Inside NorCal Rapist’s Halloween Attack & How Police Finally Cracked The 22-Year-Old Cold Case
Investigators had few leads — until another prolific criminal, the Golden State Killer, got caught.
MARTINEZ, CA — The infamous NorCal rapist spent 15 years terrorizing women across Northern California, but he gained access to one victim’s home using an especially chilling tactic on Halloween in 1996.
Late that night, a woman in Martinez was lying on her couch when the doorbell rang. Assuming there were some trick-or-treating stragglers outside, she opened the door. Instead of costumed children, however, she was greeted by a man wearing a skeleton mask.
He tackled the woman and handcuffed her. He then brought her upstairs and raped her multiple times.
Paul Holes, the former Contra Costa County crime lab chief, told the East Bay Times that the perpetrator cleaned or destroyed potential clues during the assault and was “very evidence conscious.” In fact, the man once took bedding and fled from another rape scene after he bloodied some sheets.
Weeks after the Halloween rape, cops believe the man called the victim while she was at her dental office job and said he was sorry.
Following his instincts, Holes compared DNA from the Martinez attack with two others and determined they were related. “We knew then we had a serial rapist,” he said.
But the NorCal rapist suddenly ceased sexually assaulting women in 2006. Detectives unsuccessfully searched for him through the years, but it was a major break in an unrelated crime spree that helped them finally crack the cold case.
From 1974 through 1986, Joseph DeAngelo raped over 50 women, committed at least 100 burglaries and killed as many as 13 people, earning him the macabre nicknames East Area Rapist, Original Night Stalker and the Golden State Killer, among others. Like the NorCal rapist, DeAngelo suddenly retired from crime and went quiet. Then, last spring, detectives utilized a new type of genetic genealogy technology to unmask DeAngelo, who had been hiding in plain sight in Citrus Heights, California.
As a result, “the NorCal Rapist [case] was brought up as the No. 1 priority” to solve next with the groundbreaking method, said Holes.
Investigators sprung into action.
A team used the same techniques employed in the DeAngelo case and uploaded DNA from one of the NorCal rapist’s crime scenes to the public website GEDmatch. The results led them to a close relative of the still-mystery rapist and they were able to narrow down the pool of possible suspects based, in part, on when and where the attacks occurred. Detectives next plucked a straw from a person of interest's garbage and confirmed that they could finally close the cases they had spent decades working.
On September 20, police took UC Berkeley employee Roy Charles Waller, 58, into custody when he arrived to work, accusing him of raping at least 10 women in six California counties.
Waller, who lived in Benicia, had been employed as a safety specialist at the university’s Office of Environment, Health & Safety since 1992, a year after he began his rape spree.
According to NBC Bay Area, Waller spent days studying his victims before their assaults, including learning their names and addresses. When he attacked the women in their homes, his modus operandi was to bind their hands and ankles and use duct tape to cover their eyes and mouths.
“The suspect was a real life boogeyman,” said Jeff Reisig, the district attorney of Yolo County, where at least four women were raped.
“Last time, he got to see my face when I was in fear,” Maki Anderson, one of Waller’s victims, said after he appeared in court. “This time, I got to see his face when he was in fear … I want him to know that he did not break me.”
Waller, who was married at the time of his arrest, was charged with multiple counts of forcible sexual assault and is currently being held at the Sacramento County Jail without bail.