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.
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.