Golden State Killer Suspect Was Ultimately Charged Because Of DNA Found On Tissue Found In Trash

Joseph DeAngelo charges come into focus as records show exactly how authorities obtained crucial DNA.

Justin SullivanGetty Images

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.

SACRAMENTO, CA - APRIL 27: An attendee holds a photo of Cheri Domingo and her boyfriend Gregory Sanchez, who were killed in 1981, as she sits in the courtroom during the arraignment of Joseph James DeAngelo, the suspected "Golden State Killer" on April 27, 2018 in Sacramento, California. DeAngelo, a 72-year-old former police officer, is believed to be the East Area Rapist who killed at least 12 people, raped over 45 women and burglarized hundreds of homes throughout California in the 1970s and 1980s. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)Featured image credit: Justin SullivanGetty Imaes

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.