'Golden State Killer' suspect pleads guilty to 13 murders and rapes

Pablo Tucker
July 1, 2020

An elderly ex-policeman confessed on Monday to being the violent serial prowler known as the "Golden State Killer", pleading guilty to 13 murders and admitting to dozens of rapes and break-ins that terrorised California during the 1970s and '80s. Joseph James DeAngelo Jr., who worked as a police officer during that time, dodged arrest for four decades before being apprehended in 2018.

As part of the plea deal, prosecutors from the counties where Joseph DeAngelo committed his crimes read the specifics of each offense, laying out horrific details about him binding, robbing, raping, sodomizing, beating and killing various victims. DeAngelo faces a sentence of life without parole, prosecutors said.

The ex-cop was able to evade authorities for 45 years as he crisscrossed through the state and was not securely arrested until 2018 thanks to new DNA technology.

Camera IconDave Domingo, left, and his sister, Debbi Domingo McMullan, listen as Joseph James DeAngelo is charged with the 1981 murder of their mother, Cheri Domingo, in Sacramento Superior Court in Sacramento, Calif., Monday, June 29, 2020.

The suspect, whom authorities also nicknamed the "East Area Rapist" and the "Original Night Stalker", was notorious for creeping into his victims' bedrooms at night, tying them up, raping them, and stealing their valuables. At the time, he entered no plea.

"The family members of the murder victims have waited for decades for justice for their loved ones, the sexual assault victims have waited decades for justice", she said.

In addition to 13 murders and kidnappings, prosecutors said DeAngelo was known to have committed almost 50 rapes in all and more than 120 burglaries - a lot of them in and around Sacramento, the eastern San Francisco Bay area and Southern California.

When the lengthy hearing has concluded, he will have pleaded guilty to 13 counts of first-degree murder and special circumstances (including murder committed during burglaries and rapes), as well as 13 counts of kidnapping, the prosecution said.

The known attacks began in 1975, initially in the Sacramento area of central California, before spreading out across the state.

The spree apparently ended abruptly in 1986 with the rape and murder of an 18-year-old girl.

DeAngelo then served as a police officer in Auburn, California, from 1976 to 1979.

He retired in 2017 from a job as a truck mechanic in Citrus Heights, a short commute from Sacramento, where he has lived for more than 20 years.

The cold-case DNA breakthrough leading to his arrest came shortly after best-selling true crime book "I'll Be Gone in the Dark" reinvigorated public interest in the infamous case.

Its author Michelle McNamara - the wife of Hollywood actor and comedian Patton Oswalt - had died before its release.

While sparing the defendant from a potential death sentence, the deal also saves a dwindling number of ageing survivors, victims' families, witnesses and law enforcement officers involved in the case from prolonged legal proceedings, prosecutors said.

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