‘I pray it finally ends’: Golden State Killer survivors hope guilty plea will bring justice | United States News


Jennifer Carole sleeps with a small baseball bat nearby, keeps the bells on her doorstep, and has taken multiple self-defense classes.

Gay Hardwick never feels safe alone and cannot sleep with an open window.

Both women’s lives were forever changed by the Golden State Killer, a rapist and murderer who persecuted the state for more than 40 years. He murdered Carole’s father and stepmother in bed at their Southern California home and sexually assaulted and terrorized Hardwick when she was 24 years old.

In 2018, California authorities said they had identified Joseph DeAngelo, a former police officer, as a suspect in at least 13 murders and more than 50 rapes attributed to the Golden State Killer between 1974 and 1986.

Authorities have told some of the survivors that DeAngelo, 74, will plead guilty Monday, a deal that would see him sentenced to life in prison and would allow the state an expensive trial. The Sacramento County District Attorney’s office would only confirm that there is a scheduled hearing.

DeAngelo He was arrested in 2018 after police compared DNA from crimes committed in the 1970s and 1980s with that of users on the open source genealogy website GEDMatch.

Police had spent decades trying to solve the crimes, which spanned 11 counties, but the case gained renewed attention in 2016 when the Sacramento prosecutor announced the creation of a task force to identify the killer, who has also been called the Rapist. From the East Area, the original Night Stalker and the FBI offered a $ 50,000 reward for information leading to his capture.

The scope of the crimes, and the long-time unidentified perpetrator, attracted particular interest from the true criminal community and generated dedicated panel discussions. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, a best-selling book on crime writer Michelle McNamara’s true quest for the Golden State Killer, drew attention to the case when it was released months before DeAngelo’s arrest.

DeAngelo is a Veteran of the US Navy from the Vietnam War and father of three and He had worked as a police officer in communities near where the crimes occurred. He was fired from his job at the Auburn Police Department in 1979 after being arrested for allegedly stealing a dog repellent and a hammer from a Pay ‘n Save store. DeAngelo worked at a Save Mart distribution center from 1989 to 2017, the Sacramento Bee reported, and in 2018 he lived with his daughter and grandson on a quiet street in a Sacramento suburb.

It was there that he was arrested, in one of the communities that the Golden State Killer had terrorized years before.



Joseph DeAngelo appears in Sacramento County Superior Court in January 2020. DeAngelo is accused of having committed at least 13 murders and more than 50 rapes. Photography: Rich Pedroncelli / AP

For many survivors, DeAngelo’s plea comes with mixed emotions, as well as fear that he might choose not to participate in the deal at the last minute.

“It is a difficult place to be, knowing that you can change your mind at any time and that it is very manipulative. I won’t believe anything until it’s written in ink and approved, ”said Hardwick.

Hardwick was 24 years old in 1978 when a man broke into the house she shared with her now husband, woke the couple up at gunpoint and sexually assaulted her. They survived and did their best to keep going, selling the house they couldn’t live in. But Hardwick suffered for years from an undiagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder and the attack had a lasting impact on her career and emotional state and took decades to work through.

“I hope and pray that it is finally over for all of us. Once and for all [I’ll] I know he is in a place where he will never go. “

The statute of limitations for rape convictions expired three years after the attack on the Hardwicks, but he said he believes the statement is an opportunity for justice.

Carole wanted DeAngelo “to face a courtroom and the evidence,” but she believes the plea agreement is the right thing to do, as it will save the state millions of dollars and prevent her daughters from suffering further. That DeAngelo plead guilty as the American police face a trial on systemic racism and violence is particularly important to Carole.

“We have a dirty cop who had skills that he acquired as a police officer and used to terrorize, rape and murder,” said Carole.

Carole’s father Lyman Smith and his wife Charlene were beaten to death at their Ventura home in 1980 when Carole was just 18 years old. Her 12-year-old brother discovered the bodies. The family did not know that the crime was the work of a serial killer for 20 years, and it was only after DeAngelo was captured that Carole realized to what extent the murders had affected her life.

Jennifer Carole's father and stepmother were murdered at their home in 1980.

Jennifer Carole’s father and stepmother were murdered at their home in 1980. Photograph: Courtesy of Jennifer Carole

“I will be very happy that this is done. I’m tired of having real estate in my head, ”said Carole. But, he added, “you can’t get your people back. You cannot regain your sense of security. She stole something from everyone in California who endured her terrorism. “

As Monday’s audience approaches, Kris Pedretti comes and goes about attending. Pedretti became the tenth victim of the Golden State Killer when she was sexually assaulted at her home at the age of 15.

“This is my only chance to hear this person who attacked me admit his guilt,” he said.

Pedretti’s attacker dragged her home days before Christmas in 1976, sneaked up on her while playing the piano and threatened her with a knife before sexually assaulting her. She left Pedretti with post-traumatic stress, but in recent years she has found solace through therapy and a Facebook group she created where survivors of sexual assault can share their stories. Born out of a horrible crime she suffered at the hands of someone who tried to terrorize her community, Pedretti said the group has been recovering.

“We share our stories. We share which books have been helping us. I’m finally in a place on this trip where I can see some sunlight because I can use what I learned. “

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