05 July 2020 :
Joseph James DeAngelo pleads guilty to avoid death penalty. DeAngelo, a former California police officer who prosecutors say killed 13 and raped dozens of victims as the Golden State Killer, entered a guilty plea Monday.
The man dubbed the Golden State Killer pleaded guilty Monday to 13 counts of murder that will lead to a life sentence with no chance of parole. He will be spared the death penalty.
Joseph James DeAngelo Jr., a 74-year-old former police officer, is accused of committing 13 murders.
DeAngelo has also been accused of committing more than 50 rapes during his killing spree between 1975 and 1986. He was not charged for the rapes because of California's statue of limitations.
The Golden State Killer evaded capture for decades.
Eventually "through the use of genetic genealogy searching on GEDmatch, investigators identified distant relatives of DeAngelo—including family members directly related to his great- great-great-great grandfather dating back to the 1800s. Based on this information, investigators built about 25 different family trees. The tree that eventually linked to DeAngelo alone contained approximately 1,000 people. Over the course of a few months, investigators used other clues like age, sex and place of residence to rule out suspects populating these trees, eliminating suspects one by one until only DeAngelo remained."
DeAngelo had remained almost silent in court since his 2018 arrest until he uttered the word “guilty” in a hushed and raspy voice multiple times in a plea agreement that will spare him the death penalty for a life sentence with no chance of parole.
DeAngelo has never publicly acknowledged the killings, but offered up a confession of sorts after his arrest that cryptically referred to an inner personality named “Jerry” that had apparently forced him to commit the wave of crimes that ended abruptly in 1986.
“I did all that,” DeAngelo said to himself while alone in a police interrogation room after his arrest in April 2018, Sacramento County prosecutor Thien Ho said.
“I didn’t have the strength to push him out,” DeAngelo said. “He made me. He went with me. It was like in my head, I mean, he’s a part of me. I didn’t want to do those things. I pushed Jerry out and had a happy life. I did all those things. I destroyed all their lives. So now I’ve got to pay the price.”
DeAngelo was wearing orange jail scrubs and a plastic face shield to prevent possible spread of the virus. Temperatures were taken of everyone in the room and even the judge wore a mask when he wasn't speaking.
DeAngelo, a Vietnam veteran and a grandfather, had never been on the radar of investigators who spent years trying to track down the culprit.
It wasn’t until after the crimes ended that investigators connected a series of assaults in central and Northern California to slayings in Southern California and settled on the umbrella Golden State Killer nickname for the mysterious assailant.
DeAngelo was caught after police used DNA from crime scenes to find a distant relative through a popular genealogy website database and then built a family tree that eventually led them to him. They then tailed DeAngelo and were able to secretly collect DNA from his car door and a discarded tissue to get an arrest warrant.
The retired truck mechanic was arrested at his home in the Sacramento suburbs — the same area he terrorized in the mid-1970s, earning the title East Area Rapist. Victims described a masked prowler who slipped into homes through open windows and tied them up at gunpoint.
He tied up husbands and boyfriends and told them he’d kill them if they made a sound while he assaulted the women. Eventually he slipped off into the dark on foot or by bicycle and even managed to evade police who at times believed they came close to catching him.
He had started on the police force in the San Joaquin Valley farm town of Exeter in 1973, where he is believed to have committed his first burglaries and first killing.
After 3 years on the force, DeAngelo moved back to the Sacramento area, where he got a job with the Auburn Police Department in the Sierra foothills. He held that job until 1979 when he was caught shoplifting dog repellent and a hammer — two items that could be of use to a burglar.