‘Golden State Killer’ Suspect Was Shocked by His Recent Arrest and Even Told Police He Had a Roast in the Oven
Between 1976 and 1986, the “Golden State Killer” allegedly committed multiple crimes — including rapes, homicides, and burglaries — throughout Northern California. Now, years later, police have suspect Joseph James DeAngelo in custody.
Here’s what we know about DeAngelo’s life, including what he was cooking at the time of the arrest (page 4) and his infamous mugshot (page 7).
Police arrested DeAngelo more than 30 years after the crimes
On April 24, 2018 — more than 30 years after the Golden State Killer’s crime spree had stopped — police arrested DeAngelo at his home in Citrus Heights, California. DeAngelo lived in close proximity to where some of the worst crimes were committed.
Next: While the crimes were occurring, the Sacramento County community quickly realized the killer was among them.
The killer attended community gatherings about the rapes
Community gatherings occurred in hopes of sorting through and making sense of the attacks. One evening in a school cafeteria, hundreds of community members came together to learn ways to defend themselves from the unknown attacker. When one concerned attendee expressed his confusion about how a woman could be attacked while her husband was home, he and his wife soon became the Golden State Killer’s victims. At that point, lead investigator on the case, Carol Daly, realized “the rapist was there at that meeting,” according to The New York Times.
Next: You will not believe what the killer would stop to do midway through an attack.
The killer would eat and drink during the attacks
Not surprisingly, the killer would don a ski mask and use a gun throughout the attacks. The killer would also steal personal items, such as photos and jewelry, along with the victim’s identification. But the more unsettling piece of the attack puzzle was the way the killer would take a break in the midst of it all to indulge in a beverage and snack. As The New York Times reports, this act suggested the killer “was perfectly at home with mayhem.”
Next: DeAngelo was in the middle of cooking when police arrived at his home.
DeAngelo told police he had a roast in the oven
DeAngelo was not expecting police to arrive at his home on a sunny Tuesday. He even told the police he had a roast in the oven and couldn’t leave it. The police said they’d take care of it and arrested him. According to CNN, DeAngelo had guns in his home, warranting extra caution from the police.
Next: Neighbors didn’t have great things to say about him.
Neighbors said DeAngelo was a recluse
Those who lived near DeAngelo said they never saw much of him, and he wasn’t too friendly. One woman told ABC News she walked past the home frequently but never saw him. Another neighbor said despite the breaking news, she has always felt safe living in the area. CNN reported he would sometimes yell at the neighborhood children if he believed they were looking in his yard as they walked by. But neighbors said besides being a recluse, they wouldn’t have suspected him as a killer.
Next: The suspect wasn’t always labeled the “Golden State Killer.”
The expanding territory of attacks gave the killer many nicknames
The killer collected quite the laundry list of nicknames. While the community of Sacramento first labeled the killer as the “East Area Rapist,” the broadening attack territory provided more names. These included the “Original Night Stalker,” the “Diamond Knot Killer,” and of course the “Golden State Killer.”
Next: DeAngelo lived with his family at the time of his arrest.
He has 3 daughters, and 1 recently moved in with him
DeAngelo had recently welcomed family members to live with him before his arrest. One neighbor told CNN that DeAngelo has at least three daughters. There was no word on the mother of his children, but the kids had all grown up and moved out, according to the neighbor. Recently, though, one daughter moved back to DeAngelo’s home with her child. He was living with at least this daughter and granddaughter, but neither was home when he was arrested.
Next: His former employer never saw any sign of criminal activity.
He worked as a mechanic at a grocery store before retiring in 2017
Besides raising three children, DeAngelo worked as a mechanic at the local grocery store, Save Mart. He retired in 2017 after 27 years on the job. Victoria Castro, a spokesperson for the grocery chain, said none of DeAngelo’s behaviors on the job would have led her to believe he was a killer. She said they were now cooperating with authorities, but they never suspected him of committing any crimes.
Next: DeAngelo used to enforce the law.
DeAngelo was a former police officer
DeAngelo was a California police officer for six years, beginning in 1973. But he was fired after he was accused of stealing a hammer and dog repellent. Police had suspected the Golden State Killer had law enforcement experience because the killer knew how to avoid getting caught.
Next: Now, the man who served time for one of the Golden State Killer’s alleged crimes is speaking out.
Now, 1 man who spent 38 years in prison wants justice
Craig Coley — the former boyfriend of Ronda Wicht, one of the suspected Golden State Killer victims — was in prison for 38 years for a crime he did not commit: killing both Wicht and her 4-year-old son. Coley was released at 70 years old after new DNA evidence found he could not have committed the crime. California agreed to pay him $1.9 million, but he still wants justice for his former girlfriend and her child. “It’s not something you can describe other than it’s painful,” Coley told The Washington Post.
DeAngelo is suspected of the homicides, but nothing has officially tied him to the crime scene.
Additional reporting by Trisha Phillips.
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