Home Main Category Breaking News Officials Name 72-Year-Old Former Policeman As East Area Rapist/Golden State Killer

Officials Name 72-Year-Old Former Policeman As East Area Rapist/Golden State Killer

Photos: Left; DeAngelo as an Auburn police officer, 1979. Right: Composite of Maggiore murder suspect, 1978.

A man identified by police as Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, was arrested at his Citrus Heights home around 2:30 a.m. Wednesday in connection with the East Area Rapist case, according to officials in Sacramento. Authorities confirmed the arrest and DeAngelo’s link to the crimes at a press conference at noon today.

Also known as the Golden State Killer, the sadistic serial rapist was responsible for raping at least 45 women, killing 12 people in the Sacramento area as well as in Concord, Walnut Creek, San Ramon, and Danville from 1976-86.

Officials said DeAngelo was a former police officer who has been living in the Sacramento area for decades and who was identified after DNA evidence linked him to his crimes. Law enforcement has not disclosed what led them to suspect DeAngelo or how his comparative DNA was obtained, though police said his Citrus Heights home was under surveillance prior to his arrest.

DeAngelo’s name appears in an online roster of inmates currently in custody in Sacramento, charged with four murders stemming from attacks in two counties. He is currently under a suicide watch, which means he is routinely checked by jail staff.

A native of Bath, New York, DeAngelo served in the Navy after graduating from Folsom Senior High School in 1964, returning to complete a course in police sciences at Sierra College – and graduating with honors. He also graduated from California State University at Sacramento with a degree in criminal justice.

The Citrus Heights resident was a police officer from 1973 to 1979 – serving first with police in Exeter, then Auburn, where he was employed before store employees caught him trying to steal a canister of dog repellant and a hammer from a local drug store.

A timeline of the Golden State Killer’s attacks show that his last crime in the Bay Area occurred in Danville on July 5, 1979, when a masked man broke into a home on Sycamore Court – the intruder escaping into the night after the homeowners managed to scare him away.

The next case attributed to the Golden State Killer was in early October 1979 — when a man broke into the home of a couple in Goleta, in Santa Barbara County. He tied them up and threatened to kill the woman, who broke free and alerted neighbors by screaming.

Later than same month, according to Auburn Journal archives shared by the Heavy.com website, DeAngelo went on trial for the shoplifting case and was convicted by a jury on Oct. 31. A judge sentenced him to six months probation and a $100 fine – and he was fired from his position with the police department.

At least six more attacks were recorded after that time, though DeAngelo’s precise movements after his termination remain open for investigation.


  1. Uh, this “press conference” is an embarrassment. They’re high fiving each other. Totally glossing over the story and hard work of others outside of law enforcement.

  2. Trying to wade through all the self congratuation for some snippet of information about this case. This is more of a campaign stop than a press conference. Atrocious.

  3. All platitudes and self promotion. Getting more information from the Internet. Law enforcement milking this camera time for all its worth.

  4. Remember those cases and those times well. I was hoping our police and prosecutors would provide some information and background on this case instead of using it as a platform. This press conference is very hard to watch.

  5. Talk about burying the lead. An hour into this and we are no closer to learning how this man was found out – though we have learned that all the officials gathered there are extremely proud of one another. Puhleese.

  6. @ Randy – I believe I heard ‘6 days ago’ at one point. If you’re not familiar with this case, this is one seriously sick, demented person. The details of his selection, stalking and prep of his victims homes BEFORE the crimes will keep you awake. Evil.

  7. I remember this guy as a teenager. I watched the five part series on HLN, and recently read the latest book. With his DNA, it was only a matter of time. Not watching the press conference, but why the criticism? So what if they’re congratulating themselves.

    I’m glad they finally caught him, and hope it brings some closure to the families. Now catch the Zodiac – if he’s still alive.

    I’m not surprised he’s a former cop. Who else would escape being caught so easily for so long.

  8. A photo of this man nearer the time he was a police officer and killing people would be helpful. A high school photo and one taken during booking is ridiculous.

  9. I would like to know how a police officer can lead two lives – one as public servant and the other as a sadistic serial killer. Some detail of his actions, movements during these times would be helpful.

    • @Luci – So would we. We had hoped that information would be detailed at today’s presser but if it was we missed it. Piecing things together now.

  10. I just want to know how a serial killer can masquerade as a police man and do the crimes he did without getting anyone suspicious?

  11. Pretty revealing. The flashlight beam in the victims eyes thing is a tactic you would think someone trained as a police officer would use.

  12. Why would anyone shoplift dog repellant and a hammer? I mean, I can understand trying to shoplift a Rolex or something. But dog repellant and a hammer? That should have flagged him as disturbed or something.

    • @Tom – Survivors remarked about the prowler’s ability to subdue/control the family animals. We believe he killed one dog during one break-in. The hammer? Well, could have been used for any purpose. Hard to imagine why he would feel the need to shoplift these items, unless he was attempting to distance himself from their acquisition by legitimate means but got caught in the process of stealing them.

  13. “Why would anyone shoplift dog repellant and a hammer?” My guess to cover his tracks. He didn’t want anyone to trace him to buying these items in case something came up. Since he was caught shoplifting with these items i’m sure he changed his sick little plan.

  14. Of course it was to cover his tracks. Anyone who has ever watched a crime show knows that the criminal is always on camera at the local Walmart or Home Depot, with a credit card receipt to match. Buying the items a day or two before the crime. As a cop, he knew better. He was also married to a lawyer.

  15. News24/680… In store cameras became prevalent in the 1970s, thanks to VCR technology. We didn’t realize we were on camera years ago unless you were caught shoplifting or you worked retail. I worked retail as a teenager in the 70s. We were reminded we were on camera 24/7.

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