Perhaps the only silver lining to the “Golden State Killer” mystery is the attacks had long come to a halt. Over 40 years have passed since the attacks began in the greater Sacramento area. So what led to suspect Joseph James DeAngelo’s capture? Follow along to find out the disturbing details of the Golden State Killer.
1. The first attack took place in June 1976
Sacramento County residents were terrorized starting in June 1976. | SpVVK/iStock/Getty Images
The first attack occurred in June 1976. Sacramento County residents became more and more rattled as subsequent attacks took place in the following months. The lead investigator on the case, Carol Daly, told The New York Times, “The fear in the community was like something I had never seen before. People were afraid wherever they went.”
Next: The suspect wasn’t always labeled the “Golden State Killer.”
2. The expanding territory of attacks gave the killer many nicknames
Suspect Joseph James DeAngelo appears in court for his arraignment on April 27, 2018, in Sacramento, California. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
As tensions began to rise, the killer began collecting quite the laundry list of nicknames. While the community of Sacramento first labeled the killer as the “East Area Rapist,” the broadening attack territory provided more names. These included the “Original Night Stalker,” the “Diamond Knot Killer,” and of course the “Golden State Killer.”
Next: The Sacramento County community quickly realized the killer was among them.
3. The killer attended community gatherings about the rapes
Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert announces the arrest of Joseph James DeAngelo during a news conference on April 25, 2018, in Sacramento, California. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Community gatherings occurred in hopes of sorting through and making sense of the attacks. One evening in a school cafeteria, hundreds of community members came together to learn ways to defend themselves from the unknown attacker. When one concerned attendee expressed his confusion about how a woman could be attacked while her husband was home, he and his wife soon became the Golden State Killer’s victims. At that point, Daly realized “the rapist was there at that meeting.”
Next: You will not believe what the killer would stop to do midway through an attack.
4. The killer would eat and drink during the attacks
An attendee holds a photo of Cheri Domingo and her boyfriend Gregory Sanchez, who were killed in 1981, as she sits in the courtroom during the arraignment of Joseph James DeAngelo. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Not surprisingly, the killer would don a ski mask and use a gun throughout the attacks. The killer would also steal personal items, such as photos and jewelry, along with the victim’s identification. But the more unsettling piece of the attack puzzle was the way the killer would take a break in the midst of it all to indulge in a beverage and snack. As The New York Times reports, this act suggested the killer “was perfectly at home with mayhem.”
Next: Detectives believed the killer had experience in law enforcement.
5. The suspect was a police officer
The suspect had been a police officer. | Chalabala/iStock/Getty Images
The killer’s methodical approach to every single attack quickly suggested to investigators that the person had some kind of experience in the realm of law enforcement. The killer knew what sort of forensic evidence would be sought and managed to effectively and continuously sidestep the law. Sure enough, DeAngelo was a police officer in Auburn, California, just northeast of Sacremento.
Next: The attacks quickly escalated.
6. Rape eventually led to homicide
The first homicides connected to the killer occurred in 1978. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
The East Area Rapist eventually morphed into a full-blown killer in the deaths of Brian and Katie Maggiore in February 1978. The young, married couple were shot to death while walking their dog in Rancho Cordova, California. This would prove to be the first homicides in connection with the East Area Rapist — but unfortunately not the last.
Next: Here’s how the suspect lost his job as a police officer.
7. The suspect was caught shoplifting
Joseph James DeAngelo lost his job on the police force. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
In July 1979, DeAngelo was arrested for shoplifting from a Pay N’Save in Sacremento County. He was attempting to steal a hammer and dog repellent by shoving them down his pants. This incident led to DeAngelo’s firing from the police force, a $100 fine, and six months probation.
Next: Suddenly, the attacks stopped.
8. In 1986, the attacks suddenly stopped
The attacks stopped terrorizing California residents after 12 years. | casch/iStock/Getty Images
After 12 years, 50 rapes, 120 burglaries, and 12 deaths, the spree suddenly came to a stop in 1986. And while in some capacity California residents were relieved, the predator was still at large. While Daly struggled to put her finger on why the killer stopped, she felt “something happened that he just wasn’t able to do those crimes anymore,” according to The New York Times.
Next: Not only did DeAngelo marry, but he had children.
9. DeAngelo fathered 3 daughters
The suspect married and had three daughters. | Paulrichstudio/iStock/Getty Images
After DeAngelo received the boot from the police force, he worked in a Save Mart distribution center in Roseville, California. Furthermore, he married and fathered three daughters. Eventually, his marriage fell apart, and he retired in 2017.
Next: Here’s what led to DeAngelo’s arrest.
10. DNA advancements led to his arrest
Investigators retrieved DNA from outside the suspect’s home. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Investigators uploaded the suspect’s DNA to a genealogy website using evidence retrieved from a Ventura County double homicide in 1980. The website revealed a connection between the suspect’s DNA and a distant relative. Investigators then were able to pinpoint DeAngelo himself. They retrieved a fresh round of DNA from discarded material outside of DeAngelo’s house, and they found their match.
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