SANTA BARBARA – A Goleta couple’s 30-year-old murder has been linked to the unidentified serial killer known as the “Original Night Stalker,” who plagued southern and northern California communities with unsolved killings and rapes for a decade.
On April 5, Santa Barbara County homicide detectives revealed a connection between the 1981 double murder in Goleta and a series of Sacramento area homicides attributed to the Original Night Stalker, whose last known crime occured in 1986.
Cheri Domingo, 35, and Gregory Sanchez, 27, were murdered while house-sitting for friends in Goleta just 18 months after Robert Offerman, 44, and Alexandria Manning, 35, were victims in another double murder in the same community. The two double-murders took place in the middle of a rash of residential burglaries between 1979 and 1981, none of which ever produced viable evidence establishing a connection between the two double murders or between any other crimes.
There were multiple murders in Ventura County shortly thereafter, which, following subsequent advances in DNA technology, have been linked to the Sacramento area Night Stalker killings. Although none of those murders have ever been solved, Santa Barbara sheriff’s investigators Gary Kitzmann and Jeff Klapakis were, according to an announcement by Sheriff Bill Brown, working these cold cases with the help of the California Department of Justice laboratory.
“It was important for us to push forward and reevaluate evidence in this case before it deteriorated and became useless,” he said. “We never close a murder case unless a suspect is identified and brought to justice.”
Kitzmann and Klapakis were tasked with screening more than 50 pieces of evidence from the Domingo-Sanchez murder scene and working with the DOJ lab to analyze DNA extracts recovered from that evidence. The results of the investigatory and lab work identified a DNA match between the local murders and those attributed to the evidence profile known as the Original Night Stalker (not serial killer Richard Ramirez, who was found guilty of Los Angeles area murders in 1984-85).
No DNA match has yet been determined between the Night Stalker profile and the murders of Offerman and Manning, although lab work continues to focus upon a possible connection in that case.
In comments to the media upon the release of this information, sheriff’s spokesman Drew Sugars said: “This is the first piece of physical evidence connecting this crime to a specific suspect profile.”
Sugars also encouraged any member of the public having information about this case to contact sheriff’s detectives at (805) 681-4150.