DeAngelo was arrested in 2018 after law enforcement compared DNA from crimes committed in the 1970s and 80s in 11 California counties with that of users of the open source genealogy website GEDMatch.
Law enforcement has spent decades trying to solve the crimes. Investigators took years to link a series of attacks in central and northern California to subsequent murders in southern California. Authorities finally chose the nickname Golden State Killer for the mysterious assailant.
Sacramento County Attorney Thien Ho said DeAngelo made incriminating statements after his arrest in 2018, claiming that he was being driven by internal force that he could not control.
“I didn’t want to do these things,” said DeAngelo, according to Ho, “I have destroyed their entire lives. So now I have to pay the price. ”
Ho said it was time for DeAngelo to pay this price.
“The scope of Joseph DeAngelo’s crimes is simply staggering,” said Ho, including nearly 50 rapes. “Each time he escaped, he slipped silently through the night. ”
The case received attention in 2016 when the Sacramento district attorney announced the creation of a task force to identify the killer, and the FBI awarded a $ 50,000 reward for the information leading to his capture.
The scale of the crimes, and the long-standing unidentified perpetrator, aroused particular interest from the real criminal community and spawned dedicated discussion forums. Ill Be Gone in the Dark, a bestselling book on writer Michelle McNamara’s real search for the Golden State Killer, drew attention to the case when it was published a few months before DeAngelo’s arrest .
To account for social distancing, Monday’s hearing was held in a ballroom at Sacramento State University which was designed to resemble a state courtroom with the seal of the Sacramento County Superior Court behind the judge’s chair.
DeAngelo was brought into the makeshift courtroom with a clear face shield and spoke in a hushed, husky voice.
For many survivors, DeAngelo’s plea comes with mixed emotions as well as a fear that he could not withdraw from the agreement at the last moment.
“It is a difficult place to live, to know that at any moment he could change his mind and that he is very manipulative. I will not believe anything until it is inked and approved, “said Hardwick.
DeAngelo is a American Navy veteran of the Vietnam War and father of three and had worked as a police officer in communities close to the crime scene. He had worked as a police officer in the town of Exeter in the central valley from 1973 to 1976 and was dismissed from his service at the Auburn Police Department in 1979 after allegedly stealing a dog repellant and a hammer from a Pay ‘n Save store. He then worked at a Save Mart distribution center, reported the Sacramento Bee, and would live with his daughter and grandchild on a quiet street in a suburb of Sacramento when he was arrested in 2018.
DeAngelo’s victims are expected to confront him at a sentencing hearing in August.
Before Monday’s guilty plea, many felt a mixture of emotions. “I will be very happy that this is done. I’m tired of having real estate in my head, “said Jennifer Carole.
Carole’s father Lyman Smith and his wife Charlene were clubbed to death in their home in Ventura in 1980 when Carole was only 18 years old. Her 12-year-old brother discovered the bodies. The family did not learn that the crime had been the work of a serial killer for 20 years, and it was not until after DeAngelo was captured that Carole realized how the murders had affected her life.
“You cannot get your people back. You can’t regain your sense of security, ”added Carole. “He stole something from everyone in California who endured his terrorism. “