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National network shining light on more than 40-year Visalia cold case

VISALIA, Calif. - A murder-mystery filed away, here in the historical archives of the Visalia library.

Article after article telling the story of the Visalia Ransacker. 

"He came and went during the nighttime hours, and was rarely seen, if ever." 

Visalia Police Sergeant Damon Maurice telling us, the Ransacker is believed to be behind up to 100 burglaries, in an area spanning less than two miles.

"He was breaking into homes that were unoccupied, he would maybe cut through a screen window, make entry to the home, and take various odds and ends from each individual residence," Maurice said. "And sometimes stay for long periods of time inside the residence, and flee undetected."

The crimes taking a serious turn when investigators say the suspect, on a September night in 1975, broke into this home, trying to kidnap a 16-year-old female inside.

"The father who was still inside the home was awakened by this commotion and tried to confront the Ransacker," Maurice said. "When the suspect shot and ultimately killed the victim, the father." 

That father, a professor at Visalia's College of the Sequoias; the stakes to find the Ransacker, now heightened.

Months later, police staked out this home on West Kaweah. That night, the suspect struck.

"The person turned around and fired one shot at one of our officers," Maurice said.

The bullet hitting only the officer's flashlight.

The suspect, a man small in stature. 5-foot-9, only 150 pounds, white and just 25-years-old.

Through the years, agencies have tried tying the suspect to a series of sexual assaults and homicides in Northern California, and similar crimes in Southern California. Known there, as the "Golden State Killer."

"This person's responsible for dozens, upon dozens of serious crimes," Maurice said.

CNN chronicling it all in a new series, "Unmasking A Killer," airing this weekend.

Visalia officials hope it sheds light.

"Nothing would please us more, if we found the identity of this person and made an arrest in this case," Maurice said.

Officials say the northern and southern crime sprees have been tied together through DNA evidence.

They also believe the Visalia Ransacker could still be alive.

If you know anything, no matter how small a detail, you are asked to call the Visalia Police Department.

Reporting in Visalia, Megan Rupe. 


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