An arrest has finally been made in the decades-long investigation into the Golden State Killer, an alleged rapist and murderer who terrorized communities in at least 10 counties across California in the 70s and 80s.
Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, a former police officer, was arrested Tuesday night and booked on two counts of murder Wednesday in Sacramento County.
DeAngelo is believed to the serial killer and rapist who eluded multiple law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, for decades. Known interchangeably as the East Area Rapist and the Golden State Killer, the suspect was tied to the more than 45 rapes, 12 murders and various burglaries using the most innovative DNA technology available.
A vigorous multi-agency investigation into the alleged crimes was reignited in 2016 after a push by Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert, who said at a news conference Wednesday she was motivated to find closure for the East Area Rapist’s victims before the 40th anniversary of his first attack.
“The answer has always been in Sacramento,” she said. “We all knew as part of this team that we were looking for a needle in a haystack, but we knew the needle was there.”
Schubert said it was only in the last six days that evidence began conclusively pointing investigators to DeAngelo. Sacramento Sheriff Scott Jones said after initiating some surveillance, police obtained a discarded DNA sample from DeAngelo and he was apprehended in “a perfectly executed arrest.”
Police believe he is connected to some 175 crimes overall between 1976 and 1986.
Here is everything we know so far about Joseph James DeAngelo, the alleged Golden State Killer:
Who is Joseph James DeAngelo?
DeAngelo had been living in a suburban neighborhood of Sacramento called Citrus Heights. It is unclear whether or not he lived alone, but police confirmed he has adult children and said family members have so far been cooperative in their investigation.
A neighbor, Kevin Tapia, 36, who grew up next door to DeAngelo, told the Associated Press he used to hear DeAngelo cursing to himself in his backyard, and that he was “a weird guy” who kept to himself.
In pictures from a local reporter’s Twitter account, DeAngelo’s Sacramento home on Canyon Oak Rd. can be seen. DeAngelo appeared to be living a regular retiree’s life, with a boat, a motorcycle and a Volvo, as well as one other car on his property.
When was he a police officer?
DeAngelo was a police officer in two different California counties in the 1970s. He first worked for the Exeter, Calif. police department and then for the Auburn, Calif. police department.
He was employed as a police officer during the time that some of the Golden State Killer crimes occurred, though it is not known if he was on duty as a police officer when any of the crimes were committed.
The Auburn police department fired DeAngelo after he was arrested for stealing a hammer and a can of dog repellant from a store.
Jones said police will look into whether a hammer or dog repellant was used in any of the crimes DeAngelo is accused of committing.
He said authorities do not have a clear picture of where DeAngelo went after being fired from Auburn.