From 1978 to 1986, the Golden State Killer (aka The East Area Rapist) took the lives of 12 people and raped 46 women in California. He often tied up men and forced them to watch their companions being raped before he killed them. The Golden State Killer’s murders and rapes were not linked until 2000.
He remained nameless and free until Wednesday when a task force of local law enforcement and federal investigators announced that they had finally arrested a suspect. Tuesday afternoon Joseph James DeAngelo Jr. was taken into custody at his Sacramento home and charged with eight counts of murder. All of Wednesday and today authorities have continued to search home and property for clues.
Scott Jones, the Sacramento County Sheriff, stated that the task force had been keeping surveillance of the 72-year-old man and retrieved his DNA from a discarded item. The DNA matched samples left at crime scenes.
One of the disturbing aspects of the case is that DeAngelo was once a police officer, serving in several towns near crime scenes. The task force has implied that DeAngelo was working as an officer during the times the crimes were committed.
A few of the victims (via people.com)
Late Wednesday Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauas’ office reported that four more murder charges have been added, bring the number up to twelve.
The case drew attention from crime writer Michelle McNamara in 2007 and she spent years researching and writing about the case. She gave the mystery murderer his nickname The Golden State Killer. McNamara began writing a book about the case and went on to write many magazine articles about the killings. Unfortunately, she passed away before completing the book. Her husband, actor Patton Oswalt (Young Adult, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), went on to complete the book, titled “I’ll be Gone in the Dark”, with the use of her notes. The book was published in February and quickly went on to become a bestseller.
During the years that the serial killer was at work (1978 to 1986), the Golden State Killer wasn’t alone. At that time William Bonin (The Freeway Killer), The Hillside Strangler, Lonnie David Franklin Jr. (The Grim Sleeper), Charles Ng, and Richard Ramirez (The Night Stalker) were all at work in California, leaving residents terrified.
Hopefully, the friends and family of the victims can now find a sense of closure.