A former police officer who terrorized California as a thief and serial rapist and then killed more than a dozen people while evading capture for decades pleaded guilty Monday to murders attributed to a criminal named “the Golden State Killer” .
Joseph James DeAngelo Jr had remained almost silent in court since his arrest in 2018 until he repeatedly uttered the words “guilty” and “I admit” in a low, husky voice as part of a plea agreement that will save him the death penalty of for life. sentence without possibility of parole.
DeAngelo, 74, had never publicly acknowledged the murders, but offered a kind of confession after his arrest that cryptically referred to an internal personality named “Jerry” who he said forced him to commit the crime wave that ended. abruptly in 1986.
“I didn’t have the strength to expel him,” DeAngelo said while alone in a police interrogation room after his arrest in April 2018, according to Sacramento County prosecutor Thien Ho. “He made me. He left with me. It was like, in my head, I mean, he’s part of me. I didn’t want to do those things. I pushed Jerry and had a happy life. I did all those things. I destroyed all of their lives So now I have to pay the price. “
“The scope of the Joseph DeAngelo crimes is simply astonishing,” Ho said. “Every time he escaped, he quietly escaped into the night.”
Joseph DeAngelo, the man now known as The East Area Rapist and Golden State Killer, pleaded guilty to 13 murder charges. #Dateline pic.twitter.com/n0l5xEOqqo
– Dateline NBC (@DatelineNBC) June 29, 2020
DeAngelo, sitting in a wheelchair on a makeshift stage in a university dance hall that could accommodate hundreds of observers at a safe distance during the coronavirus pandemic, acknowledged that he would plead guilty to 13 murder charges and dozens of violations that are too old to process.
Family members cried as the process continued for hours. A stack of used scarves sat on the floor next to Jennifer Carole, whose father, attorney Lyman Smith, was killed in 1980 with his wife, Charlene Smith, who was raped before she was killed.
“This is much more difficult than I thought it was going to be. And I thought it was going to be difficult,” Carole said. “I feel a lot of anger, which I don’t think I felt so powerfully before.”
DeAngelo can suck it. Look at these amazing survivors. And more is on the way! #earons #goldenstatekiller #conviction #letsdothis pic.twitter.com/DBk4dz5608
– Jen Carole | Daughter Pod Lawyers | LifeCoachPod (@jcarole) June 28, 2020
DeAngelo, a Vietnam veteran and grandfather, had never been on the radar of investigators who spent years trying to locate the culprit.
It wasn’t until after the crimes ended that investigators linked a series of assaults in central and northern California to murders in southern California and settled on the Golden State Killer nickname for the mysterious assailant.
Police used the DNA from the crime scenes to find a distant relative through a database from a popular genealogy website, and then built a family tree that eventually led to him. They followed DeAngelo and were able to secretly collect DNA from his car door and a discarded handkerchief to obtain an arrest warrant.
Prosecutors detailed sadistic acts he committed after entering homes undetected and surprising couples in bed with a flashlight to their faces and threatening to kill everyone in the home, including young children, if they did not follow his orders. .
The masked marauder initially said he just wanted his money to win his cooperation. He would have the women tie their husbands or boyfriends face down on the bed with shoelaces, and then he would tie the women. The victims described being pushed by the barrel of a pistol or the tip of a knife.
He stacked dishes on the men’s backs and said they would both be killed if he heard the dishes crash as he raped the woman.
He stole everything he could find, sometimes a few bottles of Budweiser and some cash, sometimes diamond rings. He sneaked away in the dark on foot or by bicycle and even managed to evade the police who sometimes believed they were close to catching him.
DeAngelo began in the police force in the agricultural town of Exeter in the San Joaquin Valley in 1973, where he is believed to have committed his first robberies and his first murder.
After three years in the force, DeAngelo returned to the Sacramento area, where he landed a job with the Auburn Police Department in the Sierra foothills. He held that job until 1979 when he was caught stealing dog repellent and a hammer, two items that could be useful to a thief.
The guilty plea and life in prison prevented a trial and even a planned preliminary hearing for weeks. Victims may face DeAngelo during an August sentence that is expected to last for several days.