SAN FRANCISCO—Former San Francisco Police Officer Joseph DeAngelo, 74, pled guilty to 26 criminal charges on Monday, June 29. He committed a series of rapes and murders across California in the 1970s and 1980s, and he was known as the “Golden State Killer.” His identity remained unknown until 2018, when authorities used a genealogy website to track him. According to records and reports, his crime spree spanned from 1973 to 1986, and involved attacks on 106 men, women and children. At least 50 women were raped, and 13 people were killed.
DeAngelo’s crimes caused widespread fear across the state of California for almost a decade between the 1970s and 1980s. His crimes drew media attention that caused a public panic, as citizens invested in guns, door locks, guard dogs, and police implemented patrols and bounties. In 1979, DeAngelo was fired from his job in Auburn, California after he was caught shoplifting. He and his wife moved to Southern California in 1979, where a second spree of bedroom attacks and rapes went unconnected, until detectives were able to link the attacks in 2001. Over the past several decades, he was referred by various nicknames, including the “Diamond-Knot Killer” and “The Night Stalker.”
Joseph James DeAngelo Jr. was wheeled into court on Monday, where he pleaded guilty to 13 murders and 13 kidnapping-related charges. The trial was held in a university ballroom that was converted into a makeshift courtroom, and the audience was comprised of victims DeAngelo’s victims and their families. He is expected to admit up to 62 rapes that he has not yet been charged for. Testimony is expected to occur at a later date, as it will take several days for survivors to recount their experiences.
Prosecutors have decided not to pursue the death penalty from complications that have arisen from the advancing age of both the victims and the suspect. The decision means that the public could be spared from years of jury duty in criminal proceedings, which prosecutors estimated could have also cost the state more than $20 million.