CALIFORNIA, USA — A former police officer who terrorized California as a serial burglar and rapist and killed more than a dozen people has pleaded guilty to murders attributed to the Golden State Killer.
Joseph James DeAngelo Jr. had remained almost silent in court since his 2018 arrest until he repeatedly uttered the word “guilty” on Monday.
Earlier, he acknowledged that he would plead guilty to 13 murders and admit to dozens of rapes. It was part of a plea agreement that spared him the death penalty in exchange for a life sentence with no chance of parole.
DeAngelo taking responsibility for these crimes marks a closing chapter for the Golden State Killer, a sadistic killer and rapist who eluded authorities for more than 40 years.
In that time, some survivors grew older and others have passed away, all waiting for justice to be served.
“The family members of the murder victims have waited for decades for justice for their loved ones,” said Amy Holliday, Sacramento County Deputy District Attorney. “The sexual assault victims have waited decades for justice. The men whose wives or girlfriends were sexually assaulted have waited decades for justice. The final resolution of this case, at this time, will allow the remaining victims and family members of the victims to hear the defendant admit that he committed these acts and crimes....”
County by county, officials lined up reading their allegations. The disturbing details went uncontested as officials described the attacks and assaults in their respective counties. Ultimately, DeAngelo uttered "Guilty" or "I admit" in response.
Golden State Killer, Joseph DeAngelo pleads guilty
While both frail in body and feeble in voice while he was in court, Sacramento County Deputy District Attorney Thien Ho said DeAngelo was very active when he was arrested in Citrus Heights. Ho said to the point DeAngelo was doing yard work and driving his motorcycle in the leadup to the arrest.
His current behavior and demeanor was a far cry from what people in Sacramento neighborhoods remembered of the Golden State Killer in the 80s.
"I remember staying with female friends because they were afraid to stay by themselves because of the terror that was going on in Sacramento," said Barry Turner, a former student at Sacramento State University. "There was just a lot of paranoia going on."
Turner attended the court trial to get closure himself, due to having lived through a period where DeAngelo terrorized the community. For the victims and survivors, he hopes they find some degree of closure at the end of the day.
"I see this as a day of some reckoning, some closure for these folks," Turner said. "I don’t want to say hope. It’s like, I can’t imagine what these folks are going through."
Victim statements are expected for August 17, and DeAngelo's sentencing is expected for August 21.
Some of the charges against DeAngelo can be read and viewed below:
Two counts of murder in the Feb. 2, 1978, shootings of Kate Maggoire, 20, and Brian Maggoire, 21, as they walked their dog in their Rancho Cordova neighborhood.
Nine counts of kidnapping to commit robbery using a gun and knife between Sept. 4, 1976, and Oct. 21, 1977, with the victims identified as Jane Does numbers 1-9.
Contra Costa County
Four counts of kidnapping to commit robbery using a gun and knife between Oct. 7, 1978, and June 11, 1979, with the victims identified as Jane Does numbers 10-13.
Four counts of murder in the Aug. 21, 1980, slaying of Keith Harrington, 24, and rape and slaying of Patrice Harrington, 27, of Dana Point; the Feb. 6, 1981, rape and slaying of Manuela Witthuhn, 28, of Irvine; and the May 5, 1986, rape and slaying of Janelle Cruz, 18, of Irvine.
Santa Barbara County
Four counts of murder in the Dec. 30, 1979, rape and slaying of Debra Manning, 35, and slaying of Robert Offerman, 44, of Goleta, and in the July 27, 1981, slaying of Gregory Sanchez, 27, and Cheri Domingo, 35, of Goleta.
One count of murder in the Sept. 11, 1975, slaying of Claude Snelling, 45, during an attempted kidnapping of the victim’s daughter from their home.
Two counts of murder in the rape and slaying of Charlene Smith, 33, and slaying of Lyman Smith, 43, of Ventura between March 13 and March 16, 1980.