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“Golden State Killer” Suspect Arrested in 40 Year Cold-Case Investigation

An arrest has been made in the 40-year-old search for the Golden State Killer, otherwise known as the East Area Rapist. Former police officer and NAVY veteran, Joseph James DeAngelo, was arrested and booked on two counts of murder in his Sacramento home at the age of 72.

Neighbors of DeAngelo, who had been a resident of the suburb for over 30 years, were wary of him as the neighborhood recluse. However, they were shocked to watch him be taken away after stepping outside of his home in what Sacramento Sheriff Scott Jones called a “perfectly executed arrest.” DeAngelo was reportedly shocked by the arrival of police and that he “had a roast in the oven.”


Courtesy: ABC News


DeAngelo is accused of being the Golden State Killer who was infamously responsible for the serial murder of 12 people, raping of over 50 women, and over 100 home burglaries throughout California during the 1970s and 1980s. Now, 32 years after the Golden State Killer’s last known crime, DeAngelo is being held without bail facing capital murder charges for the 1978 killings of Katie and Brian Maggiore.

Authorities first made a break in connecting DeAngelo to the Golden State killings when DNA evidence left behind at crime scenes decades ago indicated a positive match with genetic information from a consumer genealogy website. Several months ago, investigators inputted the DNA from the killer into the website’s database and constructed a family tree of the killers’ relatives and narrowed down the results based on known characteristics before identifying DeAngelo. Following a renewed interest in the case and a $50,000 reward for information in 2016, the FBI described the suspect saying, “If he is still alive, the killer would now be approximately 60 to 75 years old. He is described as a white male, close to six feet tall, with blond or light brown hair and an athletic build. He may have an interest or training in military or law enforcement techniques, and he was proficient with firearms.”


Courtesy: NBC


Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert’s office and crime lab were responsible for the identification of the DeAngelo in the long-term investigation of the killings. In an interview, Schubert said that the results from the two samples sent from the police department that underwent testing provided “overwhelming evidence that it was him [but] the second sample was astronomical evidence that it was him. There was a whole lot of holy s— moments.” At the news conference following DeAngelo’s arrest, Schubert stated that she and her team all knew they were “looking for a needle in a haystack, but we also all knew that the needle was there . . . we found the needle in the haystack and it was here in Sacramento.”

Officials have not released which consumer genealogical site was used as part of the investigation, but, according to the LATimes, Ancestry.com, 23andme, and MyHeritage have all denied that “law enforcement officials formally reached out to them about the Golden State Killer case.”


Courtesy: ABC


According to the Sacramento Bee, who first broke the story of DeAngelo’s arrest, Sacramento authorities have yet to determine where the trial will be held and if he will face death penalty prosecutions. However, the span of time that has passed since the committing of the crimes has left prosecutors across counties considering what actions are within their jurisdiction. Some murders were committed at a time where the death penalty had been ruled unconstitutional, while some were not. Rapes linked to the Golden State Killer in Santa Clara County from 1978 have expired in their statute of limitations, but in Davis’ Yolo County, authorities and prosecutors plan to take action. District Attorney for Yolo County, Jeff Resigi, has come out and said that his office would work with the FBI and involved authorities “to solve the Davis rapes, vigorously prosecute the rapist and achieve some sense of justice for the victims, family members, and the Davis community.”

At the time of this article’s publication, Sacramento County investigators have begun digging in the backyard of DeAngelo’s home but have not stated that there is anything specific to be searched for and do not believe there are bodies to be discovered in the dig.

DeAngelo did not enter a plea following his arrest but will appear in court again May 14.

Nellie Zucker is a staff-writer for the HerCampus FSU chapter and is pursuing a degree in English Literature. While she has a knack and passion for covering harder news stories, she also enjoys writing about film, television, music, and comedy. She hopes to apply her skills as a staff writer for a magazine, newspaper, or television show after graduation.
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