The man known as the "Golden State Killer" pleaded guilty Monday to 13 murders, 13 kidnappings and dozens of other crimes, including some in the Tri-Valley, after evading capture for years until he was identified in 2018 through investigative genetic genealogy, Contra Costa County prosecutors said.
Joseph DeAngelo Jr., 74, made his pleas before Judge Michael Bowman in the Sacramento State Ballroom to allow the many victims and their family members to attend and maintain social distancing.
DeAngelo is expected to be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. He murdered his last victim in 1986, according to prosecutors. DeAngelo, a former police officer, terrorized California residents during the 1970s and 1980s.
Prosecutors from Contra Costa, Orange, Sacramento, Santa Barbara, Tulare and Ventura counties prosecuted DeAngelo.
He admitted to killing Claude Snelling in 1975, in Tulare County, Katie and Brian Maggiore in 1978, in Sacramento County; Debra Alexandria Manning in 1979, in Santa Barbara County; Robert Offerman in 1979, in Santa Barbara County; Cheri Domingo in 1981, in Santa Barbara County; Greg Sanchez in 1981, in Santa Barbara County; Charlene and Lyman Smith on or about March 13, 1980, in Ventura County; Keith and Patrice Harrington in 1980, in Orange County; Manuela Witthuhn in 1981, in Orange County and Janelle Cruz in 1986, in Orange County.
Prosecutors said his crimes began when he was with the Exeter Police Department. He was fired in 1979 by the Auburn Police Department.
DeAngelo's crimes started with peeping through windows and stalking, prosecutors said. DeAngelo earned the nicknames of "Visalia Ransacker," the "Original Night Stalker," "East Area Rapist" and the "Golden State Killer."
He admitted to dozens of uncharged crimes including rape, kidnapping, attempted murder and robbery, among others, according to prosecutors.
The charges against DeAngelo included four cases of kidnap and robbery that involved rapes from Contra Costa County, including one in San Ramon in October 1978 and one in Danville in June 1979. The district attorney's office had to pursue kidnapping charges and not rape due to the statute of limitations for those crimes.
DeAngelo admitted to those San Ramon Valley crimes, as well as an uncharged rape case in Danville from December 1978.
Victims will be able to share how the crimes affected them starting Aug. 17 before DeAngelo is sentenced Aug. 21. The time and place of the sentencing have not been announced.
Prosecutors agreed to let DeAngelo plead guilty to 26 charged crimes and admit to the uncharged crimes in order allow the victims and their families hear DeAngelo confess.
Otherwise the prosecution of DeAngelo could have taken as many as 10 years.
Some of the uncharged crimes that DeAngelo confessed to occurred in Alameda and Santa Clara counties.
-- Story by Bay City News Service, with Weekly editor Jeremy Walsh contributing with local case details.