Profile of a Killer


The Golden State Killer (known as the East Area Rapist/Original Night Stalker by authorities) is an unidentified violent offender whose DNA and m.o. link him to 50 rapes and sexually motivated attacks in Northern California (1976-1979) and to ten murders in Southern California (1979-1986).

There is probable cause to believe the offender is responsible for the 1978 murders of Brian and Katie Maggiore in Sacramento.  Authorities also believe he’s connected to more than 100 sexually motivated burglaries, attacks, and the murder of a man in Visalia, from April 1974 to December 1975.

Physical description:


  • White male
  • Five feet seven to five feet ten (most often described by witnesses as five feet nine)
  • 18 to 30 years old in 1976
  • Athletic build
  • Light eyes
  • 8½ to 9 shoe size

Previously unreleased evidence:

    • A hand-drawn map

      A hand-drawn map of an unknown community resembles the killer’s optimal suburban setting.

    • Words scribbled on the back of the map

      Words scribbled on the back of the map include punishment and possible victims’ names.

Signature behaviors/clues:

  • Frequently traveled by way of creeks, greenbelts, and drainage ditches
  • Prowler
  • Proficient cat burglar, but robbery appears to be his ruse to allay victims’ fears of a greater physical attack and isn’t the primary motive
  • Crank calls to victims before and after crimes
  • Ski mask and gloves
  • Tennis shoes
  • Used shoelaces, twine, drapery cord, and torn towels to bind victims
  • Sometimes cut or disabled phone lines in victims’ homes
  • Would stack dishes on bound male victim’s back as alarm system
  • Liked to throw a towel over lamp or illuminated television for lighting
  • Sometimes used stolen bikes to get to and from crime scenes
  • Frequently used hand lotion for sexual lubrication
  • Consistently masturbated and had the female victim stimulate him with her hands bound behind her back
  • Spoke in a whisper through clenched teeth
  • Used a knife and/or firearm to exert additional control over victims
  • Often consumed food and/or drinks taken from victims’ kitchens


Related Content

  • Rudy

    AWESOME collaboration between LA Magazine and Michelle McNamara, one of my favorite journalists. I think this collaboration, and the way in which it is laid out on-line, will set a sort of benchmark for what journalists and publications can do together with today’s technology. On a separate note, I am having trouble looking at the individual items from the “Previously unreleased evidence” frame. When I click on the letter, only 3 lines from the letter appear zoomed-in; I can’t scroll up and down the letter. The items slideshow also doesn’t pause, and I can’t look at the individual items by themselves. These are minor issues(which are probably mine), but I would appreciate any help with this. Thank you for this great journalism.

  • Doc Sierra

    Does anyone know where the journal and the map were found?

  • Tobe

    Shit after reading some of this you kind of wonder is he hated these people at first because of a rumour about his small penis at school and it was revenge against some of them at least maybe at first, or maybe he didn’t know any and just wanted revenge against women and then both men and women because he felt angry at the happiness he feels he can never enjoy with a women. I think this picture may represent a school to the left and the rest is his ideal hunting ground combined with a shape of a man in the middle holding on to someone to the rights neck or face and sucking the life force from them with the body being the creek being the body devoid of engery. I think this man is clever and showing us a message this way.