Thursday, February 28, 2013

The ephemera of a serial killer

The following excerpt is from "In the Footsteps of a Killer," an article recently written for Los Angeles Magazine by True Crime Diary blogger Michelle McNamara:

"In his office, [Paul Holes, the chief of the Contra Costa Crime Lab] taps at his computer keyboard, calling up an image that can’t load fast enough. It shocks me how quickly I lean in, primed to memorize everything I see. I realize how hungry I am for new information about the bogeyman who’s wormed his way into every corridor of my brain.

"A faded, hand-drawn map pops up on the screen. Hand drawn, the police believe, by the Golden State Killer. ...

"Trails. building. A lake. It looks like a rough map of a planned community; in fact, that’s what Pool and other investigators believe it is.

"The notebook pages were collected at the scene of a rape in Danville, in Contra Costa County, in December 1978 by a now-deceased criminalist. The Golden State Killer, who was then known as the East Area Rapist, was definitely the offender. Shoe prints and two independent bloodhounds established his exit route, a trail that led from the victim’s house to some nearby railroad tracks.

"The paperwork, which is referred to as 'the homework evidence,' was collected at the location where the trail stopped abruptly, indicating the rapist got into a vehicle. Investigators believe he dropped the pages unintentionally, perhaps while rooting around in a bag or opening his car door. ...

"The third page is the hand-drawn map. Investigators examined the unusual markings on the land area and figured out they represented a change of grade and elevation for drainage purposes. ... Further analysis led investigators to believe the mapmaker possibly dabbled in landscape architecture, civil engineering, or land-use planning. They’ve tried unsuccessfully to find the area depicted on the map. Pool believes the drawing resembles Golden State’s preferred attack neighborhood, and that it’s a fantasy."

So, the above map was sketched by one of the most notorious unidentified serial killers in recent U.S. history. It's being made available now as investigators attempt to use crowdsourcing to find new leads in the cold case. Per McNamara, tips on the case should be forwarded to either or

If you're not weak-stomached, I recommend that you check out McNamara's Los Angeles magazine piece. Here are the links:

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