California News

'Golden State Killer' cold case heats up with new details, evidence

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The cold-case search for an unidentified violent offender believed to have raped and sexually assaulted 50 victims and murdered at least 10 others across California in the 1970s and 1980s is heating up.

In 2001, DNA evidence linked a serial rapist that started in Northern California in 1976 with a serial killer who terrorized Southern California starting in 1979.

Larry Pool, a retired Orange County Sheriff's Department investigator, has spent 16 years searching for the man recently dubbed the "Golden State Killer."

"This guy is to me the most brazen serial offender, certainly in American history," Pool said.

Pool said the suspect would stalk suburban neighborhoods for targets, enter homes late at night when the owners slept, shine a flashlight in their face to wake them and show a knife or gun in his other hand.

"He would always tell the victims not to look at him or he'd kill them," Pool said. "If there were children in the house, he'd say I'm going to kill everyone in the house, so do what I say."

The Golden State Killer would tie up his victims using ligatures. If a man was present, he'd stack dishes on his back as an alarm of sorts.

"He would tell the man, 'If I hear this fall off your back, I'm going to kill her and then I'm going to come back and kill you,'" Pool said.

He would then rape or sexually assault the woman in another room.

Crime blogger Michelle McNamara has spent the last year and a half solely working on this case.

"It was like someone had figured what is all our primal fears about someone that could come in the middle of the night," McNamara said. "He wanted to play God, and he did for awhile."

Among his victims were newlyweds Keith and Patrice Harrington of Dana Point, along with 18-year-old Irvine resident Janelle Cruz, who is featured in the documentary "Bird with a Broken Wing."

Cruz was bludgeoned to death inside her family's home. Investigators believe that after the murder, the killer was able to hop over a wall, as he often would, and escape into the darkness of night. He has not been heard from since and there have been no known attacks by him since the one on Cruz in 1986.

"I think it's quite possible that he found a different kind of life and that he's in Southern California," McNamara said.

The FBI told McNamara there's an 85 percent chance he's still alive. She's written "Serial Killer in Suburbia" for Los Angeles magazine, unveiling recently discovered evidence the suspect left behind.

That evidence includes a hand-drawn map of a suburban community, possibly Goleta. There's also a note with the word "Punishment" written with a backwards "P." Then there's an apparent journal entry in which he writes, "My 6th grade teacher gave me a lot of disappointments which made me very mad and made me built a state of hate in my heart."

The suspect's footprints show a size 8 1/2 to 9 shoe size. He likely stands about 5-foot-9 and would be a white man in his early 60s today.

Due to the ski mask he wore, no victims ever saw his face, but authorities recorded his voice several times.

McNamara hopes the renewed attention on this cold case will lead to long overdue closure.

"He has kind of floated under the radar, where as the Zodiac (Killer) or the Son of Sam got all this attention, and I thought, this guy had 10 times more victims than those people and he was 10 times worse, and we should know about him and we should all care and we should get justice for these people," McNamara said.

Los Angeles magazine said since reporting this story on their site, they have been flooded with tips and their online reporting is going viral.

Anyone with information was asked to contact Orange County Sheriff's Department homicide detectives at (714) 647-7055 or serialkillerclues@ocsd.org.

(Copyright ©2014 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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Tags:
homicide investigation, sexual assault, murder, california news, elex michaelson
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