Police believe they have finally captured the Golden State Killer, a serial murderer and rapist suspected of terrorizing southern California nearly 50 years ago.
Late Tuesday night, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department arrested Joseph James DeAngelo Jr on two murder charges, Fox 40 reports.
The 72-year-old man, who is believed to have been an Auburn police officer fired for shoplifting a hammer and dog repellent, is said to be linked to a dozen unsolved homicides, almost 50 rapes and 120 home burglaries that spanned a decade starting in the late 1970s.
Joseph James DeAngelo Jr was arrested in California Tuesday night on two murder charges. The now-72-year-old is suspected of being the Golden State Killer . Pictured on the left is an updated photo of DeAngelo when he was in the Navy, and on the right in a picture of DeAngelo believed to have been taken in 1962
The identity of the Golden State Killer has been a mystery for decades. Pictured are combination images the FBI released of sketches of the East Area Rapist/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
Police have linked more than 12 homicides to the Golden State Killer. Pictured are fingerprints police lifted from one of the crime scenes
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 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
Detectives said the killer often took small items during his burglaries such as coins, cash, ID cards and jewelry. Some victims told authorities that the killer called them after the crimes
The sheriff’s department has yet to confirm whether DeAngelo is in fact the Golden State Killer, but said a press conference will be held Wednesday afternoon to provide additional information.
‘It is the most prolific unsolved serial killing case probably in modern history,’ Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert told Fox 40.
DeAngelo is currently being held at the Sacramento County Main jail and is ineligible for bail, according to jail records.
An old newspaper article states that DeAngelo was a police officer in Auburn, although it remains unclear what year he started working with the department.
He was eventually fired, according to the clipping, for shoplifting from a Sacramento drug store.
Auburn City Manager Jack Sausser said at the time that DeAngelo failed to answer any of the city’s investigations and there ‘was justifiable grounds to remove him from the public sector’.
Another old newspaper article said DeAngelo was in the Navy and served aboard the USS Canberra, a Baltimore-class cruiser.
Interest in the Golden State Killer, also known as the East Area Rapist, was reawakened recently following the release of journalist and author Michelle McNamara’s posthumous crime novel I’ll Be Gone In The Dark.
McNamara spent much of her career researching and writing about the California rapist and killer, but died before the book was published.
Her husband, actor Patton Oswalt, and friend and fellow journalist Billy Jensen finished the book for McNamara and released it in March. The novel quickly climbed to the number one spot on the New York Times Best Sellers list.
Patton Oswalt’s wife, journalist Michelle McNamara (left), spent much of her career researching the Golden State Killer. She turned her findings into a crime novel titled I’ll Be Gone In The Dark
Patton Oswalt tweeted Wednesday that he wanted to visit the suspected Golden State Killer so he could ask questions his late wife wanted answered
Crime journalist Billy Jensen, who helped co-author I’ll Be Gone In The Dark, has also tweeted about the suspected killer’s arrest, writing in another post that it was an exciting day
Jensen also shared a picture of the faces he and Oswalt made the moment they found out the suspected Golden State Killer was arrested
Oswalt was among the first people tweeting about the possible arrest of the Golden State Killer.
‘If they’ve really caught the #GoldenStateKiller I hope I get to visit him,’ he posted. ‘Not to gloat or gawk — to ask him the questions that (McNamara) wanted answered in her “Letter To An Old Man” at the end of #IllBeGoneInTheDark.’
Co-author Billy Jensen has also posted numerous tweets about the possible arrest of the serial killer.
‘If you’ve been following the Golden State Killer case, stay tuned. We will be having a rather large announcement,’ he teased, adding: ‘Two hours of sleep but an airport chocolate banana smoothie is going to get me through what I hope will be an amazing day. #IllBeGoneInTheDark #GoldenStateKiller #intothelight.’
According to the FBI, the Golden State Killer terrorized southern California between 1976 and 1986. His crimes began in the summer of ’76 with burglaries and rapes in Rancho Cordova and Carmichael.
Investigators said he gained access to the homes by prying open a window or door while the victims slept. He would then shine a light in the face of his victims and tie up the female victim. If a male victim was present, the Golden State Killer would tie him up as well before ransacking the home and raping the female victim.
Detectives said the killer often took small items during his burglaries such as coins, cash, ID cards and jewelry. Some victims told authorities that the killer called them after the crimes.
It’s believed the first victims were killed in 1978. Brian Maggiore and his wife, Katie, were walking their dog in their Rancho Cordova neighborhood on February 2, 1978 when they were chased down and murdered by the Golden State Killer, the FBI said.
An old newspaper clipping said DeAngelo, who is believed to be the Golden State Killer, was an Auburn police officer but was fired for shoplifting
His first victims are believed to have been Katie Maggiore (left) and her husband Brian. The couple was out walking their dog on February 2, 1978 when they were chased down and murdered by the Golden State Killer, the FBI said
This shoelace was marked as evidence. It was found at the site of Brian and Katie Maggiore’s murder
After this crime, he committed rapes and murders in Stockton, Davis, Modesto and the East Bay. The FBI believe his last crime was committed in May 1986, with the murder of an 18-year-old girl in Irvine.
The Golden State Killer’s fifth victim, Jane Carson-Sandler, survived an October 1976 attack. Carson-Sandler said her husband had just left for work when the masked man broke into her Citrus Heights home, bound and gagged her and her three-year-old son and then raped her.
Carson-Sandler, who wrote a book about surviving the attack, told the Island Packet on Wednesday that she received an email from two detectives informing her of the suspected killer’s arrest.
‘I’m overwhelmed with joy. I’ve been crying, sobbing,’ she said. ‘I just can’t tell you how I feel. After 42 years – wow!’