Serial Rapist becomes a Serial Killer

On Oct. 1, 1979, a man in a ski mask entered the home of *Mary Brown and *John Davis. The couple were awakened, a flashlight shining in their eyes, and Brown was ordered to tie up Davis with pre-cut lengths of cord that were brought to the house. While the masked intruder ransacked the house supposedly looking for money, Brown managed to hop outside to the front of her home and scream for help. The intruder pulled her back into the house. During this time, Davis made his escape into the backyard. While the intruder pursued Davis, Brown escaped again, this time running into the arms of a neighbor who had been alerted by her screams. Having lost control of the situation, the intruder was spotted escaping on a bicycle and he disappeared down a creek bed.

*Not their real names


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Two months later, on December 30, 1979, another couple was attacked a few blocks from Brown/Davis. Robert Offerman and Debra Alexandria Manning were found shot to death. Both of them were bound. Examination of the crime scene led investigators to believe that Offerman had managed to loosen his bindings and lunge at the intruder before he was shot and killed. Neighbors who heard the gunshots thought that they were firecrackers.


On March 13, 1980, Lyman and Charlene Smith were found bludgeoned to death in their home in Ventura County. A log from the fireplace was used to kill the Smith's. Their wrists and ankles were bound with drapery cord and an ornate "chinese knot"(also called the "diamond knot") was used on their wrists. Subsequent examination by the coroner revealed that Charlene had been raped. Though there were similarities to the attacks in Goleta, the Smith's murder was not immediately linked to the others. Ventura Detectives suspected Joe Alsip, a former business partner of Lyman Smith, who was later exonerated.


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On August 19, 1980, Keith and Patrice Harrington were found bludgeoned to death in their home in Laguna Niguel, CA. Like Charlene Smith, Patrice Harrington was raped. Though there was evidence that the Harringtons were bound at the wrist and ankles, the killer removed the ligatures and the murder weapon from the scene of the crime.

On February 5, 1981, Manuela Witthuhn was raped and bludgeoned to death in her home in Irvine, CA. Like the Harringtons, the ligatures and murder weapon were removed from the crime scene. Unlike the Harringtons, Witthuhn, though married, was home alone at the time of the attack. A lamp and crystal curio were taken from her home presumably by the killer.


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On July 27, 1981, Cheri Domingo and Gregory Sanchez were found murdered in Cheri Domingo's home. This attacked occurred a half-mile from the murder of Robert Offerman and Alexandria Manning. Sanchez was shot once in the face and then bludgeoned to death. Cheri Domingo was bludgeoned to death. Again, ligatures used to bind them and the murder weapon were removed from the home. The attacker's familiarity with the area lead police to believe he lived near the San Jose Creek.

On May 4, 1986, Janelle Lisa Cruz was found bludgeoned to death in her home. Her family was away on vacation in Mexico. Cruz' male friend reported hearing noises outside her bedroom window shortly before he left for the evening. Cruz dismissed them as coming from the washing machine. A pipe wrench was reported missing by Cruz stepfather and was most likely the murder weapon


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The last known contact made by the EAR/ONS was a phone call that he made to one of his victims either in 1990 or 1991. A DNA match linking the so-called "Original Night Stalker" murders with the "East Area Rapist" attacks was made in 2001, making him the most "prolific serial offender" in California history. Now there is a high likelihood that the EAR/ONS is also the Visalia Ransacker responsible for murdering Claude Snelling and attempting to kidnap his daughter on September 11, 1975. The identity of this serial burglar/rapist/murderer remains a mystery.