women at home alone or with their children or husbands.
The FBI set up a website about the elusive killer, which includes audio recordings by survivors and victims’ families and videos by agents and police talking about the case.
“The answer is out there somewhere,” Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert tells PEOPLE. “It is a case that needs to be solved because these women and these families deserve the answers and the person if alive needs to be brought to justice. It has been 40 years of this.”
Schubert adds, “We have a profile. We just need to put a name to that profile, and so even though it may seem like a needle in a haystack, someone can find the needle. But you have to be persistent and we need the communities help.”
“You might get 1,000 tips and maybe one is the answer. You can find the needle,” she adds.
The attacks began in Sacramento in 1976 with the June 18 rape of a woman in the Rancho Cordova-Carmichael neighborhood. Authorities are publicizing the search nationally in advance of the 40th anniversary of his first attack.
“If you grew up in Sacramento in the 70s or later, everybody knows this case because it took the community hostage,” says Schubert. “People were terrified. People went out and bought guns. People went out and got dogs. It was a time before this happened when we were just innocent kids that would ride our bikes around, and then it just changed.”
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A ‘Distinctive’ Method
The attacker wore a ski mask and would pry open windows and doors of homes of single women or couples. Once inside, he would enter the bedroom and shine a flashlight into his victims’ eyes.
Schubert describes the suspect’s distinctive, meticulous method:
“He wore a mask and he was very good at what he did. He would pick out more affluent communities. There were claims he would target homes that were up for sale. Oftentimes it was a husband and wife at home. He would come prepared. He would have shoelaces and a mask.
“He would bring the shoelaces with him and then he would tie up the husband and put him on his stomach, and put teacups or plates on his back and take the woman off and rape her. He did that with the man because he could then hear the guy if he moved. It was very distinctive.”
It is believed by many that the suspect may have been a member of the military or law enforcement. “Sacramento County had two very robust air force bases here at the time,” says Schubert.
“There was a belief he was potentially either in the military … or there was some suspicion that back in the day he could have been associated with law enforcement because they felt he was very good with guns.”
The suspect, who was described as a 5-foot-9 white male with blond or auburn hair, eventually moved to the Southern California area where he committed at least ten homicides between 1979 and 1986.
If still alive, law enforcement believes he is between 60 and 75 years old.