The Golden State Killer who carried out a series of rapes, murder and burglaries pleaded guilty and admitted to other uncharged crimes on Monday after remaining silent for years. Joseph James DeAngelo Jr., a former police officer, committed the crimes between the 1970s and '80s and left the entire state of California terrorized.
DeAngelo had earlier never acknowledged any of the crimes including the killings. The confession made by the 74-year-old retired cop will now spare him of a death penalty but he could get a life sentence with no chance of parole.
A Long Wait
On Monday, DeAngelo pleaded guilty to 13 murders and other charges in Sacramento State ballroom. He also pleaded guilty of committing a series of horrific rapes and burglaries. Prosecutors said that there were more than half a dozen counties in California where DeAngelo's deeds became synonymous with terror, following which he was nicknamed Golden State Killer.
DeAngelo, who was also a truck mechanic for some time after leaving his police job, remained almost silent throughout the court proceedings till he uttered the word "guilty" in a very low voice. He was arrested in 2018 but remained silent all this while, till one day during an interrogation he cryptically referred to an inner personality that had apparently forced him to commit those crimes. "The scope of Joseph DeAngelo's crimes is simply staggering. Each time he escaped, slipping away silently into the night," Sacramento County prosecutor Thien Ho said.
DeAngelo is in poor health and entered the courtroom in a wheelchair on Monday but has been quite rigid during the interrogation sessions. During one interrogation he confessed to himself that there was an inner personality "Jerry" that forced him to commit the series of crimes that abruptly ended in 1986. He has apparently said that he struggled to push "Jerry" out of his life.
According to Ho, DeAngelo said during that session: "I didn't have the strength to push him out. He made me. He went with me. It was like in my head, I mean, he's a part of me. I didn't want to do those things. I pushed Jerry out and had a happy life. I did all those things. I destroyed all their lives. So now I've got to pay the price."
DeAngelo was never on the radar of investigators who spent years looking for the culprit. It was long after the crimes ended that the police managed to link a series of assaults in Northern California to murders in Southern California and started looking for Golden State Killer. Finally, police had to use DNA from crime scenes that led them to a distant relative of DeAngelo through a genealogy website and built a family tree to track him down.
DeAngelo used to wear a mask and slip into the homes of people through open windows and tie them up before either raping or killing them at gunpoint. He was also dubbed as the East Area Rapist.