Monday, November 30, 2015

05 - Point Pleasant

It seems like every other day I read a story involving eyewitness testimony, and the faults behind it. Police investigators and psychologists have insisted that eyewitness testimony is not a guaranteed thing, and that the human mind is perceptible to being influenced. By what, exactly, depends on the person and the position they find themselves in.

But when we hear about many people seeing the same thing, we tend to believe them. Many police cases, normally left adrift without the aid of physical evidence, can be guided or even driven entirely by the support of witnesses. As a species, we tend to believe it when multiple people claim to have seen the same thing.

However, what happens when a large group of people claim to have seen something too outrageous, too ridiculous for our minds to comprehend? What happens when an entire town sees something that nobody else has ever seen? Do we believe them? Are they victims of mass hysteria, simply buying into whatever their neighbor was selling?

Or... is there something more mysterious afoot? Something paranormal? Something otherwordly?
This is the story of Point Pleasant.


Welcome to the Unresolved Podcast. I am your host, Micheal Whelan, and on this episode of the show, I will be diving into a story that is a far cry from the two I have previously covered.

This podcast will look into the town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia, and the things that unfolded in the years of 1966 and 1967. While the major events have been widely publicized in the following decades, many of the smaller details have been forgotten in time or simply lost among the surrounding hysteria.

I know that some of you will be disappointed in the paranormal nature of this podcast, but this is a story that has always kept me earning for more. So hopefully my curiosity can rub off on you in some small way, and hopefully get you interested in some unresolved cases outside of true crime. If you are disappointed that I'm not peeking behind the curtain of a psychopathic criminal, then rest easy knowing that I'll be back at it next episode.

But, for now, we jump back to the mid-1960s, and head to Point Pleasant, West Virginia...

Point Pleasant is a small-town situated alongside the Ohio River. Originally established as a military fort in 1774, Point Pleasant gained notoriety for the battle that took place on its grounds. At the time, the area was unsettled by white Americans, and became a point of contention between the reigning Lord Dunmore and the local Native Americans.

Many would go on to consider the Battle of Point Pleasant a part of the Revolutionary War, but it stands as a major tipping point in Lord Dunmore's War. The leader of the Native American army, who went by the name of Chief Cornstalk, would later go on to be betrayed and murdered by Virginians under the guise of peace talks, and buried in what is now Point Pleasant.

Many would consider the later events of Point Pleasant to be Chief Cornstalk's curse upon the area, but there's no proof that he held any ill will towards the citizens of the area.


The mysterious events surrounding Point Pleasant began on November 2nd, 1966. At this point, Point Pleasant had grown into a small town of just a few thousand people, a town steeped in history and the type of place where everyone knows one another.

Woodrow Derenberger was a travelling salesman that lived in Mineral Wells, another small-town about an hour northwest of Point Pleasant. Point Pleasant lies on the Ohio River, across which Woodrow was working in on this particular night. He was driving down Interstate 77 when the mysterious events began to unfold, and I think I'll just let him explain it for you.

That was Woodrow Derenberger himself retelling his version of events from November 2nd, 1966. He claims that at around 7:30 PM, while travelling home, he was stopped by the bright lights of a car-like vehicle which hovered inches above the ground. According to Derenberger's testimony, this vehicle passed him on the road, before pulling in front and causing him to slam on his brakes.

This is where the suspension of disbelief goes out the window for most people. The claims that there exists a human-like alien being named "Cold," who speaks to Derenberger telepathically, is just too unrealistic to believe. It's something that many ascribe to the time period itself, which was fraught with claims of UFO sightings and extraterrestrial-driven flying saucers.

An artist's rendition of Indrid Cold

But Derenberger was in full belief of his claims on this clear November night. He believes that this alien shaped like a man, named Cold, visited him and talked for a few minutes before departing, leaving their conversation with the parting words of "we'll be speaking again." Derenberger noted that this man, Cold, never broke his smile. Because he was able to speak telepathically, he was always grinning, thus earning him the future moniker of "The Grinning Man."

It's interesting to note that this sighting was reported the night of the supposed encounter, which is when you hear this interview taking place. This just so happens to be when things start to become weird for the area of Point Pleasant.


It's easy to look at a claim like Derenberger's and easily dismiss it as fiction. In fact, that's what almost everyone has done in the decades since.

Woodrow Derenberger was a 50-year old sewing machine salesman, who was married with multiple children. Judging him with most metrics, he was living the American dream, and had no record of making claims like these. By all indications, Derenberger was just an average guy you could expect to find in West Virginia in the mid-1960s.

Woodrow Derenberger

But these claims brought his reputation, his name, and even his sanity into question. His claims, however ridiculous-sounding, were big news in this small area of the American Northeast, and he found himself put in a spotlight for public scrutiny. Many began to camp outside his house, hiding in trees or in the shadows, hoping to find some trace of these UFOs. Others began to criticize him for losing his mind, threatening to tear apart his family.

People who lived in the area where he claimed to have had this encounter reported similar sightings. None had claimed to encounter the telepath-speaking man named Cold, but some had seen bright lights in the sky on the night of November 2nd. These lights supposedly moved far quicker than any manmade craft known at the time, and seemed to stop and go, occasionally floating, in a manner that would seem impossible to this day.

Derenberger claimed to communicate with Cold again, just days afterward, but these communications took place solely in Derenberger's mind. He claims that Cold was able to communicate with him despite not being nearby, and he learned some more information about Cold and his homeworld, named Lanulos.

Derenberger would later go on to write a memoir about his encounters with Cold, titled "Visitors From Lanulos," which would go on to be published in a very limited manner in 1971. However, Derenberger would spend the rest of his life defending his sanity and his livelihood from claims of insanity. He never claimed anything further, his supposed conversations with Cold drawing to a close in 1966. Unfortunately, these few weeks of fame would cause him to lose his job, his marriage, and even custody of his children.

However, despite his entire life falling apart over the next few years, Derenberger would never recant his claims. He personally considered his claims to be his version of the truth, that he had communicated with the Grinning Man, an alien presence he claimed never brought good news.


The local area was full of claims supporting Derenberger's timeline of events: people claiming to have seen bright lights in the sky. But on November 12th, things took an interesting turn.

There were five men working as gravediggers in the nearby town of Clendenin, about an hour southeast of Point Pleasant. These five men claimed to see a large winged creature emerge from a nearby patch of trees, taking flight. This creature, which was shaped more like a man with wings than a type of recognized bird, quickly flew over atop the five of them, coming close enough to either scare or intimidate.

This would be just the first sighting of the creature known as the Mothman, but it wouldn't be the last.


Three days later, on November 15th, a man named Newell Partridge was sitting at home, watching television. The time was approximately 10:30 in the evening, so all was quiet and dark around him in the small town of Salem, West Virginia. For reference, Salem is about two hours away from Point Pleasant, further northeast than Woodrow Derenberger's home of Mineral Wells.

Suddenly, a loud whining noise breaks out from outside Partridge's farm-house. Immediately, his TV screen cuts to static, weird patterns and figures emerging n the screen. Partridge would later describe the loud, metallic, whining sound as being similar to the sound of a generator starting up.
Partridge's dog, a German Shepherd named Bandit, began to bark and make his way to the door. Partridge opened the door for Bandit and himself, hoping to investigate the cause of the sound and television interruption.

Armed with only a flashlight, Partridge follows an eager bandit to the barn, which is located about 500 feet away from the house. Partridge shines the light to the barn, finding only big red eyes staring at him in return.

Newell Partridge ran back to his house, hoping to grab his gun, but by the time he had it, he realized that he was too terrified to go back outside and face whatever had been looking back at him.
According to the rumors that have persisted to this day, Newell Partridge never saw his dog, Bandit, again.

That wasn't the only sighting that would be seen of the supposed Mothman on this night, however. He would be spotted back in Point Pleasant, over a hundred miles away, just hours later.


During World War 2, a section of the woods outside of Point Pleasant became home to the West Virginia Ordnance Works. This organization was in charge of manufacturing and storing explosives for the war effort, and stockpiled many of the explosives in steel bunkers known to the locals as "igloos."

One of the so-called "igloos"

However, in the decades after the war, the explosives remained in the bunkers and the area was reclaimed by nature. To this day, many of the bunkers remain untouched, and has become known as "the TNT area" to many of the people in the Point Pleasant area.

On this night, November 15th, two young married couples, Rodger and Linda Scarberry and Steve and Mary Mallette, were visiting the TNT area. We can all guess at what these two couples were there for, but they were young and it reasons that young people enjoy going to places like this. The TNT area was located in the heavily wooded wildlife area, which itself was starting to become known as the local lover's lane.

But a short time after Newell Partridge's encounter with the Mothman hours away, these couples would have their own.

While they were driving towards their destination, the couples in the car spotted a large presence just outside a power plant. By their descriptions, he stood well over the height of an average man, with great bat-like wings folded behind his back. All four of them had similar recollections, but made extra note of the creature's large red eyes.

The couples then sped off, frightened by the sight of this mysterious creature. Heading back to Point Pleasant, the couples apparently reached upwards of 100 miles per hour on the freeway, the creature easily keeping pace with them. According to them, the creature flew alongside or just above them, his red eyes haunting them most of the way home.

When the Scarberrys and the Mallettes began to draw close to the town of Point Pleasant, the creature seemed to back off. The two couples, still fearing for their lives, raced to the nearby courthouse, where they encountered Deputy Sheriff Millard Halstead.

As I've mentioned before, Point Pleasant is the type of small town where everyone knows one another. Halstead was familiar with the two young couples, and knew that whatever was panicking them was something to be taken seriously. He listened to their recollection of events, and surprisingly, took it as truth.

This is when the legend of the Mothman was born, and the area of Point Pleasant would never be the same again.

Following the panicked story from the Scarberrys and the Mallettes, the town of Point Pleasant held a press conference to assure the citizens of their safety. After all, these sightings were nothing more than modern ghost stories, explainable by hysteria getting the better of some impressionable young people.

At this press conference, the leadership introduced the likelihood that the creature these couples had seen was none other than a Sandhill Crane. Sandhill Cranes are large birds, with skinny legs but a wingspan that can span up to six feet. Sandhill Cranes are also noticeable for their amberish red eyes that can appear much darker in certain light. These cranes are known to frequent many areas in North America throughout the year, so it's a valid explanation for this phenomenon. The Sandhill Crane is also used as an explanation for the popular Jersey Devil myth, in addition to others.

A Sandhill Crane

However, the Scarberrys and Mallettes reiterated how much the figure they had seen looked like something else. They described him as having the arms and legs of a man, with bat-like wings and red eyes that were so large they distracted them from seeing anything else of his head. The two couples described this creature as an abnormally fast flyer, with a somewhat clumsy running motion.
The night of the press conference, a group of armed men went into the woods nearby the TNT area, hoping to find or hunt this alleged creature. The local press, making light of the situation, decided to mockingly name this creature "Mothman," as if it were a villain on the Adam West "Batman" television series.

Despite the best intentions of Point Pleasant, the abnormal stories coming from this area of West Virginia began to attract people from around the nation. Among them was renowned UFOologist John Keel.

That was author John Keel being interviewed by a very young David Letterman over a decade later.
During the 1960s, John Keel was an up-and-coming writer who specialized in writing abstract, abnormal stories. A former Army veteran who served in the Korean War, Keel was no stranger to facing the unknown. He had begun to specialize in writing stories about the weird and the peculiar, even writing teleplays for a number of TV shows in the 60s.

But in the fall of 1966, Keel was focusing on the burgeoning UFO phenomenon that was sweeping the nation. While he began to write about these UFO sightings that were happening daily all over the globe, he decided to focus on one hotspot of activity, thus leading him to Point Pleasant, West Virginia.

Over the next year, Keel interviewed over one hundred witnesses of the Mothman, with all of the supposed sightings occurring in or around the Point Pleasant area.

Most of the stories remained the same: that this creature was incredibly large, in the shape of a man with a colossal wingspan, and had large red eyes that either entrance or intimidate to a dangerous degree.

One of these sightings occurred just a day after the Scarberry and Mallette sighting, on November 16th. On this night, a bright red light was spotted in the sky above the TNT area, close to the home of the Ralph Thomas family. A neighboring friend of the Thomas family, named Marcella Bennett, drove to the Thomas family's house to try and find out the cause of the glowing red right.

When she got out of her car, she went to collect her child from the backseat but was startled by the movement of something on the ground next to her. "It seemed as though it had been lying down," she would later recount. She continued: "it rose up slowly from the ground. A big gray thing. Bigger than a man with terrible glowing eyes."

Apparently, this Mothman began to walk towards Marcella, and she froze. According to her, she even dropped her young child for a moment, before recovering and racing towards the nearby house, which let her in.

The story continues, in that both Marcella Bennett and the Thomas family hid inside, even as the Mothman creature paced around their patio, peeking into windows with his large, red eyes. It wasn't until the police arrived that the creature had finally disbursed, leaving the entire Thomas family terrified and Marcella Bennett legitimately traumatized.

Marcella Bennett would spend the next few months going through some extensive therapy sessions, apparently so traumatized that she had problem functioning normally in her own home, which was rather isolated on the edge of Point Pleasant. She was so terrified of what she had seen, and the unfortunate part is that very few would actually believe her. Many in the Point Pleasant area considered her just a part of the hoax, despite her very real health and well-being concerns that would follow.

She wasn't alone, though. The Thomas family she had been visiting backed up her claims, reiterating exactly what she had claimed to see. And they were just two of the hundreds of alleged witnesses to the Mothman creature, many of whom would be interviewed by Keel over the next year or so.


John Keel would stay in the Point Pleasant area for about a year, diving further into the case than he ever could have imagined. He began to connect the local UFO sightings and the Mothman creature to a number of animal mutilations that had been happening in the surrounding area, making this one of the focal points of his writings.

In 1967, Keel was also the one who began to popularize the term "Men In Black," referring to the alleged government boogeyman that began to visit Point Pleasant in earnest.

Keel began to take note of weird occurrences happening to himself and others connected to the story: mailed documents changing overnight, phone lines going dead or being tapped, UFO witnesses feeling threatened, etc. He began to attribute these sporadic events to the alleged "Men In Black," believing they were trying to silence the story or at least the witnesses.

These "Men In Black" would remain a constant part of the Mothman story, but would become much more relevant later on in the story.


Throughout his months in Point Pleasant, one of Keel's main acquaintances was a reporter named Mary Hyre. Hyre worked for the Athens Messenger, a local newspaper for Athens, Ohio, a town about 40 miles directly north of Point Pleasant.

Mary Hyre

The Athens Messenger had a sister newspaper in Point Pleasant, and that's how Hyre became involved in the reporting on the Mothman. She was just as interested in the Mothman and UFO sightings as Keel was, but was coming at it from a much more localized, mature point of view.
In the latter half of 1967, the interest in the Mothman case was beginning to die down, so Keel began to spend less and less time in Point Pleasant. He would return occasionally to get an interview with a new witness or two, but wasn't spending as much time as he had in the first part of the year.

During one of these return trips, it was Mary Hyre that picked Keel up at the airport. She told him that on a night shortly before his return, she had had a terrible nightmare, of people drowning among Christmas presents. It was easy to excuse that as a silly nightmare, but John Keel was sure to take note of this for his later writings.

Just a few weeks later, after returning to his home in New York, Keel began to have strange premonitions of his own. He would claim that he personally began to get messages from the long-forgotten Indrid Cold, delivered through his telephone, warning him to stay away from Point Pleasant.

Thankfully, Keel was away from Point Pleasant during the final weeks of 1967.


On December 15th, 1967, tragedy struck Point Pleasant. At around 5:00 in the evening, amidst rush hour traffic, the 700-foot Silver Bridge crossing from Point Pleasant over the Ohio River collapsed.
Dozens of cars collapsed into the freezing cold river below, ultimately killing 46 people, two of which were never found. Multiple others suffered injuries or trauma at the hand of the bridge collapse, many of the victims having been witnesses of the Mothman creature.

Constructed in 1928, the Silver Bridge had long exceeded its expected lifespan without any serious upkeep, having been used to carry loads much heavier than originally anticipated.

Regardless of any paranormal happenings, the Silver Bridge collapse was a serious tragedy that brought to light just how seriously maintenance is needed to maintain human safety.

But in the days and weeks following the bridge collapse, news media was all over the scene and Point Pleasant once again. Buying into the myth that had been established over the past year, the narrative began to spread that the Mothman was himself responsible for the bridge collapse, or that he had been spotted by certain witnesses the day of the bridge collapse. Many claimed to have seen the Mothman earlier in the day or the morning of the tragedy, an omen of things to come.

However, the Mothman was never spotted in Point Pleasant again by any sum of people. It was if, on the evening of December 15th, the presence of the Mothman had died along with the victims of the Silver Bridge collapse.

Despite the bridge collapse marking an end to the Mothman sightings, the town of Point Pleasant wasn't entirely done with weird happenings.

Mary Hyre, the reporter for the Athens Messenger that was now acting as the Point Pleasant correspondent, saw her workload increase drastically in the weeks and months following the bridge collapse.

Originally enticed by the sightings involving the Mothman, Hyre turned her focus on those involving the dancing lights in the sky, which continued even after the bridge collapse. On one weekend, shortly after the bridge tragedy, she recalled getting over 500 phone calls from local citizens who reported seeing these lights in the sky.

But on one evening in January of 1968, weeks after the collapse drew attention to the area, Mary was visited by a strange man in her office. It was late at night, and Mary's office in the Point Pleasant courthouse, didn't really receive any visitors. This man, who was described as very short with an oddly-shaped long-haired bowl cut, wore thick glasses and had what Mary would describe as a hypnotic gaze.

The man terrified Mary, as he spoke in his low voice full of stutters. He wasn't interested at all in the bridge collapse or the Mothman sightings, but was very interested in finding out who exactly had spotted the lights in the sky. During their brief conversation, this man kept inching closer and closer to Mary, who was beginning to feel very threatened.

She called out for her boss just before this man turned to leave, however he paused and picked up a pen from her desk. Laughing, he kept it and ran out of the office.

Rumors claim that this same man visited many houses in the area, homes of those that had spotted the lights in the sky. According to these rumors, he made all of them uncomfortable, claiming to be a reporter from Ohio. However, he apparently knew nothing of the Ohio area, and just simply disappeared as soon as he had arrived.

We can only guess at the identity of this man, or whether he even existed. But, it goes without saying that this was another weird event that unfolded in Point Pleasant, West Virginia.


Point Pleasant would never be the same again. The tragedy had a major impact on the town in the following years, changing it overnight. Gone was the wild-eyed optimism of the 1960s UFO craze, instead replaced with the town's somber icon of tragedy, the Mothman.

In the following years, the Mothman would become a thing of urban legend, a dark omen of things to come.

In 1971, more than three years after the tragedy, an investigation into the bridge collapse came up with the reason. A small defect to the bridge's suspension eye-bar, less than a tenth of an inch deep, had been the culprit of the collapse itself, setting off a chain of events that would eventually take the lives of 46 people. This would eventually lead to an overhaul of the maintenance standards for states all around the country.

In 1975, John Keel brought the Mothman legend back to life with the release of his book, "The Mothman Prophecies." It detailed his descent into madness as the events of 1966 and 1967 unfold, and can be seen as a book about one man's paranoid delusion. It has become the main reference source for many who believe in the Mothman myth, but even I will admit that it is incredibly hard to read without a truly open mind.

Point Pleasant would mourn and eventually recover from the terrible tragedy that left dozens of their neighbors dead, but it would forever be changed. Over the years, the city began to recover and reclaim their town from the paranormal claims that had taken it over, but the whispers of the Mothman or UFOs would never truly leave. The town of Point Pleasant is now synonymous with the Mothman legend, with several museums and stores selling Mothman merchandise in the town itself.

In 2002, a generation after the tragic bridge collapse, the town of Point Pleasant began to celebrate its annual Mothman Festival. This happened to coincide with the release of a movie titled "The Mothman Prophecies," loosely based off of Keel's book. Starring Richard Gere, the movie was a fictionalized look at events surrounding the Silver Bridge Collapse, and went on to do modest work at the box office.

Talk of the Mothman would never fade away, eventually leading this supposed creature to become a part of West Virginian lore. Many have claimed to spot the Mothman before other similar accidents or tragedies. The most notable of these is known as the Chernobyl Blackbird, a creature allegedly spotted hours before the major nuclear meltdown in Russia.

Neither the Mothman or the extraterrestrial Indrid Cold can be proven to have existed, which is why this story is, and likely always will be, unresolved.

A statue of the Mothman in present-day Point Pleasant

Thank you for listening to this episode of "The Unresolved Podcast." I have to admit, the Mothman is the story I had in mind when I began to think of this podcast, so I hope that I did it justice for all of you. It's such an interesting, unique phenomenon that I wanted to put some time and effort into it, but I also wanted to get some experience podcasting about unsolved mysteries before doing so.

The Mothman is likely something we'll never get to the bottom of, because it's just so unexplained. Hundreds of people claiming to see similar things in a small area over such an isolated period of time is hard to overlook, even if attributed to mass hysteria. So this has always been something that's left me aching to know or see more.

 I really hope you enjoyed listening to this podcast, as it was personally a lot of fun to get going. I know it was a bit of a departure, going from four episodes about serial killing rapists to a paranormal cryptid, but I hope to cover a little bit of everything with this podcast. So thank you all for listening, I appreciate it more than you'll ever know.

Also, thank you all for the kind words and the support. I appreciate reading your comments and messages, and it helps fuel me to try and make this podcast the biggest and the best podcast around.
If you want to stay in contact with me, you can do so on social media. You can find me at, or at This can really come in handy when it comes to updates, such as the news that the FBI has re-opened up the investigation into the East Area Rapist. You would have learned that if you followed me on social media... hint hint.
You can also email me at So for you old-timers like myself that are intimidated by things like Twitter, you can keep in touch that way.

I would really like to thank all of the musical artists that have contributed to this podcast, including Ailsa Traves, who personally contributed the song you're hearing now.  Links to all of the songs can be found on the podcast website, You can also find a transcript of the podcast there, along with links to the many resources I used to put this podcast together.

Also, if you're interested in the music I use on the podcast and have Spotify, you can look up a podcast I've worked up called "The Unresolved Playlist." It doesn't feature all of the music I've used on the podcast, due to licensing rights, but most of it is on there and makes for a great couple of hours of listening.

Again, thank you all very much for listening. I plan on getting a little spookier with the next episode, dipping my toes into international waters for some Australian true crime. But until then, stay safe.


Music Links

Koen Daigaku - "[EPV_174] Three Works" (Intro)

Graham Bole - "Aisatsana"

Pulse Emitter - "High Altitude Golden Sunset"

Blacksona - "Pain Nerves Depression - 1"

Artem Bemba - "Red Shore"

Kai Engel - "After Midnight"

Joao Picoito - "Palavras de Silencio"

Ailsa Traves - "Unresolved" (Outro)

Audio Links

Woodrow Derenberger Interview

John Keel - David Letterman Interview

John Keel on the Mothman

Research Links

"The Mothman Prophecies" by John Keel

"Visitors From Lanulos" by Woodrow Derenberger

"Eyes of the Mothman" - Film

The Mothman Legend

The Mysterious Case Of Indrid Cold

The Mothman Prophecies

The Mothman Indrid Cold - The Grinning Man

The Case Of Indrid Cold - Blog

Mary Hyre

The Mothman and a Man Called Cold

Friday, November 13, 2015

04 - Israel Keyes

Hello, once again!

So, this podcast was a bit of a mixed bag for me. I was doing the research for this podcast before I even finished up the third part of the EAR/ONS story, and it was just a story I found really fascinating. Information on Israel Keyes isn't very bountiful, other than news articles online and some Youtube videos, so doing research was a matter of reading countless news stories from 2-3 years ago and piecing some semblance of a timeline together.

I ended up reading all of these stories and listening to the Youtube interrogation videos (yes, I actually sat through the hours of Israel Keyes treading through mud with FBI investigators) over a week or so, and realized halfway through this week that I still had to actually, you know, RECORD everything.

So on Thursday night, I ended up pounding a few cups of coffee while writing the last bits of the podcast, recording everything, and then editing it all together before going to bed. I did have to work in the morning, but after the many cups of coffee and working on a wholly unsettling podcast such as this, falling asleep was no easy feat.

If working on this podcast has taught me anything, it's that I should never, ever fall asleep again.

I don't know why I'm telling you this, just some random thoughts I had before posting the transcript.

If you would like to get in touch with me, you can use the social media links on the side, or send me an email at "". I may not get back to you immediately, but I try my hardest to.

I've come to the realization that this is going to be a biweekly podcast, since doing a weekly podcast would just require too much time that I can't afford as of yet. Maybe someday! I would love to, but a new podcast every two weeks seems to be just about right.

Anyhow, here's the transcript, with the links below! Thank you all for following along to my random rants and my podcasts, I do appreciate it and hope you enjoy it or learn a little something from them.


When we usually talk about unsolved murders, we're thinking about the perpetrator, the unknown suspect that's still out there, awaiting justice. But every now and then, police uncover a story that is almost too chilling to be true, a story that makes you wonder if we ever know the full story. 

This is one of those cases that perplexes and terrifies you to the bone. In this case, we know the name and the identity of the killer, but the victims remain a mystery. This is the story of Israel Keyes. 


Welcome to the Unresolved Podcast, a podcast that hopes to dive into stories that have no ending and ask questions that have no answers. I'm your host Micheal Whelan, and on this episode of the podcast, I am going to be looking at the story of Israel Keyes, a serial killer that terrified FBI investigators with his meticulously-planned murders and the mysterious aftermath he left behind.

Before I get started, I would like to thank everyone that has listened or is listening to this podcast. Just knowing that there are literally thousands of you listening to this, gives me goosebumps, and incredibly happy to know my effort isn't always in vain. That, and the amazing comments you guys and gals send me. Not to sound vain, but I do love reading them. 

I know I said that the next podcast would be slightly less terrifying, but this is a case that has definitely caught my interest and scared me just as deeply as the Original Night Stalker did. This is going to be another dark true crime case, so I hope you're all okay with that. I won't be sticking to this type of mystery for every podcast, but it's definitely piquing my interest this time of year. 

With all of that being said, one more time, we now jump into the mind of a psychopath...


Israel Keyes was born in Richmond, Utah, on January 7th, 1978. Richmond is a small town of about 2000 people, most notable for its Pepperidge Farm factory that produces Goldfish crackers. It's also known for being quite strong in the Mormon faith, a handful of its citizens going on to represent the faith of the LDS church in its leadership. The cult classic movie Napolean Dynamite even shot some scenes in Richmond, which helped add to its small-town feel. 

But, unfortunately, for a lot of people, Richmond will be known as the birthplace of what investigators would call the most meticulous serial killer of all-time. 

Born to a larger Mormom family, Israel had many sisters. He was just one of ten children born to his parents, and they were an incredibly religious household. Israel was home-schooled by his parents, who undoubtedly tried to shelter their religious household from outside influences. 

Many people have tried to theorize how this sheltered, religious upbringing could have shaped Israel Keyes into the man he would later become, but his upbringing would take an interesting turn later in his youth. 

At some point in his youth, Israel and his family relocated from the small-town of Richmond, Utah, to an area just north of Colville, Washington. 


Many people don't realize this about Washington state, but it's a rather big state. Where most of the western side of the state encapsulates the view of Washington that you see in movies: aka the Starbucks, the flannel, the constant rain, the trees; the eastern side is far different. 

Eastern Washington is comprised of many small towns, most of which are separated by many dozens or hundreds of miles. Eastern Washington has much more in common with nearby states Idaho or Montana than it does with Western Washington. The Cascade Mountains do a good job of not only helping hold off much of the rain that plagues the western half of the state, but they also stem most of the state's population. 

So it wasn't too much of a change when the Keyes family relocated to Eastern Washington. It wasn't too big of a jump from their origins in Utah, as the area they moved to, just north of Colville, encapsulates just as much of a small-town feel as Richmond. 

Shortly after moving to this area of north-eastern Washington State, the Keyes family began attending a church known as "the Ark," and now more commonly referred to as "Our Place Fellowship." The Ark has become well-known throughout the area for its racist viewpoints, which are driven not only by the white supremacy viewpoints found in this area of Cascadia, but also by the strong religious roots in the British Israelism faith. The Ark was just one of many Christian Identity religious movements that uprooted in the area. 

Many of the followers of the Ark, now followers of the Our Place Fellowship, believe that they, the descendants of Anglo-Saxons and other northern European groups, are the true chosen people of God. Over the years, this has attracted many anti-Semitic people from the surrounding area, and led to a lot of hostility towards those of other beliefs or races. 

We can only theorize how much this viewpoint affected Israel and sculpted his mindset, since we don't truly know how involved the Keyes family was in this church. But we can surmise that being raised in a culture that promotes hostility towards other ethnic groups and the glorification of one's self above all can't be good for an easily-emboldened narcissistic mind.


When the Keyes family moved to the Colville area, they became friendly with a neighboring family known as the Kehoes. While at the time, this may have looked like two neighboring families in a small-town community getting to know each other, a glimpse into the future can show us something much darker. Something much more sinister at play. 

Chevie Kehoe, a boy only five or so years older than Israel, was one of the boys that he grew up alongside, and likely looked up to. A simple wikipedia search can show you all you need to know about Chevie Kehoe and more. 

Chevie grew up to be a violent white supremacist, and a serial criminal offender. Now serving three life sentences in a supermax federal prison, Chevie was convicted on charges of kidnapping, torture, and murder, among many others. His victims were a gun dealer, his wife, and their 8-year old daughter, whom they all kidnapped, tortured, murdered, and disposed of their bodies in a swamp. 
Chevie's younger brother, Cheyne, wasn't involved in the murder of the three victims, but would later get involved with his brother's criminal antics. Cheyne was closer in age to Israel, and it reasons to think that the two of them were friends at one point in their lives. 

When the police eventually caught up with Chevie, in Wilmington, Ohio in 1997, Cheyne was with him and the two engaged police officers in a shootout. Video of this incident can be found in multiple Youtube clips, and was featured in many television cop shows. 

Chevie would go on to get life in prison without the possibility in parole for his heinous crimes, but his white supremacist viewpoints have never faltered. He was also found guilty of other crimes, ranging from bombing a city hall in Spokane, WA, to ordering the murder of romantic rival. Needless to say, his despicable reputation is well-deserved. 

His younger brother Cheyne, and his father Kirby, were later arrested in Arizona for illegally stockpiling weapons and ammunition to carry out some ethno-centric, anti-government goals.
As you can see, the mindset of the people that were attracted to the hyper-religious Ark community were a bit... off. While this is painting with a broad brush, it's easy to see the type of hateful fervor that the Keyes family raised their children alongside.

While Israel would go on to eschew religion later in life, it's possible that some of these ideas helped shape his mind into what it would later become. He would grow up to become incredibly narcissistic, intelligent, methodical, and excited by the idea of violence. 


Israel Keyes was unstable as a youth, to say the least. He was excited by the idea of violence, and over time, he became enamored with the idea of inflicting pain on others. 

He admitted, later on in life, that he would torture animals like cats for fun, and he had his own myriad of emotional and mental issues. But all of the theories about his origins can possible traced back to the murder of a 12-year old girl just outside of Colville, Washington. 

Julie Harris was a 12-year old girl, a double amputee that had become a Special Olympics champion. She, of course, lived in Colville, the small town that the Keyes family lived just outside of. 

Sometime in 1996, little Julie Harris went missing, and many suspected that she had run away from home, according to reports from her mother's live-in boyfriend. Her prosthetic legs would later be found nearby a river bed, which turned the investigation from her disappearance to her murder. 
While many have long-suspected her mother's volatile boyfriend to be the main suspect, the proximity to Keyes and his origins can't be overlooked. It was around this time that Israel came of age, and left the Colville area behind. 


No one is sure when Israel began exhibiting violent tendencies, but over the years, he started to become enamored with stories of serial killers. His idol, by his own admission, was the infamous serial killer Ted Bundy. Israel admired Bundy's tenacity to kill, and his desire to inflict pain on others. No one is sure when this violent admiration began, but it undoubtedly help inspire Israel Keyes to create his own modus operandi for crime. 

When he was 17, Israel moved east for a short period of time. We can't be sure whether he moved there with family or by himself, but he did admit to living in New York State for a few months in 1997 or so. He would later go on to own a large track of land in upstate New York, just outside the town of Constable. Little is know of when or how he acquired this land, but it becomes relevant later on.

At around the time he was 18, Israel moved again and  entered another part of the Pacific Northwest. He moved to an area nearby Maupin, Oregon, an area well-renowned for its outdoor activities. Two hours east of Portland, Maupin has a population of just a few hundred, and again, is considered a very small town by almost every single metric. 

This is where the mystery of Israel Keyes begins...


In either the summer of 1997 or 1998, a group of teenagers were intertubing along the nearby Deschutes River. In an area where temperatures often exceed 100 degrees during the summer, this is to be an expected activity for a group of bored and easily-excited teens. 

But for one unknown teenager, this day would become a nightmare. 

At sometime in the late afternoon and early evening, of a late summer day, Israel Keyes must have spotted these teenagers and taken note. He patiently waited for one of the teenagers, a young girl between the age of 14 and 18, to become separated from the group. 

According to his later testimony, Israel Keyes abducted this lone girl, and led her away from the rest of her group. He would go on to sexually assault this poor girl, before eventually letting her go and eventually making his getaway. 

The identity of this girl has never been found, because she never came forward to police. Whether this was a made-up story created in Israel Keyes' mind is anyone's guess, but this is the first crime Keyes recalled committing. 


Following his stint living in Oregon, Israel Keyes enlisted in the United States Army. During his time in the US Army, he reached the rank of specialist, and was given three different duty stations: Fort Hood, in Texas; somewhere overseas in Egypt; and Fort Lewis, located in Western Washington. 
He spent a large chunk of his enlistment in Fort Lewis, located nearby Tacoma, Washington, a major part of the well-populated Seattle area. 

One of the things that is noticably different about Keyes is that he never wanted the renown that his idol, Ted Bundy, received. While most serial offenders commit their crime to gain some type of reputation, Keyes shied away from the spotlight and never wanted his name to become associated with the crimes he would later commit. 

Keyes would never confess to any crimes during his enlistment. He claims that he would go on to later commit multiple crimes, following his honorable discharge in 2001, but he never admitted to committing a single crime while enlisted. 


Following his discharge from the United States Army in 2001, Israel Keyes would move to Neah Bay, a small community right on the northwestern tip of Washington State. 

Neah Bay is a small fishing community, right on the edge of Washington State. Right across the bay lays Vancouver Island, leaving it right at the border between the continental United States and Canada. 

Comprised of a predominant Native American population, Israel Keyes would have stuck out like a sore thumb, but he soon found himself becoming a productive citizen of Neah Bay. In this small town of 800 or so people, Keyes began to work for the Makah tribe as a landscaper, a construction worker, a handyman... just about everything a jack-of-all-trades could be expected to be. 

Many of his fellow Neah bay residents never recalled anything suspicious about him, seeing him as just another capable member of society that they could count on to fix just about anything, and who seemed to be a likeable guy that everyone remembered as having a good sense of humor. 

Shortly after moving to Neah Bay, Israel had himself a girlfriend, a great role in society, and shortly afterwards... a daughter. 

While being a father didn't deter Israel Keyes from committing any of his future heinous crimes, it did deter him from targetting children. He would later go on to make it a point to target victims that didn't have any children present, which we can surmise as being part of his criminal code. 

Keyes would go on to admit murdering his first victim at some point between July and October of 2001. We do not know the identity or location of this victim, but this is when the FBI believes Israel Keyes began his killing spree. 


Keyes would admit to killing one victim in the second half of 2001, but the next few years are almost a total mystery. Not only to the people that knew Keyes, but the FBI investigators that have spent months and years trying to retrace his footsteps. 

This is the time-frame where Keyes became a serial offender. Before this era, he had committed rather spontaneous crimes, but this is when Keyes began to focus in on his MO, specifying it to the point of procedure. 

Sometime between 2001 and 2005, Keyes killed a couple in Washington State, but he would refuse to give up any details. We don't know whether this was a married couple, a couple of young lovers, a family pairing, siblings, friends. Keyes would later be rather scarce in giving out details, and all we know is that in the four years following his first murder he killed again. 

Investigators couldn't even be sure that the couple were Washington State residents, or whether he had abducted them and driven them into Washington. Their identities have never been discovered, and there is no evidence that Keyes committed these murders other than his word. 

In the interviews that Keyes would give investigators, he would imply that this couple was buried in or nearby a valley. Investigators also surmised, based on his later crimes, that he had taken the car belonging to the couple and driven it a good distance away from the crime scene, to separate the two and make their bodies almost unrecoverable. 

Keyes would go on to admit, years later, that his main way of finding victims was to let them come to him. He would prefer to find them in public parks, camp sites, hiking trails, the sort of places where people might naturally go missing. We have no way of knowing if this first couple was a married couple that he had singled out ahead of time, or if they were an unlucky pair of outdoorsmen that had stumbled upon this unlucky fate.


In 2005 and 2006, Keyes continued his killing spree, committing two more murders that were totally independant of one another. Again, these are crimes in which we don't know who the victims are, or how he even got them in his sights. 

He would later confess to both of these crimes to investigators, but wouldn't reveal the names or even the slightest hints of identity for either set of victims. We don't know how many victims he may have piled up in this time frame, as he self-admittedly liked to strike in the summer and fall months, when tourism to Washington State is at its highest. 

Keyes would admit that he used his own boat to dispose of these victims, but would only admit where one of the bodies had been submerged: deep beneath the surface of Crescent Lake, right on the border of the scenic Olympic National Park and just an hour east of his home in Neah Bay. He lightly poked at the notion that the bodies were submerged under hundreds of feet, as deep as the lake itself can get, but no bodies have been recovered from Crescent Lake up until now. 

We can't tell whether this is a story fabrication of Keyes or a self-assured testimony of his evil, but Keyes wasn't the sort of criminal who liked his misdeeds to be well-known. It's likely that Keyes created these stories to simply gain renown, but it's much more likely that these crimes were just the tip of the iceberg for him. 

He was just getting started. 


In the first week of March 2007, Israel Keyes relocated yet again. We don't know what led to him leaving the close-knit community of Neah Bay, but he began driving north up towards Alaska. 

Along the way, he made multiple stops in many towns along the Alaska-Canadian Highway. He most notably made stops to towns in British Columbia and Yukon, although we don't know the extent of these stops. 

We would later learn that Keyes used every opportunity to his advantage, so he may have done some scouting or planning while visiting these towns. 

He eventually arrived in Anchorage on March 9th, over a week after beginning his move north. He began to establish a new home in this northernmost state. In Anchorage, he established a business for himself, named Keyes Construction. He began to use his talents as a tradesman to cement himself as a normal guy to the citizens in his new northern home. 


In October and November of 2008, Keyes traveled from Alaska to a handful of states, including North Dakota, Arizona, and Washington. We don't know where he traveled to or what he was up to during this trips, we only know the barest of details and even then, those are scarce. 

Keyes rented a car in Seattle on October 31st, 2008, the car being a PT Cruiser. Where he traveled with this vehicle is anyone's guess. 

On November 2nd, three days after renting a car in Seattle, Keyes flew out of Seatac Airport, headed for Boston, where he would stay for a total of three days. Needless to say, his activities during this time period are lost in time. 

Israel Keyes was a methodical planner, and this is logically where his plans began to plant themselves in the ground, almost literally. 

One of the most terrifying aspects about Israel Keyes is that he planned his actions months and years in advance. He would stake a claim on a future victim, entirely at random, and plan on attacking them years before doing so. 

It is incredibly likely that on this voyage east, Israel began to experiment with what would later be known as his "murder-kits." These kits would include weapons, money, tools, and other supplies needed to murder his victims and dispose of their bodies. Keyes would begin burying these murder kits all around the United States, in seemingly-random areas close to the future victims. He would keep no record of what was contained in these kits, and would bury them with the location only stored inside his mind, to be repossessed later on when he enacted his crimes. 

So on November 5th, three days after visiting Boston with no real motive or purpose, he returned to Seattle and then Anchorage. It's likely that he began plotting out future murders years in advance, and had buried a murder kit or two during this little vacation of his. 


Israel Keyes was now in his thirties, a single man who had begun to totally eschew religion from his life. At this point, Keyes was now a devout atheist, abandoning the religious upbringing he had been given and treading his own, dark philosophical path. 

Much like his idol, Ted Bundy, Keyes began to abuse alcohol. He also began to frequent prostitutes. 
For all of his narcissistic tendencies, Keyes was a man of many faults. In one life, he was the witty, loving father who worked hard in his day job, was a United States Army veteran, and who travelled the world constantly. He even came from a large religious family, which may have bolstered the image he had created. 

But underneath this facade was a man that was broken, and shielded to everyone except for himself and his victims. This was a man who didn't believe in any higher power, who abused alcohol, who frequented women he'd likely look down upon, who enjoyed inflicting pain upon others. This was a part of himself that he didn't want known, as he had seen what had happened to his idol, Ted Bundy, and the scrutiny that his life had received under the microscope of the media.

Keyes began to imagine a world where he inflicted pain on as many people as possible, for his own enjoyment, and he didn't plan on seeing the ramifications of his actions. He had dreamed of going out in an epic gun-battle with police, but he didn't want his living relatives to learn about his actions.


Debra Feldman was a woman at the end of her rope. She was approaching 50, and was the worse for wear. Debra was addicted to many narcotics, and despite the best intentions of her adult son, Matthew, she wasn't getting any better. 

Debra was addicted to heroic and cocaine, among other substances. Debra lost custody of her only child, Matthew, when he was in his teenage years, and she seemed to spiral down from there. Even when she grew estranged from everyone in her life, she kept coming to her adult son for help financially, only to be rebuffed. 

In their last conversation, Debra had come to visit Matthew, and demanded that he give up the $400 he had just received as payment for his fast food job. She would go on and threaten to kill herself if her son didn't give up his paycheck to her, and he refused. At first. He offered her a nearby knife, calling her bluff. 

Debra put down the knife, and withdrew her threat. But then she broke down, telling her son that she needed the money to keep from getting evicted. 

Matthew eventually gave in to his mother's request, and gave her the money. "That's what family does," he would later say. 

Debra J. Feldman, a resident of New Jersey, would go missing just days afterwards. She was known by all in her life to have a serious issue with drugs and alcohol, and even her family wouldn't have been surprised to find out that she had likely been moonlighting as a prostitute before her disappearance. To this date, her fate and her whereabouts remain unknown, but her son hasn't forgotten about his missing mother. 

The FBI would later piece together the narrative that Israel Keyes abducted a woman in New Jersey, whom he later transported over to upstate New York, where she was murdered and buried. They do not believe that she was buried on his plot of land nearby Constable, but the likelihood of the body being buried nearby is high. 

They have linked this to the disappearance of Debra Feldman not only through happenstance, but by the near-admission of Keyes. 

While being interrogated by the FBI, Keyes was shown photos of many of the missing men and women from the states he had visited, in the hopes that he would identify some just to bring the families closure. He gestured "no" to most of the photos, but when he was shown a picture of Debra Feldman, he paused. His response to the photo may be the only closure the family of Debra Feldman will ever receive. 

"I'm not ready to talk about her," he would say, before dropping the subject forever. 


Just a day after the disappearance of Debra Feldman, on April 10th of 2009, Keyes began to expand his criminal activities. Wearing a fake mustache, a fake goatee, sunglasses, and a hooded Carhartt Jacket, he walked into a Community Bank with a silver handgun and demanded money. 

He got away with an undisclosed amount of money, and even though his picture was displayed across the local news and the town of Tupper Lake shut down all of the roads leading in and out of town, Keyes wasn't apprehended or even identified. Nobody in the area recognized him, since he was a complete outsider, and he hid out at a local campground until the heat had died down enough to make his getaway. 

Investigators would later find that this was just one of several bank robberies perpetrated by Keyes, as a means of funding his constant expeditions around the United States. Little is know of how he got back to Anchorage, but it's likely that he may have driven the entire way and paid his way in cash, so that no records would be maintained of his whereabouts. This would become an important aspect of his future travels, so it's possible that it started here. 


A year passed, but Keyes gave no sign of slowing down. On July 9th, 2010, Keyes flew from Anchorage to Sacramento, Callifornia. He then travelled from Sacramento to Auburn, California, where he rented a vehicle, a black Ford Focus, and travelled close to 280 miles over the next few days. 

We can only guess to the extent of his activities in California, but it's likely that he may have buried another one of his "murder-kits" or even committed a crime during his time there. 


In April or May of 2011, Keyes visited a park near Point Woronzof, located nearby his home city of Anchorage. He had a rifle with him, and fully intended to shoot at a couple he had spotted in the parking lot of the park. 

When a police officer showed up in the parking lot, Keyes set his sights on the officer. He only refrained when a second officer was revealed to be there, as well. 

Just weeks later, Keyes was stalking a nearby trailhead with the sole intention of abducting someone. He had even buried an improvised "murder-kit" containing many bottles of Drain-O and a shovel, which he would use to dispose of his potential victim's body. 

He ended up coming up empty on both accounts, but his most well-known atrocities were yet to come. 


On June 2nd, of 2011, Israel Keyes flew out of Anchorage. His flight arrived in Chicago, but he had his sights set further east. He rented a car at the Chicago airport, which he then drove all the way east to Essex, Vermont. During this trip, he took the battery out of his cell phone so that there would be no trace of his travels, and he paid his entire way in cash: money he had saved up from his handyman business and also the money he had left over from the robberies he had committed. 

Years beforehand, during one of his many trips east, Keyes had buried one of his "murder-kits" in the woods outside of a house. The house belonged to Bill and Lorraine Currier, an older couple that was adored by all that knew them. 

Bill and Lorraine Currier were longtime citizens of the area, and had both been working their respective jobs for over twenty years. So when they were both absent from work the next morning, questions were asked and flags were raised. 

On the evening before, June 8th, Keyes has broken into the house of Bill and Lorraine Currier and surprised the both of them. He had bound both, and abducted them using their own vehicle to do so. 
He drove this terrified older couple to a nearby abandoned house, where he led Bill into the basement. He kept Lorraine upstairs, where he began to sexually assault her, purely to cause pain. Bill began to struggle downstairs, and this loving husband tried to free himself to rescue his wife. 
Unfortunately, Keyes had come prepared for that, utilizing the murder-kit he had buried years prior. He shot and killed Bill Currier, and later strangled Lorraine to death. 

He took both of their bodies to the basement of the abandoned house, where he covered them in trash bags. He then poured Drain-O all over the two, hoping that the bodies would seriously decompose before anyone would find them. Israel Keyes covered them up with as much debris as possible, to hide the bodies, and simply left. 

Unfortunately, the bodies of Bill and Lorraine Currier were never found. The abandoned house they had been left in would later be demolished. The demolition crew noted that the basement smelled heavily of decomposition, but just assumed that the previous tenants had been hunters of some type, as hunting was very common in this area. 

The debris and the remains of the abandoned house were sent to a local landfill, and the only evidence proving that Bill and Lorraine Currier had been murdered was the testimony of a proven psychopath. 


In the week following the murder of Bill and Lorraine Currier, Israel Keyes traveled along the east coast, before returning to Chicago. In Chicago, he returned the rental car he had now driven thousands of miles in, before flying to San Francisco. 

He would stay in the Bay Area for only a single night, before flying back to Anchorage on June 16th. He had been gone only two weeks, but the damage had been done. 

Bill and Lorraine Currier remain only two of three victims that can be absolutely attributed to Israel Keyes, with the third yet to come. Israel Keyes now had a taste for blood, and he was beginning to feel invincible. 


It was less than a year later that Israel Keyes would commit his most notorious act. He went against his usual M.O., and decided to strike close to home. 

Samantha Koenig was a beautiful 18-year old woman with the rest of her life in front of her. She worked at a local coffee stand as a barista, and was working the evening shift on this particular night. Surveillance footage can be seen of her working at the stand rather dutifully... cleaning and tidying things up, as it was a rather slow Wednesday night on February 1st. 

A man in a ski mask approaches the stand, and asks Samantha to make him a coffee. You can see Samantha get to work on the coffee, but when she goes to hand it to him, he reveals a gun. He orders her to give him the money from the coffee stand, and then he enters the stand. He zip ties her hands, and begins to lead her away from the coffee stand. 

This masked intruder reveals that he's going to abduct Samantha and extort her for ransom, but she tries to inform him that her family doesn't have much money. This masked man says that he's planning on the community raising the funds to get her back alive, and he orders her to follow his instructions. 

During this trip to his nearby truck, Samantha tries to make a break for it. Unfortunately, Keyes catches up and tackles her, putting a gun to her head and threatening to kill her with his quiet ammunition if she tries something like that again. 

Once Samantha Koenig was detained in his truck, Israel Keyes returned to the coffee stand to get Samantha's cell phone. He viewed her cell phone as a vital part of his plan, as he then used it to send two text messages: one to her boss, and the other to her boyfriend. In this text message, he stated that Samantha had had a bad day at work, and needed to get away for a few days. He took the phone with him, but removed the battery so that the police wouldn't be able to trace it to him. 

Despite the fact that he likely had plenty of money, Keyes demanded Samantha Koenig's debit card, which she informed him was in the truck that she shared with her boyfriend. Keyes drove Koenig to his home, where he locked her in a outdoor shed. He turned the radio up inside the shed, so that her screams couldn't be heard by any possible neighbors. He threatened her multiple times, demanding to know where her debit card was and what the PIN for the account was. She told him, so he then left to go get her debit card. 

The truck that Samantha Koenig and her boyfriend shared was parked right outside their house, and Keyes attempted to break into it. This, or the previous text message, had alerted Koenig's boyfriend, who went out to confront this stranger. The two had a brief altercation, in which Keyes barely escaped, but the boyfriend went back inside to try and get help. In that timespan, Keyes managed to grab the debit card and escape, all but sealing Samantha Koenig's fate. 

On the way back to his house, Keyes tested the debit card and found that it worked. He began to pull out Samantha Koenig's money, and then travelled back home. 

There, he sexually assaulted Koenig before asphyxiating her. She was dead just hours after being abducted, but her family, friends, and loved ones wouldn't know of her fate for months. 


Early in the morning of the very next day, February 2nd, Israel Keyes departed for New Orleans. He left Koenig in the shed in his yard, assured that she wouldn't be disturbed in the time that he was gone. 

Keyes had pre-purchased a cruise leaving from New Orleans, which would take him out of the states for the next couple of weeks. This was apparently a regular occurrence for him, as he would take these small vacations not only to spend the money from the victims he had murdered, but also to escape the heat of the crime for a short time. 

During this time, the Koenig family and Samantha's other loved ones began to grow desperate for any word. The only word they had received were those two text messages, followed by the intruder that had broken into her truck and stolen her debit card. They knew nothing, and wouldn't until February 17th. 


On February 17th, Samantha Koenig's boyfriend received a text message from her phone, informing her that there was a ransom note at a nearby park. Hidden under a "lost dog" flyer, the ransom note was found by Anchorage police, and demanded $30,000 for the safe return of Koenig. 

On the opposite side of the ransom note was a photo of Koenig, taken just a day or so beforehand, posed to look like she was still alive. Keyes had sewn her eyelids open to make her look alive, and placed a four-day old newspaper under her arm to appear lifelike. 

Believing his daughter was still alive, James Koenig began pleading to the community to raise money to save his little girl. The community did a great job of marshaling together to bring back one of their own, and began to deposit the money into Samantha's account, which Keyes still had access to. 
Unfortunately, Samantha Koenig had been dead for nearly two weeks now, and Keyes was ready to get rid of the evidence. 

He began to dismember her body, and drove it out to the frozen Matanuska Lake, where he had to cut holes in the surface of the lake to bury her body, piece-by-piece. 

Fortunately, this would be the last violent crime that Israel Keyes would ever commit. 


Poice began to trace the withdrawals from Samantha Koenig's bank account to ATMs in Anchorage, Arizona, Texas, and New Mexico. Now the FBI was involved with the case, along with the Texas Rangers, and they quickly found that the person making the withdrawals was driving a white Ford Focus. 

On a chance encounter with a couple of Texas Highway Patrolmen, Keyes was identified as the person of interest in this now-federal case, before being pulled over and detained. 

I'm sure that these patrolmen that happened upon Keyes had no idea that they had detained one of the most methodical serial killers of recent times, but they were more than capable enough to not only detain Keyes peacefully, but to find Koenig's cellphone in the trunk of the car and later find her debit card in his wallet. 

Now police had the random killer of Samantha Koenig, but they had no idea what kind of intricate, mysterious web they had now stumbled upon. 


Israel Keyes was now behind bars, and he would later go on to admit to federal investigators that he was behind the mysterious disappearance of Bill and Lorraine Currier, who had seemingly vanished from the face of the planet a year or so prior. 

He would admit to many more crimes in his time behind bars, including the arson of a house in Texas on February 16th, just a day before returning to Anchorage to demand ransom for Samantha Koenig. He also confessed to multiple bank robberies in that same Texas town and others in the state of New York, which he had never even been suspected in. 

He would go on to admit killing eight or so people, but many have theorized that that number is on the lower end of the spectrum. With the crazy amount of trips he made throughout the country and even internationally, some have theorized Keyes to be involved with dozens of disappearances. 
He admitted to at least one killing where the body was recovered, and hinted that police might have ruled the death an accident. Investigators leaned towards the notion that Keyes had murdered one of his victims and then started a house fire, but trying to find out exactly who this victim was without a confession would be downright impossible. 

Keyes told investigators that he buried his "murder-kits" all over the United States, and to date, a handful have been found but many more are likely still buried out there. 

Unfortunately, after months of interrogations and interviews with federal authorities, little information had been turned up. On December 2nd, 2012, just months after being detained for the murder of Samantha Koenig, Israel Keyes extracted a blade from a shaving razor that he used to slit his own wrist, just as he set up a series of sheets to hang himself with. 

Israel Keyes killed himself, taking his secrets to the grave and leaving behind a blood-stained suicide letter, which follows: 



We don't know all of the crimes Israel Keyes committed. He cowardly killed himself and took his secrets to the grave. 

Unfortunately, a mind as sharp and methodical as his was used for something so nefarious, so evil, that we'll likely never get to piece together the puzzle he left investigators. 

Right after his death, the FBI sent out a plea to the public, begging anyone with any information to come forward and help them fill in their gaps of knowledge. They released a handful of their interviews with Keyes, most of which consist of Keyes haggling with the investigators and dragging his feet in the mud. Keyes refused to give up much information of his crimes, so even the FBI doesn't know the true fate of his victims. Hell, they don't even know who his victims were. 

Keyes surviving family members held a funeral for him in the chilly month of December of 2012, not forgiving him for any of his crimes and damning him to eternal torment. But, unlike his victims, his family got some semblance closure and know his ultimate fate. He leaves behind one daughter. 

Some people have theorized that the FBI reached an agreement with Keyes and limited the amount of information about his crimes in order to get some information. I'm not sure how I feel about this theory, because its been a matter of years now with no real developments, but the theory hinges on the idea that Keyes was an even bigger monster than the FBI has built him up to be. 

Unfortunately, we'll never know, because this case is likely to never be solved. 


Thank you all for listening to this episode of The Unresolved Podcast. This one was a real doozie to me, because it goes against almost everything we know about unsolved mysteries and turns it on its head. We know the killer, we know the motive, but the secrets left behind include the victims and all of the crimes committed. It's just a dark, mysterious, morbid, fascinating story that really highlights the duality of man. 

If you would like to get involved with the case against Israel Keyes, you can most definitely do so online. This case was widely reported years ago, but the attention to the subject has died out just as quickly as the leads for investigators. I would love for this story to gain some traction and hopefully result in some conclusions for family members involved. 

If you would like to stay in touch with me on the podcast, you can do so through many various means. You can reach me on Twitter, @UnresolvedP, or on Facebook, at If you like to send email, you can get ahold of me at If you forget any of that, or simply want to find the audio or research links I used for the episode, or even find the transcript for the podcast, you can find everything at the website, It's essentially a glorified blog, but I plan to improve it when I finally get some free time. 

Lastly, thank you for simply listening to this podcast. The amount of kind words and support I've gotten thus far has been unreal, and you have no idea how much I appreciate it. I'm not going to ask you all to make a donation or anything like that, but you can definitely go to the website and find the links for the musical artists I played during this episode. They're all outstanding and I'd love to see them get a bump in their play count. 

Speaking of play count, I was stoked to find out that the podcast is at about 10,000 total listens! I totally expected a few dozen people to like this podcast, not HUNDREDS. Just blows my mind that so many of you listen to me, so I appreciate it. I'd love to add a few zeroes to the end of that play count, but I am more than happy with all of your support thus far. You guys and gals are amazing. 
But that's it for this episode of The Unresolved Podcast. I won't be back next week, but I'm hoping to make this a biweekly podcast moving forward. I'd love to make it a weekly podcast, but that might have to remain a goal for the future. The next podcast will probably be another creepy case, but I might focus on something less "psychopathy" and more "paranormal." Hint hint... 

Until next time, I hope you all stay safe and have a wonderful start to the holiday season.  


Music Links

Graham Bole - "Heebie Jeebies" (Intro)

Artem Bemba - "High Water"

The Gateless Gate - "Hokkaido"

inBOIL - "I Invented Electricity (Dorkmix)"

Pulse Emitter - "Moonlit Valley"

Mutant Data Orchestra - "Zzyzx"

The Gateless Gate - "Myvatn"

Hacker Blinks - "Eighth" (Outro)

Internet Resources

Youtube: FBI Interview - May 24, 2012

Youtube: FBI Interview - May 29, 2012

Youtube: FBI Interview - June 7, 2012

Youtube: FBI Interview - July 26, 2012

Youtube: FBI Interview - November 29, 2012

PDF: FBI Press Release of Israel Keyes' Activities

Salon article on Israel Keyes' youth

KPHO article about Israel Keyes' funeral

LA Times article on Israel Keyes' attacks

CBS News article on Israel Keyes article on Debra Feldman

Seattle Weekly article: "Israel Keyes: In Plane Sight" article on Debra Feldman's son

I used other articles for some other random tidbits, those which I didn't bookmark at the time. If you would like to do any more research, I would be more than happy to assist or help you find anything.

Thanks, everyone!

Monday, November 2, 2015

03 - The Original Night Stalker (Part Three: Golden State Killer)

Hello again! Hope you all have been well since my last update!

I apologize for the two week delay between podcasts and the three-day delay in posting this update on the website, it was just a busy weekend. My bad. I promise to try and be more punctual in the future.

I would like to thank ALL of you for helping to make this podcast endeavor what it has been. I might have run out of steam quickly doing this much research into the exploits of a psychopath, but your comments, compliments, and suggestions on how to make the podcast better have made it all worthwhile. So thank you all, from the bottom of my heart.

This is something that I enjoy doing, but you all have made it something I want to make a permanent part of my life. Thank you for that.

I will post the transcript from the episode in just a moment, with still contains a lot of the notes I edited out of the podcast, for one reason or another. So, this is like the "director's cut" of the podcast, with the deleted scenes still intact. Whether or not that makes it better is your call, but I'll get some of the pertinent information out before then.

If you'd like to listen to the podcast, you can find it on iTunes, Stitcher, Soundcloud, or other podcast-related apps & websites. If you utilize a podcast app that doesn't have the podcast available, you can definitely let me know and I'll do what I can to get it hosted there.

If you'd like to stay in touch with me, you can most definitely do so by either:

- Email
- Facebook
- Twitter

You can even enjoy some of the music on Spotify by finding "The Unresolved Playlist" on there. It doesn't have ALL of the music I use, but it has most of it. You can find links to the songs used in this episode at the bottom of this transcript, along with other links.

Thank you all again! If you have any interest in following up with this case, I'd highly recommend that you check out the books and the websites linked below. They offer up much more information than I could ever dream of, and I'd highly recommend all of them.

Now, here's the transcript...


Imagine knowing that the criminal known as the Original Night Stalker, also called the East Area Rapist and the Golden State Killer by others, has been inside your home. 

You've been watching the news, so you recognize all of the signs. You've been getting the type of hang-up phone calls associated with this psychopathic madman, and you've been getting them for weeks. Perhaps he asks you if Ray is there, before hanging up. Maybe you noticed a door or a window ajar when getting home from work, or you've noticed some family photos have been moved around by someone other than yourself. 

So you're diligent. When you get home, you begin to check your windows for any disturbances. The East Area Rapist, as he was primarily called during this time period, was know to cut holes in window screens and unlock the windows that way. You'd likely make sure that all of your doors and windows have stayed locked, and you're more than likely going to slowly, cautiously check behind your shower curtain and any closed closet doors. 

But as you're searching your house, which is located nearby a deep gully right next to railroad tracks, the type of house that would immediately attract this serial offender, you notice something. A wedding photo has been taken out of its picture frame, and surprisingly been placed on top of a notepad inside a desk drawer. You just used the notepad yesterday, and your spouse hasn't used it in days. 

Now you're scared, but you're holding out hope that it's a simple mistake, a misunderstanding. 
Then, upon a more thorough search of the house, you find a rolled-up coil of rope hidden under a couch cushion. There's only one possible explanation for that, and it's a terrifying one. 

The Original Night Stalker has been inside your house, and he's planned on making you his next victim. 


What some may call paranoia saved a family from untold terrors on one night in December of 1978. The East Area Rapist had been active for over two years, at this point, and was now continuing his venture south from Sacramento into more centralized California. 

Following the hints given to them from the news media and the police, this family was able to find the clues that put them in the sights of one of the most violent serial offenders in human history and avoid tragedy all together. 

Unfortunately, just as everything else in this case, it didn't stop the offender from finding another family to torment. At this point in his career, the Original Night Stalker wasn't lacking for victims. 


Hello, and welcome to The Unresolved Podcast, a podcast that hopes to dive into stories that have no ending and ask questions that have no answers. This is the third episode of my look at the Original Night Stalker, and the conclusion of the story that began with a small-time criminal in Visalia and ends with one of the most terrifying serial offenders in human history. 

If you're listening to this podcast and haven't listened to the prior two parts of the story, I highly recommend that you do just that. There will be quite a few references in this episode that I'll refer to, so it'll be quite handy to have the prior two episodes fresh in your head. 

Now, it's time to get to what you're all waiting for. Part three of "The Original Night Stalker." 


July 5th, 1979 - It's just about three-thirty in the morning, on the day after a national holiday in Danville, California, when neighbors are woken up by the sound of screams. It's not usual to hear loud sounds coming from this house in particular, as the homeowners, a man named Bill and his wife, were quiet people. So it was quite the shock to hear them causing a ruckus. 

Bill and his wife, who shall remain nameless, had talked about what they would do if the East Area Rapist ever set his sights on them. While Bill would attack the masked intruder, his wife would make a break for it to try to get outside and get some neighborly assistance, or at least alert people to what was happening. At the very least, Bill would save his wife and give this pervert a thrashing. 
So on this night, Bill, a light sleeper by nature, was alerted to the sound of rustling. When he looked up, he saw a mirror's reflection of a man pulling a mask over his head. Instead of lying still and waiting to be assaulted, Bill woke up his wife by enacting the plan. He was screaming and rushing the intruder before his wife even knew what was happening, but she quickly caught on.

It was one of the first times that the East Area Rapist had met a match, and while he himself was quick to react, he hadn't planned for such an occasion. The masked intruder had nearly been bested by a bound, middle-aged mother just a year or so beforehand, and Bill now had the jump on him. Bill wasn't just bigger than the Rapist, he was much bigger. 

While the neighbors were alerted by the wife's screams for help, it was Bill's roars that gave them a cause for concern. 

"Who the fuck do you think you are?" Bill shouted at the East Area Rapist as he rushed him. "Get the fuck out of here now and you can leave!" 

The neighbors, awake and alert and likely trying to find out what was happening, didn't just sit on their laurels as so many other neighbors of victims had done. They called the cops as soon as possible, and just minutes after Bill had scared off this would-be attacker, the cops arrived with dogs to track the scent. 

The dogs followed the scent into a nearby patch of ivy, which was so potent that it caused one of the dogs to jump into it, believing the suspect was still there. It was apparently so strong in the East Area Rapist's odor that detectives believe he had been there just moments beforehand, and if it wasn't for the damp environment that led to the end of the perpetrator's trail, they might have been able to capture him.

The East Area Rapist was lucky on this fated morning, as he managed to evade capture yet again. However, if we are to believe that the East Area Rapist is the same person as the Visalia Ransacker, then this will have been the second close encounter with law enforcement that he had, and the second time he all but disappeared. 


Where we left off at the end of part two, after the murder of Brian and Katie Maggiore in early 1978, the East Area Rapist had moved south of Sacramento into other areas. While he returned to Sacramento on occasion, he began to torment other areas such as Stockton, Danville, San Jose, Fremont, Concord, and Modesto. 

His M.O. had remained the same since leaving Sacramento, but no one could argue that he was running out of steam. By this point, in July of 1979, he had assaulted nearly 50 different families, and had terrorized countless others through unknown home invasions, quick phone calls, or his notorious late-night and early-morning prowling. It's even possible that he had additional victims that refused to come forward and report their assaults, not wanting to go through the painstaking ordeals again and again. 

In 1978, police hounds had followed the scent of the East Area Rapist from a victim's house to a field, where they found a piece of ripped-out notebook paper next to tire tracks. This paper contained the angsty rant you heard in the introduction of the show, and it had seemingly been left behind by the East Area Rapist. Whether it was accidentally left behind, purposefully done so, or even belonged to the East Area Rapist himself isn't a sure thing. But after sending a poem to a local television station the previous year, which you heard in episode two of this podcast, many began to assume that this was the perpetrator's way of goading the police. Into what, we have no idea. 

The East Area Rapist would always operate under the same guideline: he would wake up a couple with a threat. He would usually be aiming a gun at them, or shining a bright flashlight in their face, and would present them with an option: to either die in bed lying next to their loved one, or comply with him and live to see another day. The East Area Rapist would often tell them that he was just there for money, and give them some melo-dramatic line about "being gone in the dark of the night", before giving the woman shoelaces that she would use to tie up her own husband. 

Oftentimes, the shoelaces came from the victim's own shoes. On rare occasions, the East Area Rapist would bring his own pre-cut sections of rope with him, or would tear strips from the family's towels. He would bind his victims, hand and foot, and blindfold them to the best of his ability. More often than not, the perpetrator would utilize a specific time of knot known as a diamond knot, which isn't very well-known to anyone outside of the nautical world. On more than one occasion, the victims would be found hours later with their hands tied so tightly that they were black due to lack of circulation. 

He would rape the women, maybe more than once, and would put stacks of dishes on the husband or boyfriend's back to make sure he didn't try to free himself. When he wasn't raping or terrifying his victims, he was walking around, more than half-crazed, tearing apart the family home but not really stealing anything. At most, he would steal the family's wedding rings or photographs, but left most things of value behind. He would eat leftover food from their refrigerator, often taking breaks to do just that or to even step outside. 

Detectives found bottles or cans of beer outside many of the crime scenes, most of the time the beer not belonging to the victim. This was a violent offender that came prepared, even for the post-game celebration that he threw himself. 

But throughout many of the assaults, the East Area Rapist had a dark side he tried to hide. As he worked his way south, many victims began to report hearing him cry in other rooms, often repeating the word "Mommy" to himself. 

When he performed the despicable act of rape itself, he oftentimes wouldn't even become aroused. Many of the victims recalled his penis as being unusually small, and even more so when he struggled to maintain an erection, which was constantly. 

And now, after his close encounter with defeat in Danville, California, the East Area Rapist moved much further south, to the Los Angeles area, where things would take a more noticeably tragic turn... 


Months after his disastrous assault on Bill and his wife in Danville, California, a couple was woken up to a flashlight in their face, and a voice urging them to "wake up." 

The date was October 2nd, and the setting was  Goleta, California, a smaller town located in Santa Barbara County. Goleta is located just two hours west of Los Angeles, and is hundreds of miles south of anywhere that our perpetrator had assaulted as of yet. 

The couple complied with the perpetrator and his demands, even when it became clear that he wasn't interested in their money. He made sure that the husband was properly tied up by the wife before binding her hands and leading her into another room. He bound her hands so tightly that it didn't just restrict blood flow, it cut it off entirely. 

Throughout this ordeal, the perpetrator kept murmuring to himself under his breath. "I'll kill 'em, I'll kill em" he kept repeating, while the poor wife laid on her own living room floor, bound and blindfolded. The perpetrator did as he always did, rummaging the house in small bursts before returning to threaten the victims some more. 

But in this case, the perpetrator's eclectic bursts of energy would almost be his undoing. 
While he walked around the house, threatening to murder the couple under his breath, the woman tried to make a break for it. Still bound and blindfolded, she hopped her way to the front door, falling into the wall once and likely alerting the attacker. She managed to open the front door and hop outside, her leg bindings falling off, and as she tried to make a run for freedom, she was screaming for her life. 

Unfortunately, her rapid momentum led her directly into an outer wall of the house, stopping her. The perpetrator would rush to grab her and take her back inside, but at this point, the damage had been done. 

The husband, bound in the bedroom, had heard the screams of his wife at the front of the house, and began desperately trying to work himself free of at least his leg bindings. He was able to do just that, and was able to crawl outside their bedroom window. 

Thankfully, this couple lived next door to an FBI Agent, who was staying up late at night to read a book. The front of his house faced this one, and when he heard some screams erupting, however muffled, it must have caught his attention. He began to dial 911 to alert the authorities, and tried to find his pistol to help out his neighbors. 

As the perpetrator dragged the wife back inside, continuing his threats, he made his way to the back bedroom where he found the couple's sliding glass door opened. The husband was gone. Unknown to the attacker, he was hiding underneath a nearby orange tree, but for all intents and purpose, he had escaped. 

The masked intruder rushed to the front of the house to find that the wife had escaped out the front door yet again. Just like the last assault in Danville, this one had failed horribly. 

The perpetrator began to make his escape, using a bicycle that detectives would later find out was stolen from a block or two away. But during this escape, the perpetrator encountered our friendly neighborhood FBI agent, who gave pursuit in his car. 

After a few blocks of evading the FBI neighbor's car, the perpetrator would abandon the bike and hop over a fence. Not wanting to face a grisly fate while climbing the fence himself, the FBI agent refrained from further chasing the suspect, knowing that the police were inbound and just moments away. 

When he returned to his house, he found the wife in his yard, naked and terrified but unharmed. The husband would later be found in the backyard, still bound at at his wrists and ankles, hiding in the same shrub he had escaped to. He, too, was unharmed, but thoroughly terrified. 

Fortunately for this couple, they had survived a terrifying assault perpetrated by our same assailant. 

Unfortunately, they would be the last couple he would ever leave alive. 

Santa Barbara detectives believed that this was just a failed B&E, seeing as there was no sexual assault and the East Area Rapist was located hours away. While the ligatures raised some suspicions, the failure and location of the assault made it appear to be a copycat, nothing more and probably nothing less. 

They would find out, months later, that their assumption was dead wrong. 


December 30th, 1979. Just days after Christmas, and a single day before New Year's Eve, the city of Goleta, California must be in the seasonal mood. The East Area Rapist seemingly hadn't assaulted anyone since July, and outside of the botched late-night robbery in early October, Goleta had been a normal town. 

Unfortunately, this would be the first time that the Original Night Stalker would leave his victims behind without the ability to recount their terror to investigators. 

Some neighbors awoke a short time after three o'clock in the morning, believing that they had heard a firecracker in the distance. It might have been so muffled and faint that it simply kicked them out of sleep, and they weren't quite sure what they had heard. 

But then it happened again, three more times, in quick succession. They still weren't sure, as it might have been some kids firing off some fireworks ahead of the New Years holiday, so they remained cautiously alert, waiting for it to happen again. Just to be sure. 

It happened once more, and hours later, these neighbors would find out the reason. 

Dr. Robert Offerman lived in the Goleta condo, and sleeping next to him was his girlfriend, Dr. Deborah Manning. Robert, along with her other friends, called her Debbie. She was technically still married, but had recently filed for divorce from her husband and had made her relationship with Robert public the week beforehand, when the two hosted a Christmas party for medical and legal professionals. 

Both details, the Christmas party and her divorce, would go on to mar with the case with relevant and irrelevant details later on. 

When their bodies were discovered, there was a white chord around Robert's wrist, but he wasn't fully bound. It was likely that, in the process of being awoken and tied up, Dr. Robert Offerman had decided to fight back for his life. Unfortunately, he had encountered this mysterious attacker when he had all but given up on mercy, and had been shot four times with a .38 pistol as a result. His body was found right as he had fallen. 

It appeared that the last, fatal gunshot was reserved for Dr. Debbi Manning herself. She was found, still-bound, and lying face-down on Dr. Offerman's bed with a single gunshot to the head. 

We can't even begin to imagine the amount of terror these two lived with in their final moments. 


What detectives found at the crime scene is eerily similar to that traits given to the East Area Rapist. Outside of the murder, this played out exactly like something from our original culprit's playbook: he attacked the victims while they were sleeping in bed, just hours after the two had been intimate. This would not only become a trend for the Southern California victims, but it had been becoming commonplace in the Sacramento-area assaults before our perpetrator disappeared. 

The attacker of these two doctors had not also turned off the condo's thermostat entirely, but had turned off all of the lights. A betting man would surmise that this attacker had some aversion to heat, and perhaps even a sensitivity to light. The East Area Rapist had been openly hostile towards heaters in the houses he attacked in Sacramento, sometimes going as far as trying to break them to turn them off, and his propensity for striking in the dark and cool of night had been commonplace. 

Some paint chips were found on the victim, which later would connect this case to theories regarding construction workers or professional painters. 

This attacker even helped himself to Dr. Offerman's Christmas leftovers, presumably after murdering the couple in bed. 

Unfortunately, this attack happened in the last days of the 1970s, when information wasn't as readily-available as it is now. While detectives nowadays might be able to piece one and two together by utilizing internet resources and streamlined communication, things weren't this way forever. 
Looking back at this crime, knowing what we do, it's easy to surmise that this was the work of the East Area Rapist, but it wasn't until 2001 that DNA would permanently link the Northern and Southern California crimes together. 

In her last minutes, Debbi had hidden the jewelry she was wearing in the crack separating the bed from the wall, so as far as Santa Barbara detectives were concerned, this was just another botched robbery. 


In the years since, detectives have tried to find a common thread connecting all of the victims. For some cases, it's a common gas station car wash. For others, it's the Alpha Beta Market, a California-based grocery store chain that many of the victims frequented, which was eventually bought out by other companies in 1995. 

But one of the links that keeps showing its ugly head in every investigation is the Original Night Stalker's connection to the medical field. Many of his Northern California victims were doctors or nurses, or had even recently been to the doctor or prescribed pharmaceuticals. And now, two more doctors were murdered in their home, just days after hosting a party for co-workers and other related professionals. 

One would almost like to see a copy of that party's guest list, just to see if any of the names pop up interest. 

In the days after the murder, noticing that not many of the condo's valuables had been taken, the investigation focused on the former-spouses of both Dr. Offerman and Dr. Manning, the former who was neck-deep in a divorce with multiple assets, and the latter which had just started the divorce proceedings. 

Of course, all investigations would lead to a dead-end, but other interesting information would arise. 
One of the nearby neighbors of Dr. Offerman's condo was a young nurse, who had just started a job at a nearby hospital. She had found twine inside her house, and when detectives searched the house, they found more instances of the same twine, hidden in plain sight that could make for our perpetrator's easy access. 

This same type of twine would be found multiple times, seemingly all over the area. It would be found inside other houses, in backyards, in garages, even in a nearby open field. Right beside the open field were footprints: footprints which matched the size and shoe type of not only the East Area Rapist, but our current attacker. 

However, an interesting note is that right beside the human footprints were that of a dog. These dog prints seemed to keep right alongside the human tracks, and made it seem as if our aggressive prowler had begun bringing his pet along with him in certain instances. 


Speaking of dogs, an interesting occurrence happened at around this point. The break-ins that can be expected from the Original Night Stalker were happening all over the area, and one family came home from an event earlier than expected. Through their living room window, they could see a dark figure moving about quickly, as if he had not anticipated being interrupted. 

They rushed inside, likely to scare him off and to alert the police, but he was already gone, having vaulted over their back fence before they even made it inside. But they would find that their family hadn't been unharmed. Not entirely. 

Their dog had suffered an injury to its eye, an injury perpetrated by the masked intruder. This was clearly an individual that wasn't interested in just raping his victims anymore. This was a terrorist that wanted to inflict as much pain as inhumanly possible. 


On March 13th, 1980, the perpetrator would strike again, this time in Ventura, California - about forty miles east, closer to Los Angeles itself. Lyman Smith was a 43-year old lawyer, a beacon of the community who was well on his way to being appointed judge. Charlene was his 33-year old wife, a beautiful younger woman that everyone adored. 

Charlene had been married twice before, and Lyman had been married once before, having a few children from that previous union. His 12-year old son, Gary, primarily lived at his mother's house, but was headed over to his father's house to do some yardwork. Lyman insisted that his children had to earn their allowance, so Gary got his by mowing lawns and weeding. 

Gary was shocked to find the front door unlocked, and to find the state of the house in such disarray, but that was nothing compared to what he was have felt when he found his father and stepmom dead in bed. 

Lyman and Charlene Smith were still bound, Lyman by Charlene's hand and Charlene with the Original Night Stalker's notorious diamond knot. A blanket had been draped over their bodies, and the nearby wall was splattered with their blood. 

This was the first time that detectives became enamored with the knot used. Known as the diamond knot, and also called the decorator's knot or the Chinese knot, it was an intricately-folded knot that very few people know how to tie. Investigators would try to find some symbolism there, as Charlene was a decorator herself and some detectives thought that there might be a connection between the two.

This time, our perpetrator had not been quick or gentle, instead choosing to beat both victims to death with a log found outside the house. And unlike the last set of victims, Charlene had been raped before her death. 

The investigation would soon turn on some of Lyman's business associates, one of which spent an entire year in jail facing trial before being exonerated. The investigators wouldn't link this crime scene to the nearby Goleta double-murder until much later, due to the presence of rape, the means of killing, and the location. It would be much, much later that the crime would be connected to the Original Night Stalker, but he was nowhere near done. 


August 19th, 1980. Dana Point is a small town in Orange County, perhaps the perfect embodiment of the Southern California beach community. Located just south of Los Angeles, it's exactly the type of place a young couple would love to build a foundation on which to comfortably spend the rest of their lives together. 

For Keith and Patti Harrington, it was just that. Keith was a 24-year old that was in his third year of med school, and was preparing to begin a medical internship that would help set him up for life. Patrice, who was called Patti by everyone in her life, was slightly older, a 27-year old registered nurse. The two had known each other for less than a year, but had gotten married just months prior, in May, and lived together in a small gated community in what most people would describe as paradise. 
The house belonged to Keith's father, Roger, a self-made man that loved his children and was more than happy to let them live there until Keith graduated later that year. 

Unfortunately, after being invited over for dinner by Patti days prior, it was Roger who found the bodies of his son and new daughter-in-law in bed, with the covers draped over them just like the prior victims. Patti had been raped, records would later state. Keith had been killed by a single blow to the head, maybe two, but Patti had been beaten with an unknown object multiple times. There was a piece of brass that would later be uncovered from the wounds on her head, and detectives assumed that the perpetrator had used a piece of brass piping from outside, where Roger had been installing a sprinkler system in his spare time. 

The bindings had been cut from the victims after their deaths, perhaps as a way for the perpetrator to hide his ties. The diamond knot had specifically been noted on the last victim, and it was possible that this was a clue to his identity that he wanted to keep hidden. 

One thing was pretty unique about this killing, in that the location itself didn't match the perpetrator's usual hunting ground. He usually picked houses located nearby ravines, creek beds, rivers, alleys, open fields... places where he could stalk his pray uninterrupted. But this house was in a gated community, and it wasn't nearby any of those things. It was if the killer wasn't interested in re-treading the same ground, and wanted to simple cause pain. 


Years later, Keith Harrington's brother, Bruce, would champion the cause of Proposition 69, now a California state law that requires all criminals to give samples of their DNA to the State of California's DNA database. He put up millions of his own dollars to the campaign in his painstaking effort to get the law passed, and it has helped ensure that killers like this never develop again. 

So, while Keith and Patti Harrington's murder remains a tragedy of the highest caliber, there was a slight sliver of good that came out of it, as Proposition 69 has become a common practice throughout the United States Justice System. 


At this point, detectives were stumped. The crimes were so spread out, and so different, that detectives were still slow on accepting that they were the works of the same serial offender. Detective Richard Shelby, now off of the East Area Rapist case, was eager to point out similarities between his perpetrator and this new Southern California murderer, but other detectives weren't as gung-ho. 

This is when the Original Night Stalker entered another one of his lull periods. This wasn't the first, and it wouldn't be the last, but it's noticeable to point out that he didn't attack again until February 6th, which is about half a year later. 


February 6th, 1981. Manuela Witthuhn was a 28-year old housewife that had been employed as a mortgage broker for the time being. Her husband, David, was in the hospital with a viral infection of sorts, so she was home alone. 

Her father had insisted that she allow the family's German Shepherd to stay at the house with her, but she refused. She felt safe in her own home, although she had a weird quirk of sleeping in a sleeping bag when she was home alone... for her, a sleeping bag meant safety. 

Little is known of how or when Manuela was found, but she was found in her sleeping bag, brutally murdered at the hands of this psychopath. Bruises were found on her wrists, which implied that she had been pretty tightly bound up, and there were other bruises found on her body, implying that the perpetrator had been rather rough and violent. 

For some reason, the attacker had tried to make this attack look like a burglary. A lamp, which might have been the murder weapon, and a valueless crystal ball had been taken, but besides that, nothing of value had been stolen. Another notable missing item was the tape from the house's answering machine, which led detectives to believe that whoever was responsible knew the victim or her husband. 

The family television was found in the backyard, perhaps in the hopes of making this look like a burglary-gone-wrong, but investigators would later look through this guise. 

Another notable find was a screwdriver, which the perpetrator had used to unlock and get through the back sliding glass door. The screwdriver was rather plain, but a brown paint stain on the handle would later go on to be a point of interest in the investigation. 

For the longest time, Manuela's husband, David, was a primary suspect in the case, although his hospital stay should have been enough to eliminate him as a suspect. In 1997, DNA would later prove that this case was connected to the Original Night Stalker, but at the time, this was just another robbery-gone-wrong. 


July 27th, 1981. It had now been nearly two years since the perpetrator struck in Goleta, beginning to slow his pace of crimes significantly. For some reason, on this night at the end of July, he decided to return to this small Southern California town. 

The crime took place not far from where the other assaults in Goleta had taken place, along the San Jose Creek. 

This night, the victims would be 35-year old Cheri Domingo and her 28-year old boyfriend, Greg Sanchez. Cheri had been staying at the house, having recently been laid off from her job at a company involved with computers, a company that Greg worked for. The house belonged to a relative of Cheri's that had recently passed away, so she had elected to stay there and help oversee the house while the real estate company tried to sell it. 

The day before the murders, a younger man had asked to see the house, and requested a tour. Detectives would later find that a screen to a window he had looked at had been removed during this tour, and it might have been one of the main components of the later breaking and entering. 
Eyewitnesses would spot a similarly-aged young man around the neighborhood the day of the murder, and more than one eyewitness saw this young man, who had longer, light hair, with a similarly light-haired German Shepherd. 

A neighbor would later recall hearing a single gunshot, but wouldn't call the police because they weren't sure of what they had heard. 

A real estate agent would come to the house the next day, and would find the dead bodies in the bedroom. Greg Sanchez, still naked from the night before, was found dead with his body halfway in the closet, as if he had been taken unawares. He had been shot once in the cheek, a non-fatal wound, and then hit in the head repeatedly until he had died. 

Cheri Domingo had been raped by this psychopath, hog-tied, and then her head had been bashed repeatedly in a similar manner. The ties had been cut off and taken away by the perpetrator after the act itself, but the markings and the scene itself made it clear what had happened. 

It wasn't until the later DNA testing happened that proved this incident was the work of the same masked intruder that had been plaguing California for the better part of five years, but now his presence was beginning to be known in Southern California. 

It was time, once again, for the Original Night Stalker to disappear. 


In perhaps the most baffling thing of the Original Night Stalker's criminal career, he disappeared for the better part of five years. He had been gone from the Sacramento area for years, at this point, and was quick on the way to becoming the thing of legend. 

Even in Southern California, with more modern crimes and a body count piling up, the Original Night Stalker's case file was starting to get cold. 

The investigation continued, but as we can look back over the past thirty years to see, nothing came of it. Suspects came and went, some more interesting than others, but they always went. 

Then, on May 4th, 1986, nearly five years after the murder of Cheri Domingo and Greg Sanchez, the Original Night Stalker would strike for the final time. 


Janelle Cruz was an 18-year old woman with her entire life in front of her. She was a cashier at a local pizza place, and was presumably a part of the mid-1980s culture that was all about having fun. Her parents had gone to Mexico on vacation, and despite the fact that the family house was for-sale, Janelle decided to stay behind. 

It was a Sunday night, and Janelle had had a male friend over earlier in the evening. The two of them were just friends, not dating, and while they were hanging out, they heard multiple sounds outside the home. The young male friend would later recount these details to police, but he remembered the two of them looking outside Janelle's bedroom window, but not investigating further. 

The sound might have been the gate to the backyard closing, or the door to the garage being shut. They didn't know, because they chose not to investigate beyond the bedroom window. 

Sometime between 10:30 and 11:00 that night, Janelle said goodbye to her friend, and then followed him out to her car. From there, she dropped by a local store to grab some supplies, and then she was never seen alive again. 

Just like in prior incidents, Janelle's body was found by a real estate agent the following morning. 
Blood was found in the kitchen, leading detectives to believe that the perpetrator had surprised her there, hitting her with a pipe wrench that would forever remain missing from the family garage. Then he had taken her to the bedroom, where she would be found hours later, with signs of being bound, gagged, raped, and then brutally murdered. 

The Cruz family home was no more than a mile away from where Manuela Witthuhn had been murdered years previously, so it was located right in the Original Night Stalker's Southern California hunting grounds. But it wasn't until DNA testing, years later, that this case would be attributed to the same psychopathic killer. The time between the crimes was just too vast, too unexplainable. 

From here on out, everything about the Original Night Stalker is purely hypothetical, gossip built upon theories, old evidence, and presumptions. 


No one knows why the Original Night Stalker did the things he did, or why he chose to wait five years in between his string of murders and the final senseless murder of Jonelle Cruz. Many have theorized that he was in prison for unrelated offenses, or that he might have been in the military, gone from the area for the duration of the early 1980s. For all we know, he was a contractor of sorts with a family, that spent the early 1980s helping raise his children and couldn't sacrifice large chunks of his evenings to stalking and prowling other young couples. 

Out of all of the cases, over fifty of them, there are connections to be made. But over he past 40 years, the most experienced detectives and investigators have struggled to make sense of it all. Was this unknown attacker a construction worker, as surmised by some of the evidence left behind? Was he a doctor, or somehow involved in the medical field with ties to many of the victims? Was he a military member, as that would help explain his physical abilities and the location of the crimes? Was he involved in education, seeing as many of his victims were either teachers, educators, or younger students? Was he a real estate agent, which would help explain why so many of the victims houses were, or lived next to houses that were, for sale. We honestly just don't know, and that's what's so terrifying about this killer. For someone that relied on a large amount of luck to remain unknown, this killer has evaded some of the best detectives in the world for a lifetime. 

Even his identity in the pantheon of California serial killers was unknown. It wasn't until the late 1990s and early 2000s that DNA linked together many of the cases, decades after the assaults had taken place. In Sacramento, the legend of the East Area Rapist still loomed large after the years of terror placed on innocent citizens, but in Southern California, these seemed to be largely unrelated murders that occurred in the golden age of the serial killer. Even the name of this unknown assailant was derived years later, when compared to the more well-known serial killer Richard Ramirez. Investigators and journalists realized that this criminal had the M.O. perfected years before Ramirez himself turned to a life of violent crime, thus making him the ORIGINAL Night Stalker. 

We don't know how many total victims this suspect created, because unfortunately, most of his victims never knew he existed. He operated in the shadows of society, striking whenever his victims were away or asleep, lurking just outside or even inside their homes. To him, anywhere was available for him to creep, and he seemed to relish feeling the intimacy of another's home. It's very possible that this unknown assailant has a collection of trophies taken from his years as a criminal: a large assortment of wedding rings, lost family photographs, murder weapons, small mementos or tokens taken from homes. 


It would be nice to say that there are positive updates to be made, but despite the hard work being done by detectives to this day, there isn't much progress that can be accounted for. This case has become one for the ages, and despite many suspects that fit the bill, including a fellow known as "Carlos" to Detective Richard Shelby and others, none have been arrested in connection to the rapes and murders. 

As I've stated multiple times during this podcast, DNA has gone on to connect all of the Northern California sexual assaults to the Southern California murders. Until the DNA proved it, the separates cases were linked together only in motive and detective guesswork. But now we know for a fact that the cases are connected by the same perpetrator. 

In 2004, Proposition 69 was passed by one of the victim's brothers, who wanted to ensure that things like this could never happen again. Now, criminals are required to give up DNA to the state database. 

On September 21st, 2015, the United State Air Force Office of Special Investigations, also known as the AFOSI, announced that it was still looking into the murder of Brian and Katie Maggiore. While this was bitter news for people hoping for a happy ending, it just shows that while the crimes may have been committed a generation ago, the authorities are restless in trying to find justice for those taken too soon. While many believe that the perpetrator may be dead or long-gone, authorities believe that they will find the perpetrator any day now. 

Detectives have never given up on this case, and it remains one of California's most notorious unsolved mysteries. Despite the little-known nature of the Original Night Stalker, the case has remained in the public's eye not only because of the published works of Detectives Larry Crompton and Richard Shelby, but also because of a strong internet presence and the reporting of the LA Times Michelle McNamara. 

If you would like to learn more about the Original Night Stalker, you can do so by joining the EAR/ONS Proboard online. This remains one of the most vibrant, active communities of people discussing the case, evidence, and theories. 

You can also check out the Questerfiles online, a large, ever-growing case file online archived by one man who has arguably done more for the publicity of the case than anyone else. 

You can definitely learn more detail by checking out the published works of two of the original detectives, Larry Crompton and Richard Shelby. Both of their books, "Sudden Terror" and "Hunting a Psychopath," respectively, give great detail about each case and really give you a good idea about how the investigation itself unfolded. Michelle McNamara is penning an upcoming book about the subject, in which she is going to attempt to rebrand the killer with the monikker of "The Golden State Killer." Be sure to be on the lookout for that, as it's undoubtedly going to be a treasure trove of information. 

And lastly, if you have any information about the case, please contact the authorities. This is a still one of the largest open cases in America, so any information that could lead to the arrest of the culprit is of the utmost priority. 


While a part of me is sad that my look at the Original Night Stalker is coming to an end, a much larger part of me is glad that it's done. While there was a nice gap between episode two and this one, I can assure you that the research and the nights spent listening for any sound outside my window didn't stop. 

I make no claim to be the utmost authority on the Original Night Stalker, so I merely hope that you enjoyed this story and continue the investigation on your own. I may have flubbed up some of the facts, and definitely messed up on some of the smaller details, so I hope that you take it among yourselves to help stay involved and find this guy responsible for so much terror. I know I will. 
I would really like to thank all of you, not only for taking the time out of your day to listen to my boring voice, but for the kind words, the compliments, the advice, and the support. I'm definitely working on making this podcast better with each passing day, so they're not falling on deaf ears, I can promise you that. 

I would also like to thank all of the sources of information that unknowingly contributed to this episode, and I'll be linking to all of those on the podcast website, You can find the links, along with a transcipt of the show and audio links, there as well. 

Speaking of audio, I would like to really thank all of the musical artists that have contributed music to this show. Among them is the artist Ailsa Traves, who created the song you're hearing now SPECIFICALLY for this podcast. That is such a huge honor for me, so thank you so much Ailsa, and all of you others. 

I haven't decided what topic is to come next, but I hope that it will be just as engrossing and unique as this one. I wasn't planning on making a three-part podcast epic for my first ever story, so the next might be slightly smaller in scope. If only for my mental well-being. 

Thank you all, yet again. I hope you all have a Happy Halloween, because I know I need a drink or two now. Adios. 


Music Links

Scott Holmes - "Everest" - Intro

Pulse Emitter - "Nebula"

Joao Picoito - "Third Floor"

Kai Engel - "Touch The Darkness"

The Gateless Gate - "Melnibone"

Graham Bole - "Sunset At Goat Fell"


Alexandre Nevarro - "Forme De Vie"

Forlon - "Roembden Crater"

Ailsa Traves - "Unresolved" (written for THIS podcast... LOVE IT)

The Music Plays You - "Sailing" (Outro)

Audio Links

Gunshot SFX

Nighttime Ambiance

Book Links

"Hunting A Psychopath: The East Area Rapist/Original Night Stalker Investigation - The Original Investigator Speaks Out" by Richard Shelby

"Sudden Terror" by Larry Crompton

"Hot Prowl" by Jack Gray

Internet Resources

Questerfiles (great information about each case)

EAR/ONS/GSK Proboard (a great treasure trove of info, theories, evidence, etc.)