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


Ligatures used by the Golden State Killer in an attack in Northern California in the 1970s.


Goleta, July 27, 1981

In July 1981, he struck again.

A neighbor of Cheri Domingo’s heard a voice in the middle of the night, a woman speaking to someone in a controlled, unemotional way, something along the lines of “take it easy.” That was probably the last thing Domingo ever said.

Domingo, a Natalie Wood look-alike, was house-sitting for her aunt in the 400 block of Toltec Way, a quiet cul-de-sac street. A realtor found the bodies of her and Gregory Sanchez, the ex-boyfriend with whom she was still friendly, on the morning of July 27. Sanchez had a bullet wound in his face and multiple blunt-force trauma wounds on his head.

Investigators later theorized that the conspicuous scraping sound the bedroom door made against the shag rug had alerted Sanchez to an intruder. It appeared he’d fought with the killer.

Domingo was found lying facedown on the bed, nude and covered with bedding. There were ligature marks on her wrists and ankles.

She suffered massive blunt-force trauma to the head, much worse than Sanchez. An outline in dust of a crowbar in the tool shed suggested the weapon.

One detective familiar with the case recalled the woman’s voice, steadying and deflective, overheard by the neighbor. “She pissed him off,” he said.

This time the killer took the ligatures with him. He was adapting, eliminating evidence.

NEXT: Excerpt V: His Last Victim