The Orange County, California, Sheriff's Department is seeking the identity of a serial rapist and murderer. Between June 1976 and July 1979, the offender, known as the East Area Rapist (EAR), committed at least 50 sexual assaults in the counties of Sacramento and Contra Costa. In 2001, DNA linked the EAR to six murders occurring between March 1980 and May 1986 in southern California, and his method of operation also implicated him in additional area murders. The possibility exists that the suspect is deceased or currently in prison.
A nocturnal criminal, the suspect prowled and burglarized his victims' neighborhoods days, and sometimes weeks, prior to his attacks. He wore a ski mask, gloves, dark clothing with long sleeves, and tennis shoes or military-style boots. He brought a knife or firearm (.45-, .357-, or .38-caliber) with him. His method of entry often would involve prying open sliding-glass doors with a screwdriver. He would attack even in the presence of children or dogs. Initially, the suspect targeted single females, but evolved into attacking male-female couples while they slept or as they prepared to retire for the night.
Possible Suspect Information
Authorities describe the suspect as probably white with fair to light olive complexion and most likely dark hair, between 5'7" and 5'11" in height, currently in his late 40s to early 50s, and possibly bearing a tattoo of a bull on either forearm. His modus operandi included such actions as--
* talking/whispering to victims through clenched teeth;
* waking sleeping victims by shining a flashlight on them or speaking to them;
* telling victims that all he wanted was money and food and repeatedly asking where money or jewelry was located, but seldom taking anything of value;
* threatening victims by pressing a gun or knife against their skin and threatening to kill them;
* binding victims, often very tightly, with shoestrings, twine, or cord he brought to the scene;
* covering victims' heads or blindfolding them with a towel or article of clothing;
* separating the female victim from the male, moving the woman to another room where he raped and sometimes sodomized her or ordered her to perform fellatio;
* placing dishes or similar objects on the male's back prior to moving the female, telling the male that he would kill everyone if he heard any noise; and
* spending a significant amount of time with the victims, from several minutes to 4 hours.
The EAR evolved into a killer, generally bludgeoning his victims' heads multiple times with a blunt object or shooting those he could not control. Over time, he appeared to become more aware of evidence, removing the ligatures from his victims' bodies before leaving the crime scene. Investigators surmise that, in later cases, he observed the couples performing sexual intercourse, then entered the house and killed them in a blitz-type attack.