Authorities announced today that they arrested Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, the man that they believe to be the elusive Golden State Killer (GSK).
“The answer has always been in Sacramento,” Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert said of the a suspect in the decades-old GSK case.
“For over 40 years, countless victims have waited for justice,” Schubert said, who said that she learned of the crimes as a 12-year-old living in a town in an era she called “a time of innocence.” Schubert also said that the answer was “always in the DNA.”
She revealed they used the “most innovative DNA technique available” — and said that the big break in the case happened in the last six days. She also pointed out the incredible coincidence that today is what’s known as National DNA Day.
— Daily Mail US (@DailyMail) April 25, 2018
Sheriff Scott Jones said that investigators had conducted surveillance, “got a feel for his activities, or lack thereof,” and developed a plan to approach DeAngelo when he left his house, due to information they were able to obtain about how he my react if they approached him. While they surveilled, they were able to obtain “discarded DNA” for testing, which enabled them to arrest DeAngelo. “We were able to confirm, what we thought we already knew — that we had our man,” Jones said. Jones reported that DeAngelo seemed very surprised when they arrested him.
Last Wednesday at 8:15 in the evening, Schubert said she received an email from Debbie Domingo, whose mother, Cheri Domingo, was murdered by the Golden State Killer, stating, “This case will be solved because of sheer persistence….Thank you for that persistence.”
“In the last six days, that passion, that persistence, and the knowledge finally came to an answer in this building — our crime lab,” Schubert said.DeAngelo has been charged with two counts of murder with special circumstances for the rape and murder of Brian and Katie Maggiore in Sacramento in 1978. Ventura County District Attorney Greg Totten announced that he has filed capital murder charges against DeAngelo for the killings of Lyman and Charlene Smith, an unsolved case from March 1980. He said that this filing is “just the beginning” in the prosecution of DeAngelo.
In an emotional and poignant segment of the press conference, Bruce Harrington, whose brother, Keith, and sister-in-law, Patrice, were murdered by the Golden State Killer, spoke of his fight to change the California laws on DNA. He has filed petitions asking for a more robust DNA database in the state. Harrington was glad to speak the reassuring words: “Sleep better tonight, he isn’t coming through the window.”
Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley reminisced about her time as a volunteer advocate at a rape crisis center in Contra Costa county, when she supported the survivors of the East Area Rapist attacks through their recovery process. She emphasized the importance of solving the problem of the backlog of untested sexual-assault kits. She spoke of the need to get those “kits out of the police evidence room and brought into a crime lab to be tested.”
Sheriff Jones confirmed that DeAngelo was a police officer — he worked for the Exeter Police Department in the Visalia area from 1973 to 1976, while the crimes known as the Visalia Ransackings were going on. After that, he worked for the Auburn Police Department from 1976 through 1979, when he left the department due to a shoplifting charge.
Dive association. Dog repellant. Hammer. And refuses a hearing after shoplifting charge. Just took his punishment and left the force so no one would look deeper. #GoldenStateKiller #michellemcnamara #IllBeGoneInTheDark #stepintothelight pic.twitter.com/TSqmFwtZb9
— Billy Jensen (@Billyjensen) April 25, 2018
The Golden State Killer is believed to have committed at least 12 homicides, over 50 rapes, and more than 100 burglaries.
Before escalating to murder, police believe the Golden State Killer was the same individual known as the East Area Rapist (EAR). The Golden State Killer has also been known as the Diamond Knot Killer and the Original Night Stalker. During today’s press conference, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas also confirmed that DeAngelo is the suspect in what is known as the case of the Visalia Ransacker.
His crimes spanned Northern, Central, and Southern California. According to property records, DeAngelo lives in Citrus Heights, California, near Sacramento. He has lived there for at least two decades, public records show.
One of the most surprising facts that came out of the press conference was District Attorney Schubert’s statement that DeAngelo’s name had never come up as a possible suspect in the past.
The investigation into Joseph James DeAngelo continues. He is being held in Sacramento County Jail, and is ineligible for bail. Sheriff Jones announced that “as we speak, warrants are being served and interviews are being conducted.” In particular, he mentioned that they have been interviewing family members of DeAngelo, to whom his arrest has been “quite a shock.”
Watch the full series of Investigation Discovery’s The Golden State Killer: It’s Not Over on ID GO now!
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Main photo: Joseph James DeAngelo [Sacramento Sheriff’s Office]