Who was the Golden State Killer? A new documentary investigates this unsolved crime

Discovery’s People Magazine Investigates probes some of America’s most shocking crimes, including the Golden State Killer

People Magazine Investigates is back for a sensational second series on Discovery. Inspired by the tantalising crimes that gripped the American press over the last few decades, each episode delves deeper into the shocking crimes at hand.

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First up, the programme investigate the Golden State Killer, a Californian serial rapist and murderer who, despite committing his first known murder in 1978 – remains unfound.

But just who was this sick and demented individual? And why did he commit such atrocious crimes time and time again? Here’s what you need to know about the Golden State Killer.

Who was the Golden State Killer?

golden gate killer

The Golden State Killer was a serial rapist and murderer who operated in California from 1976 to 1986. While he has never been found, victims and witnesses described him as a white man, approximately 5ft 10in tall and of a slim build.

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Although he committed many of his crimes in the San Francisco and Bay Area, his crimes stretched all the way down to Southern California.

Other nicknames he was given by the press include:

  • Original Night Stalker
  • The East Area Rapist
  • The Diamond Knot Killer

How many people did the Golden State Killer kill?

golden gate killer

He has been attributed to the murders of at least 12 victims (suspected of many more) and of at least 50 rape victims (again suspected of many more).

The Golden State Killer is believed to have begun as a common burglar in 1979, robbing the homes of at least 120 residences across California.

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Many of his robberies involved tieing up victims and in some cases forcing the woman to tie up her male partner and stack homeware on his back. The killer would then rape the woman and threaten to kill them both if he heard a clatter while he robbed the house.

Indeed he quickly moved on to include murder, having killed his first victims – Dr Robert Offerman and Dr Debra Alexandra Manning on December 30, 1979. They found shot dead at Offerman’s condo in Goleta, San Francisco.

Strange evidence emerged from this crime, including the mysterious paw prints of a large dog (not owned by either of the victims) and even that the killer may have fed him leftover Christmas food from Offerman’s fridge.

As more sexual assaults and murders continued over the next seven years, further odd evidence emerged, including the unusual “diamond knot” of rope found on several of the victims’ wrists – which served as a crucial piece of evidence to link his crimes to one another.

DNA evidence enabled many of the rape victims to be linked to that of the serial killer, and detectives were even able to record him phoning one of his rape victims repeating saying “gonna kill you”.

To top this off, multiple letters, including a typewritten poem named Excitement’s Crave, were sent to local news outlets; the police strongly believed that they were sent by the killer. He taunts the police for being unable to find him, and seems to revel in his new-found fame on both the television and the tabloids.

What was the Golden State Killer’s motive?

golden state

As the killer has never been found, it is impossible to know his exact motives. However, given the highly risky nature of each of his crimes, it is highly likely that enjoyed the thrill and the possibility of being caught. Given that he contacted the media on several occasions, also indicates that he enjoyed the idea of gaining public infamy.

What is the reward for the Golden State Killer?

The Golden State Killer is still on the FBI’s Most Wanted list and marked as an “Unknown Suspect.” A reward of up to $50,000 is available for information regarding “the individual known as the East Area Rapist/Golden State Killer” and he is “thought to be between the ages of 60 and 76 years old” and “should be considered armed and dangerous”.

When is People Magazine Investigates on Discovery?

To find out more about the Golden State Killer and other horrifying crimes that rocked the headlines, be sure to tune into People Magazine Investigates on Discovery.

Each episode will include interviews from People journalists that have first-hand experience tracking the stories as well as emotional interviews with those closest to the victims.

Its second series begins on Discovery, BT Channel 322, Tuesday January 2 at 10pm. 

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