Admittedly the crime spree of which you are about to read is disturbing. It regards a phantom performer. Like all performers he is the kind you could see . . .but only the mask and costume he wanted you to see. He performed center stage. The stage was the victim’s house. The victim was the audience. Like the masked villain in the movie Scream, he was an incarnation of the frivolous age of excess. He materialized at the victim’s house in a horrifying Halloween or smiling Mardi Gras mask, a smile made ghoulish by how it remained frozen during every horrible act he committed. He is a faceless body, a house of desecration holding a soul that did not issue forth sounds of holy refrains but taunting, sarcastic jibes to his bound and gagged victims.
Sadly he did not earn a catchy police moniker so that he might capture the attention of the public and thus forever fear being captured. He does not walk around looking over his shoulder. He is not the one who fears. There were few APBs for him. No BOLOs. He has been forgotten. He slithered in the night and was only called NorCal because he wandered his crimes over northern California. He might be sitting next to you. You wouldn’t know it. Even the victims wouldn’t know it. He remains a phantom, some pompous derelict leftover from the 1990s.
No one hunts him apparently . . .except me. And how do you hunt a phantom? These pages of the Q Files will tell you.
Let’s begin by putting in context a summary of what we know.
It began in Rohnert Park, California, in June 1991, day unknown or perhaps buried in the mind of the victim. Her name— Cheryl Hughs, at least that’s how she will be known here. It was a hard day at work, so hard that after Cheryl returned to her condo she fell asleep on her couch downstair rather than going upstairs to bed. One of those kind of days. It would be a worse night. She awoke to feel the cold snout of a gun barrel against her head.
She never saw the man’s face. She only heard his voice. It commanded her up the stairs to her bedroom. There he bound and gagged her. While waiting there trussed up in this terror of anticipation, the assailant rummaged through the house downstairs, through her personal possessions, and through the drawers of her daily life.
Then he returned and sat next to her on the bed. As with all those who feel they deserve something, he warned her it wouldn’t be that bad. Then she knew it would be. He put on soft music and enjoyed himself. The rest of us would call it rape. He unbound her from the duct tape and rolled her over. He tied her wrists to the bed posts. He enjoyed himself for quite some time. Before he vanished into the crisp night air, he left what you might refer to as his calling card. Tongue firmly in cheek, he advised her: “You shouldn’t leave your doors unlocked. Someone might come in and hurt you.” On that note he left, and with this farewell Cheryl realized how he had gotten in to begin with. She got free and you know the rest of the story. The cliché is: “Going on with life.”
There wasn’t much the police could make of it. After all, the door had been left unlocked. This could have been an opportunistic burglar with a fetish for sarcasm. Rohnert Park is a sleepy place between the hectic bustle of San Francisco’s Bay Area and the historic city of Santa Rosa. Maybe it wasn’t even a local guy.
In February 1992 the same night prowler proved, with equal sarcasm, that the Rohnert Park incident was not just an opportunistic attack. The location: Vallejo, an industrial city on the northeast shore of the Bay Area. Day unknown but the victim Lynn Popescu will never forget the events. Early morning she awoke and got out of bed. It was the usual morning. Walking down her hall she was taken by surprise. A man grabbed her from behind. She struggled with the deadly knife in his hand. She thrust up his arm and the knife sliced him over his eyebrow. She didn’t see his face, just a bleeding ski mask and steam bursting from his nose like an angry bull. He dragged her back to the bedroom and bound her with duct tape and rope. He warned her that she should not have “stuck” him. The rest of the details we don’t have, but we can well imagine from the first attack what happened.
But we can appreciate more from the next attack. Victim: Allison Meriwether, a single, attractive woman living in Martinez, the industrial city across the Carquinez Strait from Vallejo. I know the layout of the area well. It’s an easy drive across the Highway 680 bridge. It doesn’t take years, though it seems to have taken NorCal over 4 years. It was the perfect night: Halloween, 1996. It was the man at the door who was getting the treat and also giving the trick. There he appeared in a skeleton mask. The trick was on Allison. The only description she could give of the man: the dead face of a skull, the feeling of hot breath through the jagged mouth of a cheap plastic ghoul.
Though she never saw his face, the voice she would remember, and in this case it did not end that night. Weeks later she received a call. It was him. Over the receiver his voice sounded serious. Self blame he felt might be on her conscience . He wanted to soothe her and assure her that he knew she was really a good person at heart. Like it was all her fault. Of all the nerve!
The wise guys might say this creep believed his fantasies. But others, more in tune to the inflection of this theatrical oaf, would read it correctly: he was putting on an act. He was always performing, sarcasm fully at the fore. He had his thrill. He never contacted her again. . .or has he been a face watching her from a crowd?
As it didn’t take nearly 5 years, 5 years, to drive across the Carquinez Strait, it didn’t take 3 months to drive to nearby Davis, a college town on Highway 80 on the way to the state capitol of Sacramento. NorCal bided his time, though. He carefully surveyed his intended victims. How? We don’t know. The date: January 25, 1997. We know this because after the rape NorCal stopped at an ATM and the date is recorded on the security camera screen. It was 7:31 a.m, a dark Saturday morning. He must have felt he had done good the night before. He was now paying himself for his personal performance— by draining the victim’s bank account with her ATM card. Somehow he had the pin or forced her to tell him. He turned at the end, intentionally revealing to the camera his Mardi Gras mask’s exuberant smile. He was still enjoying himself, taunting those who would follow, an invitation for people like me.
How he boldly taunted here reveals much, but this is not the place to analyze it . . .yet. What is important here is that he was back, and back on form. He had been gone nearly 5 years before he struck on Halloween 1996, then within a few months had scoped out his next victim in Davis. Now come July 1997 he had already selected his next victim.
The place: Chico, another lazy California college town, but this one far up Highway 99 north of Sacramento. The date: unknown— at night, of course. Victim: Rosalind Drummond. While she was gagged and tied to her bedposts, he rummaged through her house. Intent on enjoying his time, he had removed his mask not knowing that the victim was struggling to free herself. She kept licking the duct tape sealing her mouth until it gave way. She gnawed at the ropes binding her wrists. Free, she sat up. At this moment, he came in the bedroom. He crossed his arms over his face. “Don’t look at me, don’t look at me!” It was a melodramatic invocation that he didn’t want to kill her. She reached and grabbed the scissors he had left on the night stand, those he had used to cut the duct tape to gag her. As he lunged at her, she stabbed his left forearm. They struggled and finally she frightened him off by telling him she was pregnant. She lied, but it worked. He fled the scene and she was able to call the police.
Again, NorCal disappeared. This time 3 years. He returned to Davis in July 2000, botch up another rape and terror in Woodland, and then after another long break struck in Sacramento on October 13, 2006— supposedly, his final assault. But you will have to be the judge after reading these pages. At least 10 victims over a period of 15 years. But these are only those who came forward. He had threatened each that he knew them and they didn’t have a clue about him. Translation— revenge if they went to the police. Some victims were probably cowed. But those whose cases will be detailed in the following pages here went to the police.
Hopefully, they will all eventually contact me. I hunt this dramatic, theatrical rapist. I need as many details as possible to put in place the crime spree. Too few exist to backwork his MO and figure how he learned of his victims and then silently stalked them. Paradoxically we must begin with the last first.
The attack in Sacramento was against 2 women who shared a home together. He carefully planned it out, and enough details exist to present the case on its own page. The details of the crime are enough, after you have read them, to make you lock your doors and windows wherever you are. Make sure you read them during the day. Not at night.
NorCal Rapist was real. He may sound like dramatized villain, but if he does it is only because he wanted to be the theatrical performer. He has gotten away too long. It is time to start the unmasking.
This is a work in progress, but there will be progress and in the end NorCal will be giving his last performance in jail. The Statute of Limitations may have run out in every jurisdiction, but in one— Sacramento— the District Attorney filed against his DNA. Thus the SOL was circumvented. He can still be prosecute. This human predator is fair game to hunt. It will end in jail.