Golden State Killer pleads guilty to first murder of 13

A 74-year-old former police officer is tentatively set to plead guilty Monday to being the elusive Golden State Killer.

Posted: Jun 29, 2020 9:18 AM
Updated: Jun 29, 2020 2:16 PM

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A former police officer who terrorized the Sacramento region as a serial rapist and went on to kill more than a dozen people across California and then evaded capture for decades pleaded guilty Monday to the first of 13 murders.

Joseph James DeAngelo Jr. had remained almost silent in court since his 2018 arrest until he uttered in a hushed, raspy voice the word “guilty” to killing a community college professor in 1975, the first homicide in his decades of burglaries, rapes and other crimes that were later dubbed the work of the Golden State Killer.

DeAngelo acknowledged at the beginning of the hearing that he would plead guilty to 13 murders and acknowledge dozens of rapes that are too old to prosecute in exchange consecutive life sentences and no chance of parole.

The frail-looking 74-year-old sat in a wheelchair and spoke behind a plastic shield to prevent possible spread of coronavirus.

He was arrested in 2018 after authorities used DNA to track him through a popular genealogy website.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Earlier story follows below.

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Joseph James DeAngelo Jr., a former police officer, faces 13 rape-related charges and 13 murder counts stemming from crimes in the 1970s and 1980s across six counties in California. He is expected to enter a guilty plea during a hearing Monday. Authorities allege the 74-year-old is the elusive Golden State Killer, also known during the crime sprees by nicknames including the East Area Rapist and Visalia Ransacker.

The charges linked to rapes were filed as kidnappings to commit robberies because the statute of limitations for sexual assaults has expired.

Here are the charges that have been consolidated into one proceeding in Sacramento, according to the Sacramento District Attorney's Office:

Contra Costa County:

Four counts of kidnapping to commit robbery using a gun and knife between Oct. 7, 1978, and June 11, 1979, with the victims identified as Jane Does numbers 10-13.

Orange County:

Four counts of murder in the Aug. 21, 1980, slaying of Keith Harrington, 24, and rape and slaying of Patrice Harrington, 27, of Dana Point; the Feb. 6, 1981, rape and slaying of Manuela Witthuhn, 28, of Irvine; and the May 5, 1986, rape and slaying of Janelle Cruz, 18, of Irvine.

Sacramento County:

Two counts of murder in the Feb. 2, 1978, shootings of Kate Maggoire, 20, and Brian Maggoire, 21, as they walked their dog in their Rancho Cordova neighborhood.

Nine counts of kidnapping to commit robbery using a gun and knife between Sept. 4, 1976, and Oct. 21, 1977, with the victims identified as Jane Does numbers 1-9.

Santa Barbara County:

Four counts of murder in the Dec. 30, 1979, rape and slaying of Debra Manning, 35, and slaying of Robert Offerman, 44, of Goleta, and in the July 27, 1981, slaying of Gregory Sanchez, 27, and Cheri Domingo, 35, of Goleta.

Tulare County:

One count of murder in the Sept. 11, 1975, slaying of Claude Snelling, 45, during an attempted kidnapping of the victim’s daughter from their home.

Ventura County:

Two counts of murder in the rape and slaying of Charlene Smith, 33, and slaying of Lyman Smith, 43, of Ventura between March 13 and March 16, 1980.

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