golden state killer california 1980s FBI
The FBI released drawings thought to resemble California's most prolific serial killer and who is thought to be still alive 40 years laterFBI

The FBI has announced a $50,000 (£35,000) reward for information leading to the identification of a man thought to be California's most prolific serial killer. Between 1976 and 1986 the "Golden State Killer" is believed to have committed at least 12 murders, 45 rapes and at least 100 burglaries. Many of the victims were couples who were tied up and killed after he raped the woman.

The FBI believe the killer, if still alive, would now be around 65-70 years old. During his killing spree he was described as white, blue-eyed, with blonde or hazel hair, around 5'10" tall and athletic in build. Due to his apparent proficiency with weapons, it is possible he had military training or an interest in military matters. Artists's impressions of the man - also known as the East Area Rapist, Diamond Knot Killer and Original Night Stalker - have been posted on a dedicated FBI website.

When the suspect started out in 1976, he would break into Sacramento homes, rape women, sometimes even if there were children in the house, then would flee with valuables and cash. He soon became known as the East Area Rapist. In 1978 he committed his first murders, that of Sacramento couple, Brian and Katie Maggiore.

The killer would wake his victims at gunpoint, tie them with bindings he had brought, and pile dishes on the back of the man telling him if the plates fell to the floor they would both be killed. The last known crime took place in 1986, and in 2001 DNA evidence along with the pattern of the crimes, proved the East Area Rapist and Golden State Killer were the same man.

It is unclear why there were no more crimes after 1986. One possibility is that the man died, but whether the killer is alive or not the FBI is calling for help for the families of his victims. "The victims and their families deserve justice," said FBI Special Agent in Charge, Monica Miller (reported by Fox News).