The above is only an example of the in-depth picture essays that will accompany the cases and then make up much of the analysis section. Above just scratches the surface of only 2 of EAR’s methods of stalking.
Although Crompton did an admirable work in reintroducing the case, he was not an investigator in Sacramento where it all began. A serial makes his mistakes early on. He shifts gears until he perfects his MO. It’s at moments like this when he is vulnerable to being exposed. Crompton became good friends with the Sacramento lead sheriff investigator, Jim Bevins. Bevins gave him copies of what he had, but it is clear that Crompton didn’t have all the information, especially on the “prehistory” cases— those first 8 rapes that were never reported in the press. Street names are not recited by him, and on a number of occasions geographical mistakes are obvious in his recital.
Nevertheless, his book Sudden Terror is invaluable. For the later attacks he mentions many of the streets by name. Although there are still a significant number where he only mentions the major cross streets or a community, like “Fair Oaks,” he does mention or makes offhand reference to certain facts which help establish the actual street or even the house.
For case #9, for example, he mentions the canal behind the victim’s house, the area behind the fence where they used to play as kids, and the weeping willow tree. This was enough for me to find the actual location and, when personally visiting, not to be surprised that the house had up bars. In some of the early cases he mentions a street, such as La Loma Drive in Rancho Cordova. Crompton having offhand noted that the backyard had a BBQ pit with a brick chimney that went up through an add-on extension roof over the patio, I was able to find the house. It was, in fact, one of the few homes next to a second story home where a suspect, “Tracey Erle,” supposedly could peer out the window and see the victim.
For others it was more difficult. The location of No. 10 was crucial. But I had only two major cross streets. It took hours if not accumulated hours into days to uncover the location. The clues were provided by Crompton— the EAR had simply pushed over a fence between side yards and walked over it, leaving a perfect shoe print on the paling. He then surprised the victim while she was playing the piano. He led her into the garage, which was through a nearby door. He then took her into the yard, tied her feet to a post on the patio— it obviously had an overhang— and then raped her on the picnic table. Knowing the EAR’s MO by this time, I knew the home had to be near the Schweitzer Grove open park. Everything about this whole community had EAR written on it. It was a mirror of Del Campo Park, which the EAR had used several times in the Crestview area. However, the area is huge. Several streets dead end into accesses into the wooded area.
Where to begin? Zillow or Trulia are trusty companions for finding the age of a home (and even seeing the inside of a victim’s house if it should be for sale). Zillow showed that the age of homes around the Grove were too recent (by 1976 standards) to have fences that could be brought down by merely pushing on them. I was looking for at least a 20 year old fence. This meant the upper right quadrant of homes. Then I noticed what was becoming a familiar friend to my research, and something that had been a familiar ally to the EAR. Using Google Earth I finally saw a canal. This began the process. A little beetling in, lots of Zillow and Trulia to get each home’s age, and a close up with Google Earth showed the right home. It was 20 years old. The conclusion was clinched by an historic Google Earth aerial showing that in the last decade the patio overhang was still in place and only recently removed. This home was also noteworthy for the chimney indicating that the living room was next to the garage. A garage is usually in the front of a home and accessed through the kitchen. Not in the case of this incident. A home nearby still carried bars on the window.
Another example: For one of the Foothill Farms rapes, the victim was able to relate how the EAR was distracted by the kids playing on the street outside. He kept going to the living room window and peering out between the closed drapes. After the rapist left, she heard his car (or van) start up next to the house. It was easy to determine that she must have lived in a corner house. However, the house marked by popular forums as the one was in the center cross street; though a corner house, it did not match in other areas. The street (Revelstok) was known, but the houses at Brett and Revelstok simply didn’t have living rooms that opened up onto the front of the house. A little Google Earth preplanning, Street View, and then on-scene walking about revealed the right house and intersection. The large living room window still had wrought iron bars on it. The EAR had parked in a blind spot next to it. That was becoming his MO.
Not having all the addresses was beneficial for me. I had to find them. This exercised deduction. If I merely had the addresses I would have visited the locations and walked about a bit. But I had to deduce many streets and then on top of this find the right house. This caused me to notice everything in the community. I had to learn a neighborhood like he had learned it. In my case, from the barest shred of information I had to find the house, and this revealed exactly how he must have tactically sized up a community.
Even with Google Earth I could not see all the details of a neighborhood. Often trees obscured a canal. I would visit a location, suddenly find a walking path between homes— another EAR telltale stalking clue— and then under trees behind the homes stumble upon a canal or creek. At this moment I learned to appreciate the cliché about a light bulb coming on over one’s head. I knew his MO so well by this time, I could find the house. Often times bars were still on windows in the general location— a sure sign one is hot especially in a nice neighborhood. No one has forgotten The EAR.
All this has revealed clues. But some are hard to interpret. No one can just drive around and find these canals. Yes, the parks and schools, some of them huge open fields or orchards back then, can be found by driving about. But the canals and the nature trails and walking paths between homes are another matter. “Cats”— the huge power pylons— well, maps don’t show them, but they can be seen from afar. The “Cats” will become significant. Somehow he knew where they were or he saw them while driving the highways and knew there would always be an open field beneath them. He loved these areas. Canals come into play on Victim #4, from there on there is monotony.
Logistically it is hard to imagine someone just driving around looking for parks and schools or open fields and then laboriously narrowing down his tactical lines of stalking to canals and walking paths. One would need a lot of time and patience. Original investigators thought that EAR may have been attracted to a location based on new construction going on. With this he could get a good scope of the layout of homes while under construction and learn the floor plan. He could also come and go unnoticed.
But it doesn’t fit. His first attacks were in a 20 year old neighborhood. After that he struck in both old and newer neighborhoods. Maybe he was a roofer? He could then get a tall view of neighborhoods both old and new. This too was speculated. Not an unwise surmise to make. But it seems this would too openly connect him with the community. One thing he stuck to. He could not be connected with the area. He must be totally or near totally unobserved while stalking a neighborhood. His MO shows him to be a guy from the get-go that didn’t want to be caught.
No matter what kind of interdepartmental contention existed in the sheriffs and the police, all were united in one thing. They knew this guy was the most calculated predator ever encountered. From terror, sadism, rape, he graduated to couples, striking even when entire families were in the house. Then he turned murderer. He didn’t change one iota, however, of his stalking MO. Over Santa Barbara County, Ventura, Orange, the murder victims’ homes are all in the same relation to ‘Cats,’ canals, parks and schools. Only here his sadism led to murder, only here no more witnesses to tell of their ordeal . . . but he no doubt remained the hissing, ski masked villain.
From these short notes on how I developed my own investigation, the reader will get a foretaste of the entire EAR/ONS section of The Quester Files, especially the analysis section. The reader must walk in the path of this real life Michael Myers like I have in order to appreciate why he is the most calculated and No. 1 serial offender . . .the one true Night Predator. These communities, these facts, are the only remaining witnesses. With their help we can still unmask the hissing little sadist.