Local and federal law enforcement leaders announced a $50,000 reward and national campaign Wednesday for information that helps identify the “East Area Rapist,” who has been called the most prolific serial offender in California, and possibly the United States.
Investigators say the individual has been linked to more than 175 crimes throughout California. Called the “East Area Rapist” and later the “Golden State Killer,” officials said his spree began in June 1976 when he attacked a woman in a Rancho Cordova home.
Since then, investigators said that the man is believed to have committed as many as 45 rapes, 12 homicides and dozens of burglaries throughout the state during the 1970s and 1980s, specifically in east Sacramento County, the East Bay and parts of Southern California.
The last crime associated with the suspect occurred in 1986 when an 18-year-old woman was raped and murdered in Irvine.
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Authorities believe the suspect may be between 60 and 75 years old. He was described as a white man about 5 feet 10 inches tall with blond or light brown hair and an athletic build. He was said to be familiar and proficient with firearms.
Investigators working on the case have identified reoccurring methods that the man used when committing crimes, including bringing his own materials to tie up victims, targeting couples and taking small coins or jewelry from the crime scene.
The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, in collaboration with the FBI, the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office and other agencies throughout the state, announced a nationwide campaign and new reward during a Wednesday morning news conference. Sacramento-based FBI Special Agent in Charge Monica M. Miller, Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones, Sheriff’s Sgt. Paul Belli and District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert made the joint announcement.
In the Sacramento area, the “East Area Rapist” is a familiar name for longtime residents, according to Schubert, who was 12 and lived in East Sacramento at the time of the first attacks. She said the string of violent incidents generated fear among members of the community, including her own family.
“It was a time when really, in essence, a community was taken hostage,” Schubert said. “Everybody knew about it, it was on the news every night.”
Investigators hope the increased publicity of the investigation will help detectives find enough information to locate the man linked to the crimes.
“We never give up,” said Belli, who oversees cold cases. “We’re looking, we’re going to continue looking and we’re hoping to move this case forward.”
The national campaign will include billboards with renderings of the attacker based on descriptions provided by victims. Investigators hope that anyone with information will call 800-225-5324.