April 27th, 2018 | by Aamina Guidry

During the 1970’s and 1980’s Northern California was rocked with a span of rapes and murders that caused fear and anxiety for decades, committed by an unknown  man named the Golden State Killer. No one expected the person behind these heinous crimes would be a cop.


It has been more than forty years since the Golden State Killer’s last attack, but he has finally been identified as Joseph James DeAngelo, a retired police officer who was living in a Sacramento suburb. He was arrested Tuesday night, and is believed to have committed twelve murders and at east fifty rapes in ten counties of California.

East Area Rapist was also another name given to the haunting and previously unknown attacker. When the rapes were reported, it usually involved women who were alone with children. His first victim was Carson-Sandler Jane, on June 18 1976, she was sleeping in bed with her son when her husband had left to work. She was awoken by a masked man standing in her doorway holding a large butcher knife and shining a flashlight in her face. He then began to tie her and her son up with shoelaces and blindfolded them. He tore the sheets and gagged them. When the son was completely tied up he began to rape Sandler. After the rape he went into the kitchen and began banging pots and pans together for about thirty minutes. Sandler survived the gruesome attack and went on to tell her story through various podcasts and documentaries.


Soon after, around 1977 couples began to be targeted. One couple that fell victim to his attack were the Maggiore couple who were only twenty and twenty-one years old. They were walking their dog at the time just outside of Sacramento in Rancho Cordova. They were both shot to death.

Soon after, he began to terrorize Santana Barba County in California. During this time, police did not know the East Area Rapist and Golden State killer were the same, until later on when they realized the crimes matched up.  He had attacked women and couples in Southern California from 1979 to 1986.


His last known victim was as young as eighteen, Janelle Cruz, who was beaten to death in her bed on May 4th, 1986. She had been apartment hunting earlier in the day, ads from newspapers of different apartments were scattered on her kitchen table when her body was found.

Neighbors claimed the Golden State Killer, also known as “the original Night Stalker” his third alias, was strange. One neighbor, Kevin Tapia, who lived near DeAngelo for twenty years said that neighbors sometimes heard him yelling in his home. In recent years, DeAngelo kept to himself, and began yelling at neighbors for minor annoyances such as mowing the lawn too early in the morning.


DeAngelo spent six years as a police officer. He was fired in 1979 for shoplifting a can of dog repellent and hammer from a drug store. He worked in Auburn California from 1973-1979. Investigators said it is very possible he had been committing these horrific crimes while he was a police officer.


Police did not release why DeAngelo became a person of interest, but stated he became a suspect last week and retracted DNA from his home and connected it to the crimes. Before this, there were no suspects connected to the crimes, and police only had minor details about his looks.


"The sheriff's department never gave up on this investigation," Detective Paul Belli stated. "This person ruined a great number of lives, and he should be held accountable."

Aamina Guidry is a writter for

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