While not as well known as the Zodiac Killer or the Night Stalker, the Golden State Killer is one of California’s creepy serial killers.
Between 1976 and 1986, he committed at least 45 rapes, 12 murders, and 120 residential burglaries throughout California, and then disappeared without a trace.
Who is the Golden State Killer? He preyed on women in their bedrooms, he was known to make disturbing phone calls to his victims, and stalked their homes to learn when they’d be home.
He took their personal possessions as trophies and sometimes even ate their food straight from the fridge. In June 2016, coinciding with the 40th anniversary of the Golden State Killer’s first attack, the FBI announced a national campaign to identify the killer with a $50,000 reward.
He’s one of the few serial killers still at large in America. And while not much is known about him, this crimes from more than 30 years ago still captivate and fascinate those up and down California’s coast.
He Bound, Threatened, Raped, And Murdered His Victims
The Golden State Killer was known for tying his victims up – often with items found around the victim’s own house. After binding them, he would brutally rape them before killing them.
If the women weren’t home alone, the Golden State Killer would often lead them into another room to assault them while their boyfriend or husband were bound by shoelaces face down on the floor.
Then he would put dishes, metal lids, or salt shakers on their backs, and threaten to come back and shoot him in the head or kill the woman if he heard them fall to the floor.
He Would Stake Out His Victims’ Homes Before He Struck
To surprise his victims, the Golden State Killer would often break into their homes prior to his attacks to learn its layout, even going so far as to study family photos and learn names.
Shoeprints were found under windows outside his victim’s homes, leading police to believe he was a voyeur and that he documented details about his victims, like when they would be home alone.
He would unlock windows, disable porch lights, and hide shoelaces or rope in advance under couch cushions to use as ties.
His Terrifying Voice Is Caught on Tape Saying “Gonna Kill You“
The Golden State Killer was known to terrorize his victims with hang-up or creepy phone calls before and after his attacks.
He often got his victims’ phone numbers off their rotary phones during his initial break-ins.
There is some alleged documentation of his voice. In Sacramento in late 1977, an unknown male called 911, claiming to be the East Area Rapist. In January 1978, detectives put a tap on the phone of one of his rape victims.
In this nightmare-inducing phone call, the caller breathes heavily before repeating in a slow and menacing whisper: “Gonna kill you.” Both the victim and police believe the voice is the Golden State Killer.
He Got His Start Terrorizing Women in Their Bedrooms
The Golden State Killer was a serial rapist before he began murdering. He targeted women in one-story homes in middle-to-upper class suburban areas from Sacramento to San Ramon and was even known to target houses just yards from each other.
He attacked in the middle of the night wearing a ski mask, waking up his victims, and blinding them with his flashlight.
Witnesses described him as somewhere between the ages of 18 and 30 and as athletic – a trait he utilized to jump roofs and climb fences to escape.
He Was Originally Known as the East Area Rapist/Original Night Stalker
The late writer Michelle McNamara coined the nickname the “Golden State Killer” to describe the murderer previously known to police by a different acronym: EARS/ONS.
Before 2001, police thought there were two people behind the sexual assaults and killings done by the Golden State Killer. He was referred to as both the East Area Rapist and the Original Night Stalker.
The East Area Rapist, or EAR, was a burglar who sexually assaulted women in eastern Sacramento and terrorized California’s Contra Costa and Sacramento counties from 1976 to 1979.
The Original Night Stalker, or ONS, a play on serial killer Richard Ramirez’s nickname the Night Stalker, since the Golden State Killer’s slayings were similar in style yet predated Ramirez.
In 2001, when DNA tests proved EAR and ONS were the same people, the killer became EAR/ONS.
He Might Be Responsible for Another String of Creepy Crimes
The Golden State Killer might also be a killer known as the Visalia Ransacker. In April 1974, the town about halfway between Sacramento and Los Angeles called Visalia experienced an unusual string of burglaries by a thief who took personal items rather than expensive ones.
On September 11, 1975, the thief – dubbed the Visalia Ransacker – attempted to abduct journalism professor Claude Snelling’s 16-year-old daughter. When her father confronted the Ransacker, he shot and killed Snelling and escaped.
The Ransacker was last seen on December 10 of that year when detective Bill McGowen chased him down outside a home – but he managed to escape once again. After that, the robberies stopped and months later the Golden State Killer attacks began in Sacramento.
He Took Personal Items from His Victims as Trophies
The Golden State Killer didn’t leave the scenes of his crimes empty-handed; he often nabbed items of personal value to his victims, including cufflinks, wedding rings, driver’s licenses, souvenir coins, jewelry, and even 850 pennies, to keep as tokens of his crimes.
No One Really Knows What He Looks Like
Since the Golden State Killer was a fan of wearing ski masks during his attacks, there’s not one single accurate rendering of him available.
However, there are a few consistent details from witnesses: his lantern jaw and prominent nose… and small penis.
He’s Probably Still Alive
The Golden State Killer’s last known victim was 18-year-old Janelle Cruz, whose body was found on May 5, 1986 inside her Irvine home.
In 2012, the FBI ran an actuarial study that determined there’s an 85 percent chance that the Golden State Killer is still alive. According to the FBI: “If he is still alive, the Golden State killer would now be approximately 60 to 75 years old. He is described as a white male, close to six feet tall, with blond or light brown hair and an athletic build.”
He Would Raid His Victim’s Fridge If He Was Hungry
On December 30, 1979, the bodies of Dr. Robert Offerman and his girlfriend Debra Alexandria Manning were found shot and killed in his bedroom.
When police investigated the crime scene, they discovered cellophane-wrapped turkey on the patio, indicating that at some point during the attack, the killer had helped himself to Offerman’s leftovers in the fridge.
He was known to do this at his other killings, once stopping to eat a slice of apple pie.
He Wrote Poetry
In December 1977, the Golden State Killer allegedly sent a typewritten poem entitled “Excitement’s Crave” to Sacramento news outlets, comparing himself to Jesse James and Son of Sam.
He cryptically refers to a planned exile and signs off by saying: “Your East Area Rapist/ And deserving pest./ See you in the press or on T.V.”
He Wore Bad Cologne
Consider this terrifying image of the Golden State Killer, from Michelle McNamara: “On August 29, 1976, the clanging of her wind chimes and the strong smell of aftershave awakened a 12-year-old girl.
A masked man stood at her bedroom window, prying away the upper left corner of the screen with a knife.”
*This article was originally published at www.ranker.com