According to The FBI, the Golden State Killer (aka the East Area Rapist), who has never been caught, committed at least 45 rapes, murdered 12 people and burglarized 120 homes across California from 1979 to 1986. But the statistics don’t shed light on how the demented and terrifying attacks on women and couples left a trail of people to pick up the pieces of their lives long after being victimized. One such woman came to CrimeCon 2017 to tell her story.
“My name is Jane Carson-Sandler and I was victim #5,” she said to audible gasps in a packed auditorium. “I want you to know how I went from victim to survivor to thriver.”
[Jane Carson-Sandler via LinkedIn]
But the journey to becoming a thriver took decades, and when she tells her story it’s not hard to see why. One night in 1976, when she was sleeping with her 3-year-old son, she awoke to a masked man with a butcher knife standing above her bed, shining a flashlight in her eyes.
“Shut up or I will kill you,” was the first thing the man said.
Jane then explained how she and her 3-year-old son were both gagged, blindfolded and had their hands and feet tied up. “I really don’t remember much about the rape,” she said, explaining that the Golden State Killer had removed her son from her bedroom and she could think about nothing else other than where he was and what had happened to him.
After the rape, she heard the tearing of sheets for a long spell. “What is he going to do to us?” she thought. “Is he going to hang us?” Then he told her if she moved or he heard anything from the bedroom he would kill her, and she heard him rummaging through her pots and pans in the kitchen.
Eventually, after it had been quiet for a long time, she was able to escape with her son out of the back door, not being certain if the rapist was still around.
Jane explained how she spent years dealing with shame, hate and fear. She became an alcoholic before she learned to turn her “pain into power” and began speaking to women’s groups. She has been clean for 14 years, and in 2014, wrote a book titled Frozen in Fear: A True Story of Surviving the Shadows of Death. The process of writing, she explained, helped her to further heal.
“And then I eventually had to, believe it or not, forgive the rapist.”
The FBI is offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the Golden State Killer/East Area Rapist. Individuals with information are urged to call 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324).
[Composite sketch of East Area Rapist via FBI]