Sunday 29 July 2018

Part 5 of the Golden State Killer

This is the fifth and final post on the Golden State Killer. This series of posts is dedicated to the memory of Michelle McNamara and to all of the victims of the Golden State Killer.

As you are no doubt aware, a suspect has been apprehended in the case. The arrest came too late for Michelle McNamara, who suffered an untimely death before she could learn of the news. Her book I'll be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer was published posthumously. Before her death, however, through her tireless search for the killer, she kept the case in the public eye, and I believe she deserves much credit for this. It's also noteworthy that she speculated in her book that the Golden State Killer may have been a former police officer because of his seeming familiarity with law enforcement methods and his ability to elude capture for so many decades. The individual who was finally arrested this year was in fact a former police officer.

Michelle McNamara also speculated in her book that genealogical database searches would eventually lead to the arrest of the Golden State Killer. Although advances in DNA testing in the early 21st century enabled criminologists to determine that the East Area Rapist and the Original Night Stalker were one and the same, there was no existing match in the massive FBI national DNA database, and therefore no arrest until 2018. It was through the use of an online genealogical website that law enforcement officials were able to identify a relative of the man who would subsequently be arrested as the Golden State Killer. For the steps taken to identify the suspected killer, please see the related Washington Post article.

The question now turns to the legal, ethical, and privacy-related concerns of such forensic use of genealogical databases. The debate on this subject is only just beginning. For a related article, please click here.

Sunday 22 July 2018

Part 4 of the Golden State Killer: The Original Nightstalker

The Golden State Killer's crimes escalated from burglary to rape and finally to murder when he moved to southern California in 1979 and became known as the Original Nightstalker. (Prior to his move, he is also suspected of murdering Brian and Katie Maggiore when they came across him, as they were walking their dog, near the site of five East Area Rapist attacks. Presumably he thought they would identify him to the police.)

The Original Nightstalker's attacks began in October 1979 and lasted until 1981 with a single attack in 1986. Only the victims of his first attack survived, were able to alert neighbours through screams, and forced him to flee. The Golden State Killer fled the scene on a bicycle and was pursued by a neighbour, who was an FBI agent, but managed to escape by ditching the bike and fleeing on foot. This was the closest anyone had come to apprehending him.

On December 30, 1979, Robert Offerman and Debra Manning were murdered in their home. Neighbours failed to report the gunshots to the police, not recognizing them as such. This would also be the case in later shooting deaths.

On March 13, 1980, Charlene and Lyman Smith were bludgeoned to death in their home after Charlene was raped.

On August 19, 1980, Keith and Patrice Harrington were murdered in their home in a gated community after Patrice had been raped. They had been married for only three months. Patrice was a nurse and Keith was a medical student.

On February 6, 1981, Manuela Witthuhn was raped and murdered in her home while her husband was in the hospital.

On July 27, 1981, Cheri Domingo and Gregory Sanchez were murdered in her home. Sanchez was shot and then bludgeoned to death, and there is speculation that he tried to tackle the Original Night Stalker because he had not been tied up as had the other victims. Cheri was raped and then bludgeoned to death.

On May 4, 1986, Janelle Cruz was raped and murdered in her home while her family was on vacation in Mexico. She was only eighteen years old.

It would be decades before the three identities that comprised the Golden Sate Killer were definitively linked through DNA analysis, which will be the subject of Part 5 of this series.

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)