SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – A decades-old DNA match now links the man known as the “East Area Rapist” to four murders near Santa Barbara.
He attacked at least 50 women in the Sacramento area in the late 1970s, and new evidence is possibly shedding light on unsolved cases in the Central Valley.
With the new evidence, investigators may possibly know why the crimes stopped in Sacramento and moved to the Southern California area.
“This is a guy who absolutely terrorized communities through Sacramento,” said Sacramento County sheriff’s Sgt. Jason Ramos.
Sacramento investigators say in the 1970s the East Area Rapist attacked 50 women in the Sacramento area before moving on to Southern California, where he’s thought to have killed almost a dozen people.
In the Santa Barbara area, he’s known as the Original Night Stalker. More than three decades later, his identity is still unknown.
“I think it adds to the intense interest people feel about the case, especially in light of potential new evidence or a new lead,” said Ramos.
With DNA advances, four more murders in the Santa Barbara area have been connected to Sacramento’s East Area Rapist.
Another key piece of evidence was found at the Santa Barbara crime scenes — traces of paint.
Was the serial rapist and killer always on the move as a painter, contractor or developer?
“In more than one of our cases there was evidence of paint,” said Ramos.
Recently, the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department found a strip mall with a building permit from a Sacramento developer. That strip mall was finished around the same time a few people were killed. Now, investigators are cautiously optimistic about this new possible paint connection.
“It could be another factor that points in the direction, another common denominator that helps link the pieces together to solve the very complex puzzle,” said Ramos.
It’s a connection the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department says could finally put a face on a rapist and killer.
“We have to temper our excitement for the fact that this case isn’t going to be solved on one piece of evidence,” said Ramos.
CBS13 contacted the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department about who the Sacramento developer is, but officials say they aren’t ready to release that information at this time.