Posted on October 28, 2017
Book review. Case Files of the East Area Rapist / Golden State Killer, by Kat Winters and Keith Komos. 2017.
Order the book here.
The East Area Rapist/Original Night Stalker (nowadays also known as the Golden State Killer) was a prolific rapist and serial killer in California in the 1970s and 1980s. He raped around 50 women, and murdered at least 12 people.
His modus operandi as a rapist was both unique and uniquely terrifying: he would enter a house in the middle of the night, and wake up the occupant sleeping in her bed by shining a flashlight in her eyes or whispering her name. He would tie her up, rape her, and then occasionally spend hours in the victim’s house, eating food from the fridge, going through family photos etc.
In the 1980s he moved to southern California, where he began a new “career” as a serial killer, still applying essentially the same m.o.: enter the house in the middle of the night, wake up the couple sleeping in their bed, tie them up, rape the woman, and then kill both of the victims.
He was never captured. One detective on the case later described the killer: “He was like a ghost out there.” Indeed: he seemed to always be one step ahead of his pursuers.
The craziest aspect of the case is this: despite the prominence of true crime themed shows on television and crimes featured in newspapers etc., the EAR/ONS case remains relative little-known in the public’s mind. Thankfully, that is beginning to change: new books, new television specials and the emergence of “podcasts” are finally leading to this killer being better known in the annals of American serial killers.
However, despite the fact that some books have been written about this case already (two of them by two former detectives who worked on the case), that “Magnum Opus” has been missing, that one book you could place in the hand of anyone who says “never heard of this guy – can you recommend a comprehensive book?“
Now we have that book.
Kat Winters and Keith Komos have done true crime aficionados a huge favor by compiling the information pertaining to the EAR/ONS in a concentrated, readable form, making the story read like the real-life thriller (or horror story, rather) that it is.
A surprising aspect of the book is how much previously unknown information it entails. I’ve been following the EAR/ONS case since January 2007, when I first came across a group of people discussing the case on an internet discussion board. Before reading this book, I thought I knew everything there is to know about the case. You can imagine my surprise when page after page contained info I had never heard of before, such as sightings of the EAR/ONS before and after his attacks, statements from police detectives and surviving victims, etc.
Cold Case Files of the East Area Rapist / Golden State Killer is the true crime literature event of the year, and I say that during a year when plenty of great books have been released in the genre. Whether you’re a newcomer or a seasoned Internet sleuth on the terrifying EAR/ONS case, or just a fan of scary stories and unsolved mysteries, this book needs to be on your shelf.