The Golden State Killer is known as many things, a serial killer, a serial rapist, and a serial burglar. His killing spree started in 1974 but came to a halt 12 murders later in 1986. Police identified, through various monikers, that 50 rapes and over 100 burglaries throughout California were being committed by one person. Before moving to the Sacramento area, he was called the Visalia Ransacker. In the Sacramento area he was known as the East Area Rapist and in Southern California he was called the Original Night Stalker. He is also known as the Diamond Knot Killer because of the knot he would tie on some of his victims. Through DNA evidence, all of these names were linked together to make the Golden State Killer.
On June 15, 2016, the FBI and local law enforcement agencies held a nationwide conference to announce a $50,000 reward in their efforts for his capture. On April 25, 2018, authorities announced the arrest of 72-year old Joseph James DeAngelo Jr., a former police officer. He was arrested on eight counts of first-degree murder based off of DNA used on a website. However, due to California’s statute of limitations on pre-2017 rape-cases, DeAngelo now cannot be charged for the rape crimes dating back to the late 1970’s. It was also announced by law enforcement that separate incidents in Visalia in 1974-1975 that were thought to be connected to the Visalia Ransacker are now being linked to the same suspect.
There are questions on why DeAngelo stopped killing. The killing spree seemed to have ended as abruptly as it began. There are several cases where serial killers stop completely for no reason.
“It’s just as likely he simply decided to move on and play some other game, maybe he got tired of killing. Maybe he didn’t want to spend the rest of his life behind bars and get the death penalty. Maybe he decided it was no longer worth the risk,” said Jack Levin, a criminologist that has studied several serial killers including Charles Manson.
Junior, Claire Crees, said, “I don’t know maybe he had some personal issues going on that made him stop, he obviously was drawn to crime so something big must of happened to turn him in another direction.” After being asked why she thinks the Golden State Killer stopped his series of crimes.
Senior, Becca Davis, was also asked her opinion on DeAngelo’s reasoning to stop killing. She stated, “Serial killers usually are addicted to killing and have a need to do it. If they stop, it drives them insane. I don’t think he actually stopped all those years. He probably was still going but no one related those crimes back to him.”
His victims ranged in age from 12 to 41, including women at home with young children and married couples in bed. Janelle Cruz, was the last known victim, she was 18 years old and after a long day of looking at colleges she was found brutally beaten in her bed. Victims seemed to be chosen at random, jobs varied from a lawyer to an interior designer. Brian and Katie Maggiore were attacked while taking their dog for a walk. Claude Snelling was at home with his daughter when his daughter ran inside screaming that a man attempted to kidnap her, Claude then ran outside where he was shot and killed. His daughter was not killed, however she was beaten and then left on her kitchen floor.
“I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer” was written by Michelle Eileen McNamara. The novel was published February 27, 2018, close to two years after McNamara’s death on April 21, 2016. The book described how DeAngelo acted around his victims, saying he would stutter and would cry after attacking the victims. She wrote that he wore a mask while attacking his victims, and mentioned small details such as he had type A blood and wore size 9 shoes. McNamara left her book unfinished when she died, she has amassed around 3,500 files related to the case, including dozens of notebooks, legal pads, police reports, and 37 boxes from an Orange County prosecutor.
McNamara’s husband, Patton Oswalt, helped her continue her research involving the case. Oswalt made a movie series based off all of their research called, “48 hours: The Golden State Killer.” The series started in 1988 and still continues today. Season 30 Episode 34 aired on April 22, 2018. The cast includes some of the rape survivors like, Jane Carson-Sandler. It also includes Debbi Domingo, daughter of murder victim Cheri Domingo.