The man accused of being the Golden State Killer was taken to a courtroom in a wheelchair, dressed in an orange jumpsuit. Joseph James De Angelo will appear in Sacramento County court Friday to be tried on two counts of murder. (April 27)
The suspected Golden State killer faced a judge on Friday after 40 years of running away and a terrifying series of rapes and murders that left to the Californians on the edge.
James Joseph DeAngelo, 72, were taken to a Sacramento courtroom in a wheelchair by officers. It was his first time in court since his arrest Tuesday outside his home in Citrus Heights, 20 miles northwest of Sacramento. The police managed to decipher the case using decades-old DNA samples and a genealogical website.
Officers pulled DeAngelo in an orange jumpsuit as photographers took pictures of the man suspected of terrorizing Californians for years. DeAngelo, who was handcuffed to his wheelchair, did not move or show emotion since the charges and details of his alleged crimes were read by Judge Michael Sweet.
He did not say much besides whispering "yes" in a fragile voice when Sweet asked if it was DeAngelo. He also did not plead guilty on Friday, but another hearing was scheduled on May 14. The authorities have yet to decide a date in court, where they will be tried and face prosecution for the death penalty.
DeAngelo is housed in the psychiatric ward of the Sacramento County jail and has been placed under suicide watch, according to the Associated Press.
Sacramento Sheriff Scott Jones told AP on Friday that DeAngelo has said little, but he's been talking and muttering to himself.
He has been accused of eight murders. Additional charges are expected from half a dozen California counties also terrorized by a serial rapist and an assassin who was blamed for 12 murders, more than 50 rapes and the looting of hundreds of homes from 1974 to 1986.
If they have increased and declined over the years, the researchers reduced potential killers from Golden State Killer to DeAngelo by comparing the DNA of the crime scene with genetic material stored by a distant relative on a genealogical website.
Sacramento police believe he caught the & # 39; Golden State assassin & # 39; The serial killer is blamed for 12 murders and 45 rapes for 30 years.
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After focusing on DeAngelo as prime suspect, the police spent six days following their movements to plan how and when to stop it. They also took two samples of "discarded DNA" from DeAngelo, apparently from a straw or used cup, to positively identify him as the possible Golden State Assassin.
"I was very surprised," Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones said about arresting DeAngelo. "It happened almost instantly."
The DNA process used to identify DeAngelo was first reported by The Sacramento Bee. Sacramento's deputy chief, Steve Grippi, confirmed the use of a genealogy website for USA TODAY, but declined to give more details about the website that was used.
Paul Holes, cold-weather expert and retired inspector of the Contra Costa County district attorney, said his team's biggest tool was GEDmatch, a Florida-based website where people publicly share unprocessed genetic profiles , Mercury News reported. Access to the largest database of the genetic blueprint site is voluntary and does not require a court order.
GEDMatch said on its website that it understands that its database was used to help identify the Golden State Killer.
"Although we were not there If the application of the law or any other person about this case or about DNA, GEDmatch's policy has always been to inform users that the database could be used for other uses, such as established in the Site Policy, "said the company. Those concerned about the "non-genealogical" uses of their DNA should not upload it to the database, said GEDMatch.
Police are confident that by arresting DeAngelo they have arrested the author of a series of rapes and murders Over the years the Ransacker of Visalia, the rapist of the East, was blamed in different ways, Original Night Stalker and Golden State Killer.
It was not until the cold cases reopened 18 years ago that researchers began to see a pattern in the different crimes in the various local communities. The rapist, for example, often used a "diamond knot" to tie his victims, which indicated that he had been a Boy Scout or that he was in the military.
He often messed with couples who slept during the night, tied the husband while raping the wife. Often, in a strange ritual, he would place cups or saucers on the back of the tied husband, warning them that he would kill them both if any of the objects fell and broke during the test.
Two years ago, the search heated up after Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert, who could remember as a child how terrified her community had been, successfully pushed for a state task force on the crimes of Golden State Killer. The researchers were also able to employ new DNA techniques and databases in the search.
DeAngelo, now retired, worked for two police departments over the years, including in the agricultural town of Exeter, near Visalia, site of the initial chain of violations. and assaults between 1973 and 1976 by the so-called Visalia Ransacker.
In 1975, community college teacher Claude Snelling was killed while trying to prevent a masked intruder from kidnapping his 16-year-old daughter from his home in what police now consider a 13th victim of the Golden State Assassin.  DeAngelo was a "black sheep" who did not joke with other officers, said Farrel Ward, 75, who served in Exeter's force with DeAngelo.
Ward said it's possible that DeAngelo helped with the search for Snelling's killer and the elusive thief, but he does not remember DeAngelo directly investigating the murder.
"I've been thinking, but there's no indication that anything was wrong," Ward said. "How could you go out and kill someone and go back and go to work? I do not understand that."
DeAngelo also worked as a police officer in Auburn, but was fired after a robbery.
The suspect and his wife of 45 years – a lawyer – raised three daughters, one who is an emergency room doctor, another graduate student at UC Davis, reported Los Angeles Times .
Neighbors, relatives and former acquaintances of DeAngelo say they had no idea that he could be a serial killer. He worked for nearly three decades in a supermarket store in the Sacramento area as a truck mechanic, and retired last year. As a neighbor, he was known for taking meticulous care of his lawn.
DeAngelo's sister, Becky Thompson, still living in Exeter, sobbed on the phone Thursday during an interview with Los Angeles Times as she tried to accept her brother's arrest for such horrendous acts.
"I'm quite shocked," he told the newspaper. "I'm incredulous, it's hard to think." Thompson said he expects the police to be wrong with his brother, whom he considered "the kindest and gentlest man with his children."
"I have prayed a lot so that some of this is not true," he said.  Contribute: The Associated Press
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