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Golden State Killer Suspect Arrested; Tied to Goleta Cold-Case Murders

Sacramento authorities have in custody Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, who they say is connected to at least 12 homicides, 45 rapes

Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert speaks at press conference Click to view larger
Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert announces the arrest of Golden State Killer suspect Joseph James DeAngelo, 72.
Joseph James DeAngelo Click to view larger
Joseph James DeAngelo

The decades-long search for the Golden State Killer, a prolific serial murderer and rapist whose victims include at least four people slain in Goleta, apparently has come to an end with the arrest of a 72-year-old former police officer in the Sacramento area.

On Wednesday, Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones and District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert were among the officials who announced the arrest of Joseph James DeAngelo, 72.

Although they provided few details about what led investigators to DeAngelo, Schubert and Jones indicated that "emerging DNA technology" was crucial in apprehending him.

"The answer was and was always going to be in the DNA," Schubert told reporters gathered in front of the Sacramento County crime lab. "We also knew it would take passion and persistence."

The cold-case suspect, also known as the East Area Rapist and the Original Night Stalker, has been living for years in the Sacramento area, and was arrested outside his Citrus Heights home on Tuesday, Jones said.

DeAngelo is listed in Sacramento County jail records as being booked early Wednesday on two counts of murder from a warrant out of Ventura County.

He is facing similar charges in a complaint filed in Sacramento County in connection with the 1978 slayings of a Rancho Cordova couple, Air Force Sgt. Brian Maggiore and his wife, Katie, Schubert said.

Other jurisdictions, including Santa Barbara County for the Goleta cases, are expected to follow suit on filing charges against DeAngelo.

Jones confirmed that DeAngelo was an officer with the Exeter Police Department in the San Joaquin Valley from 1973 to 1976, and with the Auburn Police Department in the Sierra Nevada foothills northeast of Sacramento from 1976 to 1979.

He was fired from the latter agency for shoplifting a can of dog repellant and a hammer from a store in Citrus Heights, and there has been speculation the items may have been intended to be used in his alleged crimes.

All told, the Golden State Killer is suspected in at least 12 homicides, 45 rapes and more than 120 residential burglaries throughout California from 1976 to 1986, according to the FBI.

Composition drawings showing suspects in the Golden State Killer/East Area Rapist case, which has ties to four murders in Goleta. Click to view larger
Composition drawings showing suspects in the Golden State Killer/East Area Rapist case, which has ties to four murders in Goleta.

DNA evidence has been used to link the same person to many of the crimes, but the suspect's identity remained unknown until Wednesday.

In Goleta, he is suspected of killing Dr. Robert Offerman, 44, and Offerman's girlfriend, Alexandria Manning, 35, on Dec. 30, 1979. They were found shot to death in Offerman's condo on Avenida Pequena.

The serial killer is also believed to have murdered 35-year-old Cheri Domingo and her longtime boyfriend, Gregory Sanchez, 27, on July 27, 1981, in a residence on Toltec Way.

Victim's Daughter Says Arrest of Killer 'Huge Relief'

Couple murdered by Golden State Killer Click to view larger
Cheri Domingo and Greg Sanchez were brutally murdered on July 27, 1981, in Domingo’s home on Toltec Way in Goleta by the Golden State Killer. Sacramento authorities reportedly have arrested a suspect in the case. (Contributed photo)

The victims were found in a bedroom, — both had been severely beaten and Sanchez had been shot.

Three months before the Offerman and Manning murders, a couple on nearby Queen Ann Lane were accosted, tied up and terrorized by a man, presumably the same suspect, but they managed to flee the home and were not killed.

The Ventura County warrant involves the case of Lyman and Charlene Smith, who were bludgeoned to death in their home on March 13, 1980. DNA evidence was collected in that case.

The spree of burglaries and rapes attributed to the Golden State Killer began in communities east of Sacramento during the summer of 1976, giving rise to the moniker “East Area Rapist.”

Ventura County District Attorney Greg Totten speaks at press conference Click to view larger
Ventura County District Attorney Greg Totten speaks Wednesday at press conference announcing an arrest in the Golden State Killer cold cases.

During these crimes, the suspect would ransack the homes of his victims and take small items such as coins, jewelry and identification.

Those cases included the homes of families, couples and single women; burglaries in a neighborhood tended to precede clusters of sexual assaults.

The East Area Rapist was active in the greater Sacramento area until 1978, when the violence escalated to homicide.

The last crime linked to the serial killer occurred on May 5, 1986, when 18-year-old Janelle Cruz was raped and murdered in her Irvine home.

DeAngelo may also be the serial prowler/voyeur, burglar, and murderer who operated in Visalia in the San Joaquin Valley in 1974 and 1975, authorities said Wednesday. (Visalia is just a few miles west of Exeter.)

Whatever led investigators to DeAngelo came to light within the last six days, Schubert said, adding later that DeAngelo's name had not been raised as a suspect before then.

DeAngelo was placed under surveillance, and investigators were able to obtain some "discarded DNA" that tied him to the Golden State Killer and East Area Rapist crimes, Jones said, declining to elaborate because of the ongoing investigation.

Once investigators were sure they had their suspect, they staked out DeAngelo's home on Canyon Oak Street in a quiet residential neighborhood, and took him into custody without incident as he left the residence Tuesday, Jones said.

DeAngelo reportedly attended Folsom High School in Folsom, California, and Sacramento State University. He also reportedly served in the U.S. Navy in Vietnam.

Investigators had long speculated that the suspect in the Golden State Killer cases had law enforcement or military experience due to his ability to elude capture.

He reportedly was married and divorced twice and has adult children, whom investigators have talked to.

Among those speaking at Wednesday's press conference was Greg Totten, Ventura County district attorney.

DeAngelo's arrest "was the culmination of a decades-long, unrelenting investigation focused on bringing rapist and killer to justice," Totten said, noting that the Smith killings "literally struck terror in the hearts of Ventura County residents."

Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley said her office is confering with the Sheriff's Department regarding the cases in their jurisdiction, "and will continue to remain engaged in bringing justice and closure to the loved ones of our local victims.

"Given the present state of the investigation, I will limit my office’s statements until further action is taken in Santa Barbara County.”

Anyone with information about this case is urged to email the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department at [email protected]

Also, the FBI has offered a $50,000 reward for information leading to the identity of the Golden State Killer.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department is asking that anyone with information on the suspect and his travels to Goleta or Santa Barbara contact the Criminal Investigations Division at 805.681.4150, call the anonymous tip line at 805.681.4171 or go to the sheriff's website to email an anonymous tip.

Check back with Noozhawk for updates to this story.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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