Joseph James DeAngelo was accused by authorities in California of being the notorious Golden State Killer who terrorized neighborhoods throughout that state in the 1970s and 1980s, leaving a string of murders in his wake. You can see photos of DeAngelo, as well as police sketches of the killer, throughout this article.
The Golden State Killer also earned a series of other nicknames throughout the years of carnage, such as the Original Night Stalker, East Area Rapist, and Visalia Ransacker. DeAngelo was apprehended through modern DNA techniques, his identity determined through discarded DNA that police obtained after conducting surveillance on him, authorities revealed. DeAngelo, now 72, had lived for years in suburban Sacramento in Citrus Heights. Police have not yet revealed specifically what brought DeAngelo to their attention after all of these years. Over the years, the killer also was possibly captured in two voice recordings, police believe.
The serial killer’s reign of terror was bizarre and brutal. He was said to leave porcelain dishes on some male victims so he would be alerted by the rattling if they moved while he raped their wives. He is accused of beating one couple to death with a fireplace log. Other murders – there are said to be at least 13 in all attributed to the Golden State Killer – were equally heinous in nature.
DeAngelo is a Vietnam veteran and New York native who has lived in California for decades and who served as a police officer for a few years in the 1970s. He was a Navy vet.
The suspect was fired from one local police force after he was caught shoplifting dog repellent and a hammer. Photos of a younger DeAngelo do resemble some of the police sketches from over the years. DeAngelo was married in the early 1970s to Sharon Huddle, a Sacramento-area attorney, although news reports say they are estranged. They had three daughters together. Neighbors described him as a man with an anger management problem.
DeAngelo was arrested on April 26, 2018 and charged in four of the murders. It’s believed the Golden State Killer raped as many as 45 women. The killings stopped in the 1980s, and it’s not clear why. In a reward poster before DeAngelo’s arrest, the FBI reported, “The East Area Rapist/Golden State Killer (EAR/GSK) is described as a White male, currently thought to be between the ages of 60 and 75 years old, and approximately 5’10” tall. He may have/had blond or light brown hair and an athletic build. He may have had an interest in the military, or had some military training, leaving him familiar and proficient with firearms.”
Frightening audio emerged of the killer throughout the years.
The FBI poster further describes the horrors perpetrated by the killer. “Beginning in the summer of 1976, burglaries and rapes occurred in Rancho Cordova and Carmichael, California, both suburbs of Sacramento. The EAR/GSK gained entry into the homes of his victims by prying open a window or door while they slept. He would then shine a flashlight into the face of his victims, tie up the female victim and, if a male victim was present, tied him up as well,” the poster reads. “The EAR/GSK then ransacked the residence and raped the female victim. He often took small items from the residences including coins, cash, identification, and jewelry. Some victims reported receiving telephone calls from the suspect after the crimes.”
The first known murders involved a couple. They were shot, but other victims were bludgeoned to death.
“In 1978, a couple was shot and killed while walking their dog in Rancho Cordova. Evidence left at the scene was indicative of the EAR/GSK. After this crime, the EAR/GSK committed rapes in Stockton, Modesto, Davis, and the East Bay Area of California. Between 1979 and 1981, he was involved in the rape and murder of several individuals, including couples, in Southern California,” the FBI wanted poster said.
“These victims were tied up in the same manner as the Sacramento area rapes and their homes were also ransacked. After July of 1981, no additional incidents related to the EAR/GSK were reported until the rape and murder of an 18-year-old girl occurred in Irvine, California, in May of 1986. This was the last known incident related to the EAR/GSK in California.”
DeAngelo’s home on a sleepy suburban block was being searched by police.
You can learn more about Joseph James DeAngelo here: