The Goleta Murders were a series of three home invasion attacks on couples living in a roughly two mile square (5 km²) area of the unincorporated Santa Barbara County community of Goleta in 1979 and 1981 near San Jose Creek or one of its tributaries. When Goleta was incorporated as a city in 2002, the locations of the three crimes were outside the new city boundaries, just to the east. The crimes remain unsolved.
In two of the attacks, the victims were murdered. In the original attack, on October 1, 1979, the victims escaped.
In this attack, the perpetrator attacked a couple sleeping in their single story home on Queen Anne Lane. He had just stolen a bike from an open garage about a quarter mile to the west. It was a warm night and many windows were open. The attacker broke into the victims' home, took a knife from the kitchen and threatened the victims. After tying them up, the attacker briefly left the victims alone, allowing them to escape separately. The noise this created compelled the attacker, who was unable to chase both victims simultaneously, to abandon his attack and flee on the bike. A neighbor who was an FBI agent, responded to the noise and briefly pursued the perpetrator until he abandoned the bike and fled on foot through local back yards. The attacker also abandoned the knife at this point.
He struck again on December 30, 1979, only several blocks south of where he was last seen in the previous attack. This attack took place at the condominium of Dr. Robert Offerman. Staying with Offerman was his girlfriend Debra Alexandra Manning on Avendida Pequena. In this attack the victims were both killed by gunshots while sitting in their bed. The bindings on Offerman were untied indicating he had apparently lunged at the attacker. Neighbors heard the gunshots but failed to respond to them, attributing them to innocuous causes. The killer brought a dog with him and fed it a leftover Christmas turkey. The killer also broke into the adjoining residence to the west of the crime scene, which was vacant at the time, and stole a bicycle from outside another neighboring residence. The bicycle was later found abandoned on a street to the north of the crime scene.
The third attack took place on the night of July 26/27, 1981, on Toltec Way several blocks south of the Offerman-Manning crime scene, a year and a half after the previous attack. In this case the victims were Cheri Domingo and Gregory Sanchez. Sanchez, a former boyfriend of Domingo's, was unexpectedly staying over at Domingo's home prior to moving away. Both victims were bludgeoned to death with a tool taken from a small shed in the backyard. Sanchez was also shot and not tied up. His body was found in front of the bedroom closet. Apparently he managed to lunge at the attacker before he could be tied up and was incapacitated with a gunshot wound. As in the Offerman-Manning case, although residences were relatively close together, no neighbors responded to the sound of the gunshot. The dog was also present at this crime scene.
Physical evidence links the three crimes to each other. Footprints from the same pair of shoes were found at the first and second crime scenes. The same roll of twine was used to bind the victims at the first and second crime scenes as well. And the second and third crimes were linked by the footprints of the dog.
These crimes share certain commonalities with each other:
-The homes were all one story and located within blocks of each other and the San Jose Creek or its tributaries.
-None of the attacked couples were married to each other at the time of the attacks.
-The murderer did not rape any of his female victims.
-Physical evidence linked the crimes to each other.
-A large dog (white German shepherd with a missing toe) was brought to the two murder scenes.
Almost from the start, some law enforcement officials, particularly several from the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department, sought to link the Goleta murders with a series of rapes in the Sacramento area from 1976 to 1979 attributed to a perpetrator known as the East Area Rapist. Later some investigators considered the Goleta crimes to be linked to those of the Original Night Stalker(ONS). These postulated links are considered due primarily to similarity in modus operandi. One of the ONS double murders took place in Ventura, 40 miles east of Goleta, while the remaining murders took place in Orange County, an additional 90 miles to the southeast. Possible reasons for discounting a connection is that a forensics link between the two crime series have never been found, and that the murderer in Goleta did not rape his female victims even when he had the opportunity to do so. In 2000 an official from the Santa Barbara Sheriff's Department claimed that DNA found at a Goleta crime scene did not match that found in the linked Original Night Stalker crimes.