Joseph DeAngelo, the man believed to be the infamous Golden State Killer, pleaded guilty on Monday to multiple counts of murder as well as charges of rape, kidnapping, and robbery for crimes dating back to 1973-1986. DeAngelo's admission comes as part of a deal with prosecutors and California counties that will spare him the death penalty, the Washington Post reports. To date, the Golden State serial killer is one of the worst predators in history, committing a timeline of unsolved crimes that include rapes and burglaries across California.
An audience of survivors and their relatives, alongside Superior Court Judge Michael Bowman, gathered in Sacramento State University’s Union Ballroom, which acted as the hearing's de facto courtroom in compliance with social distancing regulations. DeAngelo, now 74 and behind bars since 2018, has 13 charges of kidnapping with the intent of robbery against him and 13 murders pinned to his name. He pleaded guilty to one murder charge prior to the court’s recess and expectedly the remainder of the charges when the court returned.
“The scope of Joseph DeAngelo's crime spree is simply staggering,” Thien Ho, assistant chief deputy District Attorney for Sacramento County, said. Ho also described DeAngelo's self-admission in the waiting room when he was to be interviewing. He allegedly said, “I’ve done all those things, I’ve destroyed all their lives.”
The Golden State Killer, who has also been known by the names "Visalia Ransacker," the “Diamond Knot Killer,” “the Original Night Stalker," and the “East Area Rapist” over the years, terrorized the West Coast for 13 years, resulting in 13 murders and 50 women raped. The suspect in these crimes had evaded police forces until April 2018, when DNA found at one of the Killer’s 1980 crime scenes matched an identified relative’s online genealogy profile. At that time, Joseph DeAngelo was arrested.
A list of every charge against DeAngelo was read aloud in the makeshift courtroom on Monday, including prosecutors reading the details of his various rape charges aloud, and he agreed to plead guilty to every one of them.
Amy Holliday, the Sacramento County deputy district attorney, cited the current coronavirus pandemic as the reason why the court wanted to move forward with getting DeAngelo’s confession. Holliday also noted, according to CNN, that courts being closed throughout the state and the complications of having older prisoners in the courtroom played a role. She said in Monday’s case that, as a result of DeAngelo pleading guilty to the charges and accusations against him, he will be sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole.
Upon his initial arrest in 2018, DeAngelo reportedly admitted to crimes committed between 1973 and 1986, though he did not specify how many and which ones. “His monikers reflect the sweeping geographical impact of his crime,” Ho said, according to the Los Angeles Times.“Each time, he escaped — slipping away silently into the night, leaving communities terrified for years.”