Golden State Killer: Caught Via Genealogy Website
From 1974 to 1986, the serial killer known as the Golden State Killer terrorized California.
The masked gunman, who was also known by several other names, including the "East Area Rapist," and "Original Night Stalker," killed 12 people, raped at least 51 victims and burglarized hundreds of homes.
Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, was arrested on Tuesday at his home in the Sacramento suburb of Citrus Heights, Calif., after detectives matched his DNA to evidence from the investigation, police said.
Though DeAngelo is elderly, District Attorney Tom Rackauckas of Orange County said that DeAngelo had guns in the house, and that there were "dangers involved" in apprehending him. Because of this, investigators surveilled DeAngelo's house until he came outside, arresting him then.
DeAngelo was in the Navy and during the Vietnam War served aboard the USS Canberra, a guided missile cruiser, according to a Navy spokesperson. After leaving the military, he was a police officer in Exeter and Auburn, Calif., for most of the seventies.
He left the police force in 1979 after being caught shoplifting a can of dog repellent and a hammer from a drugstore, Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones said. DeAngelo then worked as a mechanic at supermarket Save Mart for 27 years. He retired in 2017.
"None of his actions in the workplace would have led us to suspect any connection to crimes being attributed to him. We are working with the Sacramento County district attorney's office on their investigation," Save Mart spokesperson Victoria Castro said.
True crime fans have been sleuthing to discover any and all information about DeAngelo. An image of a person who bears a striking resemblance to DeAngelo sitting at a Sacramento East Area Rapist town hall meeting has been posted on the My Favorite Murder Instagram page.
DeAngelo faces capital murder charges in the killings of Katie and Brian Maggiore in 1978. He is expected to be charged in 12 homicide cases in Sacramento, Orange, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. He is currently being held without bail.
DeAngelo's neighbors said he was a bit reclusive and they they found him odd — he sometimes talked to himself and occasionally yelled at people who got too close.
"He's not like an overly creepy person, but he definitely, you know, kept to himself and kind of was ... a little different," Kevin Tapia, who lived nearby, told HLN. Tapia also shared that DeAngelo has at least three daughters, and he believes that a daughter and a granddaughter had recently moved in to DeAngelo's house.
DeAngleo was arrested after investigators matched a discarded DNA sample from his home to crime-scene evidence from the investigation. They got a familial match through genealogical websites that contained genetic information from an unidentifed relative, according to the Sacramento County District Attorney's Office.
The effort was part of a painstaking process that began by using DNA from one of the crime scenes from years ago and comparing it to genetic profiles available online through various websites.
Watch the full series of Investigation Discovery’s The Golden State Killer: It’s Not Over on ID GO now!