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Police Say Night Stalker Killed 16 People

August 29, 1985

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The number of slayings linked to the ″Night Stalker″ was increased Thursday to at least 16, and a forensic expert said unidentified fingerprints were found in a stolen car believed used in the killer’s latest attack.

The attacker, who authorities say has also raped and assaulted at least 21 people, had been suspected of 14 killings. But a mass-distribution flier police issued Thursday says 17 slayings are now blamed on the tall, curly haired man with gapped, badly stained teeth.

The attacker also is believed responsible for at least four kidnap-child molestations since February.

Los Angeles Police Cmdr. William Booth said one of the 17 homicide victims on the new list is actually a Mission Viejo man who was shot in the head Sunday and remained in critical condition Thursday.

″The other two are slayings which occurred since February. They are under investigation by the Night Stalker task force. We don’t intend to release any further information about them,″ Booth said.

Police also disclosed for the first time that the suspect has used at least two firearms in the slayings, tentatively identified as a .22-caliber revolver and a .25-caliber automatic pistol.

Some fingerprints taken from an orange 1976 Toyota station wagon linked to the killer are not those of the car’s owner, said Larry Ragel, lead forensic specialist for the Orange County Sheriff-Coroner’s office in Santa Ana.

Ragel would not specify how many prints were discovered or whether they were found inside or outside the car, which had been abandoned in the Rampart district of Los Angeles.

The station wagon was stolen Saturday in Los Angeles’ Chinatown, authorities said.

A witness saw a similar car more than 50 miles southeast Sunday in Mission Viejo, where a 29-year-old woman was raped and her fiance shot in the head, police said. William Carns, 29, remained in critical condition Thursday at Mission Community Hospital with a head wound.

Ragel said the prints would be checked for identification, but refused to divulge any additional information.

A Los Angeles health food store owner said Thursday that the car had been abandoned since at least Monday morning, but wasn’t reported to police until Tuesday.

Dozens of squad cars and a helicopter descended when the car was reported, but pulled back after being told the car had been ditched for at least 24 hours, said Jon Quinn, owner of the Foods for Fitness store.

Police put the car under surveillance Tuesday night before publicly announcing it had been found and towing it away to Orange County on Wednesday, he said.

″We’re not going to discuss any of our tactics,″ Booth said. ″The only time we’re using, and the only activity we’re confirming, is that we seized the car Wednesday at 7 a.m.″

Orange County Sheriff’s investigators checked the car with a laser beam that can raise latent fingerprints, even on surfaces supposedly wiped clear. The $38,000 laser is the only one of its kind on the West Coast. The light reacts with riboflavin, a substance in fingerprint moisture.

Police refused comment Thursday on a Los Angeles Times report that authorities have been questioning laborers at construction sites near three slaying scenes in Arcadia, Whittier and Glendale.

Unidentified construction workers told the paper that detectives are interviewing contractors’ employees to see if any resemble the killer or whether workers might have seen anyone who looks like him.

One construction site is a block from the Whittier home of Vincent and Maxine Zazzara, who were shot to death in March. Workers there said they were shown two composite drawings and a photograph.

The photograph looked like a police mug shot with the booking number covered. The drawings and photograph resembled each other, the workers said.

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