Santa Cruz Good Times

Monday
Sep 01st
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Voice for a Victim

ae2 graveLocal filmmaker looks to produce feature about final victim of prolific serial killer

Filmmaker Cameron Cloutier’s still-unfinished journey with his film, Bird with a Broken Wing, began four years ago when he heard a story that was stranger than fiction. While chatting with a couple of friends, one of them asked Cloutier if he had ever heard of the East Area Rapist. He hadn’t, so his friends started telling him the story, which they had both heard about in the news a few years prior. Cloutier couldn’t quite believe what he was hearing. “What are you talking about?” he remembers thinking. “Everything they said was out of control.”

As with Cloutier’s initial encounter with the story, a condensed history lesson is necessary here. From 1976 to 1979, a suspect known as the East Area Rapist committed a series of crimes in Sacramento, Stockton, Modesto and Walnut Creek. Then from 1979 to 1981, his crime spree migrated to the cities of Goleta, Ventura, Laguna Niguel and Irvine. (It wasn’t until the late 1990s—when he would be dubbed the Original Night Stalker—that his DNA connected him to this latter series of crimes.)

Then in 1986, after a five-year crime gap, an 18-year-old woman named Janelle Lisa Cruz was murdered in Irvine, a mile-and-a-half from the last murder. She remains the last known victim of the East Area Rapist/Original Night Stalker. Responsible for more than 50 rapes and 10 murders, he is the most prolific serial killer and sex offender in California history, and still remains uncaught, despite the fact that law enforcement authorities have his DNA, fingerprints and blood type.

ae2 movieposterIt’s a story that Cloutier has been looking to turn into a film for four years, and now, having done extensive research and with script in hand, he is seeking a way to finance the production. “The film will use Janelle’s story as a basis,” Cloutier says. “Her life was so interesting, and it explains why he probably came out of hiding for her, and then while it tells her story, it also flashes back to several of the other crimes so that we can understand the methodology of his crimes.”

Having received the support of Cruz’s family, the police, and the FBI, the most significant remaining hurdle for Cloutier’s film is the arduous process of fundraising. With that in mind, Cloutier is holding a fundraiser for the film in Sacramento—with Mayor Kevin Johnson tentatively scheduled to attend—on May 4, which happens to be the date of Cruz’s death in 1986.

For those who are unable to attend the fundraiser, there is still time to contribute to the Indiegogo fundraising campaign, which ends May 11. In addition, Cloutier says that “like”-ing the film’s Facebook page will aid in raising awareness. He is also accepting private funding for the production via the Facebook page or through the email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

According to Cloutier, every cent matters. “I’ve been on this project now for four years, but when I first started, there was nothing about these crimes out there except for a little website and a Wikipedia page, and that was it,” he says. “Since I started working on this, it’s kind of gotten bigger, but it hasn’t crossed over into the mainstream yet, so my original intent—which still is my intent—was to bring awareness to the crimes.”

Though the film will discuss the crimes of the East Area Rapist/Original Night Stalker, Cloutier plans for it to center around Janelle Lisa Cruz and her life, struggles, accomplishments, and finally about what happened the night the two met.

“If you know Janelle’s story, then you know that even though she died, her story is a positive one, and that’s what the film explores,” says Cloutier. “I did not know—until I started talking with her family—how complex her life was. She wasn’t just this girl who was killed; the things that happened in her life made it possible for this guy to come into it. It seemed less and less like she was just a random victim, and more like he had to silence her.” 

For more information about ‘Bird with a Broken Wing’ and how to help make it a reality, visit indiegogo.com/projects/bird-with-a-broken-wing-needs-you—8, the film’s Facebook page, or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Mercury Enters Libra

It’s the week of Burning Man, the temporary, intentional, alternative, art-filled community on the playas of Nevada. Mercury, messenger of the Sun, enters Libra this week. Libra is the equalizer, a sign of balance and right human relations. Sometimes with Libra, we can be indecisive and confused while learning how to make balanced and right choices. Sometimes to keep the peace we communicate only what others want to hear. Eventually, we learn how to speak from the heart.

 

Final Cut

Cedar Street Video to close after 10 years at downtown location

 

Banter and Spark

Engaging actors, wry script distinguish lightweight rom-com ‘What If’

 

Back to Silicon Beach

With a new wave of startups, the future of Santa Cruz tech looks more promising than ever
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Himalayan Kitchen

Chef Purna Regmi on the secrets of Nepalese cooking

 

What’s the nicest thing you’ve done for someone this week?

Germany  |  Beekeeper

 

Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

A Cab To Be Coveted

I first tasted Villa del Monte’s 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon at a Fourth of July party, where the hosts had bought a case of it because they love it and didn’t want to run out. It’s one of those wines that will grab you—in the best way—with its full body and rich fruit characteristics.