The Sheriff’s Office has developed a new lead in a previously stone-cold murder case that has stumped investigators for over 30 years. Known as the Original Night Stalker case (not to be confused with serial killer Richard Ramirez aka the Night Stalker from the 1980s), the unidentified serial killer is believed to be responsible for several murders and numerous rapes across the state in the 1970s and 1980s, including two double homicides in Goleta.
Recent studies have led investigators to believe that the Original Night Stalker may have stopped in Goleta to work as a painter during the construction of Longs Drug (now CVS Pharmacy at 5875 Calle Real) in 1979. The Sheriff’s Office is asking for anyone who has any information about employees who worked at the site in Goleta in 1979 to contact them.
Investigators believe the Original Night Stalker first arrived in Goleta around the time of the 1979 murder of 44-year-old Robert Offerman and 35-year-old Alexandria Manning. That homicide is believed to be linked to a killing eighteen months later that left 35-year-old Cheri Domingo and 27-year-old Gregory Sanchez dead at a nearby residence in 1981.
Cold Case Investigator Gary Kitzmann returned to the Sheriff’s Department in 2010 to work on the Original Night Stalker case after he retired in 2009. Working with Investigator Jeff Klapakis along with the Department of Justice DNA lab in 2011, they were able to locate DNA evidence for the suspect in the 1981 Domingo/Sanchez case because advancements in DNA profiling methods could now be applied to evidence long retained by the Sheriff’s Office.
“There’s probably 15 file boxes full of this stuff,” Kitzmann said. Investigators worked heavily to no avail on the two perplexing murders – both of which left a couple tied up and dead at residences not far from each other – in the 1970s and 1980s.
That DNA profile was linked to the Original Night Stalker who was responsible for several murders in Ventura and Orange Counties in the 1980s as well as numerous rapes prior to that in the 1970s, including ones committed by a suspect dubbed the East Area Rapist in Southern Sacramento County. Even though the DNA profile exists for the suspect, investigators have never been able to identify the slayer.
Kitzmann said recent crime report analyses and collaboration with other agencies across the state led him to find that traces of paint flecks left by the suspect were found at two rapes in Northern California and one homicide scene in Irvine. These crimes were believed to have been committed by the Original Night Stalker. Although investigators did not find traces of paint at the two crime scenes in Goleta, they did find DNA for the 1981 Domingo/Sanchez suspect that links to the Original Night Stalker.
This link led Kitzmann to believe that the Original Night Stalker may have worked as a painter for a construction company, which could explain why he often relocated. After researching possible building projects around the time of the two homicides in Goleta, Kitzmann discovered that Longs Drugs on Calle Real had been under construction between 1979 and 1980.
Although Kitzmann acknowledged that finding information about employees who worked on a construction site over 30 years ago may be difficult, he believes the recent lead has potential.
“I really don’t know what to expect,” Kitzmann added. “I’ve had so many exciting leads.” The DNA profile coupled with the timing of the Goleta murders and commercial construction looks promising. Plus, Kitzmann said, “homicides have no statute of limitations.”
The Sheriff’s Office asks citizens with any information about employees who worked on the construction site at Calle Real in 1979 to call its Criminal Investigations Bureau at (805) 681-4150.