The Original Night Stalker is the name given to an unidentified serial killer and rapist who murdered at least ten people in Southern California from 1979 through 1986. The crimes initially centered on east Sacramento where at least fifty women were sexually assaulted between June 1976 to July 1979. The perpetrator was dubbed the The East Area Rapist. In 2001 the Northern California rapes were linked by DNA to murders in Southern California.
The Sacramento East Area Rapist is believed to have began as a burglar, only later committing rapes. His modus operandi was to stalk middle class neighborhoods at night for women who lived in single story homes. He ran away when spotted prowling, on one occasion a youth who closely pursued him was shot and seriously wounded. Most victims had seen or heard a prowler on their property before the attacks, many had suffered break-ins. Police believed there was a pattern of the offender using reconnaissance on the houses of victims before the day of the crime. The criminal initially sought out women by themselves, but later began to target couples. Typically he entered a house at night, woke the occupants and threatened them with handgun. All victims were bound with ligatures the criminal brought to the crime scene, the female was made to tie her male companion with bootlaces before being tied herself. The perpatrator was believed to use a cycle for the attacks. A masked cycle rider chased by a policeman in the early hours of the morning is believed to have been the rapist. The suspect left the bike and made off when spotted, during the subsequent footchase across back yards he vaulted a series of fences and shook off the pursuit.