The Associated Press reports that a man has been arrested in Sacramento, California as the suspected infamous Golden State Killer. He allegedly carried out multiple rapes and murders in California in the 1970s and ‘80s before the case went cold, and investigators have been searching for him ever since.
Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, was a former police officer and is now in jail facing four counts of murder and dozens of other potential charges. DNA evidence was used to link him to the crimes committed by the Gold State Killer.
Also known as the East Area Rapist before authorities determined they were one and the same, DeAngelo allegedly carried out 50 rapes and at least 12 murders in 10 counties, spreading from Northern to Southern California. Victims ranged in age from 13 to 41, and the rapist would enter homes at night wearing a mask.
If a couple was present in the room, the attacker would tie up the man before raping the woman. He would also stack plates on the man’s back so he would know if the man tried to move during the attack. After raping his victims, he would go through the home and take souvenirs such as coins and jewelry before fleeing on foot or via bicycle.
DeAngelo was first on the investigators’ radar as a suspect just last week. They are not revealing exactly how the case led them to DeAngelo at this time.
Investigators were able to obtain his DNA from something he discarded. Initial results did not match but showed similarities, and a second sample provided a conclusive match.
Prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty in the case.
DeAngelo served in the Navy before becoming a police officer in Exeter from 1973 to 1976, which is when a burglar called the “Visalia Ransacker” was also active. He later moved just outside of Sacramento, where 50 of the Golden State Killer crimes took place during the three years he worked there.
He was fired from the department in 1979 after he was arrested for shoplifting. After paying the $100 fine for that crime, 10 murders happened in Southern California.
The last known rape and murder suspected of being committed by DeAngelo occurred in 1986.
*Photo credit Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office via AP