Joseph DeAngelo, "the killer of the Golden State", who terrorized California in the 1970s and 1980s, began pleading guilty to 13 murders and dozens of rapes and other crimes before a Sacramento court on Monday, June 29.
As part of the agreement negotiated with the prosecution, the 74-year-old serial killer must also recognize long-prescribed facts (kidnappings, attempted murders, burglaries, etc.) in exchange for giving up the death penalty.
The former police officer, who scoured all of California and was only arrested in 2018 thanks to his DNA, should be sentenced to eleven life terms with no possibility of remission.
Victims aged 14 to 41
A frail old man dressed in an orange prisoner jumpsuit, Mr. DeAngelo entered the courtroom pushed on a wheelchair and fitted, like all participants, with a plexiglass visor. " Yes ", " no ", "Guilty", "I recognize the facts" : it was in a weak and quavering voice that he answered the judge's questions, accepting the terms of the agreement concluded with justice, which aims in particular to avoid a long and costly trial (some 20 million dollars according to the prosecution).
DeAngelo committed this series of crimes between 1975 and 1986, raping around 50 women and killing or brutalizing more than 100 people in total. The age of his victims ranged from 14 to 41 years old. Most of his crimes had taken place around Sacramento, but some had taken place in San Francisco Bay, and all the way south of the California coast, according to his moves with his wife.
He broke into his victims at night, sometimes when the house was empty, hiding and preparing. He often assaulted single women when they slept or couples, tying them up, then raping women in front of their partner. It also had the particularity of stealing personal items, such as cufflinks engraved with initials.
DNA left at the crime scene
Joseph James DeAngelo was a police officer in California in the 1970s until he was returned in 1979 for shoplifting. The crimes committed in the various regions were not initially linked together by the investigators.
It took DNA left at the scene of the crimes and cross-checking with genetic information on a family member of the serial killer, discovered on a genealogy website, to identify him.
Placed under surveillance, the assassin was arrested in April 2018 in front of his home, in a peaceful suburb of Sacramento.