“The Golden State Killer Murdered My Mom”: A Daughter’s Quest For Justice
GOLETA, CA — Debbi Domingo was only 15 years old when her mother was brutally raped and murdered by the Golden State Killer.
On July 27, 1981, the serial killer — who has also been known as the Original Night Stalker and the East Area Rapist — murdered Cheri Domingo, 35, and her boyfriend, Greg Sanchez, 27, at Domingo’s home on Toltec Way in Goleta. The killer has never been caught.
Debbi discusses the horrific night that changed her life forever and the case that continues to haunt her in the Investigation Discovery series The Golden State Killer: It’s Not Over.
Today, she is focused on helping solve the crimes. “We have DNA; we need a name and a face to go with it,” Debbi says on her YouTube channel.
“My goal, personally, is to be the squeaky wheel,” she says. “I firmly believe that one of the reasons that he has never been caught is because the public doesn’t know about him: who he was, what he did, and how they can help catch him.”
Debbi says that she was going through a rebellious streak at the time, and had gone to stay with a friend in Santa Barbara a few weeks before her mother was murdered. “Looking back, she wasn’t asking for much — she just wanted me to abide by the house rules,” Debbi says.
The last time she spoke to her mother was on a pay phone — and the two got into a screaming argument. “I just told her, you know, just get out of my life,” she says. “No one ever dreams that that would actually happen.” That final conversation would later haunt her.
The day after the murders, a real estate agent found the bodies. Domingo was on the bed, while Sanchez was in the closet. Both had been severely beaten, and blood was all over the walls and on the ceiling.
Debbi never went back to the house she’d shared with her mother.
Investigators say that Sanchez was shot in the face. They believe that he was able to temporarily escape and got into a physical struggle with the killer, who then murdered him before sexually assaulting Debbi’s mother on the bed.
Many experts believe that Greg scared the offender, who realized that his mistake meant that he could have been killed or caught. After the Domingo/Sanchez murders, he disappeared — at least, for a while.
After her mother’s murder, Debbi moved to San Diego to live with her father, and for several years her life was on a downward spiral as, she said, she shut down rather than going through the grieving process. She battled with drug addiction, and at one point things got so bad that her children were taken into foster care.
But Debbi managed to turn her life around.
She got married, now works for the State of Texas, and says she’s been clean since 1997. Between them, she and her husband have five children.
In 2011, investigators used DNA evidence to link the murders of Cheri and Greg to the perpetrator who was then known as the East Area Rapist. Today, Debbi is trying to learn the identity of the most prolific unsolved serial killer in modern history.
She discusses the case in several YouTube videos, and says that she has enlisted the help of citizen sleuths who use forums like Reddit, as well as law-enforcement sources.
The East Area Rapist/Golden State Killer is described as a white male, currently thought to be between the ages of 60 and 75 years old, and approximately five feet ten inches tall, according to the FBI.
He may have/had blond or light brown hair and an athletic build, and may have had an interest in the military or some military training that meant he would be familiar and proficient with firearms.
He typically targeted either single women or women sleeping in bed with a partner. If another person was present in the home, the killer would often tie them up and leave them to listen, helpless, as their loved one was raped.
The killer often wore a ski mask, and spoke to his victims in a rough whisper through clenched teeth.
He stole personal items from several of the victims including photographs, mementos and jewelry.
According to the FBI, the Golden State Killer is responsible for an estimated 45 rapes, 12 murders, and 120 burglaries between 1976 and 1986. The last crime linked to the serial killer occurred on May 5, 1986, when an 18-year-old was raped and murdered in her Irvine home.
The FBI has asked anyone with information about the Golden State Killer to contact them at (800) 225-5324, or leave a tip at tips.fbi.gov. The agency is offering a reward of up to $50,000.
Tips also can be left with retired Santa Barbara County sheriff’s Lt. Gary Kitzmann by calling (805) 681-4100, or the sheriff’s tip line at (805)681-4171.
Watch more about Debbi Domingo’s story in Investigation Discovery’s The Golden State Killer: It’s Not Over on ID GO now!
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Main photo: Debbi Domingo [Investigation Discovery]
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