June 18, 1976
Rancho Cordova, California
Alone in her bed, a young woman is deeply asleep. A rhythmic tapping sound invades her dream and awakens her. Groggy, still half asleep and disoriented, she opens her eyes and immediately spots the source of the noise: a man silhouetted in her bedroom doorway, tapping something against the door frame. The lights snap on and she sees that he is naked from the waist down, his face hidden behind the empty jack o’ lantern gape of a ski mask, and he is holding a knife.
Terrified, the young woman instinctively pulls the covers over her head in a primal attempt to make this horrific bogeyman disappear. He leaps on her, tears the sheets from her face and presses the tip of the knife hard against her temple. In a whispered growl through clenched teeth he speaks.
“If you make a move or sound I’ll stick this knife in you.”
Thus began the decade of terror, pain, and murder perpetrated by the unidentified rapist and serial killer variously known as the Original Night Stalker, the East Area Rapist, the EAR/ONS, the Diamond Knot Killer, and the Golden State Killer. He reconnoitered their neighborhoods and stalked his victims, often for weeks, before he struck. He would torment his victims for hours, assaulting them repeatedly, ransacking their homes, and sometimes even pausing his attacks to eat food in their kitchens.
He was highly organized, patient, brazen, and vicious. He cut a dreadful swath of trauma and murder between northern and southern California. Despite the physical evidence he left behind and the number of surviving witnesses, he was never caught.