True crime buffs awoke to the thrilling news on Wednesday morning of a major break in the Golden State Killer/East Area Rapist case. Overnight, Sacramento police arrested 72-year-old Joseph James DeAngelo on two counts of murder, who was later confirmed to be the FBI’s suspect. In recent months, the case had seen renewed interest thanks to the work of the late Michelle McNamara’s book, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, who along with writer Billy Jensen were said to be close to identifying the killer at the time of her death.
DeAngelo is accused of committing approximately 50 rapes in the Sacramento area in the mid ’70s and 12 homicides in Southern California between 1979 and 1986, as well as countless break ins. The two crime sprees weren’t connected until 2001 however, thanks to the use of DNA evidence, years after the killer seemingly disappeared into thin air.
A former police officer, DeAngelo was fired from the Auburn Police Department in 1979 after allegedly stealing a hammer and a can of dog repellent. Yet somehow that didn’t set off any alarm bells at the time.
At noon on Wednesday, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department held a press conference confirming that DeAngelo was indeed the Golden State Killer suspect. “The answer was, and was always going to be in the DNA,” said Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert, noting that it was fitting that today is National DNA Day.
Schubert said that the search for the serial killer has been like finding a needle in a haystack, and it was just in the last six days that they were able to obtain discarded DNA to confirm DeAngelo’s identity to charge him with two counts of murder of Brian and Katie Maggiore, who were killed on February 2, 1978. He was also charged with the murders of Charlene Smith, 33, and Lyman Smith, 43, in Ventura in 1980.
You can watch the entirety of the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department press conference below: