(KGTV) -- Margaret Wardlow doesn’t dwell on what happened to her one night in 1977 - a night that she became victim number 27 of the Golden State Killer.
Just because she doesn’t dwell on it, doesn’t mean she doesn’t remember. Wardlow was the youngest of the serial man's victims, just 13 when she was tied up in her Sacramento home and raped.
On Wednesday Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, was arrested in connection with a series of killings, rapes and burglaries that occurred around the state in the 1970s and ‘80s. 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.
It's an arrest that brought back the memories of that night for Wardlow.
She says at first, she had no idea her attacker was the Golden State Killer - aka the east area rapist, aka the original night stalker in her home.
It wasn't until she looked up at the clock and saw it was 2:30 a.m. that she realized who he was.
"'This is the east area rapist, and this is what’s going on,'" she recalls thinking. "It was time for me to realize, ‘I’m dealing with a serial rapist.'”
The man also tied up her mom, stacking plates on top of her so he would know if she moved.
What he didn't know about Wardlow is that before her attack, she was on top of every story that came out in the newspaper about him.
Knowing that he seemed to thrive on powerless victims, when he asked in a harsh whisper, ‘Do you want to die? Do you want me to kill your mother?’" She simply said, "I don’t care.”
Defiance is what she believes saved her life that night.
Despite the terrifying ordeal, she says the crime had not defined her life.
"Certainly I’m a victim, I was 13 years old, a man came into my home, tied up my mother and raped me, but I don’t own that," she said. "I can choose whether I own that or not, and I don’t own it.”
Wardlow says she never knew if the day would come that someone would be found and arrested. Now that it has, she’s thrilled for the other victims and their families and the diligent detectives who never gave up.
"I was really concerned that people would go to their graves without knowing who killed their loved ones," she said.
When asked if she plans to attend the court dates of Joseph James DeAngelo, she told 10News she will, and wants to look him in the eyes and ask, "Why?"