Crime - Sacto 911

Memories of a time of terror: Readers share their stories about the East Area Rapist

The Sacramento Bee asked readers to share their memories about what life was like in the 1970s during the East Area Rapist's reign of terror.

Here is an edited sampling of the more than 50 responses we received. We also asked respondents to include where they lived at the time.

“I cannot express how our community was utterly terrified during this time. My father bought deadbolt locks for all of the doors and windows. He installed a peephole in the front door. Broom handles were placed in sliding glass doors. We no longer slept with the windows open. I would literally stare at my clock during the night and was so relieved when the morning arrived. I knew that only then I was safe."

— Lynn Bonzell, Carmichael

“The most chilling aspect to the crimes was the way he would take the man into another room and put dinner plates on his body, threatening to kill him if those plates rattled while he was in another room raping the wife or girlfriend. The psychological terror to that tactic was just chilling to think about it, and me and my circle of friends would talk about it all the time.”

— Steve Weeks, Rancho Cordova and Carmichael

“I was only 7 years old, but I remember my mom who was raising six kids on her own making us sleep together in the living room. She felt safety in numbers was how she could best protect us. I remember having night sweats and being spooked by every noise I heard outside. Mom soon installed burglar bars, and outdoor activities at night were limited. These memories are so vivid and horrifying, and they flooded back the moment I heard of the arrest. It was an innocent time back then, but suddenly a real life boogeyman man was in the neighborhood and no one knew which home he would pick next.”

— Gloria Gomez, South Sacramento

“My childhood in Sacramento in the 70s was idyllic, free spirited, marked by river breezes and barefoot summer strolls. This innocent river city liberty changed with reports of the East Area Rapist.”

— Erika Boulton, Rancho Cordova

“No one wanted to go to dinner, see a movie and stop for a drink. That would have put them out too late and having to enter their house alone. I think everyone paid close attention to the men they encountered around town. Every morning you would check The Bee to see if he had attacked, and if so, how close it was to you.”

— Shelly Butler, Citrus Heights

“I became a rape crisis counselor due to the East Side Rapist and my heightened awareness of sexual assault. I sleep with a loaded gun at my side and I check to make sure it’s loaded every night. I also sleep with a Rottweiler.”

— Jeanine Moore, Arden Park

“I had a new friend who suggested that we go together to learn to shoot a pistol. I had never handled a gun before. Together we went to the gun club at the top of Fulton Avenue in the old Haggin area. We took gun safety classes and passed the test at the end.”

— Jane Wheaton, Sacramento County near Carmichael

“Every time the case came up nationally I would see those sketches and get afraid again, even though I moved far away in 2003. It seemed personal, and like he was following me. Now it’s finally over. Finally.”

— Diane Clement, Fair Oaks

“Many of my friends say we lost our innocence way too young. Doors and windows that used to stay open on hot summer nights were locked and bolted. Girls weren’t sleeping alone. People bought guns and dogs. It was true terrorism at its worst. I felt that my innocent childhood growing up like Tom Sawyer on the American River would never, ever be the same.”

— James Sweigert, east Sacramento

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