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, the Original Night Stalker, 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.
Here’s what you need to know about the Golden State Killer’s murder victims:
While the arrest warrant charge DeAngelo with just two counts of murder, the total number of homicides believed to be committed by the Golden State Killer is 13. Here is a timeline of the murders connected to the suspect:
It is thought that the Golden State Killer/East
Area Rapist/Visalia Ransacker began his murder spree in 1975 with the shooting death of Claude Snelling.
Snelling, a journalism professor, was shot to death on September 11th in the early morning hours while attempting to interrupt the abduction of his daughter. Authorities called the suspect in the crime the Visalia Ransacker, who was known for his sexually-motivated burglaries beginning in 1973.
On February 2, 1978, Brian and Katie Maggiore were shot outside of their home. Investigators said they believed the couple may have recognized and subsequently surprised the murderer as he stalked their neighborhood near Sacramento, as reported by 48 Hours.
The couple was killed near their home as they walked their dog.
Almost 37 years after the murders, the Air Force Office of Special Investigations officially named a potential connection between the couple’s death and the East Area Rapist/Golden State Killer.
Air Force Office of Special Investigations is the first agency to officially name a potential connection between the East Area Rapist and the Rancho Cordova couple’s death.
The following year, the Golden State Killer’s murder spree began to escalate.
On December 30, 1979, Dr. Robert Offerman and Dr. Alexandria Manning were murdered at Avenida Pequena Avenue in Goleta, California. The two were both nearing divorce from different parties.
Dr. Manning was found in the nude with her hands tied behind her back, lying face-down with a bullet wound to the back of her head.
Dr. Offerman was found kneeling on the ground with one bullet wound to his upper chest and three in his back. His left wrist was found to have white twine wrapped around it.
The alleged serial killer used a .38 revolver to murder them, and neither were said to have been sexually assaulted.
Less than three months after the Offerman and Manning slayings, on March 13, 1980, Charlene Smith was raped and murdered, while Lyman Smith was also killed. The two were murdered in their home on High Point Drive in Ventura County.
The couple’s bodies were found in their bed with a blanket draped over their heads.
Lyman Smith was found nude and lying face-down. His hands and feet had been tied with a nylon cord.
Charlene Smith was raped and wore only a t-shirt when her body was found. Her hands, wrists and ankles were tightly bound behind her back.
The couple was brutally battered to death, according to detectives.
On August 19, 1980, just over five months later, the Golden State Killer is suspected of murdering Keith Harrington, and of raping and killing Patrice Harrington. The killings took place on Cockleshell Drive in Dana Point.
The couple’s hands had been bound with macrame cord which had been removed when their bodies were found. The Harrington’s were bludgeoned to death in bed, with the bedspread covering their heads.
Just under six months after the killings of the Harrington’s, on February 5, 1981, police believe the alleged serial killer raped and murdered Manuela Witthuhn in Irvine.
Harrington, who was found by her mother, had been in a sleeping bag and was beaten to death, investigators said.
On July 27, 1981, it is suspected the Golden State killer was at it again, killing Gregory Sanchez and Cheri Domingo on Toltec Way, Goleta.
Sanchez was found nude, lying face-down on the floor with a single gunshot wound to his cheek, however, he was killed by blunt force wounds to his head area. His body lay partially in a closet.
Domingo was also nude, lying in bed and covered by sheets and blankets. She was killed by a single blow to the head with the same weapon used to murder Sanchez.
Nearly five years later, on May 4, 1986, the alleged serial killer is suspected of the rape and murder of 18-year-old Janelle Lisa Cruz in Irvine, who is believed to be his youngest victim.
The woman was found with a bra that had been pushed down to her waist. She had been brutally struck in the head and face with a pipe wrench, which was believed to have been taken from her own backyard.
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.