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FBI, Sacramento County Sheriff's Investigators Continuing Effort To Find The Prolific And Deadly East Area Rapist

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — He's been called one of the most prolific criminals in our state's history, striking first in Sacramento and never being captured.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is getting ready to relaunch an all-out effort to find the East Area Rapist.

He's the original night stalker, targeting victims in the late 70s and '80s. Unlike Richard Ramirez, he has yet to be found.

There's more than one binder or box of evidence inside the Sacramento County Sheriff's cold cause unit marked EAR—East Area Rapist.

It began in June of 1976 on Paseo Drive in a Rancho Cordova neighborhood. A man likely in his early 20s snuck into a woman's home in the middle of the night and sexually assaulted her.

A month later, he would go across the American River and strike again, this time raping a teenage girl in a Carmichael neighborhood.

The following month, he would go back to the area of his first reported attack. This time his victim escaped.

Six days later in Carmichael, he would strike again—four more rapes occurred in October 1976 in Citrus Heights, Rancho Cordova, Carmichael and again in Rancho Cordova.

The manhunt was on and police sketch artists put pencil to paper. The white male in blue athletic shoes would oftentimes wear a mask and always carry a gun, knife or both.

The plan was the same—getting in through an unlocked door or window, or jimmying the lock. To wake his victims, he would shine a flashlight in their eyes as he stood at the foot of their bed.

He started with women who lived alone, then moved to couples at one point. He'd have the female victim tie up her partner with brand new shoe strings. He'd put the man face down and stack dishes on his back, taking his victim to another room. He would warn if he heard the dishes rattle, he would kill his victim.

Even more chilling is an answering message he left for a victim the day after he sexually assaulted her, threatening to kill her as he breathed heavily on the phone.

There were several times when he was close to being caught, but officers were able to catch him. He proved to be so elusive because he struck near open spaces with trails and fields to make a quick getaway.

Detectives also believe he would attend some of the emergency town hall meetings during his crime spree in search of his next victim. A man who was particularly vocal at a meeting at Mira Loma High School was tied up weeks later and his wife was sexually assaulted.

In February 1978, near a well-kept neighborhood in Rancho Cordova, husband and wife Brian and Katie Maggiorri saw a suspicious person on their property. Both were shot in the backyard.

He would rape nine more victims in the months that followed in Concord and Fremont, leaving behind the telltale signs of his attacks. In all, investigators say he sexually assaulted close to 50 women in a three-year span.

He went on to kill 10 people, first in Santa Barbara County, then in Orange County. DNA evidence from the murders proved it was the same suspect who had raped so many women.

Investigators want to hear from people who have information in hopes of catching him decades later.

Some in law enforcement say the case launched the Sacramento County Sheriff's K-9 squad, because search dogs played such an important role in trying to find the rapist.

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