It has been a little over a month since 72-year-old Joseph DeAngelo was apprehended as a major suspect in the infamous Golden State Killer case, a case dating back to 1974. Also known as the East Area Rapist and The Original Night Stalker, the identity of this serial killer has been a taunting mystery to law enforcement officials for nearly 45 years. Most believed the case would never be solved. But it so appears most were wrong, as forensic evidence led authorities to the home of Joseph DeAngelo on April 24, 2018, an arrest dominating news headlines across the country.
Today, it has come to light that part of the reason behind this arrest was DNA recovered from a trash can outside DeAngelo’s California home. In a story from NBC News it was reported that the Sacramento County Sherrif’s Department recovered the DNA as part of a four-month-long investigation into Joseph DeAngelo as a suspect in 51 rapes and the murders of 12 people. This DNA, in conjunction with DNA recovered from the handle of the suspect’s door while he visited a local Hobby Lobby, gave investigators more than enough evidence to show up at DeAngelo’s home with handcuffs and a formal charge.
Due to a statute of limitations in the state of California, DeAngelo will not be charged in any of the rapes. Murder charges are subject to no such restriction.
Although this ex-police officer is quickly becoming synonymous with the Golden State Killer case, Joseph DeAngelo is still technically a suspect in this crime. Though the evidence may be overwhelming, the means to collect that evidence will be considered. DeAngelo must still stand trial before he can be convicted. This case, in particular, was experimental, in that it’s the first time authorities have used commercial genealogy services like 23andme as a basis for their case.
Although there may not have been direct involvement from genealogy sites specifically, third-party websites do often have fewer security measures in place for users choosing to share their DNA results in exchange for further insight into their own genetic makeup. Serious concerns about human privacy have been raised. As such, the courtroom decision may be more complicated than determining direct guilt or innocence. Whether or not the investigation was too invasive, or if the suspect’s rights were generally upheld throughout the investigation, may well become a significant factor in this case as a trial nears.
Older law enforcement profiles of The Golden State Killer, far predating the apprehension of DeAngelo, predicted the suspect would be a white male with knowledge of investigative procedures and probably had law enforcement or military training.