With their guilty plea, they can now finally get the closure of facing him in court.
On Monday, he pleaded guilty to 13 counts of first-degree murder and special circumstances, including murder committed during robberies and rapes, as well as 13 counts of kidnapping, and acknowledged more than 50 violations for which he was not charged due to the Statute of California limitations.
The plea means that its victims can give their impact statements starting August 17, much faster than if they had gone to trial in a trial that the six district attorneys involved said it could have taken up to a decade.
“Today’s judicial process takes us one step closer to ending the horrifying saga of Joseph DeAngelo and his long wave of crimes,” Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton said Monday in a press release. . “In this case, justice did not move quickly, it took a long time to arrive. However, our victims remained firm and courageous throughout this process.”
“Today is about remembering all the victims in this case and finally holding DeAngelo accountable for these crimes.”
A pattern emerged
DeAngelo’s victims knew him by many names before pleading guilty to terrorizing communities from Sacramento to Orange County.
It started out as the Visalia Ransacker with a series of robberies, then grew more violent as it moved from county to county. In 1975, university professor Claude Snelling was shot dead when he accused a masked man who was trying to kidnap his daughter from their home, according to the Visalia Times Delta.
That masked man is later believed to have tied up and raped a woman in Citrus Heights, sparking a series of attacks by Sacramento police attributed to an eastern area rapist. Later, the suspect killed a couple who are believed to have seen him break into a house in the city of Rancho Cordova, in northern California.
He then moved 300 miles south to the Santa Barbara area, which he pursued for years with a series of murders that called him the Original Night Stalker.
At first, local authorities did not see a connection between the crimes. But a pattern emerged.
It began by targeting women who were alone or with their children, but in 1977, its victims included partners in their homes.
It generally sneaked into houses, authorities said. If a couple were home, they would tie the man, put dishes on her back, and threaten to kill both victims if she heard the plates fall while raping the woman.
Prosecutors on Monday read the details of the chilling crimes that DeAngelo pleaded guilty to, including including eating leftover Christmas turkey sandwiches in his victims’ refrigerator after a double murder. He left the bones behind.
From 40 years of stagnation to a group of suspects in 4 months
What the suspect did not leave are fingerprints, said Larry Crompton, a retired detective with the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Department. And since he couldn’t be identified by DNA at the time, authorities couldn’t definitively link the crimes or find his suspect.
More than 100 users matched a distant family with the DNA believed to be the culprit. After 40 years of waiting, four months of investigation after the entry in the database revealed a group of suspects, Holes said.
Among them was DeAngelo: veteran, mechanic, and former police officer. His neighbors said it was strange, that it could be out of control, but they never imagined they had a serial killer next to them.
Victims in a county unanimously accept the statement
DeAngelo will be sentenced in August. He agreed to plead guilty to all charges to avoid the death penalty, said Sacramento County Deputy District Attorney Amy Holliday.
He will likely serve 11 consecutive terms of life without parole, with 15 concurrent life sentences and additional time for gun charges. She will give up her appeal rights, Holliday said.
The charges against him come from prosecutors in Sacramento, Contra Costa, Orange, Santa Barbara, Tulare and Ventura counties.
The families of the Orange County victims were consulted when prosecutors considered accepting DeAngelo’s guilty plea, and considering the age of the cases, witnesses, and evidence, their response was a unanimous yes, the district attorney for the Orange County Todd Spitzer.
“Today’s plea will never recover loved ones or restore the sense of security that was shattered, but today, after 40 years of uncertainty, dozens of victims and a nation heard that the person responsible for this reign of terror has finally admitted that he – and he alone is responsible. ” Spitzer said.
CNN’s Eliott C. McLaughlin, Stella Chan, Breeanna Hare, Nicole Chavez, Keith Allen, Jason Hanna and Cheri Mossburg contributed to this report.