'People Magazine Investigates' Tracks the Hunt for the Golden State Serial Killer, Who Killed 12 and Raped 45

The Golden State Killer -- also known as the East Area Rapist and the Original Night Stalker -- has been linked by DNA to 12 murders and 45 sexual assaults

He progressed from rape to murder, wearing a ski mask and shining a flashlight into his victims’ eyes.

Over a 10-year-period — from 1976 to 1986 — he was linked by DNA and M.O. to 12 murders, 45 sexual assaults and more than 120 burglaries from Sacramento to southern California’s Orange County. He is still at large.

The case of the Golden State Serial Killer — also known as the East Area Rapist and the Original Night Stalker — is the subject of the first episode of season 2 of People Magazine Investigates, which airs Monday (10 p.m. ET) on Investigation Discovery

The breakout hit show draws from the original reporting of PEOPLE’s award-winning true crime team.

Ahead of the show, PEOPLE editor Greg Hanlon discussed the chilling case on Monday’s People Now.

“This was the ‘70s, so a lot of things we take for granted now – DNA, surveillance cameras – just weren’t a thing,” says Hanlon, adding that the killer took steps to conceal his identity.

• For more on this case, watch the People Magazine Investigates premiere episode The Golden State Killer on Mon., Nov. 6, at 10 p.m. ET on Investigation Discovery.

After the media reported that he only attacked women home alone, he sought out couples, forcing the women by knife or gunpoint to bind the men with shoelaces he brought with him. He would then stack teacups or plates on the male’s back and would threaten to kill everyone if he heard a clatter.

“With a lot of serial killers, you see this type of escalation,” says Hanlon, explaining how the suspect went from being a rapist to a killer. “The thrill-seeking, it just needs to escalate.”

RELATED VIDEO: People Magazine Investigates the Golden State Serial Killer

On some occasions, he would enter homes when no one was home days or weeks prior to his attacks so he could learn about his future victims. He put on fake accents, like German or Chinese, in an attempt to throw detectives off his trail.

• Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.

In 1986, he is believed to have stopped his spree after he killed a teenager in her Irvine, California, home.


No one has ever been charged in the murders and rapes despite years of police work, a DNA profile and intense media attention. The case has spawned countless documentaries and a dedicated band of online sleuth. Last year, on the 40th anniversary of his first attack, the FBI offered a $50,000 reward for information leading to his capture.

“These survivors are, to this day, looking over their shoulder,” says Hanlon.

RELATED VIDEO: People Magazine Investigates: The Golden State Serial Killer

Today, a team of dedicated investigators and criminalists from northern and southern California are working together to track down the elusive killer.

Courtesy friends and family

“The answer is out there somewhere,” Sacramento County 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.”

People Magazine Investigates: The Golden State Killer airs Monday (10 p.m. ET) on Investigation Discovery

Contact 1-800-call FBI or go to tips.fbi.gov with any info on the Golden State Killer.

Related Articles