A suspect who may be The Golden State Killer, also known as the East Area Rapist, has been placed under arrest. 72 year old Joseph James DeAngelo was arrested by the Ventura County Sherriff’s Department under suspicion of being The Golden State Killer and East Area Rapist.
The Golden State Killer, sometimes known as the East Area Rapist or the original Night Stalker, was California’s most prolific uncaught serial killer. Police believe he was responsible for 12 homicides, almost 50 rapes and 120 home burglaries that spanned a decade starting in the late 1970s in Sacramento County.
The case received renewed attention this year after the publication of I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, the best-selling book by the late Michelle McNamara. McNamara’s fascination with the serial killer led her to create the website True Crime Diary. She was working on the book when she died in her sleep in 2016 at the age of 46. The afterward of the book was written by her husband, the comedian Patton Oswalt.
McNamara “had that combination of — how could I put it best — empathy but then mathematical coldness to look at dates and times and cities and link them up, even though they were all linked by the kind of events and the kind of horror that I think would make a lot of people just look away and not want to delve any deeper,” Oswalt wrote.
Investigators have been searching for the Golden State Killer for 40 years. The crimes spanned a decade starting in the late 1970s in Sacramento County and ending in 1981, according to the FBI. In 2016, the FBI’s Sacramento office announced a national campaign and $50,000 reward to identify the perpetrator in in 2016.
“Burglaries and rapes began occurring in the Sacramento area during the summer of 1976,” according to an FBI press release. “During these crimes, the subject would ransack the homes of his victims and take small items such as coins, jewelry, and identification. … Burglaries .. tended to precede clusters of sexual assaults. On February 2, 1978, Rancho Cordova couple Sergeant Brian Maggiore and his wife, Katie, were on an evening walk with their dog and were chased by the subject who overcame the couple and shot at close range.”
“By October 1979, his activity escalated into rapes and homicides/attempted homicides along the California Coast. … During the commission of the homicides, the subject tied up both victims, raped the female victim, and then murdered the couple. … After July 1981, no associated incidents are known to have been reported for five years. In 1986, an 18-year-old woman was raped and murdered in Irvine. No additional crimes have been connected to the subject after this incident.”
The Golden State Killer wore ski masks during the attacks and no accurate rendering of him has ever been made. He was described as white, with a six-foot-tall, athletic build, he was proficient with guns and may have had military training.
The killer’s voice may have been caught on tape in late 1977, when an unknown male called 911, claiming to be the East Area Rapist. There is a theory that the Golden State Killer might also be a killer known as the Visalia Ransacker who burglarized homes starting in In April 1974, and attempted to abduct the 16-year-old daughter of journalism professor Claude Snelling on September 11, 1975.
The Golden Gate Killer is also part of two upcoming documentary series: HLN recently announced a new true crime original five-part docuseries, Unmasking A Killer, and Investigation Discovery’s upcoming four-part documentary series Golden State Killer: It’s Not Over.