Caution: The following deals with sexual assault. If you have experienced sexual violence, 24-hour support is available via 1800 RESPECT: call 1800 737 732.
Pamela Escalante has had 47 surgeries in the past four decades. Operations to rebuild her face, to repair the body left shattered in a random attack by a stranger back in 1974.
Beaten, raped and left for dead in a Californian citrus orchard, the US mother was left physically and emotionally traumatised. But years past without any arrests, any sense of justice for what she’d endured.
Until in 2018, her son showed her a black-and-white photograph. It was a man in a police uniform – bulbous nose, short blonde hair, a clean-shaven face.
“I just got a gut feeling that that’s him,” Pamela told podcast, The Murder Squad, “Because I remembered that face.”
The Golden State Killer is believed to be responsible for at least 13 murders, more than 50 rapes and over 100 burglaries committed in California between 1974 and 1986. The crimes were carried out in three terrifying sprees, though it would be decades before authorities tied them together.
Each had a unique modus operandi, and earned the perpetrator a different nickname in the media. The first, he was dubbed ‘Visalia Ransacker’, for burglaries committed on multiple homes. The second, the ‘East Area Rapist’, for attacks on single women in their beds in the Sacramento area. And finally, the ‘Original Night Stalker’, for a series of horrific murders, in which he’d terrorise couples in their homes in southern California.
After 44 years, it was DNA evidence that ultimately led police to 72-year-old Navy veteran and former police officer, D’Angelo.
He is currently in custody in California, where he’s awaiting trial on 13 counts of kidnapping and eight counts of first-degree murder. Further charges were precluded by the statute of limitations.
“I knew I was in serious trouble”: Could Pamela be another victim?
It was February 5, 1974. Pamela was on her way to an evening class at university. She’d caught the bus from her Ojai home, but still roughly 2.5 kilometres from campus she decided to hitchhike the rest of the way.
A blue or green car – she can’t quite remember which – stopped for her. A young man was driving and agreed to take her the rest of the way. A fellow student, she assumed. He was dressed in a blue work shirt, tan work boots, and was roughly 5ft9in to 6ft tall.
“It was fine for a few minutes and then he started playing games,” Pamela told The Murder Squad hosts, including Paul Holes, a former FBI task force officer who worked on the Golden State Killer case.