Santa Barbara Sheriff’s investigators, using DNA evidence, have tied a decades-old double homicide in Goleta to a suspected serial killer whose identity has never been determined.
Cheri Domingo and Gregory Sanchez were housesitting at a home on Toltec Way in Goleta when they were murdered on July 26, 1981. The murders came on the heels of another double homicide in Goleta, and a string of other crimes that spooked the community. While there was speculation the killings of Domingo and Sanchez were tied to a string of murders in the late 1970s by the East Area Rapist — who some estimate to be responsible for several homicides, dozens of rapes, and burglaries, but has never been identified — there was no confirmation until this Thursday.
Cold case investigators, tasked with going over reports and evidence from old cases, took a lot of information that was screened by criminologists, and samples with potentially useful DNA were extracted. What officials called “low amounts of degraded DNA,” including a component of semen, were found on one of the pieces of evidence related to the murders of Domingo and Sachez. According to reports, the two were both shot and brutally bludgeoned.
The sample was transferred to a lab in Richmond, California, and eventually submitted into the state’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), which matched the DNA to four other case evidence profiles — that of the East Area Rapist and the Original Night Stalker. “With recent advancements in DNA profiling methods, it was important for us to push forward and reevaluate evidence in this case before it deteriorated and became useless,” Sheriff Bill Brown said in a statement Thursday morning. “As this investigation shows, we never close a murder case unless a suspect is identified and brought to justice.”
The last known crime committed by the killer was in 1986 in Orange County, and detectives have never determined the identity of the man thought to be responsible. They are optimistic that physical evidence may connect the killer to the other Goleta double homicide, that of Dr. Robert Offerman and 35-year-old Alexandria Manning on December 30, 1979.