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


VI: A Delayed—and DeadlyDiscovery
Brian and Katie Maggiore

February 2, 1978

The young couple liked to walk their miniature gray poodle, Thumper, through their Rancho Cordova neighborhood in the evenings. That night USAF Sgt. Brian Maggiore, 21, and his wife Katie, 20, had no idea the danger that had been brewing just east of them along the American River in the hours before their walk. They didn’t know about the spate of prowls and burglaries, a flurry of activity with all the hallmarks of the unidentified man whose reign of violence in and around Sacramento was at its peak: the East Area Rapist. A little after 9 p.m. Brian and Katie left with Thumper for their walk through the Cordova Meadows subdivision.  The East Area Rapist was moving that way too. Two blocks from the Maggiore’s home, in the backyard of 10154 La Gloria Drive, the couple intersected with him.

What sparked the confrontation is unknown. Did the East Area Rapist chase them into the yard? Did Brian, who was 6’1”, 220 pounds and a former offensive tackle on his high school football team, spot something suspicious and decide to intervene? Were they chasing after Thumper?

A witness looking out an upstairs window at the La Gloria residence saw the East Area Rapist chasing the couple through the yard and into an adjacent backyard, 10165 La Alegria Drive, through a section of blown down fence. The witness watched as the EAR raised a handgun and fired at Brian and Katie, who were fleeing him.

Neighbors reported the sounds of gunshots, glass breaking, and screaming. Shortly after the gunshots two witnesses saw the EAR jump the gate on La Alegria and fall into some bushes. He picked himself and ran west toward La Loma Drive.

One witness described the EAR as briefly wearing a ski mask and holding a gun in his hand. He wore a brown leather jacket, gathered at the waist that had a peanut shaped stain on the lower right side of the back. He had dark, quiet shoes. Other witnesses reported odd encounters with a similarly dressed suspect as the man headed northeast away from the crime scene.

Brian and Katie Maggiore, who had been high school sweethearts in Fresno, were found shot to death in the backyard of 10165 La Alegria Drive. Thumper was found in the backyard swimming pool of the La Gloria residence.

The Maggiore murders aren’t always included in the list of the East Area Rapist’s crimes. But most investigators working the case, including Det. Ken Clark with the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department, believe the EAR was responsible. They cite several reasons for their belief.

The Cordova Meadows neighborhood was the location of several EAR sexual assaults. The EAR-style burglaries and prowls in the hours preceding the Maggiore murders suggest he was in attack mode that night. Most intriguingly, a single pre-tied shoelace was located in the yard near where Brian and Katie were shot.  Police believe after killing the couple the EAR went to put on his ski mask and inadvertently dropped the shoelace from his pocket. The homeowners didn’t recognize the shoelace, and its knot was consistent with the EAR’s knots.

The shooting deaths a year and a half later of Dr. Robert Offerman and Alexandra Manning, in Goleta, show that the EAR used his firearm defensively when things didn’t go his way. Brian and Katie Maggiore may have interrupted him while he was stalking a victim, and he went on the attack. One detective noted that Alexandra Manning and Katie Maggiore were both shot in the head in a similar, execution-style manner.

Naysayers point to the fact that some witnesses reported seeing two men together acting suspiciously around the time of the murders.

Det. Clark has an answer for that.

“A lot of cockroaches come out when the lights are turned on,” he says.