In The Footsteps of a Killer: The Writer’s Cut


Three chain store-brand running shoes investigators considered in their search for the Golden State Killer’s shoe type.


Goleta, October 1, 1979

A blinding flashlight woke the couple. They couldn’t see the intruder, but they heard his clenched-teeth whisper—he wanted them to turn over on their stomachs. He ordered the woman to tie up her boyfriend.

“Tie it tight or I’ll kill you,” he threatened. He tied the woman up himself.

“Where’s the money?” he growled. The voice sounded young, as if he were forcing it into a low tone. They could hear drawers being opened and then slammed shut.

“One move, motherfucker,” he said to them.

He led the woman into the living room, where he roughly laid her facedown on the floor behind the couch, throwing a pair of her tennis shorts over her head as a blindfold.

She heard him enter the kitchen and begin to rummage around. He was chanting three words to himself. “I’ll kill ’em, I’ll kill ’em, I’ll kill ’em,” the intruder chanted a dozen times to himself in the kitchen—almost like, as investigator Larry Pool of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department later put it, “a guy pumping himself up for an athletic endeavor.” The words terrified her.

The woman managed to remove the bindings from her feet and escaped screaming out the front door. In the chaos her boyfriend, bound in the bedroom, was able to hop into the backyard. When he heard the intruder coming for him, he dropped and rolled behind an orange tree, just missing the frantic, searching beam of the attacker’s flashlight.

The couple’s neighbor, an off-duty FBI agent, caught a glimpse of the suspect fleeing the scene, a young man in a Pendleton shirt pedaling furiously away on a stolen silver Nishiki 10-speed. The neighbor gave chase in his car but lost sight of the suspect in the 5400 block of San Patricio Drive, when he dumped his bike and a black-handled steak knife and ran between houses.

Three dollars in change from the bedroom dresser was the only thing he had taken. The couple could only provide the most general description of their attacker: White male. Dark hair above the collar. Maybe five feet ten, five feet eleven.

After that misfire, none of his later victims survived to describe him.

NEXT: Excerpt III: A Break-in Turns Deadly