A woman who was raped by the Golden State Killer when she was just 15-years-old called him a ‘repulsive, pathetic coward’ during his sentencing hearing Tuesday.
Kris Pedretti was attacked by Joseph James DeAngelo Jr., now 74, just before Christmas 1976. She told a court Tuesday he is a ‘soulless being’.
DeAngelo Jr. in June pleaded guilty to all 13 counts of murder, 13 counts of kidnapping, and confessed to 161 uncharged crimes – many of which were rapes – which go back beyond the statute of limitations. All told, he admitted harming 87 victims at 53 separate crime scenes spanning 11 California counties in a plea deal that spares him the death penalty, prosecutors said.
He was wheeled into court to face 16 of his victims Tuesday, the first of four days of hearings before he is sentenced to life in prison. Victim after victim lined up to describe him as a ‘sick monster,’ ‘horrible man’ and ‘subhuman’ who stole their innocence and changed their lives.
The daughter of one victim, Patricia Murphy, told the court: ‘He is an evil monster with no soul. He is subhuman.’ She also gave him an obscene hand gesture and cursed him.
His sentencing, expected Friday after three days of testimony from his victims and survivors, brings to an end a sinister, decades-long saga of kidnappings, rapes and murders.
He appeared frail, in an orange prison jumpsuit and a mask Tuesday, staring straight ahead. He was also known as the East Area Rapist and Visalia Ransacker and his sentencing ends a more than 45-year hunt for the notorious killer.
Kris Pedretti was attacked by Joseph James DeAngelo Jr., now 74, just before Christmas 1976. She told a court he is a ‘souless being’. The Golden State Killer faced his victims in court Tuesday, the first of four days of hearings before he is sentenced to life in prison
Joseph James DeAngelo Jr., 74, in June pleaded guilty to all 13 counts of murder, 13 counts of kidnapping, and confessed to 161 uncharged crimes – many of which were rapes – which go back beyond the statute of limitations
Sixteen of his Sacramento County rape victims plan to confront him Tuesday in a courthouse that is otherwise still sealed from the public because of the coronavirus.
A similar number will tell Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Michael Bowman on Wednesday and Thursday how DeAngelo’s crimes changed their lives, before he is formally sentenced Friday.
Some read statements on behalf of their loved ones who could not testify in person, while others proudly gave their names now that DeAngelo is heading to prison.
‘He and his knife had complete control over me for the next two hours,’ the daughter of rape survivor Patricia Murphy read from her mother’s statement. ‘He truly is an evil monster with no soul.’
DeAngelo as a police officer for Exeter Police Department, in the early 70s
Murphy in her own statement raised her middle finger and said DeAngelo ‘can go straight to hell.’
‘This has been on my mind for 44 years. That’s a long time,’ Jane Carson-Sandler said before giving her testimony.
Certain triggers can still bring flashbacks to that night in 1976 when DeAngelo confronted her with a butcher knife as she snuggled in bed with her three-year-old son after her husband left for work at a nearby military base.
‘I hope that he’ll be listening, but we know that during the hearing when he pleaded guilty, he never lifted his head,’ she said.
She is among survivors and prosecutors who contend that DeAngelo is merely masquerading as a feeble old man in a wheelchair.
Prosecutors cited ‘his slow gait, the distorted twist of his hands’ and his halting answers to Bowman in June. But, they said, his ‘agile movement and behavior in his jail cell indicate an individual who is healthy and physically active.’
Pete Schultz told how he ‘performed horrific acts against our mother while she was tied and blindfolded.’ He himself was tied to bedpost at age 11, while his seven-year-old sister was locked in her room during the attack on Wini Schultz.
He called DeAngelo a ‘sick monster,’ and noted that the only characteristic his mother could recall was that ‘she was certain he had a very inadequate penis.’
That was a recurring theme for witnesses, who tried to break through to DeAngelo.
The charges linked to rapes were filed as kidnappings to commit robberies because the statute of limitations for sexual assaults had expired.
He also publicly admitted to numerous other rapes in Alameda, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Santa Clara, Stanislaus, Tulare and Yolo counties.
DeAngelo Jr was only identified and arrested in 2018 by using a new form of DNA tracing.
The daughter of one victim, Patricia Murphy, told the court: ‘He is an evil monster with no soul. He is subhuman’
‘He didn’t win, I’m not a lost girl,’ Kris Pedretti said in an interview before her testimony. ‘I want to make that clear’
Victims and their family members of Golden State Killer/East Area Rapist Joseph James DeAngelo enter the Gordon D. Schaber Sacramento County Courthouse on Tuesday
DeAngelo pleaded guilty in June to 13 murders and a host of rapes and other crimes, and is to be sentenced following three days of victim impact statements from family members and rape victims
Sixteen of his Sacramento County rape victims plan to confront him Tuesday in a courthouse that is otherwise still sealed from the public because of the coronavirus
Sacramento County Deputy District Attorney Thienvu Ho told a judge Monday: ‘The blank stare, the halting answers that sometimes burst forth in gasps of breath, might lead some to suspect or later contend that he is physically or mentally deficient.
‘He has portrayed himself as being feeble and frail, as someone who is physically unable to express remorse. … The fact of the matter is, he consciously chose not to do so.’
THE GOLDEN STATE KILLER: HOW A VIETNAM VET TURNED COP GOT AWAY WITH RAPE, BURGLARY, KIDNAPPING AND MURDER FOR DECADES BEFORE BEING BROUGHT DOWN BY A GENEALOGY WEBSITE
DeAngelo Jr., a former cop, eluded law enforcement for decades until his DNA was linked to the crimes through GEDMatch.com, a genealogy website that one of his relatives had submitted their DNA to.
While his real identity remained a mystery until then, his crimes earned him a series of ominous names.
First, he was the Visalia Ransacker, a burglar who ravaged people’s homes from 1974-1975, stealing personal items and scattering women’s underwear around the crime scenes.
Next, he was the East Area Rapist, a shadowy predator who assaulted dozens of women between 1976 and 1979.
Between the burglaries and rapes, he started killing, earning himself the name of the Golden State Killer and the Original Nightstalker.
What triggered his sadistic tendencies remains largely a mystery.
DeAngelo grew up following his US Airman father around with his mother and sister.
Little is known about his upbringing beyond that they were, at one time, stationed in Germany.
His sister’s son, Jesse Ryland, has told in the past how DeAngelo would often see his father beat his mother, Kathleen.
He also claimed that he witnessed his sister being raped by two airmen when she was just seven and he was nine.
Ryland speculated that may have been the catalyst for his obsession with rape later in life. DeAngelo has never commented on it.
The family returned to the US and settled on the West Coast by DeAngelo’s teenage years.
His father was posted overseas in Korea later but he and his mother and sister stayed. His mother, according to a profile in the Los Angeles Times in 2018, started seeing a married man who had his own family.
It left DeAngelo in charge of caring for his younger siblings.
Former childhood friends told how he would try to fit in to their families as if they were his own.
He graduated from Folsom Senior High School in 1964 and joined the Navy, working as a damage control man aboard the Canberra during the Vietnam War.
No other details of his military career are known.
A 1967 article in The Auburn Journal, the local newspaper where his parents live, describes him as a 21-year-old due home on leave.
After returning to the US from Vietnam, he met Bonnie Colwell, a science student who ultimately broke his heart.
He and Bonnie were at one time engaged but she broke it off in 1971.
When he was arrested in 2018, Bonnie went into hiding.
DeAngelo’s next known milestone was not until 1972, when he graduated from California State University with a degree in criminal justice.
From there, he joined The Exeter Police Department where he worked as an officer on the burglary unit.
It’s in this job that he learned how to commit seemingly perfect burglaries himself.
It was also while he was working there that he married Sharon Marie Huddle.
The pair had three daughters, who are now all adults.
Between 1974 and 1975, a figure who became known as the Visalia Ransacker carried out more than 120 burglaries in the area. For decades, his identity was unknown.
When DeAngelo was arrested in 2018 for the murders and rapes of dozens of others, he was quickly tied to the Visalia Ransacker crimes and blamed for them.
His signature, when burglarizing, was to leave women’s underwear scattered at his crime scenes.
In 1975 was when he graduated from burglarizing to attempted kidnapping and then killing, shooting dead Claude Snelling who was protecting his teenage daughter, Elizabeth, from being kidnapped.
Elizabeth, 16, woke up at 2am on September 11, 1975, to see a man in a ski mask, standing over her bed, telling her to go with him or be killed.
He dragged her from her room and out of the family’s backdoor towards their carport but was stopped by Snelling who happened to be in the kitchen at the time.
Elizabeth later recalled: ‘I heard a yell and saw my dad charge out the back door.
‘The kidnapper] threw me down and shot my dad twice. Then he pointed the gun at me.’
DeAngelo hit her with the gun and kicked her but fled. Snelling died on his way to the hospital.
In 1976, he left the Exeter Police Department and started working for the Auburn Police Department.
That is when his relentless raping began.
Between 1976 and 1979, he raped dozens of women in the area.
It terrorized the neighborhoods where he picked his targets and earned him the name East Area Rapist.
One of the victims recalled how he lay down next to her after the attack and sobbed: ‘I hate you, I hate you, I hate you Bonnie.’
DeAngelo was fired by the police department in 1979 after being caught shoplifting a hammer and dog repellent from a drugstore in Citrus Heights, one of the areas where he would attack women.
He then spent 27 years working at a Save Mart Supermarkets distribution center, fixing trucks, before retiring in 2017.
It’s unclear when but he and his wife separated some time before his 2018 arrest which came as a shock to his neighbors and relatives.
It was the first time police had tested samples of DNA found at some of the crime scenes against DNA being stored by GEDMatch.
One of DeAngelo’s relatives had willingly submitted their sample to find out more about their ancestry.
Since his case, it has been used as a crime-solving technique hundreds of times.
DeAngelo’s neighbors described him as ‘cantankerous’, unlikable and a ‘curser’.
While he has been blamed for 88 crimes, he has also been exonerated in others.
Among his rapes is the attack of a 13-year-old girl who recalled in detail being assaulted while he shone a flashlight in her face.
‘In a very harsh whisper, he would say, ‘Do you want to die?
‘Do you want me to kill your mother? Do you want me to slit her throat?” Wardlow said.
‘I answered him immediately, ‘I don’t care,’ and he’d say, ‘Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!” Margaret Wardlow, who was raped by him in 1977, recalled to Inside Edition after his arrest last year.
DeAngelo’s wife and children have never spoken of his crimes.
His sister was stunned when he was arrested.
‘As stunned as I am – because I’ve never seen him display any kind of madness or anything like that – I just can’t believe it.
‘I’ve never seen anything to allow myself to think he could do such things,’ Rebecca Thompson, his older sister, told The Sacramento Bee at the time of his arrest.