Golden State Killer suspect pleads guilty to multiple murders, kidnappings across California

  • Golden State Killer suspect pleads guilty to multiple murders, kidnappings across California

Golden State Killer suspect pleads guilty to multiple murders, kidnappings across California

The former California police officer who prosecutors say murdered 13 people as the Golden State Killer pleaded guilty Monday to numerous crimes in his years-long rape-and-killing spree.

Joseph James DeAngelo Jr. confessed to being the notorious killer and rapist who stalked the state during the 1970s and 1980s, at a plea hearing held in a converted university ballroom in state capital Sacramento.

Joseph James DeAngelo, 74, entered the pleas as part of a broader agreement with prosecutors sparing him from a potential death sentence in exchange for his admission to all offenses he stood accused of - charged and uncharged - in 11 California counties.

He will serve 11 consecutive terms of life without parole, with 15 concurrent life sentences and additional time for weapons charges, Holliday said.

Investigators plugged his discarded DNA back into the genealogy database and found a match, linking DeAngelo's DNA to DNA found at crime scenes, prosecutors said.

Then, they waited through decades of investigation into his identity.

In addition to 13 murders and kidnappings, prosecutors said DeAngelo was known to have committed almost 50 rapes in all and more than 120 burglaries in and around Sacramento, the eastern San Francisco Bay area and Southern California.

DeAngelo, dressed in orange jail garb and slumped in a wheelchair with his mouth agape, answered "guilty" in a raspy voice when the judge asked his plea to the first of 13 counts of first-degree murder and kidnapping charges he faced, most of which also encompassed rape allegations. After one double murder in 1979, a prosecutor, DeAngelo snacked on leftover Christmas turkey from a victim's fridge and left the bones behind.

The plea benefits the public for multiple reasons, including the time that has passed since the crime and the prospect of bringing elderly witnesses to testify during a pandemic, she said.

The known attacks began in 1975, initially in the Sacramento area of central California, before spreading out across the state.

No crimes were attributed to the "Golden State Killer" from July 1981 until 1986, when 18-year-old Janelle Cruz was raped and murdered in Irvine. The Vietnam War veteran spent six years in law enforcement before he was sacked for shoplifting dog repellent and a hammer from a drugstore.

He retired in 2017 from a job as a truck mechanic at a warehouse for a grocery store chain in Citrus Heights, a town about 20 miles (32 kilometers) northwest of Sacramento where he has lived for more than 20 years.

The breakthrough came about two months after the case gained renewed national attention in the bestselling book, I'll Be Gone in the Dark.

Its author Michelle McNamara - the wife of Hollywood actor and comedian Patton Oswalt - had died before its release.