It was about 10:30 p.m., a cold, dark February night in College Glen. This is the Sacramento subdivision just south of Glenbrook where Victim 11 had been struck on January 19. Despite it being divided from Glenbrook by Highway 50, the two communities were connected by a bridge over the highway on Occidental Street. This made Occidental the main street to and from both areas.
EAR must have known this area. Occidental had to be the street by which EAR had got to Victim 11’s house, for it is off Occidental on Great Falls Way where the sheriffs found the victim’s car. Strangely, EAR had driven it to the apartment complex and disappeared into the night, as he often told his victims he would. This means that EAR had somehow come to Glenbrook through the College Glen area to begin with. It seems reasonable to deduce that he had come from around Folsom Blvd, the main road east and west from Rancho Cordova, and this must be how he escaped.
So to cut to the chase, EAR had to know the main areas of College Glen already by January 19, 1977.
A few blocks into the community from Occidental was Ripon Court. It was a short cul de sac across the street from a school and its park. There wasn’t much else about this area of College Glen that fit EAR’s prowling modus operandi. Only this area. By February, sheriff profilers had already been collating EAR’s MO, noting that invariably he struck a block of homes on or one row over from a canal, park, school, or levee. And the part of the school directly across from Ripon Court was a huge grassy park. Citadel Way, the street off which was Ripon Court, was also lined by tall trees whose branches formed a canopy over Citadel and the entrance to Ripon Court. It was dark and clandestine, and this fit EAR’s tactical MO.
Therefore it seems more than coincidental that the following incident would happen here.
Young Rod Miller just came into his house from the garage door of their Ripon Court home when both he and his father, Ray, heard something in the backyard. It sounded like someone had bounced into Ray’s barbecue. Ray flicked the outside light on and both saw a young man “lurking” in the dark corner of the backyard. Ray yanked the sliding glass door open.
The “lurker” bolted straight for the front yard along the side of the house. Rod immediately gave chase, with Ray close behind him. The lurker was incredibly agile. He dashed through the gate and across Ripon Court to the house opposite the Millers. He bounded over that home’s side fence, but Rod did not stop. He braced a foot against the fence and leapt up, hands clutching the top of the palings, ready to bound over in hot pursuit.
At this very moment, from the darkness below him, he heard a gun cock. There was nothing he could do. He was completely exposed, and momentum didn’t allow him to fall back.
A loud burst spit forth. His stomach burned. He fell back into his father’s arms. “I’ve been shot!” he cried. His hands clutched his stomach, blood oozing out between his fingers.
Another shot roared from the other side of the fence. Ray pulled his son back to safety behind the front of the neighbor’s garage door.
Shouting, screams of pain of course, echoed over the court. Lights came on in the houses. Soon every neighbor was on the phone calling the police. It wasn’t long before squad cars screeched up, followed by an ambulance.
Police were quick to cordon off the general area. But the perpetrator had silently escaped.
Rod Miller had 13 holes in him. The bullet had ripped through his internal organs. Fortunately, he would survive.
The Sacramento Bee expressed its worry that the shooter might have been the East Area Rapist. Lt. Shelby believed it was all but a given that the lurker was EAR.
In retrospect, there is every chance that the lurker was indeed EAR. Aside from the fact the area fit his MO— the school grounds right across the street— the Millers’ house backed the second house to the corner on Notre Dame Drive behind them. More frequently than not EAR had struck the corner house or the house next to it. From his earliest strikes, it was clear that EAR also accessed homes from the house behind them. For No. 1 and 3, for example, it seems he used Del Rey Court.
In terms of pace, an argument can be made that this was EAR. He had struck January 19 in Glenbook, his first strike in La Riviera. His next victim was February 7, but there would be no more victims in all of February. Yet in March he would take up his pace again and strike at least two more (March 8 and March 18), each spanned by about week. In April he would do likewise. Considering he attacked on February 7, his next attack was due near to the 16th of February. But there would be no other attack in February. There was only this unexplained incident where a young prowler saw fit to carry a gun, like EAR did, and shoot to kill to protect himself.
Sacramento Police did a sketch of the “lurker.” Popularly it is claimed that 2 sketches exist, though they are both quite different. Both are credited to Rod Miller, but both should be considered suspect today as originating from the Ripon Court incident. One shows an average young man, not unhandsome, the other shows a young man with a long face and morose eyes and an almost dead expression.
Two very different composites. The one on the left is redacted and only popularly credited as being based on Rod Miller’s description. The one on the right has been attributed to the Ripon Court Shooter, even by Lt. Richard Shelby in his book Hunting a Psychopath, but it is not redacted and clearly dates to February 11, 1977, about a week before the shooting. It must represent a suspicious person from another attack (perhaps February 7th’s). The reader must keep in mind that these were not released to the public back then. EAR, in fact, had no public face and would not until May when a different composite was finally released.
There had been no string of robberies in the neighborhood and there was little reason to expect some crazed burglar about. So what was this lurker doing there if he was not EAR prowling? Why would an ordinary prowler opt to wait on the other end of the fence and attempt to kill his pursuers? Obviously, he had to delay them. At the very least we must assume this. So we must accept that somehow he had come from the other side of the court, probably having parked on Chestnut Hill or Reed Court. If not here, then he was heading for the quickest way out and didn’t want to be followed to his car or bike wherever he would have to backtrack to find it.
In any case, the lurker got away clean. The shells left at the scene were supposedly 9mm, which may have been the gun EAR had brandished to others previously.
The young lurker came armed. This we do know.
He never returned. The area south of Highway 50 would never be struck by EAR. He would return to La Riviera north of it, but never come south on Occidental again, though we know he knew the area.
Was this EAR? For now, in the sequence of crimes as they unfolded, Sacramento Police didn’t know what they had. Speculation was that it was EAR prowling for a new victim. As time would go by, EAR’s modus operandi would become painfully repetitive, and Ripon Court’s location fits perfectly in the assault tactics of a night stalker who wouldn’t quit.