|“||Gonna kill you...gonna kill you...gonna kill you...bitch...bitch...bitch...bitch...fucking whore.||”|
— Phone message left by EAR-ONS (1/2/1978)
The Original Night Stalker also referred to as The East Area Rapist, EAR-ONS, and, more recently, The Diamond Knot Killer and The Golden State Killer, is an unidentified serial rapist-turned-killer who was active in Northern California from 1976 to 1979 and Southern California from 1979 to 1986. He is not to be confused with serial killer Richard Ramirez, who holds a similar title of The Night Stalker.
On April 25, 2018, a 72-year-old Sacramento, California resident, Joseph DeAngelo, was arrested and charged with eight of the EAR-ONS murders. Much details of the case against DeAngelo are unknown at the time of this writing.
On June 18, 1976, the first attack committed by The East Area Rapist occurred in Rancho Cordova, at 4:00 a.m. About six months and exactly seven attacks later, the affected communities began to worry, while the Sheriff Department of Sacramento advised to the news stations to not report the rapes. In October 18, two attacks occurred on the same day, to which authorities held neighborhood meetings set up to inform civilians and dispel false rumors. On April 2 of 1977, after over 15 attacks occurred, the first couple was attacked. On May 17, Sacramento County was thrust into a state of panic after The East Area Rapist threatened to murder his next two victims. As a result, sheriff patrols were increased and even civilians formed their own patrols. However, The East Area Rapist sent a taunt to the heightened security by attacking his first couple in Sacramento's South Area, near the office of a dentist who contributed an additional $10,000 to the $15,000 reward for his apprehension.
On September 6, the first couple in Stockton was attacked, leading to the same effect of heightened security found in Sacramento County. Believing that The East Area Rapist permanently relocated his crimes, patrols in Sacramento County disappeared, only for another couple to be attacked in the College Greens/Glenbrook area. On February 2, 1978, Brian and Katie Maggiore were found dead, having been shot to death while walking their dog. Their murders weren't initially pinned on The East Area Rapist until later. On June 5, 1978, The East Area Rapist turned up for the first time in Stanislaus County, assaulting a couple living in Northeast Modesto. Between that date and July 5 of 1979, The East Area Rapist had been active in Modesto, Davis, Concord, Danville, San Ramon, San Jose, Fremont, and Walnut Creek. The attacks abruptly ended after an attempted attack on July 5, 1979, when a would-be victim who was a light sleeper woke up and found a man putting on a ski mask, chasing the intruder away. The East Area Rapist briefly resurfaced on October 1, entering the home of a couple (their names were revealed as pseudonyms, Mary Brown and John Davis) and tying them up. As he ransacked the house for valuables, the couple escaped and the intruder was forced to flee on a bicycle.
On December 30, The East Area Rapist committed his first murders as The Original Night Stalker, killing Dr. Robert Offerman and Debra Manning by shooting both to death, presumably after Offerman managed to escape from his bonds and attempted to fight back. On March 13 of the following year, the next victims, Lyman and Charlene Smith, were found dead, this time by bludgeoning with a fireplace log. At this time, it was revealed that the bonds used to restrain their victims were tied in a "diamond knot". Months later, Keith and Patrice Harrington were also murdered, and then, on February 5, 1981, The Original Night Stalker killed his first lone murder victim, Manuela Witthuhn. Following this murder were three more murders, of Cheri Domingo and Gregory Sanchez on July 27 and Janelle Lisa Cruz on May 4, 1986. In 1990 or 1991, the criminal made his last known contact with the public, on a phone call he made to one of his victims. Then, he disappeared completely and no murders or rapes committed by him have followed. About a decade later, in 2001, a remarkable connection was made by authorities. It was discovered that the DNA of The Original Night Stalker and The East Area Rapist belonged to the same criminal, making the unknown perpetrator "the most prolific serial offender" in Californian history.
The criminal known as The Original Night Stalker would travel around middle-to-upper-middle-class neighborhoods in search of victims living in single-story houses on or near cul-de-sacs or adjacent to vacant fields, schools, parks, creeks, or construction sites. When a suitable victim was found, the criminal, after waiting for night to dawn, would stealthily break into the house with the occupant(s) still inside, a sub-type of burglary known as a hot-prowl burglary. Initially, the perpetrator targeted lone women but began to shift his focus towards couples. He would surprise the occupants and put them under control by threatening them with a handgun, then bind them with ligatures tied in a diamond knot, hence his most recent nickname.
As The Original Night Stalker, the perpetrator would then kill the present male, should there be one, by bludgeoning. He would then sexually assault the females before murdering them as well. In the case of his first murders, both victims were shot only. During his time as The East Area Rapist, the criminal killed Brian and Katie Maggiore by shooting them both as they walked their dog, presumably in an attempted attack that went wrong. During all of his attacks, the perpetrator wore a ski mask to obscure his true identity. In some cases, the criminal continued to stalk surviving female victims or relatives of his fatal victims for years after the attacks, as harassing phone calls were made on the anniversary of the attacks even two or three decades later.
- Joseph James DeAngelo, Jr. (b. November 8, 1945):
- Identified through family DNA and arrested on April 25, 2018
- Charged with the murders of the Maggiores, Smiths, Harringtons, Witthuhn and Cruz
- Former Navy fireman and Vietnam War veteran
- Graduated in criminal justice at California State University, in 1972
- Police officer in Exeter, California (next to Visalia) in 1973-1976, the time when the Visalia Ransacker was active, and in Auburn, California in 1976-1979, at the time of the East Area Rapist spree
- Expelled from the police for shoplifting a hammer and dog repellent in 1979
- Married in 1973; became estranged from his wife in 1991, but never divorced
- Father of three daughters; the births of the first two (1981 and 1986) coincide with hiatuses in the Original Night Stalker killings
- Lived in Citrus Heights, Sacramento since 1983; was living with a daughter and a grandchild at the time of his arrest
- Physically fit; biking, diving, fishing, and boating enthusiast, even in old age
- Described by neighbors as overly meticulous, with a short temper, and prone to loud verbal outbursts
- Believed to be both EAR-ONS and the Visalia Ransacker by Law Enforcement
- Brett Glasby (d. 1982):
- Born in Goleta, California, the same location of the botched attack of Mary Brown and John Davis and the murders of Dr. Robert Offerman and Debra Manning
- Alleged to be a drug dealer and gangbanger
- Killed in Mexico sometime in 1982
- Eliminated as a suspect due to his death being prior to the murder of Janelle Cruz
- Paul "Cornfed" Schneider:
- Career criminal and high-ranking member of the Aryan Brotherhood
- Lived in Orange County during the murders of Keith and Patrice Harrington, Manuela Witthuhn, and Janelle Cruz
- Eliminated as a suspect after providing a DNA sample at Pelican Bay State Prison in Crescent City
- Joe Alsip:
- Worked as Lyman Smith's business partner
- A pastor claimed that he confessed of the murders, but the confession was deemed as "dubious"
- Arraigned for the Smith murders in 1982, but the charges were dropped
During the investigation, criminalists compiled a psychological profile for The Original Night Stalker, which stated that he was a white male in the age of 18 to 25 at the time the crimes were committed, with blue or hazel eyes, a height of between 5'8" and 5'11", and physically fit. He most likely wears a Size 9 shoe and has Type A blood. He lived in the Sacramento area between 1976 and 1979 and has been known to pose as a realtor, building inspector, or prospective homebuyer. He showed proficiency in tying diamond knots, and likely engaged in bondage-oriented fantasies with female sexual partners as well as collected pornographic material involving bondage. Somehow, he had access to a large collection of handguns and knives, as well as flashlights.
He likely became a voyeur in his late teens or early twenties. He lived and/or worked near Ventura, California in 1980 and had some means of income, but did not work in the early morning hours. He drives a well-maintained car (possibly an older Volkswagen Beetle as of 1977), dressed well and wouldn't stand out in upscale neighborhoods, appears harmless, is intelligent and articulate, and neat and well-organized in his personal life. Due to the constant rapes and murders, he was possibly unmarried and did not enter into long-term relationships; and would have been described by those who knew him as arrogant, domineering, manipulative, and a chronic liar.
According to the crime scenes, he had some knowledge of police investigative methods and evidence gathering techniques, possibly acquired from law enforcement or military police training. He was an experienced cat burglar and might've begun that way; this would also make the possible conclusion that he had a criminal record as a teenager that was expunged, engaged in sex with prostitutes, peeped into the windows of many potential victims who were not attacked, engaged in deviant paraphilic behavior and brutal sex in his personal life, and was sexually functional and capable of ejaculation with consenting and non-consenting partners. The profile has also stated that the criminal would be self-assured and confident in his abilities; hated women for real or perceived wrongs; and would continue committing violent crimes until incapacitated by prison, death, or some other intervention. If married, he probably has a submissive spouse who tolerated his sexually deviant behavior.
The Visalia Ransacker
The Visalia Ransacker was an unidentified serial burglar active in the city of Visalia in the mid-1970s before disappearing, just before the East Area Rapist started committing a rape/assault spree. Responsible for more than eighty burglaries, the criminal was also attributed to the fatal shooting of journalism professor Claude Snelling during a failed attempt to abduct his 16-year-old daughter, Beth, on September 11, 1975. The last known activity of the Ransacker was on December 12, 1975, when he was caught prowling by a Detective, William McGowen. After feigning surrender, the Ransacker pulled a gun and shot at McGowen, shattering his flashlight, before escaping. Authorities have attempted to trace a connection to the crimes committed by the Original Night Stalker and the East Area Rapist, as the Original Night Stalker is confirmed to also be the East Area Rapist, who, in turn, had a M.O.-link to the Visalia Ransacker.
On Criminal Minds
While The Original Night Stalker has yet to be directly mentioned or referenced on the show, he appears to have been an inspiration for the following unsubs:
- Armando Salinas ("Catching Out") - A serial killer who murdered California couples in their homes by bludgeoning them with an object from the house. Quite coincidentally, several locations where Armando's murders occurred (Sacramento, Modesto, and Stockton), were also the locations of The Original Night Stalker's attacks as The East Area Rapist.
- Floyd Hansen ("Paradise") - A prolific, misogynistic serial rapist and later serial killer who started as a burglar and peeping tom (as EARONS was theorized by those who believed he was the Visalia Ransacker), and targeted lone women before moving on to middle-class couples, whom he tied up in a bedroom, forcing the man to watch while he raped the woman, and then bludgeoned both to death. Unlike Floyd, however, the Original Night Stalker always attacked his victims in their own homes and did not need to stage accidents to hide his identity.
- Robert Johnson ("The Internet Is Forever") - A serial killer who targeted lone women in middle- to upper-middle-class neighborhoods, previously stalked his victims for a prolonged amount of time, and broke stealthily into their homes, during the night, while wearing similar, dark clothes and a ski mask. The instance of Robert becoming familiar with the German shepherd owned by one of his victims and releasing it the night of the murder is likely inspired by reports of East Area Rapist victims claiming that guard dogs were unusually not aggressive to the attacker, as if they had become accustomed to him previously.
- Billy Flynn ("Our Darkest Hour" and "The Longest Night"), while most likely based from the other Night Stalker Richard Ramirez, also resembles the Original Night Stalker in that he was not Hispanic unlike Ramirez, was active in California both before and after Ramirez was, was more mobile in his attacks than Ramirez, and his different crime sprees weren't related by law enforcement until long after they happened, when both Billy and EAR/ONS were around retirement age.
- EAR-ONS, a website about The Original Night Stalker
- Los Angeles Times' online article about an update on The Original Night Stalker case
- Historic Mysteries' article about The Original Night Stalker
- Find A Grave article about The Original Night Stalker's victims
- ↑ Acronym for "East Area Rapist-Original Night Stalker"