Sacramento, California, USA. On December 29, 1977. A 51-year-old man, who had exited his house to retrieve groceries from his car in the driveway, was shot once in the chest with a .22 caliber automatic. The man’s wife, who was about to follow him out the door, heard two shots. Neighbors also reported hearing shots, as well as a car, driving off. The authorities had neither suspects nor motives for the murder. They did, however, have a comparable bullet from the victim’s body as well as a shell casing found in the street. The police were perplexed by this murder, which was apparently random and motiveless and they certainly didn’t have any suspects. Unbeknownst to the police, an individual named Richard Chase was responsible for this crime.
On the morning of January 23, 1978, Chase was roaming around the same neighborhood looking for another victim. He attempted burglary at one house but the woman, who was home, saw him and called the police. Chase left before they arrived. Less than a half-hour later, Chase was almost caught by another homeowner who interrupted him as he was burglarizing the owner’s home. The man chased the culprit but lost him in the neighborhood. However, he got a good description, which he provided to the police. Chase had stolen approximately $16, a pair of binoculars, and a dagger. In addition, while in the home, Chase urinated on an open drawer of undergarments and defecated on a bed in the master bedroom.
Chase’s next stop was a supermarket. He brought along his rubber gloves and his .22 caliber semiautomatic gun. He had gone home to change his clothes after the burglary. This time he wore his orange jacket. He ran into a woman he had known in high school. She at first didn’t recognize him until he asked her if she had a friend named Kurt, who had been killed in a motorcycle accident. She was concerned by this man’s appearance. He was unkempt, his hands were dirty, and there was a yellow crust around his lips. She remembered that this stranger had been a classmate in high school and he was asking her about an incident that had occurred 10 years earlier when her boyfriend was killed.
Chase tried to make conversation and even asked the young woman for a ride. She decided to try to get away from this individual by getting in line and making a purchase. However, he took an orange juice off the shelf and got in line right behind her. As soon as she paid for her groceries, she ran from the store and jumped into her car. The stranger was running after her. She took off in her vehicle and left him standing in the parking lot. Shortly thereafter, Chase killed his next victim.
Later that same Monday, a man returned home from work, entered his home, and discovered the body of his 22-year-old wife, Teresa Wallin, sprawled dead on the bedroom floor. She had been shot as she walked out her front door carrying some garbage bags. The killer then executed her by shooting her in the head. He then dragged her into the rear bedroom where he savagely mutilated her body. The victim’s blouse had been pulled up over her chest, her pants forced down to her ankles, and fecal matter (later determined to be human) had been placed into her mouth.
The killer, using steak knives taken from the kitchen, had opened up the midsection of his victim and removed her intestines. He then stabbed her through her left nipple. He smeared her blood over his own face and licked his fingers. He then smeared the blood along the inner thighs of the victim. In addition, the victim’s blood had apparently been scooped out of her body cavity with a paper cup, which had been discarded at the scene. Investigators found various ringlets corresponding to the diameter of this cup on the floor next to the body. Later it was determined that the killer had drunk the woman’s blood. Certain body parts were taken from the scene along with several steak knives.
The Sacramento Sheriff’s detectives were completely baffled by this strange and vicious homicide and readily admitted to never having encountered such a bizarre crime. According to Ray Biondi, investigators recognized that this murder could be related to the homicide that had occurred a month earlier. There were some compelling reasons to believe that these two murders were linked. Primarily, the attacks had occurred in the same residential area. Both victims were attacked in “blitz-style” confrontations. Both victims had been shot with a .22 caliber automatic and similar shell casings had been recovered at both scenes. On the other hand, the activity in the most recent case was totally bizarre, compared to the “execution-type” attack on the male victim.
Sherif’s detectives relied heavily upon standard investigative techniques. The neighborhood was thoroughly canvassed for information. The investigators learned that there had been a burglary on the same block as the murder. The burglar had defecated on the bed in the master bedroom. According to Biondi, “We were sure the burglary was related to the murder, we just could not establish the why. Biondi and his fellow detectives began to look into some possible psychological motivations in an effort to establish the why.
The investigation into Monday’s murder had hardly begun when later that same week, five blocks away, another even more grisly discovery was made. On Friday, January 27, 1978, Sacramento Sheriff’s deputies were called to a residence within the same general area on a report of multiple murders. A woman, who had gone to visit her next-door neighbor, opened the door to her friend’s house and discovered the whole family murdered.
The dead woman, Evelyn Miroth, who was 36 years of age, had been shot three times and had been eviscerated. Her 52-year-old boyfriend, who had been visiting, had died of gunshot wounds of the head; the woman’s 6-year-old boy, Jason, had been shot dead. A 22-month-old baby, David Ferreira, whom the woman was babysitting, was missing from a blood-stained crib. Once again, the victim of the evisceration was female.
In this case, there was evidence of anal sodomy and indications that the killer had stabbed at her rectum with one of the knives. The killer also cut one of her eyes out of the socket with a kitchen knife. This knife had been taken from the first crime scene and left behind by the killer. It had been used to mutilate this victim as in the first case; there was evidence of anthropophagy (consumption of the victim’s flesh or blood).
An examination of the woman’s body revealed that certain body organs had been removed. In addition, a piece of rubber glove was found in the body cavity. (Later sheriff’s detectives would learn that the killer wore these gloves because he believed he was performing surgery.) When the detectives searched the house, they discovered that the bathtub was filled with bloody water as well as brain matter, feces, and pieces of human entrails.
The female victim’s hair was soaking wet. Evidence at the scene indicated that she had probably just finished taking a bath when the offender confronted her and proceeded to execute everyone in the house. When the killer did leave, he took the infant’s body with him. He also took the male victim’s wallet and car, which was found abandoned late Friday evening about a mile from the scene.
At this point in the investigation, it was quite evident to investigators that a single individual, who was obviously quite disturbed, was committing this series of murders. Biondi was given the full resources of the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Detective Division. Investigators assessed that the person responsible for these crimes came from within the geographical area of the incident.
Sheriff’s detectives “profiled” their suspect to be a white male (the area was primarily white and the canvass had also indicated that there was a white male stranger in the area who had committed the burglary). The suspect would be in his 20s (males of this age commit most of the crimes). The suspect was probably schizophrenic (based on the cutting, and probing of the bodies in what detectives perceived to be curiosity). The suspect might have recently been released from a mental institution. (This was based on the fact that these bizarre crimes had suddenly occurred within a short span of time within one area.)
The suspect seemed unconcerned about being apprehended based upon the daylight attacks, as well as the apparent lack of effort to hide the crimes or evidence. A loner type of individual; unmarried (based on who could live with a “wacko” like this). If the suspect did work, it would be a menial job at best. The suspect probably lived within the 1-mile circle due to the fact that the crimes were committed within the area as well as the fact that the stolen car was recovered in a parking lot of a building complex within the area.
According to Biondi, “This profile generally suggested that investigators were looking for a psychotic individual who lived and/or worked in the neighborhood and was committing the crimes and murders on impulse or opportunity.”
Biondi and Sergeant Don Habecker established an investigative plan, which would focus the probe. Since all of the murders as well as the bizarre incidents had occurred within a 1-mile radius, a large circle encompassing this 1-mile radius was drawn on a map of the area. An extensive canvass operation was initiated. The entire investigative effort was effectively concentrated on these locations within the circle. In addition, detectives continued their inquiries at the present crime scene as well as the location where the stolen auto was later recovered. The stolen vehicle was put under 24-hour police surveillance Friday evening. A supervisor was put in charge of the canvass, with explicit instructions to assure that each and every person within this circle be interviewed and asked whether or not they had observed any strangers or suspicious persons in the area.
The following day, Saturday, Biondi received information about a witness who had talked to an individual identified as Richard Chase. This civilian witness had seen Chase in a supermarket parking lot behind the residence of the first female victim on the day of the murder. Chase had asked this witness, whom he knew from high school, for a ride. The witness declined due to the fact that Chase was unkempt and acting really weird. Biondi assigned the Chase lead to three general assignments detectives for follow-up investigation. The three detectives—Ken Baker, Wayne Irey, and Bill Roberts—contacted the building manager of the apartment complex where Chase lived. The manager told the detectives about dogs and cats missing from the buildings within the complex. The manager and the detectives went to Chase’s apartment and knocked on the door. Unbeknownst to them, other detectives already had attempted to interview the occupant of this apartment with negative results.
The manager opened the door to an unoccupied apartment next door. Through an interior wall, Detective Baker could hear movement inside Chase’s apartment. As Detective Roberts returned with the manager to his office and called Biondi, Detectives Baker and Irey staked out the suspect’s apartment. The suspect suddenly came running out of the apartment carrying a box, which contained bloody rags, fast-food containers with blood and other body parts enclosed, and other evidence of the crimes. When the detectives searched him, they found a gun in a shoulder holster. This was the same .22 caliber automatic he had used to kill his victims.
The apartment revealed extensive evidence of the murders, including three blenders containing blood and human entrails. A diaper from the missing baby was also found in the apartment. (The baby’s body was found 3 months later in a mummified condition. The body had been drained of blood and was beheaded.) There was dried blood caked on the suspect’s mouth and hands, and additional evidence indicated that he had cooked, eaten, and drunk his victim’s blood and body parts. In the refrigerator was a can containing brain matter. The remaining steak knives, which he had taken from the residence of the first victim, were found in the suspect’s apartment.
According to the suspect, the reason for his vampire-like activity and grisly behavior was that flying saucers were drying up his blood through some sort of radiation and that in order to survive he had to replenish his supply. The suspect was eventually convicted. However, while awaiting appeal, he committed suicide or accidentally overdosed himself trying to cure his imaginary illness on medication he had secreted in his cell.