Sunday, 15 July 2018

Part 3 of the Golden State Killer: The East Area Rapist

Following his crime spree in Visalia, California, the Golden State Killer is believed to have moved to the Sacramento area in mid-1976, where he became known as the East Area Rapist. At the beginning he stalked middle-class neighborhoods in search of women who were alone or with small children.

He eventually began attacking couples. He would wait until the occupants of a house were asleep and then enter through a sliding glass door or window, blinding them with a flashlight, and threatening them with a handgun. He would separate the couple, and he often piled plates on the backs of the males, advising them he would hear any movement and would kill them and their spouse if they tried to intervene in the rape. He often raided the kitchens of the victims. In many cases, he would wait in the darkness and when his victims thought he had left their home, he would jump out at them. These sadistic details were highlighted in Michelle McNamara's book, I'll Be Gone Before Dark, and further fuelled her desire to unmask the Golden State Killer.

Michelle McNamara's concern was with the victims of the Golden State Killer. For further background on the East Area Rapist and the legacy of his crimes, please click here.

(Source for this post: Wikipedia)

Part 4 of this series of posts will deal with the Original Night Stalker.

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Part 2 of the Golden State Killer: The Visalia Ransacker

This is the second in a series of posts on the Golden State Killer. As I noted in my initial post, which dealt with Michelle McNamara's book entitled I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer, this serial killer is believed to have begun his crime spree as the Visalia Ransacker.

Visalia is in the agricultural area of San Joaquin Valley and is located approximately 230 miles southeast of San Francisco.

The Visalia Ransacker operated in Visalia, California, in the mid-1970s and is believed to have committed 120 crimes. This criminal would, in most cases, break into a single-family home and steal small items, including coins, Blue Chip stamps, and personal items such as single earrings, cufflinks, rings, or medallions. He often left higher-value items such as bank notes behind.

His crime spree ended with the murder of Claude Snelling, who died protecting his daughter from a kidnap attempt.

Although a suspect has been taken into custody as the Golden State Killer, the statute of limitations has passed on the burglaries, and there is no direct link to connect the suspect with the  killing of Snelling.

Part 3 of this series of posts will deal with the East Area Rapist.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Sunday, 17 June 2018

I'll Be Gone in the Dark

This is the first in a series of posts on the Golden State Killer, beginning with a review of Michelle McNamara's non-fiction book, I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer. The book was published posthumously in February 2018, almost two years after her death. It was updated and finalized by true crime writer Paul Haynes and her widower, the actor Patton Oswalt.

As a teenager, Michelle was deeply affected by the unsolved murder of Kathleen Lombardo two blocks from her own home. This murder shaped not only her passionate interest in crime-solving, but also her compassion for the victims of crime. This compassion is apparent throughout her book and, I think, is responsible for making I'll Be Gone in the Dark such a compelling read.

Michelle McNamara started her website True Crime Diary in 2006, establishing a network of crime researchers, as well as writing numerous articles relating to unsolved crimes. She used 21st century technology to bring to light possible clues to a killer's identity. It was Michelle herself who coined the phrase Golden State Killer after authorities connected the crimes of the Original Night Stalker and the East Area Rapist through DNA analysis. As a serial killer, rapist, and burglar, he committed at least 12 murders, 50 rapes, and over 100 burglaries in California between 1974 and 1986. He is thought to have begun as a burglar known as the Visalia Ransacker before his crimes escalated to rape and murder.

The author's observations about her childhood and how she became passionate about unsolved crimes are fascinating in themselves:

...When I meet people and hear where they're from I orientate them in my mind by the nearest unsolved crime.... Mention that you're from Yorktown, Virginia, and I'll forever connect you with the Colonial Parkway, the ribbon of road snaking along the York River where four couples either disappeared or were murdered between 1986 and 1989.

What is remarkable about this book is not only the excellent narrative, but also the author's ability to avoid sensationalizing the crimes and the killer, choosing instead to make us aware of the actual victims, often forgotten in true crime accounts. Michelle McNamara re-creates the crime scenes of the Golden State Killer, always mindful of the small details of the victims' lives, in a manner that creates an intimacy between the author and the reader.

Saturday, 2 June 2018

Hereditary: As Scary As The Exorcist?

BBC News is reporting that Hereditary, due to be released in June, is downright scary. Here's an excerpt from their Arts & Entertainment report:

Horror movie Hereditary has become one of 2018's most eagerly anticipated releases after scaring and impressing critics in equal measure.
Actress Toni Collette is coming in for particular praise as a woman whose family has demons in its DNA.
Bustle said it's 'truly unlike anything you've seen before,' while The AV Club called it 'pure emotional terrorism'.
The film is released in the US on 8 June and in the UK a week later.
In his five-star review for The Guardian, Peter Bradshaw wrote: 'Hereditary tripled my heart rate, prickle-massaged my scalp, cured my hiccups - and pretty much terrified me.'
Collette's 'operatic, hypnotic performance seals the deal every second she's on the screen,' he said.
Referring to next year's film awards season, he added: 'Surely this magnificent actor will get some silverware next February.'
The film's New York-based first-time writer-director Ari Aster has also received acclaim.
Writing in Vox, Alissa Wilkinson said: 'The first time I saw Hereditary I yelped a lot, and very nearly crawled under my seat once or twice.
'What you feel from the start is a sense of real horror, some kind of cross between dismay and disgust, which starts out almost undefinable and builds to a (literal) crescendo by the end.'
The Independent's Clarisse Loughrey wrote: 'The fact Hereditary is being (rightly) talked of as one of the most singularly terrifying, singularly disturbing horror films in years speaks to its unique sense of mood.
'Secrecy, guilt, anguish: Hereditary breeds its own phantoms. Ones which like hang around, to boot. Weeks later, you may step into a dark room, and that chilled feeling will come rushing back: am I truly alone right now?'

For the movie trailer, please click here.

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Solo: A Box Office Bomb?

The Business Insider reports that Solo: A Star Wars Story has had a less than stellar opening weekend:

It turns out Star Wars is not bulletproof.
The beloved franchise released its latest A Star Wars Story movie over Memorial Day weekend by telling the origin story of space scoundrel Han Solo, and it greatly underperformed.
Solo: A Star Wars Story earned an estimated $83 million domestically over the weekend and is projected to take in $101 million by Memorial Day, according to Exhibitor Relations. That's $29 million off what the industry had for the movie's low-end projection.
In the middle of last week, Solo was projected to earn between $130 million and $150 million on 4,381 screens. If that held, Solo would be set up to be the latest Star Wars movie having a record-breaking box office opening — taking the crown from current Memorial Day record holder, 2007's Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End with $139.8 million.
But by the end of day Friday, Disney hinted that the weekend wouldn't go according to plan as it drastically adjusted that projection to between $105 million and $115 million over the four-day weekend.
The $101 million performance by Memorial Day for Solo would be strong for any other movie at any other studio — especially over a holiday weekend where audiences would rather be outside than in a theater — but for a Star Wars movie, this just doesn't cut it.

[Excerpt edited for punctuation]

The Business Insider speculates that the weak performance by Solo at the box office is due largely to three factors: "opening over Memorial Day weekend, Star Wars fatigue, and the movie's lackluster reviews."

Monday, 21 May 2018

The Beginning of Stephen King's Success

This is a scan of an old newspaper article outlining Stephen King's success in selling his novel Carrie to Doubleday. Given that this was the '70s, the money was huge for King and gave him an opportunity to write full-time.

Stephen King has had a long and prolific career as a writer, and he doesn't show signs of stopping any time soon.

His career is a lesson in perseverance for those who want to write.

For a previous post on Carrie, please click here.

Monday, 14 May 2018

Winchester the Movie

The Winchester House has an incredibly fascinating history so I was disappointed to see that the movie, now available on DVD and blu-ray, has received such poor ratings from both critics and movie-goers.

The movie description is as follows:

Inspired by true events. On an isolated stretch of land 50 miles outside of San Francisco sits the most haunted house in the world. Built by Sarah Winchester (Helen Mirren), the heiress to the Winchester fortune, it is a house that knows no end. Constructed in an incessant twenty-four hour a day, seven day a week mania for decades, it stands seven stories tall and contains hundreds of rooms. To the outsider it looks like a monstrous monument to a disturbed woman's madness. But Sarah is not building for herself, for her niece (Sarah Snook) or for the troubled Doctor Eric Price (Jason Clarke) whom she has summoned to the house. She is building a prison, an asylum for hundreds of vengeful ghosts, and the most terrifying among them have a score to settle with the Winchesters...

If you'd like to learn more about the history of the Winchester House, please see my previous blog post on this subject: