This page details several offenders that have been discussed in relation to EAR, whether through a similar composite or M.O.
Early Morning Rapist / Early Bird Rapist (1972-1976)
In Sudden Terror, Larry Crompton notes that a man known as the Early Morning Rapist (EMR) “attacked and violated at least thirty-six women” over a four-year period. Even though he targeted some of the same areas as EAR, “the offenses were not widely reported and very little panic ensued.”
Richard Shelby refers to this same rapist as the “Early Bird Rapist” (EBR). In Chapter 3, he describes being handed reports “of forty-one victims of a serial rapist known locally as the Early Bird Rapist. He had been active from 1972 to February 4, 1976.” In Chapter 25, Shelby describes EBR as “5ft. 9 inches tall, in his thirties, with a stocky build and a paunch. He preferred to strike in apartment buildings.”
The composite below comes from a Sacramento Bee article that offers this description of the rapist: “the crimes have been committed in the North area of the county in the early morning hours, between midnight and 6 AM during recent months. The suspect forces his way into the victim’s residence, usually an apartment, at knife-point. He threatens the victim with the knife and forces her into sex acts. When leaving, the rapist removes money and some personal item from the victim’s purse. The suspect is Caucasian, 25 to 30 years of age, 5 feet, 8 inches tall, weighs 170 pounds and has brown hair. His hair is thinning on top and starting to recede at the front hairline. It is worn collar length. He is husky.”
Context: EMR/EBR stopped in 1976, the same year EAR started. This is important because some LE at the time thought EAR was a continuation of EMR/EBR.
Shelby is convinced that they identified the EMR/EBR. However, the evidence was weak, and then the suspect moved to another state: “In April, 1976, this suspect, who lived in a nearby mountain town, suddenly uprooted his family and moved to Montana” (Chapter 25).
According to an Agent 99 post quoting Shelby, a jury case against EMR/EBR might have been further derailed by EAR’s emergence in 1976: “We would have been in trial when the first known EAR assault occurred. Imagine how that would have effected the minds of the jurors.”
Connection to EAR: According to Shelby, some law enforcement at the time had trouble distinguishing between EAR and EMR/EBR. That may be the reason for EMR/EBR’s composite being included in some of the compilations. Shelby goes to great detail in differentiating EAR’s MO from EMR/EBR’s in his book (Chapter 25).
NOTE: I decided to collapse Early Morning Rapist and Early Bird Rapist into one reference EMR/EBR in the above post as the same suspect associated with the composite. Crompton calls him EMR; Shelby calls him EBR. However, it should be noted that there was another rapist that Shelby actually calls “Early Morning Rapist,” a copy cat of the Early Bird Rapist. From Shelby’s book Hunting A Psychopath: “Not only did we identify the Early Bird Rapist, but a copy cat, referred to as the Early Morning Rapist, as well” (Chapter 3). That rapist also apparently stopped once LE focused on a particular suspect.
Visalia Ransacker (1974-1975)
The Visalia Ransacker’s crimes occurred between April 1974 and December 1975 (and possibly into 1976), and the number of homes he burglarized has “been estimated upwards of 125.”
Context: A prolific serial burglar, the Ransacker would break into and vandalize homes, often stealing objects of little monetary value.
After committing 80 burglaries, he took a violent turn on 9/11/75 when he attempted to kidnap Beth Snelling from her home at night. Claude Snelling (her father) interrupted the kidnapping and was shot and killed. The Ransacker continued to vandalize and steal for the next three months. On 12/10/75, he encountered police on a stake-out, a situation that quickly turned violent: the Ransacker shot at Detective William McGowen, the bullet striking McGowen’s flashlight. Some have suspected Ransacker-style burglaries that continued into 1976, but that has never been established. After the confrontation with police in December of 1975, definitive signs of The Visalia Ransacker vanished.
Connection to EAR: One popular line of thought is that the Ransacker moved and became EAR, who would make his first known strike in June 1976 in Rancho Cordova, three hours to the north of Visalia. Detailed lists have been created that match the Ransacker’s behaviors with EAR’s. A few of the more obvious connections: ransacking, stealing personal items and coins (leaving valuables), using hand lotion to masturbate, taking items from one house and discarding them in another, and making multiple attempts to break into a house (trying multiple entry points, not always skillfully).
In May 1977, the Visalia Times-Delta reported that Visalia detectives were investigating possible connections between the Visalia Ransacker and EAR.
Description / Composite:
Some of the composite images that have circulated make the Ransacker look much older and fatter than described by witnesses: “25 and 30 years of age, 5-foot, 10 inches in height and 180 to 200 pounds in weight. He was described as having short, straight blond hair, a pale smooth round face and stubby feet and hands.”
Agent McGowen described the Ransacker in this way in December 1975: “20-25 yrs, 5’10, 180 lbs. with short blonde hair pared on the left side, round face and soft skinned features, short stubby fingers, wearing a dark colored stocking cap, grn. camouflage jacket, zipped up front and elastic cuffs, dark pants, dark tennis shoes, and brown cotton gloves.”
The Agent McGowen encounter (12/10/75) resulted in two composites:
The “Chubby VR” composite (right) was the original composite drawn based on the encounter. It was published in the Visalia Times-Delta on December 18, 1975. McGowen was unhappy with this rushed composite, so he had a new one drawn: “Revised VR” (left). The “Revised VR” composite has a mislabeled date with its “Jan 9.75” notation. The actual date was January 9, 1976.
Note the similarities that remain, but also note key differences: the face is now “round” instead of chubby, a wide jaw is better distinguished, and an important profile detail has been added. The “Revised VR” better reflects McGowen’s statements of the physical details. Unfortunately, the more memorable (but inaccurate) “Chubby VR” has continued to give the impression of an overweight, odd-looking ransacker.
Florin Mall (February 1978)
Jack Gray, author of Hot Prowl, discovered this composite in a Sacramento Bee article published on 2/20/78, which details a 2/15/78 incident.
Context: The man in the above composite attempted to rob a 17-year-old girl in the Florin Shopping Center. After the attempted robbery, he sped away in a stolen car, crashing into a California Highway Patrol officer. He escaped on foot. Gray contacted a law enforcement source in recent years: the case was never solved.
In the EAR timeline, this 2/15/78 incident is between the 1/28/78 attack (victims #29 and #30) and the 3/18/78 attack in Stockton (victim #31). Also of note: thirteen days earlier, the Maggiore murders occurred.
Connection to EAR: What stood out to Gray is what stands out to anyone familiar with EAR: this man bears a striking resemblance to several composites, especially Bowie and young Bolton. The description in the news article further supports the resemblance: mid 20s, 160-170 pounds, and a Pendleton shirt. He was also wearing a tan sport coat and beige pants, which seem like odd attire for a mall robbery, yet would fit in with EAR’s suspected tendency of dressing to blend in–to not look like a criminal. As Gray points out, the mall is less than two miles from a May 1977 EAR attack.
This mall robbery is not discussed by Crompton or Shelby. Most discussion board members find it interesting for the composite similarity, but think it highly unlikely as an EAR crime. When EAR is caught, we may find out that he spent some of his days snatching purses in malls, but I doubt it.
Bedroom Basher(s) (1978-1979)
In October 1979, Orange County lived in fear of a serial murderer who would later be known as the Bedroom Basher.
In a 9/18/79 LA Times article, a suspect leaving the area of one murder was described as “a male Latin in his 40s with dark collar-length hair and a mustache.” (This was a Basher crime, but an unlikely description).
By 10/9/79, investigators were probing eleven attacks involving blunt instruments that left seven dead and four severely beaten. One of the survivors, an Irvine woman attacked on 9/23/79, described her attacker as a “5-foot-10 white male in his 20s with a slender build and medium-length blond hair.” On 10/13/79, a sketch and description of this Irvine suspect was “provided by witnesses”: 21-27 years old, 5’10”-6′ tall, slightly built, with blue eyes, blondish red hair, and a deep tan. He was said to have “Scandinavian” features. (This was not determined to be a Basher crime).
On 10/16/79, the investigators released a description and sketch of a suspect created with the help of a psychic. The LA Times helpfully defined a psychic as “a person who is supposedly sensitive to forces beyond the physical world.” The psychic saw the suspect as “5-foot-8 to 5-foot-10 with a muscular build, nearly shoulder-length hair and possibly of Latin descent.” Based on how closely this matched the description from 9/18/79, the LA Times probably should have defined a psychic as “a person who read the description of a suspect from our September 18 article.” This was the published sketch:
One week later, based on a combination of two witness descriptions, an improved sketch and an altered description circulated in the news and in 25,000 leaflets warning Costa Mesa residents; later, on reward offers.
This perpetrator would become known in SoCal as the Bedroom Basher. Victims were raped and bludgeoned to death; three victims survived, including one who was pregnant and would lose the full-term baby. The husband in that case was arrested for the crime and spent 17 years in prison.
Crimes attributed to the above sketch were definitively solved when Gerald Parker was linked to the crimes, including that of the attempted murder which saw the husband’s release. Parker’s murder spree had already come to an end when he was arrested for another crime in 1980. DNA lab work and Parker’s confessions ultimately closed the case for good in 1996, and an innocent man was returned to the world.
The irony is that the true Bedroom Basher looked nothing like the grizzly white man seen in the sketch. He was a staunch, fit black male with military cropped hair, which leads to the view that the man described in that composite sketch was someone else.
Connection to EAR:
It is easy to see why this case is so often confused with the ONS series of crimes in Southern California, namely in how both killers operated and where they hunted. The timing of Gerald Parker stopping and the ONS starting is interesting, and some have wondered about connections with the sketch. As far as physical similarities go between the ONS and the sketch, the face is just another one that holds no consistency to the others attributed in the EAR series of NorCal. Conversely, if one was to suspend doubt and believe that the man in the sketch might have been the EAR seen prowling in the area that would be his future hunting ground, then that would raise the tantalizing possibility that this would be the sole composite of the ONS in the SoCal region.
As with the “Surfer Dude” sketch, most who research this case completely discredit this sketch as useless and unrelated. For good reason, too. However, it is worthwhile to note that the Bedroom Basher case offers other intriguing connections to the EAR/ONS case.
First, recall the suspect description from the Irvine woman who survived an attack in September: “5-foot-10 white male in his 20s with a slender build and medium-length blond hair.” Of course, that description would match a lot of white men in 1979 California. Given how little is publicly known about this attack–exact time? in an apartment? a house?–there’s no foundation for an EAR connection. However, it is still interesting when you consider how sloppy EAR became in July and October of 1979 and how he was going to change by the end of the year.
Second, it has been theorized that the ONS could have been trying to copycat the Bedroom Basher, to hide his murders behind other bludgeonings that had been making headlines.
The timeline is fascinating:
On 7/5/79, EAR lost control in Danville. Before he could bind or threaten the couple, the husband woke up. He screamed obscenities at EAR, who seemed too stunned to respond as the wife and husband bolted out a rear sliding glass door.
On 10/1/79, EAR would try again in Goleta, and he would again lose control. EAR had tied up the couple, separated them into different rooms, and he was following his typical script. But then the script changed on EAR. His repeated mutterings of “I’ll kill ’em” as he walked through the house moved the couple to action. The woman managed to get out the front door. As EAR pulled her back into the house, the man–also still bound–exited the house into the backyard. EAR’s attempt to find him left the woman able to get back outside, where she screamed and roused neighbors. EAR ended that night pedaling furiously away on a bicycle, being pursued by an off-duty FBI agent in a car.
Those were his last two attacks as EAR, and they were failures.
In October and November, Orange County was awash in fear of the bludgeon deaths making headlines in the LA Times:
This was the kind of fear that EAR used to instill: soaring sales of guns and locks, patrols in the streets at night, and seminars on rape awareness and home security and self defense. The temptation to murder seemed strong when he was with the Goleta couple, and investigators long thought that EAR would eventually kill. Did the headlines of the fear-inspiring Basher pull him inexorably down that path? Threats with his knife were common, and he likely fantasized about using it to kill, but was he now thinking about blunt instruments and hiding his crimes behind the Basher’s?
EAR had not succeeded with an attack since June. The unsolved Basher crimes were still making news in December. When EAR returned to Goleta at the end of December, he committed his first known murders: Robert Offerman and Alexandria Manning. It seems clear that he lost control of the scene and resorted to multiple gunshots. If he were inspired by the Basher, he would demonstrate that at his next murder.
San Diego Cold Case: Karen Taylor (1985)
At 9:30 a.m. on 10/1/85, neighbors found Karen Taylor murdered in her home. She was 41 and lived alone on Elm Avenue in Imperial Beach. Her wallet, credit cards, and car were missing. On that same day, the car and a white male suspect ended up in Bakersfield, where the car was being towed to a service station. The man used Taylor’s credit card to have the car repaired, but he didn’t wait around. Instead, he took his two military style duffle bags and got a ride from an employee to a Greyhound station. He was talkative–more details here–and the employees must have got a good look at him with that much contact:
Context: Although there’s no reason to associate this crime with EAR, it would be of interest because it occurred during EAR’s silent period: EAR last struck on July 1981, and would not strike again until May 1986.
Connection to EAR: This composite isn’t typically associated with EAR, but it shows up in image searches associated with EAR. It can be found on Quester’s site, with minimal explanation for its inclusion among other EAR composites.
The few details of the murder do not fit anything expected of EAR: Taylor was found fully clothed on the bedroom floor, and the “cause of death was not apparent.” If that sounds like an EAR attack in 1985, then nearly any woman murdered at home becomes a viable EAR victim.
The suspect also sounds too young and too tall: 20‐25 years old, 6’1”‐6’2” tall, with light brown or sandy blond hair, and weighed about 175‐185 lbs. I assume that witnesses at the service station can make a reliable age assessment with the amount of contact they had with the suspect. At the older end of the age range, that would put the suspect around 16 in 1976; at the younger end, 11.
Finally, the composite also looks young. Some may see a resemblance to Point Reyes, but it makes little sense to think that the Point Reyes suspect would look like this composite eight years later.