For more than a decade — beginning in the mid-70’s and ending in 1986 — the Golden State Killer committed more than 40 rapes and murdered 12 people in California.
Then he disappeared.
But on Wednesday morning, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department announced that a suspect, Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, was arrested in connection to the decades-old cold case.
The news comes after the publication of Michelle McNamara’s book, I’ll Be Gone In the Dark, reached No. 1 on the New York Times Bestseller List and shined a national spotlight on the unsolved crimes. McNamara, founder of True Crime Diary, died unexpectedly before publication of the book and her husband, the comedian Patton Oswalt, has gone on tour to promote the release and to encourage interest in capturing the killer and rapist his wife spent nearly a decade painstakingly researching.
Throughout her research and writing, McNamara reiterated her belief that not only was the killer alive and likely in his seventies, but also still living in California.
In the 70s and 80s, the Golden State Killer raped more than 50 women and likely murdered 10 or more people. A suspect was arrested today. Michelle McNamara, who died in 2016, wrote about her obsessive search for him: https://t.co/ajovTMe3RK pic.twitter.com/KPP5aDiaEE— The New Yorker (@NewYorker) April 25, 2018
The Golden State Killer, also known as the East Area Rapist, the Original Night Stalker, and the Diamond Knot Killer, terrorized residents of the Sacramento area, burglarizing hundreds of houses before progressing to rape and murder. Authorities believed he then moved on to the Bay Area and Southern California where his crimes continued.
During the commission of his crimes, The Golden State Killer bound and gagged his victims, placing plates on the male partners and warning that he would kill everyone if he heard the dishware rattle. He was spotted fleeing crime scenes a number of times, but was agile and managed to sprint away from capture. He sometimes taunted his victims by calling their homes after attacking them and threatening to hurt them again.
The crimes were one of the motivating factors behind a 2004 ballot initiative requiring felons to provide DNA samples in order to create a database. As DNA technology improved in the decades following the Golden State Killer’s most active years, investigators were able to connect more than 175 of crimes and continue investigating the case.
This a breaking story and will be updated.
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