“Golden State Killer” to be Sentenced to Life Without the Possibility of Parole
SACRAMENTO, CA – Joseph James DeAngelo Jr., 74, pleaded guilty today to 13 felony counts of first-degree murder and 13 felony counts of kidnapping to commit robbery during a 13-year multi-county crime spree that terrorized much of California during the 1970s and 1980s. DeAngelo was identified through Investigative Genetic Genealogy (IGG) in 2018, more than three decades after he raped and murdered his last victim in 1986.
DeAngelo also admitted to 161 uncharged crimes related to 61 uncharged victims, including attempted murder, kidnapping to commit robbery, rape, robbery, first-degree burglary, false imprisonment and criminal threats. The uncharged crimes occurred in Alameda, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Santa Clara, Stanislaus, Tulare and Yolo counties.
Today’s hearing was relocated to the Sacramento State Ballroom to accommodate the large number of victims and their family members in attendance and to ensure social distancing in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic.
DeAngelo is being jointly prosecuted by the district attorneys of Contra Costa, Orange, Sacramento, Santa Barbara, Tulare and Ventura counties.
The decision by prosecutors to accept DeAngelo’s offer to plead guilty to the 26 charged crimes and admit the uncharged crimes was made in consultation with the victims and their family members. The totality of the circumstances, including the age of the victims, the age of witnesses and the death of other key witnesses, and the age of the defendant, were taken into consideration.
The massive scope of this case, which involved more than 1.3 million pages of discovery, would have unduly burdened the victims with a lengthy prosecution that was anticipated to take as many as ten years. The plea provided the victims and their families who were terrorized by DeAngelo the opportunity to hear him admit his crimes and they will have an opportunity to provide victim impact statements beginning August 17, 2020.
This six-county joint prosecution resulted in a guilty plea of:
•13 counts of first-degree murder with special circumstances allegations of multiple murders and murder during the commission of rape, robbery, and burglary.
•13 felony counts of kidnapping to commit robbery with sentencing enhancements for personal use of a firearm and personal use of a knife during the commission of the offenses.
•DeAngelo admitted murdering:
oClaude Snelling – September 11, 1975 – Tulare CountyoKatie and Brian Maggiore – February 2, 1978 – Sacramento CountyoDebra Alexandria Manning – December 30, 1979 – Santa Barbara CountyoRobert Offerman – December 30, 1979 – Santa Barbara CountyoCheri Domingo – July 27, 1981 – Santa Barbara CountyoGreg Sanchez – July 27, 1981 – Santa Barbara CountyoCharlene and Lyman Smith – on or about March 13, 1980– Ventura CountyoKeith and Patrice Harrington – August 21, 1980 – Orange CountyoManuela Witthuhn – February 6, 1981 – Orange CountyoJanelle Cruz – May 5, 1986 – Orange County
DeAngelo also admitted to the uncharged crimes of:
•Attempted murder, kidnapping to commit robbery, rape, robbery, first-degree burglary, false imprisonment and criminal threats.
DeAngelo’s crime spree began in 1975 when he was working as a police officer with the Exeter Police Department. The crimes, which continued long after he was fired from the Auburn Police Department in 1979, escalated from peeping through windows to stalking to rape and serial murder.
His crimes earned him the nicknames of the Visalia Ransacker, the East Area Rapist, the Original Night Stalker, and the Golden State Killer. It was not until April 2018 that Sacramento authorities announced that Investigative Genetic Genealogy had identified DeAngelo as the person responsible.
Joseph DeAngelo will be sentenced to life in state prison without the possibility of parole. The sentence will run consecutive and concurrent to his sentence for the first-degree murders to which he has pled. His sentencing hearing will commence on August 17, 2020. Victims will be given the opportunity to deliver victim impact statements prior to DeAngelo’s sentencing on August 21, 2020. The sentencing hearing location will be announced at a later date.