(LOS ANGELES) — The suspected “Golden State Killer” behind serial rapes and murders across California in the 1970s and 1980s has finally been identified.
Joseph James DeAngelo, a 72-year-old former police officer, was arrested this week in the decades-old case.
His alleged “reign of terror” spanned from the Sacramento area in Northern California down to Orange County in Southern California, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said Wednesday. DeAngelo is believed to have committed 12 murders, at least 50 rapes and multiple home burglaries.
Here is a closer look at the timeline:
DeAngelo was a police officer in Exeter, California, from 1973 to 1976, officials said.
DeAngelo was then a police officer in Auburn from 1976 to 1979 until he was fired for allegedly stealing a hammer and a can of dog repellent, The Associated Press reported, citing Auburn Journal articles from the time.
The terror started with burglaries and rapes in the eastern district of Sacramento County in the summer of 1976, the FBI said.
The “Golden State Killer” would break into his victims’ homes by prying open a window or door while they slept, the FBI said.
Sometimes he would take jewelry, identification, cash and coins from the victims’ homes.
There were five incidents in 1976 and 17 incidents in 1977, according to SFGate.
The crimes turned to murders in February 1978, when the “Golden State Killer” shot and killed Brian and Katie Maggiore, who were walking their dog in the Sacramento area.
They were the killer’s last victims in the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department’s jurisdiction, according to The Sacramento Bee.
After the attacks in the Sacramento area, crimes continued in the East Bay area of Northern California, and then escalated into rapes and murders along the California coast, the FBI said.
No crimes were attributed to the “Golden State Killer” from July 1981 until 1986, when 18-year-old Janelle Cruz was raped and murdered in Irvine.
That was his last known crime.
Last week, DeAngelo’s name came up for the first time in the investigation, Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert said.
DeAngelo was then surveilled and DNA from an item police had collected of his was confirmed as a match.
“We had our man,” Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones said at a news conference Wednesday.
On Tuesday afternoon, DeAngelo was confronted by officers and arrested in Citrus Heights in Sacramento County, said Jones.
He has not yet appeared in court.
On June 29, 2020, DeAngelo pleaded guilty to 13 counts of first-degree murder in front of dozens of victims and victims’ relatives.
The plea deal also required DeAngelo to admit to multiple uncharged acts, including rapes, which were described in horrific detail by prosecutors.
The death penalty will be taken off the table and he will serve life without parole, prosecutors said.
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