Authorities have arrested a former police officer and Vietnam War veteran suspected of being the notorious California serial killer known as the East Area Rapist, Visalia Ransacker, and Golden State Killer, who committed 12 homicides, 45 rapes and numerous home burglaries between 1973 and 1986, the co-writer of a book about the killer says.
Joseph James DeAngelo Jr., 72, was arrested Wednesday morning, April 25, on warrants charging him with two counts of murder, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department’s website shows. He was taken into custody about 2:30 a.m. and is currently listed as being ineligible for bail. Police have not released any other details about his arrest. According to jail records, DeAngelo is 5’11” tall and weighs 205 pounds. The FBI described the East Area Rapist and Golden State Killer as being about 5’10” tall and between the ages of 60 and 75.
The alleged serial killer, who lived in Citrus Heights, was divorced and lived with a daughter and granddaughter, according to the Sacramento Bee, citing the man’s neighbor, Cory Harvey.
Harvey told the publication that she discovered four law enforcement cars pull up to DeAngelo’s address wearing vests and helmets at about 4 p.m., according to The Bee.
“It’s terrifying to think this man could have hopped the fence and come into my backyard. I have children,” another neighbor, Beth Walsh, who lives behind DeAngelo on an adjacent street, told the newspaper. “I’m glad to know they caught this guy.”
Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert said the break in the case came in the last six days and was the result of DNA evidence that was examined at the Sacramento County crime lab. Sheriff Scott Jones said deputies had been conducting surveillance on DeAngelo and obtained DNA that confirmed his identity. Jones said he was taken into custody by his deputies without incident. Ventura County District Attorney Gregory Totten said DeAngelo was charged with two counts of capital murder in the 1980 deaths of Charlene and Lyman Smith. He is also facing two counts of murder in Sacramento County. More charges are expected to be filed and prosecutors plan to work together to figure out where and when the first case will be tried.
Billy Jensen, an author who helped write the recently published book about the case, “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark,” told The Daily Beast that DeAngelo was the suspect arrested in the East Area Rapist/Visalia Ransacker/Golden State Killer cases. He also posted a photo of a news article about DeAngelo on Twitter and called him the suspect. Writer Michelle McNamara worked with investigators on the case while writing her book, “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark,” which was not completed before her sudden death in April 2016. Jensen, researcher Paul Haynes and McNamara’s husband, comedian Patton Oswalt, teamed up to complete the book, which was released in February of this year.
Authorities believe DeAngelo is connected with numerous rapes, hundreds of burglaries and for the murder of 13 people in total. 12 of the murders, authorities believe, were committed by the Golden State Killer. Those victims include Brian Maggiore, Katie Maggiore, Alexandria Manning, Dr. Robert Offerman, Charlene Smith, Lyman Smith, Patrice Harrington, Keith Harrington, Manuela Witthuhn, Cheri Domingo, Gregory Sanchez and Janelle Cruz.
Another victim, Claude Snelling, was killed by a suspect known as the Visalia Ransacker. Authorities now say that DeAngelo is also suspected of that murder.