Authorities Believe They Have Finally Caught The 'Golden State Killer' After Searching For More Than 40 Years

After evading California police for decades, the Golden State Killer — also known as the "East Area Rapist" and "Original Night Stalker" — has been identified and arrested. According to authorities, Joseph James DeAngelo Jr. is the man wanted for committing a prolific series of murders, rapes, and burglaries across California in the 1970s and 1980s. 

The Los Angeles Times reported that DeAngelo, 72, was apprehended on Wednesday by a local and federal task force. "Surveillance and discarded DNA" are what tied DeAngelo to the crimes, said Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones. The Golden State Killer was linked to 12 murders, 45 sexual assaults, and more than 120 burglaries; however, he is currently only facing charges for the 1978 killings of Katie and Brian Maggiore. According CNN, DeAngelo is also being accused by Ventura County authorities for the 1980 rape and murder of Charlene Smith and murder of Lynman Smith.

DeAngelo actually served as a police officer in Auburn, Calif. for a number of years before being fired for being accused of shoplifting a hammer and dog repellent in 1979. "He is suspected of committing some crimes while he was still on the force," said the LA Times

The attacks reportedly began in 1976 as a series of burglaries and rapes on the outskirts of Sacramento. According to the FBI, the suspect would "gain entry to homes while the victims slept, awakening them with the beam of a flashlight in their faces." He would then "tie up the victims, ransack their homes and rape the women." 

The suspect eventually began including murder in his crimes. His last known crime, the rape and murder of an 18-year-old woman in Irvine, Calif., was in 1986.

A series of podcasts, websites and books have been dedicated to the search for the Golden State Killer. Most notable, though, was writer Michelle McNamara's work. She not only came up with the name "Golden State Killer," but also spent years researching and talking about the case on her website, True Crime Diary. McNamara was working on a book about the suspect when she unexpectedly died in April 2016. Her husband, actor and comedian Patton Oswalt, finished it — titled I'll Be Gone In The Dark — on her behalf. It was published in February and quickly became a bestseller. There's no doubt it helped lead to Wednesday's arrest. 

Oswalt has continued to publicize the case on social media, and when the arrest of DeAngelo was announced on Wednesday, he published a series of tweets honoring McNamara's work.

He also noted the "synchronicity" of DeAngelo being apprehended on "DNA Day." 

Others used Twitter to show appreciation for McNamara's work.

Hopefully DeAngelo's arrest will bring some comfort to his victims and their families.