Joseph DeAngelo (pictured), the suspected Golden State Killer, has been cleared of any involvement in a 1978 double murder
The suspected Golden State Killer has been cleared of any involvement in the 1978 cold case killing of a woman and her young son.
DNA from Joseph James DeAngelo has been tested by investigators desperate to close up their cold case murders, to see if the 72-year-old had anything to do with the unsolved crimes.
Most recently, it was found he had no involvement in the murders of Rhonda Whicht and her four-year-old son Donald, The LA Times reported.
Wicht and her young son were found dead by a family member, who had gone to check on them when they did not attend a family gathering in Ventura County, California.
Wicht had been beaten, raped and strangled with a macrame rope while Donald had been smothered in his sleep.
The brutal killing matched many of the hallmark signs of the Golden State Killer’s work, Simi Valley Police Chief David Livingstone told NBC, which is why the department was so keen to test his DNA.
Rhonda Wicht (left)and her four-year-old son Donald (right) were found dead in their home in 1978, and though Rhonda’s boyfriend was imprisoned for the crime, he has since been pardoned and their true killer has never been found
Rhonda was found raped, beaten and strangled – killed in a similar way to how the Golden State Killer, suspected to be Joseph DeAngelo (pictured), murdered his victims
Livingstone said the Golden State Killer was known for attacking young single women in their homes, and for tying up his victims before raping them for sexual gratification and then beating them.
‘Not that a lot of murders don’t have some similarities, in terms of violence, but this one is close enough and with the time frame it’s close enough to where we want to take a look at it and see if we can include or eliminate [DeAngelo] as a possible suspect in that case,’ Livingstone said at the time.
Rhonda’s former boyfriend Craig Coley was wrongfully jailed for the mother and son murder, and spent nearly 40 years behind bars before new evidence suggested he was innocent.
Craig Coley (pictured) was imprisoned for 38 years for the murder of Rhonda and Donald, but was released last Thanksgiving after it was discovered he’d been wrongly convicted
The woman’s sheets, thought to have been destroyed, were uncovered and another man’s sperm, blood and skin cells were found on them. Coley’s DNA was not there, but the bodily fluids have never been matched to anyone.
An investigation into Wicht’s murder was reopened by former Simi Valley PD Detective Michael Bender, who came upon Coley’s file in 1989 and felt a lot didn’t add up.
Coley had an alibi for the night the murders were committed, aside from 20 minutes, much longer than the murders would have taken. Other suspects were never pursued and fingerprints were not analysed.
Coley, now 71, was pardoned by Gov. Jerry Brown and released from prison on Thanksgiving Eve last year.
DeAngelo was arrested in April after a decades-long search for the man responsible for 12 murders in the 1970s and 80s.
The former policeman is accused of being the notorious Golden State Killer after investigators sent DNA from a crime scene to ancestry site 23andme.com, and getting a match on family members.
DeAngelo is also suspected of being a serial rapist and carrying out more than 100 burglaries.
Coley (center right) was released after investigators found Rhonda’s sheet and discovered while a man’s blood, sperm and skin cells were on it, the DNA did not belong to him
By contrast, DeAngelo was arrested in April after a decades-long search saw investigators send DNA from a crime scene to ancestry site 23andme.com