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DNA Technology Links 1981 Double Murder in Goleta to Suspected Serial Killer

Cold-case investigators re-screen the evidence, with results pointing to the East Area Rapist and Original Night Stalker

Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department officials announced Thursday that DNA technology has allowed them to positively link a serial killer to an unsolved Goleta homicide that occurred almost 30 years ago.

In 1981, Cheri Domingo, 35, and Gregory Sanchez, 27, were murdered while house-sitting in a home on the 400 block of Toltec Way in Goleta. Their murders were preceded by another double homicide 18 months earlier, when Dr. Robert Offerman, 44, and Alexandria Manning, 35, were murdered in a Goleta condominium.

“For two years, there was a cycle of burglaries, break-ins and these two double homicides that kept the community in fear,” Sheriff’s Department spokesman Drew Sugars said in a news release. “In the nearly 30 years since these murders, the trail and leads to identify the killer have gone cold.”

Sugars said there has long been speculation that the two double homicides were related. Specifically, the East Area Rapist of Southern Sacramento County in the 1970s was discussed, as well as the Original Night Stalker, responsible for multiple murders in Ventura and Orange counties in the 1980s.

The Original Night Stalker was so named to distinguish him from Richard Ramirez, who terrorized the Los Angeles area as the “Night Stalker” serial killer before his capture and conviction in the 1980s.

DNA evidence eventually linked those two profiles as the same person, although the identity of the killer remains unknown.

Sheriff’s Department cold case investigators Glary Kitzmann and Jeff Klapakis recently brought out the evidence again.

“With recent advancements in DNA profiling methods, it was important for us to push forward and re-evaluate evidence in this case before it deteriorated and became useless,” Sheriff Bill Brown said. “As this investigation shows, we never close a murder case unless a suspect is identified and brought to justice.”

More than 50 items of evidence were screened and analyzed by officials at the California Department of Justice Santa Barbara laboratory, according to the news release. Only low amounts of degraded DNA were recovered, but a component of semen was recovered from two small stains detected on one of the items. A technique that allows typing of degraded DNA was used, and a DNA profile was submitted.

The profile was attributed to the individual known as the East Area Rapist and the Original Night Stalker.

“This is the first piece of physical evidence connecting the Cheri Domingo and Greg Sanchez homicide to the East Area Rapist and the Original Night Stalker since the Goleta crimes occurred in 1981,” the statement said.

It remains unknown whether the Offerman/Manning homicides are related, but investigators are optimistic that evidence may reveal a connection.

Anyone with any information that might be helpful to the investigation are asked to call Santa Barbara sheriff’s detectives at 805.681.4150 or the Sheriff’s Anonymous Tip Line at 805.681.4171.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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