Joseph James DeAngelo, believed to be the notorious “East Area Rapist” or “Golden State Killer,” was arrested early April 25, 2018 in the Sacramento area. His arrest comes more than 30 years after he allegedly killed at least 12 people and raped 51 victims from 1976 to 1986. The long-hunted serial killer was also known as “the Original Night Stalker.”
During an afternoon press conference, Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert said the Golden State Killer case had forever tarnished the innocence in the community.
“For anyone that lived here in this community in Sacramento, the memories are very vivid,” Schubert said. “You can ask everyone who grew up here—everyone has a story.”
Joseph James DeAngelo, Former Cop, Arrested
Joseph James DeAngelo was arrested on Wednesday, April 25 by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department and booked on two counts of murder.
Police were seen outside DeAngelo’s home in a part of Sacramento called Citrus Heights.
He is being charged with two counts of first-degree murder with three special circumstances. Those circumstances are: multiple murders; murder during the commission of a rape; and murder during the commission of a robbery.
The victims are Lyman Smith, 43, and Charlene Smith, 33. They were killed in Ventura County on March 13, 1980.
Ventura County District Attorney Greg Totten said that prosecutors will seek the death penalty against the former Auburn police officer. According to the Golden State Killer task force, innovative DNA technology led to the arrest of DeAngelo.
Just the Beginning
Investigators are saying that the two murder charges are linked to a number of previously unsolved killings, rapes, and home robberies committed in the 1970s and 1980s that many attribute to a single perpetrator, the Golden State Killer. Now they believe DeAngelo is that man.
Investigators believe DeAngelo raped 37 people in California’s Sacramento area and Central Valley, and murdered two from 1976 and 1978. After that, he moved on to the San Francisco Bay Area and Southern California.
DeAngelo was a former Auburn police officer who was fired in 1979 after shoplifting a hammer and a can of dog repellent from a Sacramento drug store.
At the time that the crimes were being committed, then Auburn Police Chief Nick Willick said, “It is very important that the community have the utmost trust and faith in its officers’ integrity…”
But by that time, DeAngelo had allegedly raped dozens and murdered two.
DeAngelo was actually fingered as the main suspect in the Golden State Killer case by Michelle McNamara, comedian Patton Oswald’s late wife, in her book I’ll Be Gone in the Dark. She worked with investigators on the Golden State Killer mystery but died before the book was published.
Beginning of Closure for Many Victims and Their Loved Ones
Bruce Harrington, whose brother Keith, 24, and sister-in-law Patrice, 27, were killed in their home in 1980, was present at the press conference.
Harrington said that it’s time for the families of victims to grieve and “bring closure to the anguish that we all suffered for the last 40-odd years.”
Authorities in Sacramento County also have arrested DeAngelo on suspicion of murder in the deaths of married couple Brian and Katie Maggiore in 1978.
It seems clear they have further evidence, and more charges will likely be announced in the days and months to come.
DeAngelo Being Investigated for Similar Killings in Australia
Officials are also investigating whether DeAngelo has ties to similar attacks that took place in Australia.
In the 1980s, a man dubbed “Mr. Cruel” terrorized Victorians with a spree of violence, often against children. Mr. Cruel was never caught. It was thought that he was a local who either died or went underground when the attacks stopped in 1991.
But police in San Francisco and in Victoria, Australia have been comparing notes. It appears as though the Golden State Killer and Mr. Cruel could be the same person.
Before Mr. Cruel attacked four girls in Melbourne’s suburbs from 1987 to 1991 and murdered Karmein Chan, the Golden State Killer was doing the same thing in California.
In 1986, the Golden State Killer suddenly disappeared. A year later, Mr. Cruel started his spree in Melbourne.
The two shared similar habits. They both took breaks to eat, were armed with a gun and knife, pretended to have conversations with people who weren’t there, and used expert knots to tie up their victims.
Moreover, both wore dark-colored balaclavas and had long hair. And their police sketches were almost identical. Both would be around the same age, too, if they were both alive.