Between 1974 and 1986, a series of murders, rapes, and burglaries terrorized California. In 12 years, the man known in different parts of the state as the East Area Rapist, the Original Night Stalker, and the Visalia Ransacker committed at least 13 murders and more than 50 rapes and 100 burglaries.
Like so many famous serial killers, the Golden State Killer taunted victims and police by making creepy phone calls and writing letters.
The serial killer and rapist would break into suburban couples’ homes at night, tie up the man and stack plates on his back, and then say he would kill both of them if he heard the dishes fall while he raped the wife.
On April 24, 2018, U.S. Navy veteran and former police officer Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, was charged with crimes associated with the Golden State Killer – more than 30 years after the crime sprees ended. DNA linked DeAngelo with the murders and rapes. He was charged with eight counts of first-degree murder and charges relating to kidnapping and abduction attempts. He couldn’t be charged for the numerous rapes due to the statute of limitations at the time.
The Associated Press has now reported that DeAngelo is expected to plead guilty in exchange for a plea deal that allows him to avoid the death penalty. He is expected to plead guilty on June 29 and be sentenced once the surviving victims and relatives of his murder victims have a chance to confront him in court.
Ron Harrington, whose younger brother and sister-in-law were murdered by DeAngelo in August 1980, said they would accept either punishment.
“We are so totally supportive of the death penalty and yet we are totally supportive of this decision to let the Golden State Killer plead to life without possibility of parole,” Harrington said.
“Almost 40 years have passed and literally some of the victims have passed away, there are foundational issues from an evidentiary standpoint,” he added. “You’ve got victims who have now passed away, how are they going to testify?”
The AP reported that “District attorneys in six counties that had been seeking the death penalty issued a joint statement that did not address that issue, but noted the scope of crimes that started more than four decades ago and involved dozens of victims across 11 counties over more than a decade.”
“Victims of a crime are entitled to finality in their criminal cases, as well as the expectation that the person convicted of committing the crime will be punished,” the DAs wrote in their statement, adding that they “are working closely with the victims in this case to ensure their statements are considered by the Court prior to sentencing.”
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