It’s important that I stress this first: Larry Crompton seems like a wonderful person and his dedication to the victims, even after his retirement from law enforcement, is more than admirable. That said, and even he agrees with me in the introduction, a writer he is not. And I don’t place the blame entirely on his shoulders either; the publisher should not just fire their editors, but draw and quarter them and then literally set them on fire. When the possessive form of “it” makes it past a so-called editor with an apostrophe, when such a typo screams from the page to the reader, I always point the finger at the editor.
Crompton’s main goal with this book was to throw all the information out there that he could in hopes that someone, somewhere knows something. For some reason, the East Area Rapist (EAR for short)/Original Night Stalker doesn’t have the cultural capital of other well-known serial killers – BTK, Jeffrey Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy – which is odd, considering the quantity of his crimes and their oddities. (There’s a whole thesis that could be written on our cultural obsession with serial killers, especially their “branding”. The media could never quite settle on a name for the suspect of several killings in southern California in the 80’s and it wasn’t until years later that DNA testing linked him as EAR. EAR also didn’t really communicate with the police/media, so he didn’t enter the lexicon like Zodiac or BTK.) From 1976 to 1979, EAR terrorized the area around Sacramento. He stalked women, did a multitude of break-ins (most of which were probably never reported or even realized by the victims), and committed a series of disgusting rapes. He would prowl whole neighborhoods, at first targeting women who lived alone and then braving houses with families. He would force the woman to tie up her significant other with shoelaces (either taken from their own shoes or brought by EAR himself). He would then place dishes on the men, telling them if he heard them fall, he would kill everyone (he usually had a gun in his hand or a knife). Finally he would take the women into another room, lubricate himself (usually with lotion he brought himself) and repeatedly rape the women. His terror session would last for hours. In the end, he would eat food out of the victims’ refrigerators and take small trinkets. Later, he moved down to southern California and increase his violent tendencies by murdering the victims after the rapes. He also started to call his previously victims, threatening to visit them again. (You can find recordings of some of these calls on YouTube, but I really don’t recommend listening to them before bed.)
All in all, EAR was so oddly specific, so incredibly addicted to his pattern, it’s amazing he wasn’t caught. He was incredibly brazen and relied on all of these nice middle-class people not to call the police when they saw a peeping tom at their windows. Crompton reiterates several times that he believes EAR would have been caught if people would have simply called the police when the telltale signs of EAR appeared, such as barking dogs, a stolen bike, suspicious cars, etc. And I know Crompton is grasping at straws here and has internalized a lot of the failure to catch EAR, but seriously? Suggesting people call the police whenever they heard their dog bark? They would have to deputize people on the street to meet that call volume! And then, when people did call to offer help, Crompton was kind of a snob about it. I get that he’s from a certain time period, but his sneering at a psychiatrist and bondage fetish enthusiast who called to offer his services at now charge was homophobic and rude. The psychiatrist wanted to help police catch EAR if he was into the bondage scene, which would have been quiet inclusive at that time in the late 70’s San Francisco. And Crompton adopted the attitude of “ew, people having consensual sex that is outside the norm from my experiences!”
Crompton also got into skeevy territory when discussing EAR’s juvenile victims. Crompton makes a big to-do about two teenage victims that lost their virginity to EAR. Which, just like any rape, is incredibly horrible and disgusting. But Crompton makes it especially gross when he waxes poetic about these girls’ virginity. I know he was trying to drive home how much of a monster EAR was, but dude took his virginity monologues to Creepsville.
There’s relatively little information Crompton includes about the actual murders, since they happened outside of his jurisdiction. And as for what he did write, I’ve read it debunked elsewhere, so I don’t know who is correct. (For example, dog hairs were found at the scene of one of the murders. There was something about an all white German Shepard, possibly missing some toes, that may have belonged to the suspect. Other websites have said this dog was unrelated. So who knows).
I do think there’s merit in this book. EAR was such a distinct suspect, from his somewhat rare blood type, the possibility that his body chemistry was so weird, and that his pattern was so intricate, that someone has to have something. And his victims deserve closure. And he’s a monster that needs to be in prison. He’s terrorized and ruined so many lives.