Suspected Golden State Killer Pleads Guilty to Murders
Sketch the Golden State Killer suspect(left) and DeAngelo's mugshot (right)
By edhat staff
The accused serial killer, rapist, and former police officer, known as the Golden State Killer, pleaded guilty Monday to 13 counts of first-degree murder.
Joseph James DeAngelo Jr., 74, appeared in a wheelchair wearing an orange jumpsuit and face shield to protect against COVID-19 in a makeshift courtroom within Sacramento State University to provide for proper social distancing.
DeAngelo barely spoke except for "yes" and "I admit" to all the charges after prosecutors described each crime.
"The scope of Joseph DeAngelos' crime spree is simply staggering, encompassing 13 known murders and almost 50 rapes between 1975 and 1986," said Thien Ho, assistant chief deputy district attorney for Sacramento County.
DeAngelo agreed to plead guilty to 13 counts of first-degree murder and special circumstances (including murder committed during burglaries and rapes), as well as 13 counts of kidnapping, to avoid the death penalty, Sacramento County Deputy District Attorney Amy Holliday said.
In the Sacramento area, he was known as the East Area Rapist, in Southern California he was the Original Night Stalker, and early on he was referred to as the Visalia Ransacker.
The accused killer left "communities terrified for years" said Ho.
In 2001, DNA testing indicated that the East Area Rapist and the Original Night Stalker were the same person, which helped establish California's DNA database that collects DNA from all accused and convicted felons in California. The late crime writer Michelle McNamara shone a spotlight on the suspect's activities throughout the state and dubbed him "Golden State Killer" in early 2013.
In April of 2018, authorities charged the then 72-year-old United States Navy veteran and former police officer with eight counts of first-degree murder, based upon DNA evidence. Due to California's statute of limitations on pre-2017 rape cases, he could be charged with 1970s rapes, but he was charged in August 2018 with 13 related kidnapping and abduction attempts.
Upon the arrest, prosecutors from Sacramento, Contra Costa, Orange, Santa Barbara, Tulare and Ventura counties filed 26 charges against DeAngelo and consolidated the cases against him.
DNA evidence conclusively links DeAngelo to eight murders in Goleta, Ventura, Dana Point and Irvine, with two other murders in Goleta linked by modus operandi, or distinctive features, but not DNA. Many investigators also suspect the same killer in three other murders—two in Rancho Cordova and one in Visalia.
DeAngelo is charged with murdering Dr. Robert Offerman and Debra Manning in Goleta in 1979, as well as Cheri Domingo and Gregory Sanchez in Goleta in 1981. He's also been charged with killing Charlene and Lyman Smith in Ventura County in 1980.
June 15, 2020: Golden State Killer Expected to Take Guilty Plea
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