For more than 40 years, Joseph DeAngelo, 74 roamed freely around the state of California with no one ever knowing he had raped close to 50 women and killed over a dozen people. To the world, DeAngelo was your average citizen who worked as a police officer and later moved to the Sacramento suburbs to settle down. No one knew he was the man behind the headlines that described the heinous murders and rapes that were being committed all over California.
Officials believe DeAngelo began committing crimes back in 1975 [Source: The New York Times]. By 1977, headlines were calling him the East Area Rapist after several women were raped inside of their homes in Sacramento County. Then, in 1978, DeAngelo, who had been employed as a police officer at the time, transitioned from sneaking into the homes of different women and raping them to committing murder. During that year, DeAngelo killed a married couple, Brian and Katie Maggiore, while they were out walking their dog in Rancho Cordova.
After that, DeAngelo became known as the Golden State Killer.
In 1986, The New York Times said the “crime wave suddenly stopped” and people wondered what had happened to the Golden State Killer. It turns out, he had moved to the Sacramento suburbs where he worked at a Save Mart grocery store in Roseville. Several years later, in 2018, officials used genetic genealogy to identify who the Golden State Killer was.
It was in 2018 when officials arrested DeAngelo and charged him with various crimes, including first-degree murder.
DeAngelo’s case was “the first high-profile case to be cracked with genetic genealogy, a new technique that relies on identifying DNA collected at a crime scene by searching for the suspect’s relatives in genealogy databases.” Apparently, investigators were able to use a DNA sample they had collected at the scene of a double murder in Ventura County in 1980 and used it to create a fake profile on a genealogy website.” Eventually, they were able to match the DNA to some of DeAngelo’s distant relatives, according to the source.
The Golden State Killer Pleads Guilty
After being locked up for two years, the Golden State Killer finally had his day in court. On Monday, DeAngelo and his attorneys sat patiently waiting for the judge to read the long list of crimes DeAngelo had prepared to plead guilty to. As the judge read each of the 13 counts of first-degree murder, DeAngelo plead guilty. The Golden State Killer agreed to submit a guilty plea to all charges in exchange for him to avoid the death penalty. This is an example of why individuals who have been charged with a crime choose to hire a criminal defense lawyer—so a plea arrangement can be made for less harsh penalties to be imposed.
After the judge asked DeAngelo if he understood that he was receiving 11 consecutive life sentences without parole, he replied “yes.” While many of DeAngelo’s victims had initially wanted him to face the death penalty, many were pleased that he would be locked away for the remainder of his life.