Wednesday, April 17, 2013

O is for Oregon ([M]WW) and Original Night Stalker

Here we are at "O!" We're more than halfway through, and it feels great! I am in conference week, and have been busy, busy since last week in preparation, but as of Monday I'll be catching up on comments and blog visits.

For [Mostly] Wordless Wednesday, I thought I'd share some photos of Oregon, my home from age two to age seven, and then again the year I was married (for just shy of a year). It's a beautiful place, lush and green. Vibrant. But the photos I'm posting are of the coast, which tends to be windy and overcast, yet still so lovely. As beaches go, Oregon's are a little more rugged than some, with black lava rocks on the beaches (though I don't believe all of them, just the ones I'm familiar with) and towering light houses.

Note: I've posted these before, so some of you will have already seen them. You can never see enough lighthouse pics, right?


Today's History's Mystery concerns the Original Night Stalker, a serial killer and rapist. There were two serial killers around the same time period. Richard (called George in some articles) Ramirez was the Night Stalker, striking in Los Angeles in the 1980's, but the man dubbed the Original Night Stalker has never been determined. He was, however, linked to several other crime sprees, giving him multiple monikers: Original Night Stalker, East Area Rapist, Diamond Knot Killer, and Visalia Ransacker.

Anyone with even a passing interest in criminology has probably learned the cycle for certain types of violent criminals. Crimes start as petty, and on a much smaller scale, but they escalate as time goes by. One might start as a small-time criminal who breaks into women's homes and steals their underwear when they're not home. They may then escalate to rape, and ultimately murder. This is overly simplified, but it applies to the Original Night Stalker.

For this particular serial rapist/killer, a timeline might be easiest.

Visalia Ransacker
Note: This criminal has not been definitely tied in with the Original Night Stalker, as he never left behind DNA evidence that could be tied to the future cases. The time period, location and various details have led to officials considering this to possibly be the same person.
The Visalia Ransacker was a petty criminal, breaking into family's homes and ransacking their belongings. He might take small items, but never really anything of value. He carried a gun to his crime scenes, which he used on September 11, 1975, when he killed a man who attempted to stop him from taking his 16 year old daughter. In December of that same year, a policeman on patrol due to heightened security in response to the Visalia Ransacker stopped a man for questioning. That man pulled out a gun and shot at the officer, shattering his flashlight, which caused injury to his eyes. The man got away, but the Visalia Ransacker wasn't heard from in the area again. The crimes stopped, but it's thought the Visalia Ransacker hit over eighty homes during his one year crime reign.

East Area Rapist
Note: This criminal has definitively been tied to the Original Night Stalker through DNA evidence examined years later. 
Six month after the Visalia Ransacker's crime spree ended, a rapist turned up in Sacramento and surrounding areas. At first, he attacked women who were alone, either because they lived alone or because those who lived with them were out. Many of the woman had reported attempted intruders or someone hanging around outside their homes, indicating that the East Area Rapist was staking out houses before going in to attack them. He typically chose houses that were one story single family dwellings. He carried a gun with him when he perpetrated his crimes, and often wore a ski mask or a kerchief tied around his face.

In February 1977, a young man noticed a prowler and gave chase. He was shot in the stomach, but survived.

In April 1977, he attacked his first couple. After this, he went after many more couples, interspersed with individual women. He never attacked just a man, as rape was part of his MO. He would wake them up and force the woman to tie up the man with shoelaces while held at gunpoint. He would then tie the woman up and assault her. For her ligatures, he typically used twine.

The attacks continued this way for a time, with no murders being committed. But in May 1977 he threatened to kill his next two victims. He didn't kill anyone, however, until February 1978, almost a year later, when he killed a couple who were out walking their dog. It appeared there was a confrontation and the couple had fled, but the attacker shot them.

He went back to his attacks, no further murders, but he disappeared from the area after an incident where a couple managed to escape in October 1979. When the woman screamed, he fled. At this time, he had committed at least fifty assaults in the area.

Original Night Stalker
An attacker showed up in Santa Barbara, his first crime the murder of a couple in their home on December 30, 1979. He brought a white German shepherd with him, which would be reported at later crimes, as well. He stole a bike from one of the neighboring buildings. The East Area Rapist was reported to have gotten around on a bicycle, as well.

Composite sketch from 1977
Several more attacks occurred between 1980 and 1986, most involving the couple tied up, the woman raped, and both murdered. He often bludgeoned them, though, rather than using his gun. Perhaps this was to avoid the sound created by the gun going off, or maybe he just liked the act of beating them to death more than shooting them. In one of the first bludgeoning deaths, a log from the fireplace was used. In another, he'd gotten a tool from a shed out back. After this, the bindings and weapons were removed, possibly because he was using the same twine at each crime scene and it was being used to tie his crimes together.

His last crime was committed in May 1986 when a woman whose family was on vacation was raped and bludgeoned to death. The Original Night Stalker's murder rate was at least ten, according to the crimes definitively tied to him.

So what happened to him? Was he arrested. This seems unlikely, because legislation was passed (at least partially due to this case) that allowed for the collection of DNA for anyone committing a felony in California. No inmates have had matching DNA.

Did he move to another state? His information was sent out country-wide, due to how extreme they were. He'd stuck by a type through several moves, riding a bicycle to the scenes of the crime, taking along a white German shepherd, wearing a ski mask, carrying a gun, and using the same type of twine. While it's possible he could have changed everything, is it probable? Or might the process have been as important as the act?

Did he move out of country? It's entirely possible.

Was he killed? This is another strong possibility. Perhaps he died during his next robbery and wasn't connected to the other crimes, though this seems unlikely. But what about a car accident or some other unrelated type of death? His DNA wouldn't have been tested and compared to the Original Night Stalker's unless there was some valid reason to do so, so his death could have gone unnoticed.

Did he commit suicide? This has been suggested as only a vague possibility, as he didn't seem the type to do so, as far as profilers were concerned.

Due to the 2011 DNA results tying him to some of the murders noted above, the case has been reopened and is active, though they are referring to him as the Diamond Knot Killer, due to the knots he used to restrain his victims. There's actually a website dedicated to it, clearly going over the various crimes committed in the hopes that someone, somewhere, will have information for the police. They feel he'd be in his 40's to 60's, or thereabouts, and they offer not only physical descriptions, but also a voice recording from a message left to

People like this don't just stop, though. They don't escalate like this and just suddenly lose the inclination to commit these types of crimes. Something must have happened to force him to stop, whether it was incarceration, a move that took him out of the area that had his DNA and knowledge of his crimes, or death. Like Jack the Ripper, we'll probably never know, but it's interesting to speculate. Several men have been accused over the years of having been the Original Night Stalker, but each has been proven to be innocent, either by DNA or by having been out of the area for some of the crimes.

What do you think? What was it that stopped the Original Night Stalker? What type of job might have allowed him to move so easily from area to area, or forced him to move (it's been speculated that he had police or military training)? Or do you think he just got bored and stopped?

May you find your Muse.


mshatch said...

What a horrifying case.

Unknown said...

Interesting. I actually was very interested in criminology for a long time (thank you CSI). I dont' recall hearing or reading about this case. I'd be curious to know since you are right, people like this don't just stop. I'd guess he moved out of country but it would be possible that an accident of some sort happened.

We Are Adventure

D.G. Hudson said...

Serial rapists don't get bored. I don't believe I've ever heard that. Sometimes, they're someone who looks harmless, or simply average.

Oregon is much like British Columbia. I've been to Agate Beach years ago. Loved the rocky beach and blustery weather. Not for sunning though, for beach walks.

Dee @ A Deecoded Life said...

What a crazy, scary freako! His poor victims. :(
Yes he wouldn't have stopped just because. He probably died. I like to think he did, so he'll never subject other people to his insanity.

~ D is for Deecoded ~

TaMara Sloan said...

I would think he probably either died or became ill and couldn't continue. I doubt he would have just quit.

Tales of a Pee Dee Mama

TaMara Sloan said...

I would think he probably either died or became ill and couldn't continue. I doubt he would have just quit.

Tales of a Pee Dee Mama

Andrew Leon said...

And what about Jack? Or is he coming for R?

Maple Syrup Land said...

I'm guessing he either died (the most likely, IMO) or moved and completely changed his MO, so no one would link him to his previous crimes. If he's still alive, he's definitely still out there raping and killing...serial killers do not stop

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Great photos! I prefer a coast to a beach.

Maple Syrup Land said...

Also, I love the pics of Oregon...the scenery is very similar to where I live :)

Tina said...

Love Oregon pics. Hate serial killers, though murder mysteries are a favorite read. I just like to think of them as the figment of someone's imagination, not as a real person like this who may still be out there...but I think he's dead or he'd still be criming it up...that kind of sickness only escalates.

Tina @ Life is Good
Co-host, April 2013 A-Z Challenge Blog
@TinaLifeisGood, #atozchallenge

katie eggeman said...

I love the pictures, Richard Ramirez scared us all in the LA area. I lived in Arcadia and lived in a yellow house. We never left our windows opened at night. It was a stuffy summer.
Katie atBankerchick Scratchings

Carrie-Anne said...

Maybe he was in an accident that gave him amnesia or rendered him too disabled to continue these horrific crimes.

Fe said...

What a beautiful coastline.

The rapists - well, the world sure has enough of them and no, I don't think anything short of death will ever stop one.

shelly said...

Creepy. Interesting. And wow!

Hugs and chocolate,

Christine Rains said...

I think something had to happen to the Night Stalker. I don't think he committed suicide either. He's likely dead from something or other.

Kristen said...

That's so horrible. I found the timeline fascinating though. You put so much work into this; it's very impressive.

As for Oregon: it's a gorgeous state! I love the photos. I got to drive through on the coast when I was younger, on a road trip from Southern California to Vancouver, Canada. We had a blast, and I loved the scenery.

#atozchallenge, Kristen's blog:

Rachel said...

That's horrible! I feel absolutely terrible for everyone who had to suffer through that.

I think he's dead, or unable to do anything. Maybe he's even paralyzed or something. I don't think he willingly stopped and I doubt he was arrested without anyone knowing.

Unknown said...

I doubt he moved to Canada or even Mexico as those two locations would be easy to sort, these days, and link crimes similar to his to the ones he definitely committed. He must be dead due to unrelated causes as he most likely wouldn't have just stopped.

Jen said...

What a fascinating theme for the challenge! Glad I wandered by! It's been a while since I've visited. Elliot B's post mentioned you and here I am!

Enjoy the rest of the alphabet!

Unknown said...

I went into the FBI as a special agent forensics to solve violent crimes such as this - I would like to think he got his in the end - so much evil can't possibly go unchecked without meeting justice.

Chuck said...

That is so interesting. I have never heard of all these years of assaults and murders. Scary to think someone could get away with this for so long over such a broad area.

Chilling really.

Chuck at Apocalypse Now

Lucy said...

First, I would love to check out the Oregon coast.
Second, wow, what a case. I know this horrible to say but I am hoping he died, either by an accident or maybe health related issues but since authorities were alluded by him it would be best if he had left this earth unable to cause others any harm.
Lucy from Lucy's Reality

Disha Doshi Shah said...

Live in Sunny Mumbai but am certain will make it to Oregon coast someday. Happy to connect. Do visit I am following you via #AtoZChallenge

Jak said...

Hopefully he is dead, though that brings a lack luster sense of justice. Not sure of many killers who get bored, but they may "smarten" up, knowing that police are close (or in this case DNA and links to past crimes) forcing them to stop.

I'd imagine that urge, though, would be too much. Escalating like that only to quit cold turkey? Maybe he completely changed his MO and there are more cases associated to him than is known?

What I find odd (though I don't know much about dogs) is bringing the white German Shepherd. Is it a common breed? I would think this would easily flag him.

Jak at The Cryton Chronicles & Dreams in the Shade of Ink

Shannon Lawrence said...

Marcy, definitely a terrible case.

Elliot, because criminology is interesting! It does seem like he had to have moved elsewhere. I hope it was an accident, and no one elsewhere had to suffer by his hand.

D.G., Oregon beaches are definitely lovely for walks. And shell and rock seeking. My grandma had quite a collection of polished rocks.

Dee, I feel completely the same way. I hope that last victim was THE last victim of his.

TaMara, we can only hope!

Andrea, ah, Jack the Ripper? While he has always, and will always, fascinated me, I thought I'd skip him for this series since everyone would have heard of him. I was hoping to bring something new to people.

Maple, I sure hope he died and didn't just take it elsewhere. I think an international project to match up MO's for various criminals would be fascinating.

Alex, I didn't know there was a difference there in terminology. Makes sense, though!

Tina, very true, they don't just stop. I admit to having a fascination with the real ones, though the stories haunt me.

Katie, terrifying! The heat must have been terrible, but far preferable to the darker possibility.

Carrie-Anne, now that is a fantastic story line right there! Could be. Amnesia for life? What would happen if he came out of it?

Fe, it is beautiful out there, isn't it?

Shannon Lawrence said...

Shelly, lol!

Christine, after all he'd done, and as long as he had, I doubt suicide, as well. Doesn't seem like he could have been ashamed of himself.

Kristen, that sounds like a wonderful trip! I haven't been up to Seattle, let alone Vancouver, but I'd love to make the trek up the coast.

Rachel, I like the karma in the thought of him being paralyzed.

J Keith, if he was military, he could have been shipped all over the globe. But you'd think he would have returned to the U.S. at some point if that were the case. Maybe something happened to him elsewhere.

Jen, Elliot is awesome! Thank you for coming by.

Samantha, what an interesting career. I bet you have plenty of interesting stories. I certainly do hope he got his.

Chuck, that it is. I had heard of him, but not of his other iterations. Frightening.

Lucy, I agree that would be the best thing to have happened, because there's no way he'd stop without being forced in some way.

Disha, Oregon would certainly be a change! It is lovely, though. I hope you get to visit.

Jak, I've never seen a white shepherd, so I wouldn't think it was that common, but if pet licensing wasn't required and he didn't take it to the vet, maybe it would be tricky. You'd think the press could have put out something alerting people to watch for a man with a white shepherd, but maybe he kept to himself. I don't know. Dogs need to go for walks.

Leah Rosasco said...
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Shannon Lawrence said...
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