Joseph DeAngelo was arrested in 2018 decades after the crime wave.
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Joseph DeAngelo, the man suspected of being the famous Golden State killer, has agreed to plead guilty to 13 counts of first-degree murder in front of dozens of victims and relatives of the victims, prosecutors said.
The death penalty will be removed from the table and serve a life sentence without parole, Sacramento County Deputy District Attorney Amy Holliday said at the hearing Monday.
After DeAngelo was arrested in 2018, he told himself in an interview room, “I did all of those things. I destroyed all of those lives,” according to prosecutors.
The plea agreement “will allow the victims and remaining family members … to hear the defendant admit that he committed these acts,” Holliday said.
Instead of a courtroom, DeAngelo, in an orange jumpsuit and wearing a cane, appeared in a ballroom at California State University, Sacramento. With more than 150 victims and family members expected to attend, prosecutors sought a room that was large enough to accommodate them and promote social estrangement, The Sacramento Bee reported. The dance hall has capacity for 2,000 people.
The victims and their families nodded when DeAngelo acknowledged the multiple charges against him in a weak and tense voice.
Debbi Domingo McMullan, whose mother, Cheri Domingo, was murdered in 1981, told ABC News that “there is no closure. It is a lifelong process.”
DeAngelo, now 74, was accused of committing 13 murders, as well as multiple rapes and robberies in the 1970s and 1980s, terrorizing communities in northern southern California.
DeAngelo was a police officer during crimes in the 1970s.
Among the survivors was Jane Carson-Sandler, who was at home with her 3-year-old son when she was raped in 1976.
“He told us through clenched teeth, ‘Shut up or I’ll kill you,'” he told ABC News in 2018.
“After the rape ended, praise the Lord, he moved my son to my side. I could feel his body, and then I was relieved,” she said. “Then [the rapist] He said, ‘Don’t move, or I’ll come back and kill you.’ ”
When the crimes turned into murders, the “Golden State Killer” attacked couples and would rape the woman before killing them both.
The Golden State Killer crimes remained unsolved until April 2018, when DeAngelo was arrested in Sacramento County.
DeAngelo became the first public arrest obtained through genetic genealogy, a new technique that takes the DNA of an unknown suspect left at the crime scene and identifies him by tracing a family tree through members of his family, who they voluntarily submit their DNA. to public genealogy databases.
This allows the police to create a much larger family tree than the use of police databases, such as the Combined DNA Index System, also known as CODIS, in which an exact match is generally required.
To identify DeAngelo, the researchers narrowed down the family tree search based on age, location, and other characteristics.
Authorities inspected DeAngelo and collected his DNA from tissue that was left in the trash. Investigators plugged his discarded DNA back into the genealogy database and found a match, linking DeAngelo’s DNA to the one he collected at multiple crime scenes, prosecutors said.
Since DeAngelo’s arrest, more than 150 suspects have been identified through genetic genealogy.
ABC News’ Jenna Harrison and Annie Pong contributed to this report.