Tuesday morning, the alleged Golden State Killer was taken into custody in front of his Citrus Heights home, following a forty-year long search for the serial rapist, murderer and burglar. Sacramento Police booked Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, Wednesday at 2:30 a.m. He is being held in the Sacramento County Jail charged with eight counts of murder for being linked to at least 12 murders, 45 rapes and over 150 robberies.
Authorities searched the home DeAngelo shared with his daughter and grandchild, seizing multiple vehicles, a boat and several boxes of evidence.
He was a former cop in the cities of Exeter and Auburn between 1973 and 1979, until he was terminated from the Auburn Police Department after he was found shoplifting dog repellent and a hammer from an Auburn Pay N’ Save in August 1979.
Throughout his criminal career, he was known as the East Area Rapist in Northern California, Original Night Stalker in Southern California, Diamond Knot Killer, Visalia Ransacker, and most recently, the Golden State Killer. From Sacramento to Orange, DeAngelo’s crimes reached more than 10 counties in California.
Developments in DNA technology connected his crimes throughout the state, confirming the killer had in fact moved locations throughout his decade of terror. His attacks spanned from 1976 to 1986 and ranged from robbery and rape to murder. He was known for stalking his victims for days and weeks at a time, entering victims’ homes through windows and doors as they slept, tying up the victim and subduing spouses or family members while he committed his assault. Murder weapons varied from butcher knives and logs, to firearms.
There are multiple instances where he called victims before or after an attack to taunt them, not speak, or ask for a person who was not there. One such phone call was as recently as 2001, and possibly 2004, with the case of Michelle Cruz, sister to victim Janelle Cruz, receiving five to six phone calls of silence a day following a press conference for Proposition 69.
Capturing A Killer
The big breakthrough in the case occurred in an unlikely way, with investigators tracking down DNA matches made from genealogical websites containing genetic information from a relative, the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office confirmed on Thursday.
DNA from a decades old crime scene was found to match the relative’s online DNA results by searching the family tree to see if there would be any matches to the age and description of the killer, finally settling on DeAngelo himself. According to Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones, DeAngelo’s DNA was collected from something he had discarded while being surveilled for six days by Jones’ investigators.
Results came back with a positive match Monday evening, and Sacramento County Sheriff moved quickly to plot out their arrest, careful to do it outside his home.
“He was very surprised,” Jones said at the Wednesday news conference. “It happened almost instantaneously.”
At the same news conference, Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert was very complimentary of her team.
“For over 40 years, countless victims have waited for justice,” Schubert said. “We found the needle in the haystack and it was right here in Sacramento. The answer was always going to be in the DNA.”
The search for the Golden State Killer was recently renewed because of interest in the case, with a new task force and an additional FBI reward of $50,000 for the arrest and conviction of the serial rapist and murderer.
“The sheriff’s department never gave up on this investigation,” said Detective Paul Belli of the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department. “This person ruined a great number of lives, and he should be held accountable.”