Guest Detective: Paul Holes
Paul Holes is a bestselling author, podcaster, television host and retired cold-case investigator with the sheriff’s and district attorney’s offices in California’s Contra Costa County. During his 27 years as an investigator, Holes used his behavioral and forensic expertise in such notable cases as the Zodiac murders, Golden State Killer, and Jaycee Dugard kidnapping. In May 2022, Holes published “Unmasked: My Life Solving America’s Cold Cases” – which became an instant New York Times bestseller. Paul teamed with the FBI and Sacramento DA to help identify Joseph DeAngelo as the Golden State Killer, the most prolific serial predator in U.S. history. In 2019, he teamed up with Oxygen to host ”The DNA of Murder with Paul Holes” and in November he’s launching a new original series with HLN called, ”Real Life Nightmare with Paul Holes.”Read Transcript
Yeardley: [00:00:07] Hey, Small Town Fam. It’s Yeardley. How are you, guys? I’m so happy that you’re here. So, today’s episode comes from our own, Paul Holes. It’s a case he almost never talks about because it’s one that haunts him. He calls it his white whale, a metaphor for his obsession to get justice for the victims. In this episode, you’ll hear the frustration and regret in Paul’s voice as he walks us through the investigation of four brutal murders that Paul is convinced were committed by the same offender. And even as he has zeroed in on two different, very strong suspects in the past, the case remains unsolved.
[00:00:55] Of course, if you’re a true crime fanatic, then you know that despite his being retired from law enforcement, Paul will not rest until the person responsible for these vicious crimes is held accountable and the families of the victims finally get some answers, which makes me think of something Detectives Dan and Dave often say, and that is, “If, God forbid, you’re ever the victim of a crime where detectives need to get involved to solve it, you’re at the mercy of whoever is assigned to your case file.” So, let’s hope that person would be as dogged in their pursuit of justice as Paul is. Here is Unfinished Business.
[00:01:42] Hi, there. I’m Yeardley.
Dan: [00:01:43] I’m Dan.
Dave: [00:01:44] I’m Dave.
Paul: [00:01:45] And I’m Paul.
Yeardley: [00:01:46] And this is Small Town Dicks.
Dan: [00:01:48] Dave and I are identical twins.
Dave: [00:01:50] And retired detectives from Small Town, USA.
Paul: [00:01:53] And I’m a veteran cold case investigator who helped catch the Golden State Killer using a revolutionary DNA tool.
Dan: [00:01:59] Between the three of us, we’ve investigated thousands of crimes, from petty theft to sexual assault, child abuse to murder.
Dave: [00:02:06] Each case we cover is told by the detective who investigated it, offering a rare personal account of how they solved the crime.
Paul: [00:02:12] Names, places, and certain details have been changed to protect the privacy of victims and their families.
Dan: [00:02:18] And although we’re aware that some of our listeners may be familiar with these cases, we ask you to please join us in continuing to protect the true identities of those involved out of respect for what they’ve been through.
[unison]: [00:02:28] Thank you.
Yeardley: [00:02:37] Hey, Small Town Fam, how are you guys? Guess what? I have the usual suspects. I have Detective Dan.
Dan: [00:02:45] Hello.
Yeardley: [00:02:46] Hello.
Dan: [00:02:47] Team.
Yeardley: [00:02:48] Team you. I have Detective Dave.
Dave: [00:02:51] Happy to be here.
Yeardley: [00:02:52] Happy to have you. And we have the one and only, Paul Holes.
Paul: [00:02:56] Hey-hey.
Yeardley: [00:02:57] Hey-hey. [laughs] So good. So, Small Town Fam, you know how much I love it when we get a case from the A team. Today, it comes from PH, Paul Holes.
Paul: [00:03:11] This is going to be a little different. Kind of calling it a story within a story, but this is what I consider my white whale. So, I’m going to be talking about this series of homicides that are currently unsolved. And though I’ve gotten a lot of notoriety on the Golden State Killer case, to me, this is the biggest failure that I have.
Yeardley: [00:03:34] Oh, Paul.
Paul: [00:03:36] So, starting in November of 1998, I got involved initially as a crime scene investigator, and in the lab with a series of women that were killed out in the east end of my county. Initially, the first woman that was killed really a girl, was 15-year-old Lisa. Lisa had gone to a quinceanera rehearsal, had gotten into a little bit of, let’s say, an argument over a boy, possibly with that boy, and then decided to walk home at night along a very, very scary stretch of road.
Yeardley: [00:04:17] How far was that from the party to home?
Paul: [00:04:20] That would have been roughly five miles.
Yeardley: [00:04:23] Oh, my God.
Paul: [00:04:24] This is going from one city to another city. And this road along this stretch included the Pittsburg-Antioch Highway. Pittsburg-Antioch Highway joins up With West 10th in Pittsburg, California. And West 10th street joins up with Willow Pass Road out in what’s called Bay Point. This is a stretch of road in which there was a lot of sex work occurring during the 1990s, late 1990s and of course that brought in a lot of bad guys. And Lisa went missing and then her body was found a week later. And so, I ended up responding out to that crime scene. I was really just an assistant and helped work the crime scene. But then I went to the autopsy and I spent a lot of time with Lisa in the morgue.
[00:05:22] Of course, that’s a case that is near and dear to my heart. But what we did not expect is that in rapid succession other women would end up being killed along the same stretch of roadway between these towns. So, now we have Jessica who had become addicted at a very young age as a high schooler and then ended up resorting to being on the street. She was found dumped in this industrial area. Jessica had just been brutally mutilated. In fact, so much so the pathologist initially thought that she had been run over by a car.
Yeardley: [00:06:06] How old was Jessica?
Paul: [00:06:08] Jessica was in her early 20s. And then after that there was another woman, Rachel. She actually was last seen in a restaurant in the Antioch area, but then her body was found also dumped in industrial area of Pittsburg, California. There was a lot of similarities between what had happened to Lisa and what had happened to Rachel. But Jessica, with the extreme amount of violence exhibited her looked a little bit different. But now we have three homicides that have occurred within a matter of a month.
Yeardley: [00:06:48] Oh, my.
Paul: [00:06:49] And then several weeks later, a fourth woman is found and she’s dumped off of right down a block away from a junkyard off of the same stretch of road. She was found discarded in a ditch. And her name was Valerie. And Valerie had been mutilated extremely, very, very similar to what was going on with Jessica.
[00:07:21] So now I’m working this case and went to the autopsy the next day. What was done to Valerie was absolutely horrific. Without revealing too much graphic detail, she had been carved into over and over again while alive. Her last moments of life, nobody should have ever experienced, and I became attached.
Dave: [00:07:56] You’re wearing it right now. I can see it on you.
Yeardley: [00:07:58] You can see it.
Paul: [00:07:59] This series of homicides is very important to me and it’s like, “This fucker needs to be caught.”
Paul: [00:08:27] So, investigation into Valerie’s case reveals she’s a sex worker. She had recently moved back into the area and was staying with a boyfriend, Todd, who would act as her bodyguard when she was out on the corner. And Valerie is early 30s, so she goes out to this location on the corner where she would typically go to solicit. And Todd would hide back in the bushes and just watch the vehicles pull up and then Valerie would get in. They would drive a few blocks away. There would be the sexual interactions and exchange of money and then she would come back and wait for another John to come.
[00:09:13] So, Todd’s in the bushes. And this time, he sees this boxy brown, older import car pull up. This is nighttime. This is dark out, right? He sees the man in the driver’s side. When he’s interviewed, he says, “This man is huge. If things were to go sideways, I’m not sure I would be able to handle this guy.” But Valerie gets into the front passenger seat of this brown boxy import car and drives off. And Todd goes, “She didn’t come back.” So, this is likely the killer. Valerie is found the next day in the ditch.
[00:09:56] So, within a six-week period of time, we have four females that have been killed and I had involvement with all four on a very personal level, because I’m responding out to some of the crime scenes. I’m going to the morgue. I’m working the evidence in the lab, and I really started investing more and more of my time looking into these cases and doing much more than what I typically would, because I’m assigned as a criminalist. I’m doing the crime scene. I’m doing the forensics, but I’m like, “No, no, we have a serial killer. We have an active serial killer, and we have women being victimized.”
[00:10:35] Initially, it was trying to systematically evaluate the physical evidence in the case on a forensic level and creating charts that replicated what I had seen in the east area rapist series that a criminalist had done. His name was John Murdoch. He was the chief of the lab when I was hired, but he was part of the east area rapist task force. He had done this amazing job to try to show the physical evidence across all of these cases back in the 1970s. Well, I was doing the same thing that I saw him do, but I was now using computers to spreadsheet this out.
[00:11:17] As I was looking at things, I am now trying to develop suspects. And at this point, with these active-type cases, there were assigned homicide investigators both at Pittsburg as well as with the sheriff’s office. And so, my role, I wasn’t going out trying to interview suspects. I wasn’t going out reaching out to witnesses. I was saying, “Hey, look at this guy.” And so, I developed multiple suspects. And sometimes, you get on a guy and they go, “I’m not sure. But maybe it’s him, maybe it’s not. I don’t have the evidence.” And then somebody else pops up. And now you’re juggling multiple people that you think could be, “Well, which one is it?”
[00:12:03] Over time, some of these suspects get eliminated and some of them bubble to the surface. This is just like with the Golden State Killer. You focus in on what I would call the prime suspects. Part of looking into this case, it’s like, well, what types of individuals are comfortable enough to go into a stroll area and find prey? This is a sexual sadist. This is the worst type of offender. I was confident that the killer is somebody who is shopping along stroll areas in the Bay Area. There’s a chance he’s been contacted. Maybe he’s been arrested. Maybe he’s been FI-ed.
Yeardley: [00:12:50] What’s that?
Paul: [00:12:51] So, a field interrogation or FI report is there isn’t sufficient reason for law enforcement to, let’s say, arrest somebody, but they’ve made a contact. And back in the day, it was 3×5 cards.
Dan: [00:13:06] There’s so much information you can capture on a 3×5 card. Typically, name, date of birth, what clothing they’re wearing, what kind of vehicle they’re in, brief description on what they look like, driver’s license number, and also the time and location of where you contacted them is immensely important, because now Paul can go back and look at FI cards and say, “Oh, this guy was in the area on the night this woman died.”
Paul: [00:13:34] So, I have the crime analyst run me a report. I want to know who’s been FI-ed between these dates in this area for soliciting. And so, I get that report. I’m going through, and I’m trying to identify all these contacts and who they are. But one of the things I did is I went to my sex registrant detective’s office and said, “Hey, I need to look through your files. I’m looking for sex registrants that are large men.” I compiled a list of about 20 and either they were very, very tall and big or had larger physical characteristics. Most of these guys, they had maybe a rape charge listed, possibly forced oral cop, typical types of crimes that your sex registrants have.
[00:14:27] But one guy, and I’m going to call him Gary, his file is lacking details of his crimes, but on the face sheet in his file, it’s just listed as 261-187. So, 261 in California is the statute for rape and 187, of course, is for murder homicide. Gary is 6’4” and his weight has fluctuated from below 200 to over 230, but he fits the bill in terms of size. And so, I’m asking the detective, “Hey, what’s up with this guy?” And the detective goes, “He never talks about his crimes. I can’t get him to say anything. I know nothing.” But Gary was consistent in registering, never had any issues with him.
Yeardley: [00:15:14] So, he’s been convicted of crimes, but he’s out on parole and he still has to visit regularly? Is that what you’re saying?
Paul: [00:15:20] Gary is a registered sex offender for life. So, every year, he has to come in on his birthday and update the detective with the sheriff’s office, say, “Hey, this is where I’m working, this is my new contact information, these are the cars I’m driving,” give all of that.
Yeardley: [00:15:37] Why isn’t he still in prison if there’s rape and murder?
Paul: [00:15:41] Well, this is where we’re going to go here, because now I’m just curious. It’s like, “Okay, so here is a sex registrant that in essence has a 187 charge, and I know nothing about it.” So, I run his criminal history when I get back to the office, and I see multiple arrests in the late 1960s in Southern California, and those arrests include rape. I see a conviction and a sentence of three to life.
Yeardley: [00:16:07] Three years?
Paul: [00:16:09] Yeah. I want to get more information about what these crimes were. So, I contact the records departments of these Southern California agencies and I get the reports. So, Gary, in May of 1969, he follows a woman and her child out of a department store. And as soon as she gets to her car with her child, Gary’s up there with a knife and is pushing the knife on the woman, saying, “Get in.” She gets her and her child into their own vehicle, and he makes the victim drive to a location where he sexually assaults her, and he’s threatening harming the child in order to get the woman to comply with his demands. And then Gary is able to get away from the victims and goes quiet until a couple weeks later.
[00:17:01] This time, he approaches a woman who’s in her car, and she’s with her brother, who’s only five. But Gary thinks it’s her child. So, in this situation, he utilizes threats against the kid in order to get the woman to comply and makes her drive him back to his place, where he ends up sexually assaulting her in his place, but he’s arrested. These are serious crimes.
Yeardley: [00:17:30] Oh, my God, yes.
Paul: [00:17:32] Gary gets convicted. He serves three years and he gets paroled.
Dan: [00:17:38] Kidnapping and rape, three years.
Paul: [00:17:41] Yes. And as I go on, this is where everybody will be appalled at what the justice system was doing back in the 1960s, 1970s era. So, Gary gets paroled. He moves up into the Bay Area.
Yeardley: [00:18:01] From where?
Paul: [00:18:02] He was convicted down in Southern California, but moves up into the bay area. His criminal history showed he had a homicide case in 1975 out on the peninsula in the Bay Area. So, I reach out to that agency’s records and I get that report. And in that report, this 19-year-old woman, Sarah, gets off work, middle of the day, middle afternoon, and walks out the parking lot towards her vehicle. Two young boys are just happened to be out there when they see a man matching Gary’s description walk up behind her. As she gets close to her car, this man grabs her by the head, and then starts beating her, and then drags her to this very distinctive orange over black Porsche vehicle.
Yeardley: [00:18:50] What does that mean, orange over black?
Paul: [00:18:52] So, orange color over black. It’s a vehicle that stood out in terms of its color scheme. This vehicle takes off at a high rate of speed in the parking lot with Sarah inside of it. Almost gets into an accident. Sarah’s body is found a week later. Gary is arrested, and of course, his vehicle was this very distinct orange over black Porsche. So, Gary is arrested and convicted.
Dave: [00:19:24] Gary’s a risk taker too. He took one victim back to his house.
Paul: [00:19:27] Yes.
Dave: [00:19:28] Gary uses his own vehicle.
Yeardley: [00:19:30] In the middle of the day also.
Dave: [00:19:33] Yeah, you talk about compulsion is where I look at this guy’s like, “I have to do this right now.”
Paul: [00:19:40] Absolutely. And this is where it’s also evaluating who the offender is as well as what’s the characteristics of the suspect. But before I get there, now, Gary is convicted of this abduction homicide of a 19-year-old girl, seven years to life.
Yeardley: [00:20:00] Oh, my God.
Paul: [00:20:02] Here we have a predator. Just based on the circumstances of his Southern California rapes, he is a serial predator. Gary was released back out into society and now a 19-year-old girl lost her life because of it. So, he gets seven to life. Guess how long he serves?
Dan: [00:20:22] Seven.
Paul: [00:20:23] Yes.
Yeardley: [00:20:24] I mean, you just think of the family of Sarah, the horror of that.
Paul: [00:20:29] Yeah. It’s important knowing the details of the cases. All I saw in the sex registrant detectives’ files was 261-187. But I’m working a case in which four women killed, and these are fantasy motivated, sexually motivated homicides. So, as I’m digging into him, I’m looking at his sex registrant files, this 290 file and this is all paper. I’m seeing this address in Martinez. My office was in Martinez, but I didn’t know where this particular address was located at. So, back in the day, this was before Google Maps.
Yeardley: [00:21:08] Sure. You had to have the Thomas Guide with you?
Paul: [00:21:10] The Thomas Guide.
Yeardley: [00:21:11] Those of us who drove in California, it’s as thick as a phone book for anybody who doesn’t know.
Paul: [00:21:16] So, I’m looking for the street, and then I’m looking okay, which quadrant on which map is this street? And then as I’m drilling down, I’m going, “Holy shit, he’s five minutes away from where I’m sitting right now.”
Yeardley: [00:21:31] Is it terrifying or exhilarating or both?
Paul: [00:21:33] Oh, it’s not terrifying to me.
Yeardley: [00:21:34] Ah. [laughs]
Paul: [00:21:36] That makes my life easier. [Yeardley laughs] So, I’ve got a serial predator, a known killer who lived five minutes away from where my office was at.
Paul: [00:22:12] So, Gary is paroled after seven years and was living in my jurisdiction since 1983.
Dave: [00:22:22] And this case comes to you around the late 1990s?
Paul: [00:22:24] Yes. Well, the actual homicides are occurring in the late 1990s into 2000.
Dave: [00:22:30] 16 years, he’s not back in prison.
Paul: [00:22:32] Yeah. There’re several other rapes in my jurisdiction that matched his MO that he actually was a suspect for in the early 1980s after he was paroled, but they could never pin those cases on him. But then he literally just dropped off the face of the Earth as far as law enforcement’s awareness of who he was. Plus, in California, we have what’s called Megan’s Law. And then if you’re a registered sex offender, you are on this website. So, then the public is alerted to, “Hey, you have these registered sex offenders living in your area.” And anybody basically can know, “Oh, I live near this registered sex offender.” Gary wasn’t on the website. His neighbors had no idea what his past was.
Yeardley: [00:23:21] Was he supposed to be on the website?
Paul: [00:23:23] He absolutely was.
Yeardley: [00:23:24] Oh.
Paul: [00:23:25] That last thing with that 19-year-old Sarah’s homicide case, Gary is convicted of kidnapping and homicide, but he wasn’t charged with any sex acts, though this is, no question, a sexually motivated crime. When you’re looking at these cases, you have to pay attention to the details about who this guy is. So, as I’m digging into Gary, I find out the vehicles that he had registered to him at the time of the homicides. He had a Mazda sedan, which technically was renaissance red was the color. But when you look at renaissance red, it’s brown. What did Todd say the killer was driving?
Dan: [00:24:10] Brown boxy import.
Paul: [00:24:11] Yes. Now I’ve got something and likely Valerie was in that vehicle, and possibly may have even bled inside that vehicle. So, where is that vehicle? So, now I’m digging down on it. Lo and behold, it had turned up at a junkyard. Had been destroyed, had been crushed into a metal cube, and gone.
Yeardley: [00:24:38] How long since Gary had owned the brown boxy Mazda to the time it became a cube?
Paul: [00:24:47] So, Gary owned that brown boxy Mazda vehicle for quite a few years. The interesting thing was DMV had no sales transaction, but Gary was not the one that turned it into the junkyard. It was two people who, to this day, I don’t know the relationship between Gary and these two other individuals that ultimately destroyed the vehicle. Did Gary just sell it, saying, “Hey, get rid of know.” Did they get rid of it innocently just because it was an older vehicle, and it was time? I don’t know. All I do know is that Gary had a vehicle matching the description that Todd said Valerie had gotten into and that’s likely the killer’s vehicle.
[00:25:32] I end up seeing in Gary’s registrant files, he was in the navy and had been dishonorably discharged. So, I was like, “I’m interested in that.” So, now I’m reaching out through NCIS, “Hey, I need to get his file.” It always takes forever to get military records, but I finally get his navy files. And it turns out that Gary specialized in electronics and nuclear propulsion systems. Start getting a sense, he’s not a dummy.
Dave: [00:26:00] Yeah. And he’s on a submarine.
Paul: [00:26:02] He’s on a submarine. Gary went AWOL and eventually was disciplined and dishonorably discharged. But when his crewmates were interviewed, they’re saying, “Yeah, he has a briefcase. And inside that briefcase was a bunch of women’s underwear that he would masturbate to while on the sub.”
Yeardley: [00:26:23] Oh, my God.
Paul: [00:26:24] So, what is he doing in the ports of call? Minimally, he’s doing fetish burglaries. He is grabbing women’s underwear. Now. Is he picking up sex workers? Potentially. As I dig into him, it turns out not only was he capable of working on nuclear propulsion systems for submarines, he’s also a member of Mensa.
Dan: [00:26:47] Wow.
Paul: [00:26:48] To be a member of Mensa, you’re generally recognized as being very, very intelligent.
Dan: [00:26:53] It’s a genius club.
Paul: [00:26:54] Yeah. Here I have a serial killer who is a member of Mensa. How’s that?
Yeardley: [00:26:58] That’s terrifying is what that is?
Paul: [00:27:00] Yes. So, do you think that this is an individual that will learn from his mistakes? As I’m assessing Gary, I’m going, “Okay, next time he offends and he is compulsive, he’s going to do something different.” So, instead of following women out of the mall, I thought it was logical, the next step is I’m going to go to where I can have women voluntarily get into my vehicle.
Dave: [00:27:29] It eliminates a huge complication and witnesses, because you’re not struggling trying to shove somebody into a car. Oh, she just hopped in the passenger side, and they drove away. I didn’t give it a second thought.
Paul: [00:27:41] Absolutely. So, I thought that was just a logical step for this type of offender. There’s no question, Gary is a serial killer that is just out and about living his life. So, I go “I got to go meet Gary.” And how am I going to do that without really hinking him up about the cases? So, there was a new sex registrant detective, and I said, “Hey, I really need to know more about this guy.” Gary was going to be coming in for his next registration meeting. So, I went to that. I was introduced to Gary as the next sex registrant detective coming in, Matt. So, Gary just knows me as Matt. We sat down with Gary, and during the course of about an hour, both of that detective and I were asking Gary about various aspects of his life as well as his residence.
[00:28:42] One of the interesting aspects about Gary is where he lived. I could mention he only lived five minutes away from where my office was at, and so I would frequently drive by his house. His house looked like what you would think a serial killer house would look like. It’s like The Silence of the Lambs and Buffalo Bill-type of stuff. It’s in an unincorporated area, but it was a residential area. But all the windows on his house had plywood covering them. He had a chain link gate by the sidewalk that was locked. And now, why does he do that? That was the big question, because neighbors, when they were being interviewed, indicated “Yeah, every time he comes and goes, he has to get out of his vehicle, undo this chain link fence, you know, gate, open it up, drive his car up into the garage,” which he can close the garage, “and then go back and close everything up.” So, that was part of the interview. It’s like, “Why do you have this?” He says, “Well, I’ve got a couple of big German shepherds that are running through.” I was like, “Oh, okay. I didn’t realize that.” So, I have to check in on that.
[00:29:49] After that meeting, we part ways, and then I go by Gary’s house the next day to look for the dogs. All the grass in his yard was 2 ft to 3 ft tall. There was no trampling of this grass, there was no dog poo. I was even talking to animal services in terms of, “Hey, do we have any registration for these dogs?” And nothing. He lied.
Yeardley: [00:30:17] Gary lied about the dogs?
Paul: [00:30:19] Yes.
Dave: [00:30:21] He didn’t anticipate the gate question.
Paul: [00:30:23] No. And why? Why does he have that gate? Because as a registered sex offender, law enforcement at any time can come up and just say, “Hey–” You’ll knock on the door, “Hey, just want to check, see how things are going.” But if you lock at the driveway with that padlock, law enforcement can’t breach that.
Yeardley: [00:30:44] They can’t? Legally, you can’t.
Paul: [00:30:47] No. You cannot go across that. That’s part of his personal property. And so, now, by locking it, he is preventing law enforcement from coming up and just knocking on his door to check on him.
Dave: [00:30:59] Right. He controls where the interview goes, where it occurs. It could be in his living room, but it could be out in the driveway.
Yeardley: [00:31:07] Wow.
Dave: [00:31:07] Yeah.
Yeardley: [00:31:08] So, Gary is a clever one, isn’t he?
Dave: [00:31:11] He’s evolved.
Paul: [00:31:12] So, Gary becomes very important to me. I’m doing a deep dive. And to tell you, I have a binder on Gary that is 517 pages long.
Yeardley: [00:31:21] Oh, my God. You still have that binder?
Paul: [00:31:24] Oh, yes, I still have that binder. When I was talking to a DA about Gary and that he wasn’t on the public facing side of Megan’s Law, she was like, “Oh, I’m going to fix that. We’re not going to let him be comfortable.” So, that was taken care of. I did check and Gary did have his DNA up in CODIS. It was collected in 1999, nothing because of arrest, but he went in and they recognized, “Hey, you don’t have DNA on file. You’re a registered sex offender. California law, you need to have DNA on file.” And in 2000, it was put up into CODIS and was searching at the national level and didn’t hit. So, now I am pretty much stalking Gary.
Yeardley: [00:32:08] [laughs] Does Gary live alone?
Paul: [00:32:11] Gary lives alone in, again, that serial killer house. He does temporary jobs throughout the Bay Area, specializes in computers. Again, he’s very bright, but he’s an underachiever, which, again, checks the boxes with, “Okay, yeah.” That’s oftentimes with some of these serial predators is that they are bright, but they do not have the personal success that they are very capable of. At one point, because I had some colleagues that were also heavily involved with working this unsolved series, they end up staking out Gary’s house in order to do surveillance. Gary never emerges. They give up. They are like, “He just doesn’t go anywhere.” I drove by his house weekly. I’d look in. I wanted to see him. I never saw him outside.
[00:33:07] Gary changes his vehicle. At one point, he was driving this Chrysler 300M, and purposely brings the sex registrant detective out to take a look at the size of the trunk. This is so great. My golf clubs fit in here. And the detective was just like, “This was odd.” I was thinking, he’s just showing me it would hold a body.
Dave: [00:33:28] It’s right in your face.
Yeardley: [00:33:30] Why would you do that? When you’re trying to obscure what you’ve done, why would you bait somebody like that?
Dave: [00:33:36] Hubris.
Paul: [00:33:37] Yeah, that’s exactly it. Gary, I believe, was sitting there taunting this detective, and this detective just picked up on, “There’s something weird here, but I’m not sure what it is.”
Dave: [00:33:47] Like, he’s almost saying, “She was right in there and you’re looking at it right now.”
Paul: [00:33:51] Yeah. And then eventually Gary gets rid of the Chrysler and ends up driving a Toyota Prius. So, here’s this huge man in this tiny little car.
Dave: [00:34:02] It’s like the guy from Minions.[laughter]
Yeardley: [00:34:05] Yes, yes. Gru.
Dave: [00:34:07] Gru.
Paul: [00:34:30] A decade goes on. Decade and a half goes on. Two weeks before I retire, two weeks before I’m in front of D’Angelo’s house. I’m at the county fleet getting gas in my unmarked Ford Taurus. And I get gas, I come out, and I see this Toyota Prius drive right in front of me with Gary driving it. I’m like, “Okay, I want to see where you’re going.” So, I end up pulling out, and he’s at a stoplight at an intersection to get onto the ramp to get onto southbound freeway. So, I pull in right behind him and he and I literally lock eyes through the rear-view mirror.
Yeardley: [00:35:10] Oh, my God.
Paul: [00:35:11] And I’m in an unmarked vehicle, but I had the light bar and the windshield. And so, I don’t think Gary recognized necessarily me from so long ago, but he knew law enforcement just pulled in behind him. So, I follow him to get onto the freeway. This freeway in this area is a four-lane wide freeway. Gary immediately in this little Prius goes from merging on all the way to the number one lane, which is the fast lane. So, I also do that. I was going 90 miles an hour and he was pulling away from me.
Yeardley: [00:35:50] Shut up.
Paul: [00:35:51] It was at a point where I have no justification. I could have lit him up, but it was like, “What am I going to do?” It’s like I had to bail. And then I get back to the office and my colleague I just said, “I just got into a little mini pursuit with Gary.” [chuckles] It’s like, “Oh, my God.” And then, of course, my focus at the time was Golden State Killer and D’Angelo. And so, the message that I’m trying to convey is working these types of cases and looking into potential suspects. You find men that have just the craziest criminal behavior, criminal aspects, that you think, this is somebody that is worth digging into. But it can be so frustrating not to be able to close anything out.
[00:36:41] It really is just part of the complexity of these cases, particularly when you don’t have confidence that you have that identifying physical evidence. With Gary, he is a serial predator. I’m confident he has cases since he was paroled after the homicide that he served time on, but I have no evidence that can link him to that. I can’t say that he is responsible for any of these four homicides.
Yeardley: [00:37:13] Even now, you can’t say?
Paul: [00:37:14] I can’t. Otherwise, he would be in custody.
Yeardley: [00:37:17] Right. It just galls me that this serial predator who took this 19-year-old girl’s life has been able to live a life he doesn’t deserve and I can’t do anything about it.
Dave: [00:37:31] I understand what you’re trying to demonstrate. Paul’s just demonstrating there are types of guys that you’re like absolutely has to be him, and it’s not your guy, and you’re like, “Fuck, I just spent that much time on that? I think he’s totally good for it.” But he’s not good for it until he is.
Paul: [00:37:50] Yes. What is Gary’s involvement in Valerie’s case or the other women’s case? I just don’t know. He is a suspect, but I believe that there is another suspect that’s probably better than Gary.
Yeardley: [00:38:06] Oh, my.
Paul: [00:38:07] And I know that this other suspect, about six months before I retired, he was taken into custody as a result of a 1980 homicide of a 14-year-old girl named Suzanne Bombardier. And his name is Mitch Bacom. He is a sexual sadist. He was out and about in the Pittsburg area when Lisa, Rachel, Jessica, and Valerie had been killed. There is enough information about him where he’s at least in play, but again, I can’t say it is him. And this is part of the complexity of working these types of cases. I still communicate with the agencies, with the investigators who are assigned to that case, and hopefully, one of these days, we will get these victims’ families an answer. And if that guy is still out there, I will say he is still a threat and he needs to be taken off the street.
Yeardley: [00:39:14] The sense of urgency is palpable and the sense of frustration of not being able to move faster than you can.
Paul: [00:39:20] For me, it’s very frustrating because I really tried. And now we’re talking 20 years.
Dave: [00:39:27] I want to point this out. You’re that invested in this case and you still didn’t make an arrest.
Paul: [00:39:35] Right.
Dave: [00:39:36] And that’s the right way to do it, because it wouldn’t have been a righteous arrest.
Paul: [00:39:40] That is correct. We’re not at that point yet, but hopefully, at some point in time, we will be. This is what I want people to get out of this story, because this is not the feel good, “Oh, we got the right guy.” This series of cases, this is my biggest failure. The notoriety that I’ve gotten because of the success on Golden State Killer, absolutely proud of it, but that is not what I think about. I think about Valerie’s case and the other women. I tried and I failed. We don’t know if that guy’s still out there, if he’s continuing to kill. I used to think, when I was getting involved in cold cases, how could these investigators have not figured this out, right?
Yeardley: [00:40:30] [giggles] Now, you are one of them. [laughs]
Paul: [00:40:31] And now I’m one of them.
Yeardley: [00:40:34] Ah, Paul.
Dave: [00:40:36] When we talk about what’s the case that keeps you awake at night, clearly this is one for Paul.
Paul: [00:40:42] This is The one, in terms of not a cold case that I worked, but a case that I actively was going out on and then was like, “I am going to solve this and I didn’t.”
Dave: [00:40:54] We’ve known Paul since 2018.
Yeardley: [00:40:56] Yeah.
Dave: [00:40:57] Spent a lot of time, had a couple of cocktails.
Paul: [00:41:00] Couple? [Yeardley [laughs]
Dave: [00:41:02] Couple hundred.[laughter]
Dave: [00:41:05] We’ve had lots of in-depth talks. When we started the episode, I could tell Paul’s upset.
Yeardley: [00:41:13] He had tears in his eyes.
Dave: [00:41:15] I’ve never heard that story from you. That’s why I know it means so much to you.
Dan: [00:41:19] Because you held onto it.
Dave: [00:41:20] Yeah.
Paul: [00:41:21] Yeah. It is important to me, for sure.
Yeardley: [00:41:24] When I think about what sort of regrets I have in my work life over the last 40 years, nothing compares to the kind of regrets that you all have.
Dave: [00:41:38] I have regrets from my time in law enforcement. Dan does, Paul does.
Paul: [00:41:44] We all do.
Dave: [00:41:45] We appreciate you feeling comfortable enough to share that with us and the listeners.
Yeardley: [00:41:50] It’s very generous. Thank you. I’ve said it so many times that this job you all do is just not natural, because it’s not. And I just have the greatest respect and empathy for how you do what you do.
Paul: [00:42:04] Well, I appreciate that perspective. Thank you.
Dave: [00:42:07] Thank you, sir.
Dan: [00:42:08] Thank you.[music]
Yeardley: [00:42:12] Small Town Dicks is produced by Gary Scott and me, Yeardley Smith, and coproduced by Detectives Dan and Dave. Our production manager is Logan Heftel. Our senior editor is Soren Begin, and our editor is Christina Bracamontes. Our associate producers are Erin Gaynor and the Real Nick Smitty. Our social media is run by the one and only, Monika Scott. Our music is composed by John Forest and our books are cooked and cats wrangled by Ben Cornwell.
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Yeardley: [00:43:28] That’s right. Your subscription also makes it possible for us to keep going to small towns across the country-
Dan: [00:43:34] -in search of the finest-
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Dave: [00:43:38] -as always, by the detectives who investigated them. So, thanks for listening, Small Town Fam.
Yeardley: [00:43:43] Nobody’s better than you.
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