Suspect identified, arrested in East Area Rapist/Golden State Killer case

(KGTV) - Authorities from jurisdictions across California gathered in Sacramento to announce the arrest of a suspect in the decades-long East Area Rapist/Golden State Killer case.

Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, was arrested Wednesday in connection with a series of killings, rapes and burglaries that occurred around the state in the 1970s and ‘80s.

Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert, flanked by district attorneys from several other California counties, said of the new development in the case, “The answer has always been in Sacramento. We found the needle in the haystack, and it was right here in Sacramento.”

Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones told reporters that DeAngelo was taken into custody at his home in Citrus Heights, a city several miles outside of Sacramento. His arrest was the result of an executed search warrant out of Ventura County.

Jones said detectives’ hard work and the use of DNA technology “led us to the right road” in identifying DeAngelo as a suspect and his arrest.


DeAngelo was a police officer in the 70s

DeAngelo, who served in the Navy, was a police officer and was fired in 1979 from the police department in Auburn, which is located northeast of Sacramento. He was also a police officer in Exeter from 1973 to 1976. 

The East Area Rapist/Golden State Killer is suspected in at least 12 homicides, at least 45 rapes and more than 120 burglaries between 1976 and 1986. According to authorities, most of his crimes took place near Sacramento and in the east Bay Area.

Authorities said the man would break into a home wearing a ski mask, tie up the occupants and commit rapes and often murders. He usually stole cash or small items from the homes.

In 2017, the FBI and California authorities announced a $50,000 reward in a renewed effort to catch the suspect.

The FBI also launched a website documenting the search for the East Area Rapist/Golden State Killer.

Bruce Harrington, whose brother and sister-in-law were killed in 1980 in Orange County, told reporters the arrest brought closure. Harrington said Wednesday that it's time for victims' families to grieve and "bring closure to the anguish that we all suffered for the last 40 odd years."


A history of anger

Neighbors said DeAngelo was prone to angry, profanity-filled outbursts if he couldn't find his keys or something else set him off.

Natalia Bedes-Correnti said Wednesday that DeAngelo never yelled at people but would be on "his driveway yelling and screaming, looking for his keys."

Kevin Tapia, now 36, said when he was a teenager, DeAngelo falsely accused him of throwing things over their shared fence, prompting a heated exchange between DeAngelo and Tapia's father.


Murders, rapes stop after 1986

Authorities say, though it's uncommon for serial killers to stop, they can't link DeAngelo to any crimes after 1986. 

"We have no indication of any crimes with a similar or at least a close enough link to his MO and other things that he's done in the past to link him to anything from '86 on," Jones said. "We just have nothing at this point."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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