Monday 19 February 2018

'He did horrible things' - FBI offers huge reward in bid to finally solve mystery of serial killer who disappeared without a trace

The so-called 'East Area Rapist' is believed to be responsible for at least a dozen murders between 1978 and 1986

Sacramento Police Sergeant Paul Belli with police drawings of the suspected serial killer known as the 'East Area Rapist'
Sacramento Police Sergeant Paul Belli with police drawings of the suspected serial killer known as the 'East Area Rapist'

The FBI has offered a $50,000 (£35,000) reward for information leading to the capture of the “East Area Rapist” a California serial killer who may be America’s most prolific violent offender.

The unidentified man, whom officials believe would now be between 60 and 75 years old, is suspected of 12 murders and 45 rapes in a spree lasting at least a decade, from 1976 to 1986.

The man, said to be white and around 5’10” tall with blonde or light brown hair, committed his first recorded rape in the Sacramento area in June 1976.

He has been variously dubbed the “East Area Rapist,” the “Golden State Killer” and the “Original Night Stalker,” a reference to the “Night Stalker” serial killer who operated in Los Angeles from 1984 until his capture in 1985.

On 2 February 1978, he chased down and murdered a US Air Force Sergeant and his wife as they walked their dog in Rancho Cordova, a Sacramento suburb. In its statement the FBI said he may be trained in military or law enforcement techniques and had some skill with firearms.

Linked by DNA to a string of rapes and murders, the unknown man is also thought responsible for more than 120 burglaries and often stole valuables from his victims, who ranged from 13 to 41 years old.

He was known to surprise sleeping couples in bed, tying up the man and raping the woman. He killed couples and women at home alone or with their children. “Burglaries in a neighbourhood tended to precede clusters of sexual assaults,” the FBI said.

From 1976 to 1978, the killer terrorised Sacramento, said Special Agent Marcus Knutson, who was born and raised in the city and is now in charge of the FBI’s investigation. “We had people sleeping with shotguns, we had people purchasing dogs,” he said.

“People were concerned, and they had a right to be. This guy was terrorising the community. He did horrible things.”

Between 1979 and 1981, the attacks shifted to the San Francisco Bay Area and then down the California coast. He killed in Irvine, Orange County in 1981, after which the murders ceased for five years. His final known victim – an 18-year-old girl – was also killed in Irvine, in 1986.

Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department detective Sergeant Paul Belli said: “Regardless of the amount of time that has passed, the sheriff’s department never gave up on the investigation. This person ruined a great number of lives, and he should be held accountable."

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