Golden State Killer, Joseph James DeAngelo, pleads guilty to murders
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. After one double murder in 1979, a prosecutor said, DeAngelo snacked on leftover Christmas turkey from a victim’s fridge and left the bones behind.
“The (surviving) victims in this case have lived far too long with this trauma. They’ve suffered for far too many years,” Ventura County District Attorney Greg Totten said. “Simply put, they deserve to see the defendant die in prison as a convict, and not simply the accused.”
DeAngelo 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.
He said, “Guilty,” when asked to plea for the murders and “I admit,” when asked to acknowledge the rapes and other crimes.
Some rapes took place when the victims’ children were home, and in one case, he bound a 3-year-old boy with fabric torn from something in the woman’s bedroom. Prosecutors also described a rape while the victim’s young daughter was home.
The defendant appeared before Superior Court Judge Michael Bowman at the Sacramento State University Union Ballroom, a venue chosen to allow for social distancing. Dressed in a prison jumpsuit and appearing frail, DeAngelo and his defense team wore clear plastic face guards as they sat on a dais to Bowman’s left.
He likely will serve 11 consecutive terms of life without parole, with 15 concurrent life sentences and additional time for weapons charges, according to Holliday. He will waive his rights to appeal, she said.
His sentencing is set for August.
The plea benefits the public for multiple reasons, including the time that has passed since the crimes and the prospect of bringing elderly witnesses to testify during a pandemic, she said.
DeAngelo confirmed to Bowman he understood the plea, and confirmed he is making the pleas of his own volition.
In 1973, DeAngelo began working as a police officer in Auburn, outside Sacramento, and then in Exeter, an hour southeast of Fresno. The Vietnam War veteran spent six years in law enforcement before he was fired for shoplifting dog repellent and a hammer from a drugstore.
He later worked as a mechanic in Roseville, near Sacramento, retiring in 2017. When he was arrested in April 2018, he was in Citrus Heights, the neighborhood where the Golden State Killer raped the first of his known victims in 1976.
Cracking the case
“Over the years, we heard of homicides down in Southern California, and we thought it was the East Area Rapist,” said Larry Crompton, a retired detective for Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Department. “But he would not leave fingerprints, so we could not prove, other than his (modus operandi), that he was the same person. We did not know anything about DNA.”
Investigators in 2001 were able to link via DNA evidence the crimes of the East Area Rapist and the Original Night Stalker.
CNN’s Eric Levenson, Cheri Mossburg and Breeanna Hare contributed to this report.