The East Area Rapist/Original Night Stalker (nowadays also known as the Golden State Killer) was an American serial murderer and sexual predator who raped at least 50 women, and murdered at least 12 people. He was active in California from around 1976 until 1986. He remains unidentified.
The criminal had a unique mode of operation. He would stake out a neighborhood and choose a house occupied by a lone female or a couple. He would then wait for the night to fall and enter the residence in the dark, wake up his victim(s), tie them up and rape the female. In the early 1980s he began to kill his victims after the rape and home invasion.
In July 1981 he killed Cheri Domingo and Gregory Sanchez – the mother of Debbi Domingo and her mother’s boyfriend.
Debbi very graciously agreed to an interview with Books, Bullets and Bad Omens. Thank you, Debbi, and let’s hope 2018 is the year this serial killer is finally caught!
1) Who are you? Where are you from? Tell us your story!
My parents named me Debbi Domingo. I always felt my name had a sing-songy quality about it, that I was never really crazy about, but I’ve grown to love it.
I was raised primarily in Southern California in the 1960’s-70’s. I had a very comfortable childhood. No, that’s an understatement. I had a wonderful childhood! I never lacked anything I needed, be it material things, personal interaction, education, music, spiritual guidance, LOVE….. My Mom & Dad really nurtured my brother and me. And it’s not like they set out on some special mission to “be good parents.” That’s just who they were!
2) What was your childhood like?
In my early years, Dad was a preacher, and then a teacher. Mom stayed at home. We had close relatives with whom we spent lots of time. I knew lots of cousins, aunts & uncles, grandparents…. Even great-grandparents! As a kid I read a lot, and sang and danced. My brother and I did crafts, built forts, produced puppet shows, etc. We weren’t much of a sports family, but we liked bicycling, the ocean and the outdoors.
3) What was your mother like?
Mom was beautiful, smart, charming, conscientious, and very considerate of others. She taught us to be givers; to always be grateful and to try to do nice things for other people.
4) How did Mr. Greg Sanchez come into your lives?
My Mom & Dad separated and divorced when I was in 5th grade. Mom was doing secretarial work at Burroughs Corporation (huge computer manufacturer in Goleta, CA) and that’s where she met Greg. They dated off & on for the better part of the next 3-4 years. Greg was such nice guy, and fun to be around. He was always good to my mom, my brother and I.
5) Like so many young people and their parents, you and your mother were going through some turmoil at the time of her death. If I may ask, what was the turmoil over?
Nothing very important. Just basic teenage rebellion over things like rules, curfews, cigarettes, and boys!
6) We’ve all heard the story of the EAR/ONS through television shows and books, but a big part of why I wanted to interview you is because I want the voices of those who lived through this killer’s active period to be heard. So in your words, based on what you’ve heard from the police and your own knowledge of the house etc., what went down that night? How did it all happen?
Mom and Greg had not been seeing each other for a few months, but as near as I can figure, Greg came by the house and ended up staying overnight. I believe the killer had already staked out the house, removed the screen from the master bathroom window, and unlocked the door from the outside into that bathroom. I believe he entered that bathroom and stayed silent, perhaps waiting for my mom and Greg to finish making love and fall asleep. Then he entered the bedroom and began his assault. He and Greg scuffled, and Greg was shot once in the face. My mother was bound very tightly at the wrists and with her ankles tied up behind her buttocks. Greg was beaten to death, as was my mom, with some type of wrench or garden tool. Also, at some point the killer ejaculated onto the bedspread. That’s where the DNA sample was found in 2011, which finally ended up linking my mom & Greg’s killings into the EAR/GSK series.
(Composite sketches of the East Area Rapist / Golden State Killer)
7) Where were you when you heard?
I was staying with a girlfriend in Santa Barbara. My mom’s closest friend (who was a neighbor) saw the police activity at our house. She tracked me down and convinced me to come home.
8) In following the news and watching TV, we only ever hear of the perpetrators of crimes, but rarely hear of what happens to victims’ families AFTER the crimes of those perpetrators. So tell us, what happened after the death of your mother and Mr. Sanchez? How does one cope with a shattering loss like that?
I immediately moved to my Dad & step-mom’s house in San Diego, so I was pretty disconnected from the investigation, the media, the neighborhood, even my friends. I just went on with life; attending high school and church. Acting out a bit more I suppose. I adapted to life at my Dad’s house, but just barely. Honestly, I didn’t cope well at all. In fact, I really just suppressed everything for a very long time. I had been raised to trust God, but after the murders, I really struggled with that, and I gradually stepped away from my faith. I ended up on a really long journey of depression, drug addiction and hopelessness. I was lost for a very long time.
9) Does the heart ever heal? Or does the pain just subside enough to allow one to live on?
To be honest, I didn’t even begin to heal until I started to learn about the investigation and to participate. Being active in the pursuit has done wonders for me. It’s given me more of a sense of purpose. Not just to find answers for myself, but to help the other victims & survivors. It’s very therapeutic! I still miss my Mom and Greg, but now I’m able to say that out loud and do something productive with the loss.
10) Do you personally have a “favorite” suspect?
No. None at all, in fact. I am not an investigator by any definition, and do not even look into persons-of-interest (POIs.) I probably should, but I don’t.
11) Did your mother and Mr. Sanchez know the killer, in your opinion?
I highly doubt it.
12) In recent years, you and Michelle Cruz, sister of Janelle Cruz (GSK victim) have formed a dynamic duo. How important is the peer support in a case like this?
Are you kidding? Michelle Cruz has become like family to me! She and I fill a very important void for each other and it’s remarkable. We’ve also been blessed by close friendships with Jane Carson-Sandler and Margaret Wardlow, two of the rape survivors. There’s another survivor we’re starting to get to know, as well. Hoping to meet more! The unity really does make us stronger!
13) Do you guys have anything planned together? A book would be very interesting.
I hadn’t really considered a book. But Jane and I have talked about all of us doing some public speaking together. We’d need to find a really top-notch agent who could broker engagements for us.
(Do you know of one, dear reader? Contact Debbi in the links below if you do. -Admin)
14) What’s going on with the case in 2017? I imagine this would be the kind of case all detectives and true crime authors (not to mention amateur detectives) want to solve.
I firmly believe that the combination of nationwide publicity and advances in DNA technology will bring the resolution to this case! Whether it will be this year or not is yet to be seen, but I am confident that this case will be solved. We just need for as many people as possible to learn about the case and share information to help identify him.
15) What’s your life like now?
I actually live a pretty low-key, happy life. I am married to a wonderful man of faith who takes good care of me and makes me smile. We have 5 grown children and 5 grandchildren who make my life worthwhile. I work full-time, volunteer at church, and try to spend time with family & friends. But as you can imagine, I devote the majority of my free time to keeping up with the case and trying to raise public awareness about the search for the East Area Rapist/Golden State Killer.
16) What’s in your future?
They say you should visualize what you want. Set goals and achieve them. My goal- the picture I keep in my mind- is to be in a California courtroom when the GSK goes down. I want to be able to shake hands and hug everyone who has helped to identify him. That’s how I see my future. Once that happens, I’ll find something else worthwhile to work on. 😉
Thanks for this opportunity.
I hope you can include the following links:
Official EAR/GSK Channel
My personal channel