The notorious "Golden State Killer" Joseph James DeAngelo Jr. pled guilty to 26 charges of rape and murder. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, DeAngelo, a former police officer, appeared in court on Monday over charges that he committed a series of rapes, break-ins, and murders during the 1970s and 1980s in California.
DeAngelo managed to evade police for four decades until Michelle McNamara, the now-deceased writer and wife of widower Patton Oswalt, brought renewed attention to the case with her best-selling book I'll Be Gone in the Dark. McNamara and her quest is now the focus of an HBO documentary by the same name.
The criminal — who was also referred to as the East Area Rapist, the Original Night Stalker and the Diamond Knot Killer — worked across Central and Southern California for years, where he raped at least 45 women and broke into at least 120 homes. He is also accused of kidnapping and murdering 13 victims. He is accused of murdering people in Rancho Cordova, Goleta, Ventura, and Irvine, California, among other crimes.
"The scope of Joseph DeAngelo's crime spree is simply staggering, encompassing 13 known murders and almost 50 rapes between 1975 and 1986," argued Thien Ho, a prosecutor for Sacramento County. "For over 40 years, the biggest question remained unanswered who was the serial killer and rapist."
DeAngelo worked as an officer in two small-town police departments, which experts say likely enabled him to evade capture for as long as he did. But in 2018, with the help of new DNA technology, authorities were finally able to arrest the 74-year-old. Investigators found DNA that matched material from a relative on a genealogy site and tissue found in the trash, leading them to the man.
Prosecutors from various counties united together to prosecute DeAngelo, who uttered "guilty" or "I admit" to each charge so far, as CNN reported.
"We are unified, and we are committed to delivering justice to the victims of the Golden State Killer and their loved ones, who for far too long have had justice elude them," said the district attorney for Ventura County.
DeAngelo is expected to receive life in prison without parole as part of his plea deal.
"Mr. DeAngelo is 74 years old. He has offered to plead to the charges with a lifetime sentence," the defense said earlier this year.
The hearing took place in a makeshift court set up to allow for social distancing, and both DeAngelo and the lawyers representing the prosecution and defense wore face shields while in court.