There were many composite sketches done of a “suspicious person” in connection with the crime spree of the East Area Rapist, but lack of contemporary confidence in them is reflected by the fact that no composite was released to the public until May 19, 1977, one month short of a year since the Night Predator had begun his attacks. This is explained by the fact that no one had truly seen the EAR in action. These composites always represented some youth who was seen days or so before-the-fact in the community that was later struck.
Ironically, that abyssal irony that surrounds EAR, there are more reliable composites in the public forum presenting to us the suspect in far more arcane crimes sprees, like that of Nor-Cal Rapist and the rather exotic serial killings of The Doodler, than there are of the No. 1 serial predator in history. Law enforcement is not to blame. Ironically yet again, EAR was largely forgotten to crime history. It took about 20 years to even fully assess that he was the Original Night Stalker and therefore his crime spree had spread over 10 years and the State of California. Only a small group of enthusiasts had shown interest in him, and it is into this small clique, via whatever means, that many of the composites were later released, some as much as 30 years after-the-fact. By the time these old sketches got into public hands they had been subjected by a third party to misdirected piety or very unlearned fear. Each was redacted of its date, that vital annotation which is the only way to reconcile it with the incident and circumstances with which it was associated. This redaction was not done by law enforcement. No composite is ever redacted of its date and case association, as that entirely removes it from the context in which information is being sought and makes it inadmissible in any investigation. The purpose of a sketch is to enliven any potential witnesses, and the date and time and location are obviously necessary to help recall.
Redaction has proven a stumbling block, even to official investigators. Lt. Richard Shelby was one of the first sheriff detectives in Sacramento County investigating the case of the EAR. In trying to recall some of the events for his recent book, Hunting a Psychopath, he fell victim to erroneous information online. A collage exists in which many of the sketches are presented based on the dates independently given by a redactor. The caption on one of the composites makes the claim it represents the Ripon Court Shooter. This is significant because it was believed that this “lurker” was EAR prowling a new neighborhood. Shelby reproduced it in the back of his book, repeating the same association.
However, this composite is actually the only one of those presented (in the collage) that has not been redacted. A large blowup of it confirms it was dated February 11, 1977, about a week before the Ripon Court Shooting took place. Therefore it cannot possibly represent the Ripon Court suspect. If it was made in response to an EAR attack, it must represent a suspicious person seen in the vicinity of Victim 11, 12 or, most likely, Victim 13’s neighborhood, where EAR struck on January 19, January 24, and February 7, 1977, respectively.
This is just one example of the hazards in trying to bring EAR’s crimes out into the open after so long. Time has destroyed memory and evidence, and some unlearned paranoia has helped subvert what little official information did make it to public hands. However, with some analysis it is possible to put back a chronology of the sketches and composites to help reveal the most likely features of the EAR.
The first composite ever released was on May 19, 1977, as the panic in Sacramento increased. Its caption reads: “An artist’s conception of the east area rapist, based on numerous bits of information from persons who caught glimpses of him, was released today by the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department. No one has gotten a full face view of the rapist, officers cautioned, noting that the shape of the jaw is tentative and the face may be leaner looking. Hair style and length are also tentative.” One can almost giggle when reading this. The caption completely removes any authority to the sketch presented.
Yet it confirms for us only one thing— EAR had no real distinguishing features. The caption, however, reflects the fact that there were previous sketches of suspicious persons who had very different features.
Of these, the only non-redacted sketch is the one erroneously attributed to the Ripon Court Shooter, below, right. He has a long face, hair parted not so surely on the right.
The sketch on the left, sadly once again, is redacted. It purports to be that of the Ripon Court Shooter as well, and attributed to being based on the description of Rod Miller, the victim. If this is an accurate claim, the sketch was done by Sacramento Police, who have jurisdiction over College Glen and La Riviera, where the shooting took place on February 16, 1977. The one on the right, though radically different, has also been presented as the Ripon Court Shooter, though that is obviously not the case anymore. It is dated to February 11, 1977, 5 days before the Ripon Court shooting. As such, it probably represents someone seen in relation to the attack on Heathcliff (Victim 13) on February 7, 1977. This would make it a Sheriff Department composite, not a Sac. Police composite.
One can see why the caption on the “artist’s conception” of May 19, 1977, warned that the jaw may be different and the face leaner.
Whether EAR is the Ripon Court Shooter or not, the artist of the “conception” seems to have had the first sketch on the left for his “conception,” as the hair seems to have inspired the “conception”— falling from the middle but no real part. It could be that Sac. Police and Sac. County Sheriff shared sketches, but since it is redacted it may simply represent some other suspicious person seen elsewhere in relation to an EAR attack in Sheriff jurisdiction.
However, the one on the right is the only composite purporting to be of some suspicious person in relation to an EAR attack that has come down to us unredacted. Therefore it is truly the first one we can accept here as actually representing him, at least in general. This sketch, released with full bona fides, can be used as an anchor for those around it.
This leads to a lot of skepticism for a composite which purports to be of the “fence jumper” seen in La Riviera in the week before EAR’s attack on Victim No. 11. It is dated (once again only by the redactor) to January 22, 1977.
As it can be seen, it is radically different from the others. It appears this composite and not contemporary facts inspired Richard Shelby (Hunting a Psychopath) to describe the “fence jumper” in La Riviera as having an obsolete 1950s hairstyle. Lt. Larry Crompton had the OG reports (Officer Generated Log) for the incidents when he wrote Sudden Terror. However, Shelby had been denied his request to see the old reports by the District Attorney. He had to rely on memory and some of the information circulating on the web. Crompton describes this suspicious person more generically along the lines of EAR as “five [foot] eleven, 175, medium build, and extremely agile and fast. She felt his hair was blondish and noted he was underdressed for the cold weather, as he was wearing a light windbreaker and dark pants.” This does sound more like EAR, whose hair was blondish and down around his neck. EAR could not have had a 1950s haircut around January 19, 1977, and then about February 7 have the longer hair seen in the February 11, 1977, composite of a suspicious person around the (presumably) Heathcliff area (Victim 13) and then a week later the hair as seen in the other sketch purporting to be the Ripon Court Shooter of February 16, 1977. The “January 22, 1977, Composite” should hold little value.
More uncertainty about what sketch represents the Ripon Court Shooter is compounded when Richard Shelby describes the Ripon Court Shooter in detail, saying he was wearing a dark watch cap and a dark windbreaker. This obviously doesn’t match the first sketch purporting to be the Ripon Court Shooter, above. It may be Shelby’s mistake, since the incident occurred in Sac. Police jurisdiction and not within the Sheriff’s jurisdiction. However, yet another sketch (fortunately one version retains its date) dated to May 17, 1977, shows a “prowler” near American River College on College View Way, that actually matches Shelby’s description of the Ripon Court Shooter.
It isn’t the best sketch. It looks more like a woman. But it could represent EAR’s jogging disguise. This is near where he would strike on January 28, 1978 (Victims 29/30), and he simply may have been prowling the area long in advance. As in the case with Victim 15, EAR sometimes prowled months in advance. What may be more significant is that this above sketch appears to have been done on the same sketchpad as the “Ripon Court Shooter.” If this is the case, then the sketch of the so-called “Ripon Court Shooter” must be a Sheriff’s Department sketch. Therefore it cannot represent the “Ripon Court Shooter,” since that occurred outside of the Sheriff’s jurisdiction.
The watch cap may have been a devise to keep in place a wig. The earliest composite purporting to be of EAR is, according to the unseen hand of the redactor, dated to November 8, 1976.
Robert Neville did a commendable job of turning the composite into a human looking portrait. Unfortunately, due to the inappropriate if not reprehensible fact the original was redacted, we cannot be sure of the date or the association. Victim 9 was struck on November 10, 1976, so that the claim the sketch was completed two days before seems suspicious. It is important if genuine, since it is the only composite prior to the artist’s conception of May 19 that carries a similarity to the only unredacted composite we have, the one of February 11, 1977. Both have a long face. The hair appears unnatural like a wig, though that may be the fault of the police composite kit.
It is, however, curious to note if all the composites presented here prior to the May 19, 1977, artist’s conception are of EAR and date to the time they purport to date, then EAR did use some form of wig on occasion. This is seen in the following.
This composite purports to be dated to March 8, 1977, and shows features similar to the “watch cap” composite above. However, one of the most significant composites was soon to be done, below.
Although this too is sadly redacted, and this picture of it seems liberated from a TV show, it can be assessed as accurate and even linked to the March 18, 1977, attack on Victim 15 in Rancho Cordova. In Sudden Terror, Larry Crompton described the EAR as wearing a green canvas hood. However, Shelby said EAR wore a tight fitting balaclava (green presumably) and for a brief moment the victim saw his face. While one my be tempted to think Shelby made a mistake, his statement is somewhat corroborated by a Sheriff Department profile that was submitted by the profiler on May 2, 1977. In this memo the profiler says that a 16 year old victim in Rancho Cordova was the source of a composite for EAR. It was done while she was under hypnosis.
Frustratingly, this memo is released without full letterhead and has only been retyped on the web. Therefore in a sense it too is redacted. The unnamed author of the memo also said this sketch was the only one ever done of EAR. Technically, this is not wrong. All the other composites and sketches were done of someone seen in the neighborhood, seen before-the-fact. According to the circumstances, only the above could definitely be said to be EAR. Sadly, it was one done under hypnosis.
It certainly dates prior to the release of the May 19, 1977, artist conception. The face above clearly inspired that conception. The artist must have had copies of the above composites with him when he did his conception, deferring to this one for the face because it was the only one drawn under circumstances where it was certain this was EAR, though one recounted admittedly under the dubious method of hypnosis.
The sketch, however, does not show EAR with any hair about his shoulder. Thus we come back to the supposed March 8, 1977, sketch before it. EAR could have gotten his hair cut between March 8 (if that composite is to be believed) and March 18, but this would not explain the May 17 composite with watch cap and shoulder length hair unless EAR wore a wig underneath the cap.
Put together, in relation to the released “artist’s conception” of May 19, 1977, we can only be certain that EAR sometimes wore a windbreaker with a knit mandarin collar.
The artist’s conception, though it would dominate the press, would actually be followed by two unquestionably accurate sketches, both released (later) in such a way that there can be no question as to their authenticity by date and case.
The first is the description of EAR at attack No. 23 in Stockton. EAR had been silent all summer, having struck last on May 28, about a week after the egregiously anodyne conception was released. Stockton represents the next time he was seen. It was not while stalking, but while in the house. As fate would have it, the witness was only a 6 year old child, but she recalled a few things she could not have previously known about EAR.
The sketch above reflects her recollection. She saw him in the darkened hallway. He was nude from the waist down. He wore a tight balaclava (like with Victim 15, March 18, 1977), with a dark watch cap on top of this balaclava. He wore a belt with gun on one side and a knife in a sheath on the other side. Witness wasn’t sure if the gun was on the left side. Under hypnosis she recalled a tattoo on the left forearm (though it could have been the right) that looked like a bull. The belt buckle was thick, metal, two revolvers facing each other (apparently).
The next composite dates to October 1977, and it is the only other one in the Sacramento area to get past a third party redactor. It is well done, and it has come to represent EAR more than any other. It reflects a person of interest seen in relation to the attack on No. 24 in La Riviera. The short hair matches the short hair that EAR must have had in Stockton, since none was detected sticking out under the balaclava.
Robert Neville also did a commendable job of turning this into a living face.
Along with the only other composite to come down to us unredacted, the portrait of a young man with a long, lean face and a vapid expression takes form.
Out of all these presented so far, ironically, these are the only features that seem certain. The other composites are either of someone else seen in the neighborhood or at best they preserve for us that EAR sometimes used a wig and wore a mandarin knit collar.
The idea of a wig is reflected in the next composite to reach the public, though sadly once again redacted. The claim is made that this one dates to January 28, 1978, and therefore must represent a suspicious person seen around Winding Way, the location of the attack on the two sisters (Victims 29/30). This is near American River College and therefore it could be anybody. If it is EAR, then he was wearing an ill-fitting wig. His hair could not have grown this length since October 1977, when the above La Riviera sketch was done.
The next composites will prove some of the most interesting. Befitting sheriff confidence that these sketches reflect the men they sought in the Maggiore Double Murders, they were released very soon after and their dates and association with the murders cannot be doubted. In fact, they were released so quickly that one of the sketches had to be updated. These represent two men seen in the vicinity of La Gloria and La Alegria on the night of the double murders, February 2, 1978, a few days after victims 29/30 were assaulted. One was seen fleeing the scene after having jumped over the fence from the yard in which the Maggiores had been gunned down. Since both had been alternately and interchangeably labeled Suspect 1 and Suspect 2 there is some confusion as to which one should have the mustache. But of the two, one is described very similar to EAR and the sketch even shows him with his hair parted not so commonly on the right side, the feature seen in the February 11, 1977, sketch.
This is the composite of least interest. Below, the other composite.
Anodyne features, as EAR was said to have, hair parted on the right. Again, Robert Neville did an excellent job of turning it into a living face.
I adjusted it to make the jaw a little longer, to bring it in line with the two unredacted facial composites of EAR prior to this time that can be accepted here as admissible.
There are only a couple more un-catalogued composites that are worth considering. Like most on here they have been redacted of date and association.
On the left, supposedly another composite showing one of the two men seen in relation to the Maggiore Double Murder. Right, supposedly another, more accurate composite of the La Riviera “fence jumper.” Both preserve a much longer face.
In regard to the March 18, 1977, composite (above) done under hypnosis (Victim 15), the composite on the right was done by a web artist who used the sketch of what is popularly attributed to the Ripon Court Shooter ( below again) . . .
. . . Although it is purely artistic license (supposedly done in 2014) to some extent it may be accurate since there is no evidence that the sketch (above) is actually a Sac PD sketch of the Ripon Court Shooter. Rather it could be a Sheriff sketch of an EAR suspect (it appears to have been done on the same sketchpad as known sheriff artist sketches).
Yet another undated composite. It must date to around the release of the “artist’s conception” since it uses that face.
There is a point why these are inserted here yet again. The sketch above bears a significant corollary in relation to one of the two men seen the night of the Maggiore Double Murders. One of the two men was described as having “fat lips,” a description which certainly fits the above sketch. It would be invaluable to know if this sketch really does represent A Sheriff sketch, the hypnosis sketch of Victim 15, or the Sac. Police sketch of the Ripon Court Shooter, that “lurker” who acted in a similarly violent way as did the Maggiores’ killer.
Little significant in the way of sketches was hereafter released. A famous one is simply the EAR in a mask, as he was seen at his botched and final attack in northern California, at Danville (Victim 48) in July 1979. This ended the crime spree of the EAR. He would turn murderer in southern California as the Original Night Stalker, but no composites have been released of any suspicious persons seen in those neighborhoods.
It is appropriate that this sketch completes the compilation here, for this is really EAR’s face— a ski mask. On the whole EAR was really never seen. Someone was seen prowling a neighborhood. EAR was seen full face only in a cutout of the balaclava and this was recalled only through hypnosis. The repeating theme is that of a long face, lean man who sometimes parted his hair on the right side. He had a vapid expression and morose eyes. Phenomenally, this is all that comes down to us of The Night Predator, the man who savagely attacked and eventually murdered people over a 10 year period. He was truly a careful terrorist.