In May 1977, the “Surfer Dude” composite was released to the public:
Context: Even with the heavy caveat below the picture (“glimpses,” “tentative,” and “cautioned” are key words), hundreds of tips were called in about the many California men who resembled Surfer Dude. The public was eager for a picture–any picture–to give them a sense of control. Two Sacramento City College students put Surfer Dude on T-shirts as a way to help catch EAR: “Help us find him before he finds you,” the shirt read. They sold at least 500 shirts.
The composite was published nationwide, and it remains a constant image online, one of the first images you see after a Google search.
Validity: This is widely regarded as a bogus sketch. One year after it was published, a sheriff’s department spokesman stated that the composite was “worthless.” When Surfer Dude is attached to contemporary news articles about EAR/ONS, most websleuths are critical of such a decision, knowing the composite’s weak and overblown origins.
Nicknames: Surfer Dude; Surfer Boy