Authorities are hoping the public can help identify "a violent serial burglar, rapist, and murderer who terrorized multiple communities in California throughout the 1970s and 1980s." Image: FBI
Authorities are hoping the public can help identify “a violent serial burglar, rapist, and murderer who terrorized multiple communities in California throughout the 1970s and 1980s.” Images: FBI

Federal and local authorities launched a national campaign Wednesday to ask the public for help to find a man they believe is responsible for 12 homicides and 45 rapes in California, and more than 125 home burglaries, between 1976 and 1986.

The FBI is offering a $50,000 reward for tips that lead to the arrest, capture and conviction of the man known at various times as the “Golden State Killer,” the “Original Night Stalker” and the “East Area Rapist” — because his crimes began in the eastern district of Sacramento.

The FBI announced the reward Wednesday, along with the launch of a multimedia campaign, and is hoping the broad effort will help bring the man to justice.

“He’s got to be one of the most prolific criminals when you think of the other murder cases that are connected and all of the rape cases and God know what else we don’t know about,” said Ray Biondi, a retired detective with the Sacramento County sheriff’s office, as part of the FBI statement released Wednesday.

According to the FBI, the man began committing crimes in the Sacramento area, where he committed 31 sexual assaults and two homicides from 1976 to 1978. Forty years later, authorities are still seeking clues.

Among the evidence collected in the cold case are fingerprints, shoe treads and DNA. Investigators say they can now use DNA technology to rule out suspects and verify the killer’s identity. Photo: FBI

“During these crimes, the subject would ransack the homes of his victims and take small items such as coins, jewelry and identification. These cases include the homes of families, couples, and single women; burglaries in a neighborhood tended to precede clusters of sexual assaults,” according to the FBI.

In 1978, authorities say the man chased down and overcame a Rancho Cordova couple, Sgt. Brian Maggiore and his wife Kate, then fatally shot them at close range.

Another 16 sexual assaults authorities have tied to the man took place in unincorporated parts of Contra Costa County as well as Concord, Walnut Creek, Fremont, San Jose, Stockton and Modesto in 1979.

In 1980, 1981 and 1986, authorities say the man was active in Southern California in Irvine, Ventura, and Orange and Santa Barbara counties. There were 12 killings and two attempted homicides. Couples were often targeted.

“During the commission of the homicides, the subject tied up both victims, raped the female victim, and then murdered the couple,” according to the FBI. Authorities said he “enjoys the terror” and inflicting pain on people.

There have been no crimes linked to the case since the 1986 killing and rape of an 18-year-old woman in Irvine.

A spokeswoman with the FBI, Gina Swankie, said that though no Berkeley crimes have been linked to the case, it’s still important to spread the word.

“Those who resided in the areas impacted by this subject have often relocated so this campaign is a nation-wide campaign to help trigger memories that can help us ID this subject,” she said by email. “Someone out there may have the missing piece to this 40-year-old puzzle.”

According to the FBI, the man may be 60-75 years old now if he is still alive. He was described as white, about 5 feet 10 inches tall, with blond or light brown hair and an athletic build. He may have had an interest or training in military or law enforcement techniques “as he was familiar and proficient with firearms.”

He often wore a ski mask and would shine a flashlight into his victims’ eyes. After he committed his crimes, he would jump over the rear fences of residences, running through backyards to avoid being spotted.

Hear survivors share their stories here and here.

The East Area Rapist took items from crime scenes including coins and jewelry.

“We know that our guy took items,” said FBI Special Agent Marcus Knutson in the prepared statement. “So if for some reason people—whether their family member is deceased or they’re cleaning out a storage unit—come across a weird collection of items such as women’s ID’s, rings, earringsanything that’s out of the ordinaryit could be significant.”

Authorities say they have linked the man to the cases using DNA, other evidence and patterns in his methods. The DNA “can either positively link or exclude a suspect” such that investigators should be able “to quickly exclude innocent parties” with “a simple, non-invasive test,” the FBI said.

Authorities are hoping tips from the public will help them crack the case after all these years. The significant reward could also play a role.

“It may push somebody over the edge who knows something and kind of provide us that one tip we need,” said Sgt. Paul Belli, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department detective assigned to the case, as part of the FBI campaign. “Just like any homicide investigation, our lifelines are people that give us information. It all boils down to people.”

Individuals with information about the subject may call 800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324). Additionally, information may be submitted to the FBI’s online tip line, See the “wanted” flier created in connection with the campaign. Watch Wednesday’s press conference.

Emilie Raguso (former senior editor, news) joined Berkeleyside in 2012 and covered politics, public safety and development until her departure in 2022. In 2017, Emilie was named Journalist...