The former police officer identified as the infamous Golden State Killer is now the prime suspect in a 13th murder as investigators say he was also the ‘Visalia Ransacker’ who terrorized the California town in the 1970s.
Joseph DeAngelo, 72, was arrested at his home in Citrus Heights, California on Tuesday after DNA linked him to crimes attributed to the Golden State Killer from the 1970s and 80s.
The Golden State Killer, also known as the East Area Rapist, is suspected of at least 12 murders and 50 rapes across parts of the state 40 years ago.
Investigators revealed on Thursday that DeAngelo is the prime suspect in the 1975 killing of a community college teacher, raising the total number of his alleged victims to 13.
Joseph DeAngelo, 72, is now the prime suspect in the 1975 killing of teacher Claude Snelling after he was linked to the Golden State Killer slayings in California 40 years ago
Investigators searched DeAngelo’s home in Citrus Heights on Thursday looking for evidence that may have been taken from the various crime scenes 40 years ago
Detectives are trying to link Joseph DeAngelo to the 1975 slaying and about 100 burglaries committed in the region while DeAngelo was a police officer in nearby Exeter.
Visalia Police Chief Jason Salazar believes DeAngelo is the so-called Visalia Ransacker who terrorized the farming community in 1974 and 1975.
Salazar added that the Ransackers’ crimes have not yet been added to the tally announced Tuesday in Sacramento because there is no DNA evidence connecting DeAngelo to the Visalia crimes.
DeAngelo is suspected of shooting to death journalism teacher Claude Snelling after Snelling caught him trying to kidnap his 16-year-old daughter.
The 72-year-old matches the description of Snelling’s killer, and the serial burglar operated the same way DeAngelo is alleged to have operated in the other crimes, according to authorities.
The Visalia suspect used sophisticated ‘pry tools’ to gain entrance to locked homes, just as DeAngelo is alleged to have used in the other crimes, Salazar said.
The Visalia suspect was seen wearing a ski mask and eluded capture because of an apparent deep-knowledge of police work.
DeAngelo was arrested at his home in Citrus Heights (above) on Tuesday after DNA linked him to crimes attributed to the Golden State Killer from the 1970s and 80s
Detectives will look to see if items taken during the Visalia burglaries are uncovered during the investigation of DeAngelo
DNA testing linked Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, to some of the 12 murders carried out in California in the 1970s and 80s
‘He was very elusive and always had a good escape route,’ Salazar said.
Visalia police also have fingerprints and shoe tracks that will be investigated for matches to DeAngelo.
Detectives will look to see if items taken during the Visalia burglaries are uncovered during the investigation of DeAngelo.
Investigators searched DeAngelo’s home on Thursday looking for class rings, earrings, dishes and other items that were taken from crime scenes 40 years ago.
Sacramento County Sheriff’s Lt. Paul Belli said authorities were seeking weapons and other items that could link the suspect to the crimes. He declined to say what, if anything, investigators had found.
Investigators backed two vehicles, a motorcycle and fishing boat out of the home’s three-car garage and installed tarps to block prying eyes and news cameras.
It emerged on Thursday that DeAngelo was caught by using online genealogical sites to find a DNA match.
Investigators compared the DNA collected from a crime scene of the Golden State Killer to online genetic profiles and found a match to a relative of DeAngelo.
Despite an outpouring of thousands of tips over the years, DeAngelo’s name had not been on the radar of law enforcement before last week.
The identity of the Golden State Killer has finally been revealed. Pictured are combination images the FBI released of sketches of the East Area Rapist/Golden State Killer before his capture
DeAngelo Jr was arrested on Tuesday night on two murder charges. Pictured on the left is an undated photo of DeAngelo when he was in the Navy, and on the right is a picture of DeAngelo during his sophomore year at Folsom High School
A break in the case and the arrest came together in ‘light speed’ during the past six days but authorities refused to reveal what led to DeAngelo.
WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT JOSEPH DEANGELO:
Joseph James DeAngelo is a 72-year-old Vietnam War veteran, former police officer and grandfather living in Citrus Heights, California.
He was described by neighbors as odd but decent. He was quick to anger and could often be heard loudly cussing.
DeAngelo graduated from nearby Folsom High School in 1964 and joined the US Navy.
After returning home he enrolled in a community college and transferred to California State University, Sacramento, where he graduated in 1972 with a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice.
He landed a job as a police officer in Exeter where he served from 1973 to 1976.
He married a local woman in 1973.
In 1976, DeAngelo took a job with Auburn Police but was fired in 1979 when he was caught shoplifting.
He spent 27 years working at a distribution center for Save Mart grocery stores before he retired last year.
DeAngelo has three adult daughters and grandchildren.
After watching DeAngelo for several days, deputies took him by surprise Tuesday.
Police said DeAngelo was shocked to see officers at his home and that when they went to arrest him he told them he had a roast in the oven.
He was taken into custody by the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department on Tuesday night on two murder charges for the 1978 deaths of Brian Maggiore and his wife Katie, who are believed to be the Golden State Killer’s first victims.
He was later also charged with the murders of Lyman and Charlene Smith who were found dead in their home by their 12-year-old son in 1980.
Police are now working to link the 72-year-old unequivocally to the rest of the crimes that profilers have attributed to the Golden State Killer through his modus operandi.
Paul Holes, an investigator who has been linked to the case for years, said one of the critical clues linking DeAngelo was that he yelled out ‘I hate you Bonnie’ during one of his first alleged rape attacks.
DeAngelo was once engaged to a woman named Bonnie.
‘Most certainly if he’s making the statement, ‘I hate you, Bonnie,’ while he’s attacking another female, he is what we call an anger retaliatory rapist. Instead of directing his anger at what’s making him angry, he’s directing it sideways onto someone else to be able to satisfy that anger,’ Holes told The Mercury News.
The killer is also suspected of committing 120 home burglaries across Sacramento County. Police believe they found ski masks worn by the Golden State Killer in this undated photo
The serial killer and rapist is also suspected of committing nearly 50 rapes in southern California over the span of a decade. The above photo shows a home that was ransacked by the Golden State Killer
The Golden State Killer is suspected of committing dozens and dozens of crimes in Sacramento County in the late 1970s. Pictured is crime scene evidence from one of the attacks
‘I do believe that’s what happened here. I don’t know what made him that way, but you’ve got to think Bonnie dumped him, he’s not happy about that, he still had feeling for her, who knows? But something along those lines must have happened.’
Holes, who has been a key investigator in the case since 1994, said he helped test DNA from the various crime scenes and tie them all together.
‘We always thought there was a Bonnie significant in his life, it could be a mother, a wife, a girlfriend, a childrhood crush,’ Holes said.
He said that they closed in on him after the DNA match and realizing he had an ex-fiance named Bonnie.
According to the FBI, the Golden State Killer terrorized southern California between 1976 and 1986. His crimes began in the summer of 1976 with burglaries and rapes.
Armed with a gun, the masked attacker would break into homes while single women or couples were sleeping. He sometimes tied up the man and piled dishes on his back, then raped the woman while threatening to kill them both if the dishes tumbled.
He often took souvenirs – like coins, cash, ID cards and jewelry – from his victims, who ranged in age from 13 to 41.
DeAngelo is currently being held at the Sacramento County Main jail and is ineligible for bail, according to jail records.
GOLDEN STATE KILLER’S TWELVE VICTIMS
Brian and Katie Maggiore
February 2, 1978
Brian Maggiore, 21, and his wife Katie, 20, were walking their dog in their Rancho Cordova neighborhood, just outside Sacramento, on February 2, 1978.
The FBI said the couple were chased down before being shot and killed by the Golden State Killer.
Brian and Katie Maggiore: February 2, 1978
Dr Robert Offerman and Alexandria Manning: December 30, 1979
Dr Robert Offerman and Alexandria Manning
December 30, 1979
Dr Robert Offerman, 44, and Alexandria Manning, 35, were killed at a home in Goleta near Santa Barbara.
Offerman, an osteopathic surgeon, and Manning, a clinical psychologist, had their hands bound with twine.
Lyman and Charlene Smith
March 13, 1980
Lyman Smith, 43, and his wife Charlene, 33, were bludgeoned to death with a fireplace log in their Ventura County home.
Smith was an attorney who was just days from being appointed a judge. His wife worked as a court clerk.
Lyman and Charlene Smith (left) and Patrice and Keith Harrington (right)
Patrice and Keith Harrington
August 19, 1980
Patrice Harrington, 28, and her husband Keith, 25, were killed in their home at Dana Point. Police said they were beaten with a blunt instrument.
Patrice was a pediatric nurse and her husband was a medical student at UC Irvine.
February 5, 1981
Manuela Witthuhn, 28, was raped and beaten to death in her home in Irvine.
She was home alone at the time because her husband was in the hospital recovering from an illness.
Cheri Domingo and Gregory Sanchez
Manuela Witthuhn (left) and Janelle Lisa Cruz (right)
Cheri Domingo and Gregory Sanchez
July 27, 1981
Cheri Domingo, 35, and Gregory Sanchez, 27, were house sitting in Goleta when they were murdered in bed.
Domingo was found with her hands tied and suffering massive head injuries. Sanchez was shot and bludgeoned.
Janelle Lisa Cruz
May 4, 1986
Janelle Cruz, 18, was bludgeoned to death in her family’s home in Irvine. She was home alone at the time and police found her lying across her bed.
A real estate agent who was selling the family’s home was the first to discover the teen’s body. Blood was found spattered throughout the home and police believe she was beaten with a pipe wrench.