Original Night Stalker is 'cunning,' 'tactical' serial killer, veteran detective says
On Thursday, Santa Barbara investigators said they confirmed through DNA testing that the Original Night Stalker was likely responsible for the killing of a Goleta couple three decades ago. That would add to the crimes attributed to the killer that started with dozens of rapes in Northern California and ended with as many as 10 slayings in Santa Barbara, Ventura and Orange counties.
For Larry Pool, a detective with the Orange County Sheriff's Department, finding the Original Night Stalker has become his life's mission.
In his work space, he has two composite drawings prominently displayed. He keeps a recording of the killer's voice — from a phone message to one of his victims — in the top drawer of his desk.
"He is cunning," Pool said. "He has a degree of tactical soundness to the way he operates. He is able to adjust tactically to improve his effectiveness as a killer."
Pool once thought the suspect could be in prison. But that theory came to seem less plausible as the state's DNA database grew.
As he hunted for the Original Night Stalker in the early 2000s, Pool had a buried man exhumed. The DNA didn't match.
Investigators said the killer would be in his 50s or 60s today. He usually hid his face under a dark ski mask or kerchief and was under 6 feet tall. His shoe size was about 9.
Authorities are no closer to pinpointing an identity for the killer, who sometimes was accompanied by his German shepherd. Still, officials in Santa Barbara said they've answered a crucial question in the 1981 slayings of Cheri Domingo, 35, and Gregory Sanchez, 27.
"We now have concrete evidence that links their deaths to the horrific individual that terrorized both Northern and Southern California," said Drew Sugars, a spokesman for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department.
-- Steve Chawkins and Nicole Santa Cruz
Photo: Cheri Domingo, 35, and Gregory Sanchez, 27, were killed in 1981 while house-sitting a residence in Goleta. Credit: Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department