Suspect arrested in hiker slayings


SAN RAFAEL, Calif. -- Police Friday arrested a convicted rapist suspected to be the 'trailside killer' who stalked recreational areas and forced some of his eight hiking and jogging victims to plead for their lives.

David Joseph Carpenter, a 51-year-old printer described by neighbors as a loner who lived with his elderly parents and a dachshund, was taken into custody at his San Francisco home after being under surveillance for a week.


The killings over the past 21 months occurred on Mount Tamalpais, at the Point Reyes National Seashore in San Rafael's Marin County area and in the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park about 75 miles south of San Francisco.

Carpenter, who served sentences in San Quentin and Folsom prisons, was taken to Santa Cruz under heavy security and booked without bail into the county jail on a charge of murder and attempted murder with special circumstances that could lead to the death penalty. He will be arraigned Monday.


Carpenter was arrested without incident by a task force composed of FBI agents, San Francisco police and Marin and Santa Cruz sheriff's deputies.

Marin County Sheriff Al Howenstein told reporters in San Rafael that there was a 'ballistics link' between the one slaying in Santa Cruz County and some of the killings in his jurisdiction. He explained the killer used the same weapon.

Santa Cruz County District Attorney Art Danner said in Santa Cruz that it was decided to charge the suspect in his jurisdiction because 'we feel we have the best case to go first.'

The victim in the March 29 Santa Cruz County killing was Ellen Hansen, 20, a student at the University of California-Davis. Her boyfriend, Steve Haertle, 20, was shot four times by the assailant but survived to provide authorities with a description of the attacker.

Authorities said Haertle's description matched a composite from Marin County.

However, Howenstein admitted that investigators were led to Carpenter after two people called his department on a special telephone hotline set up to receive tips on the 'trailside killer.' He added his name was not on his agency's list of 168 possible suspects.

Howenstein said, 'We feel without being too speculative at this point that evidence should be forthcoming to indicate whether Carenter is involved in the Mount Tamalpais (in the Point Reyes National Wilderness Area) slayings.'


The slayings themselves touched off a wave of fear among joggers and hikers who use the scenic park areas, and authorities repeatedly warned users to refrain from entering the areas alone.

Investigators, studying the positions of the victims' bodies, said the killer made some of his victims kneel and plead for mercy before he killed them. They said he put his victims through psychological torture.

Carpenter was sentenced to state prison in Calaveras County in 1970 on charges of robbery and kidnapping. He was committed to Folsom Prison in June 1970 and the next month went to court in Santa Cruz County where he was charged with rape and robbery.

He was sent to San Quentin in August 1972 before being returned to Folsom and then sent on to the California Medical Facility in Vacaville. He was paroled in February 1977.

The first victim of the 'trailside killer' was Edda Kane, 44, Mill Valley, Calif. She had been shot in the head. The next one was Barbara Schwartz, 23, also from Mill Valley. She was stabbed , and a witness saw her struggling with her assailant. Ms. Schwartz was the only victim not shot to death.

On Oct. 15 the body of Evelyn Anderson, 26, San Rafael, was found on Mount Tamalpais. And late in November 1980 two bodies were discovered on a remote area. Deputies said they were the victims of a ritualistic killer.


Two more bodies were found nearby by deputies investigating the killing of the previous two victims. Their deaths were also carried out in execution style.

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