East Area Rapist Suspect Has Been Caught

SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG)  |  By Paul Scholl and Rich Peters
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Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert addressed hundreds of media members, law enforcement agents and politicians on Wednesday afternoon at a press conference at the District Attorney Crime Lab in Sacramento. Photo by Rich Peters

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Booking photo: Joseph James DeAngelo

SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - The Sacramento County Sheriff's Department and the District Attorney’s Office have confirmed a significant break in the search for the East Area Rapist.

Law enforcement sources have named 72-year-old Joseph James DeAngelo as the suspect arrested in the case.

Many law enforcement agencies, both local and federal, converged on DeAngelo's home in Citrus Heights on Wednesday, April 25. He was arrested at approximately 2:30 am. He was booked on two counts of murder from a Ventura County Sheriff’s Department warrant. Agencies were later seen removing boxes of evidence from the home after the arrest.

DeAngelo lived in a neighborhood near Old Auburn and Twin Oaks, on Canyon Oaks Drive.

This case has been open for decades. Law Enforcement believes the East Area Rapist or Golden State Killer was responsible for at least 12 homicides, approximately 50 rapes and some 120 home burglaries. All the crimes spanned a decade starting in the late 1970s and into the mid-1980s throughout the Sacramento region, the San Francisco Bay Area and in Southern California.

The East Area Rapist is believed to be responsible for at least nine sexual assaults in Sacramento, six more in Rancho Cordova and Citrus Heights, four in Carmichael and two in Orangevale.

The FBI web site states: “Burglaries and rapes began occurring in the eastern district of Sacramento County—hence the name East Area Rapist—in the summer of 1976. The subject ransacked homes and took coins, jewelry, and identification. Neighborhood burglaries were often followed by clusters of sexual assaults. Then, on February 2, 1978, Brian Maggiore and his wife, Katie, were on an evening walk with their dog in their Rancho Cordova neighborhood when they were chased down and murdered. After July 1981, no associated incidents are known until 1986, when an 18-year-old woman was raped and murdered in Irvine, California—the last known crime associated with the subject.”

“For us here in Sacramento it was a time of innocence in 1976,” said Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert at Wednesday’s press conference. “For anyone who lived here the memories are vivid.”

The Sacramento DA’s Office confirmed DeAngelo was employed twice with law enforcement agencies, including the Auburn Police Department. 

News reports say neighbors claimed DeAngelo was occasionally prone to profane outbursts heard throughout the neighborhood. It was also reported that he has lived in the neighborhood for more than 30 years.  Neighbors were shocked that all this was happening in their neighborhood. Later reports said DeAngelo is now on suicide watch.

"It is the most prolific unsolved serial killing case probably in modern history," said Schubert. “This case affected the entire state.”

Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones told the media that agencies also report that the East Area Rapist was also known as the Golden State Killer, the Original Night Stalker and the Diamond Knot Killer.

Schubert, who is passionate about the pursuit of justice through DNA evidence and cold case prosecution, formed the Cold Case Prosecution Unit in 2002 and served as its first prosecutor. 

“The answer was in the DNA,” Schubert explained. “It is fitting that today is National DNA Day.”