The Five Most Popular Myths About the Golden State Killer Case


Diamond Knot

Photograph courtesy

1) The Importance of the Diamond Knot
On March 13, 1980, the Golden State Killer used a fireplace log to bludgeon to death Charlene Smith, a decorator and jewelry vendor, and her husband, Lyman, an attorney, in their bedroom at their Ventura home.

The killer bound the Smiths using a somewhat unusual decorative knot known as the “diamond knot.” Amateur sleuths have mulled over this detail, speculating on what it might suggest about the killer’s background.

The diamond knot is sometimes used in interior decorating. It’s sometimes used for nautical purposes. But investigators say they can’t derive any specific background on the killer from his use of the knot. 

“It only tells me he had the dexterity to tie that kind of knot under some degree of stress,” says investigator Larry Pool.

2) It Was the Man with a Three-Toed German Shepherd
Experts believed the dog prints found outside the scene of the murders of Dr. Robert Offerman and Debra Alexandria Manning (Goleta, December 1979) might have come from a three-toed German shepherd. A man with a German shepherd was allegedly spotted around the time of the murders of Cheri Domingo and Gregory Sanchez (Goleta, July 1981).

Goleta is a small town. A three-toed German shepherd is a specific dog. Many followers of the case have glommed on to this clue, believing it may be the detail that solves the case.

But investigators from multiple jurisdictions all say the same thing: The dog is a dead end. The lead has been thoroughly checked out, and they’re comfortable with their conclusions on the issue.

3) Green Fibers Are Key
Green and/or blue fibers were found on some of the murder victims, leading to a great deal of debate on the origin of the fibers and their possible meaning. The origin is not as perplexing to investigators. The killer often used soft ligatures, such as towels, to bind his victims, and the fibers likely fell as he was tearing the material into strips. As the killer evolved, he began removing the ligatures from the crime scenes. Investigators don’t believe the fibers hold any important meaning.

4) We Know Something About the Killer’s Ancestral DNA
Various rumors about the killer’s ethnicity—German, Scandinavian—have been bandied about but are unfounded, according to investigators. They say they’re utilizing the available technology and will continue to do so as the science improves.

5) The Composite Sketches Are Accurate
When you delve into this case, you come across a lot of self-described armchair experts, and many of them insist certain composite sketches are more solid and reliable than others. The truth is, the offender’s ski mask prevented people from getting an identifiable look at him. The composites are of suspicious men in the area who may, or may not, be the offender.




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  1. jack a

    March 17, 2013 at 5:34 pm

    Since there is a theory that killer’s parent or killer was stationed at a military base in proximity to crime scene, I suggest that an organization charged with a solution to the case obtain personnel records from each base (civilian & military) for about the time each crime was committed. Scan them digitally and digitally compare the lists determine if there are people connected to the killings at multiple bases for many of the attacks. Because of the number of sites and years covered, the personnel would probably result in a manageable number to research further.

  2. Doc Sierra

    April 12, 2014 at 1:26 am

    I lived in one of the neighborhoods where he struck in Sacramento but not until the mid 80s. I read Larry Crompton’s book and it made afraid to go outside at night. I’m looking forward to Michelle McNamara’s book…..

  3. From serial rapist to serial killer: The Diamond Knot Killer | Think like Sherlock

    February 2, 2015 at 12:15 pm

    […] scenes. Additionally, the killer fed the dog with turkey scraps from the victims’ fridge. But as LA Mag says, investigators from multiple jurisdictions all say the same thing: The dog is a dead end. The lead […]