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Murderer Monday: “The Golden State Killer”

I haven’t written anything new, or worked on any of my upcoming blog posts in a week, which is a bit weird for me. Sometimes sh*t happens and life gets in the way right? I thought I’d pick a really interesting case for this weeks #MurdererMonday, and my timing couldn’t have been better.

I don’t think this has been broadcast much in British media, but it is all over America. Police believe that they have just caught, the Golden State Killer. Before I tell you who he is suspected to be, let me give you the background on the case and why he went undetected for so long. This blog post will be in a pretty random order, but I don’t want to spoil it and tell you who he is straight away!


The Golden State Killer is the name of a serial rapist, burglar and killer who was responsible for at least 12 murders, over 50 rapes and hundreds of burglaries in California from 1976-86. It took years for police to determine that all of these incidents were committed by the same person, as he used various methods. Over the years after these incidents, he gained many nicknames when they were thought to be different people, such as the East Area Rapist and the Diamond Knot Killer. His most renowned name which is the title of this post, was only penned by an author in 2013.

East Area Rapist:

Beginning his offences with burglary, he was known to stalk middle class neighbourhoods looking for single women, or women alone in their houses. Usually, these happened near fields, lakes, or anywhere that he could make a quick escape from. This was one of his first noticeable modus operandi, and he was seen making several escapes. Before most attacks, victims had noticed someone on their property, or endured a break-in. This shows how he carefully researched and almost practiced his attacks, conducting surveillance for weeks. It is thought that, in preparation, he often snuck in early and unlocked doors and windows before he came back later. In some cases, he also made many calls to his victims to learn their daily routines. During attacks he wore a ski-mask to hide his identity.

He started attacking women, but quickly gained enjoyment from attacking couples. A Sacramento Sheriff’s detective, Carol Daly spoke about self-defence against the attacker. One man questioned the point, asking how he could rape a woman in the presence of her husband who would fight him off. Months later, that very man and wife were targeted by the killer. Mrs Daly said last week that she has no doubt, “the rapist was there at that meeting”.

He would break in, wake them up and bind them. The nickname “Diamond Knot Killer” comes from the type of knots used in the bindings. The women were often made to tie up their partners. He was known to stack plates on top of the male, then remove the female. The male was told that if he heard the plates smash, they would both die. Whilst this was happening, he would repeatedly rape the female. He would spend hours in their home. Eating, checking drawers, stealing. Often leaving without them knowing so they would wait for hours in fear thinking he was still there. It was often just days left between these attacks.

These attacks happened from 1976-79. In 1978 a young couple were murdered with a shotgun when walking in this area. More recently, in 2016 the FBI announced they were confident that this was committed by the same person as the rapes. In 1979 the killer moved to Southern California where he was known as the Original Night Stalker.

Original Night Stalker:

The rapist also began to kill his victims. In his first attack in October 1979, the couple survived by alerting neighbours and causing him to flee and steal a bike. A neighbour pursued him but lost him in the gardens. Unfortunately, all of his other targeted victims were murdered either by gunshot or bludgeoning.

One incident I find interesting was in December 1979. A couple were found shot dead at their apartment. Neighbours heard gunshots but ignored them, thinking they were something else. Police found paw prints from a large dog, which the couple didn’t own. It is most likely that the killer brought the dog with him, which is very odd. They found that he had taken leftover Christmas turkey from the fridge as well. His last currently known victim was an 18 year old girl who was home alone as her family were on holiday in Mexico. She was found on May 5th 1986. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he was found guilty of other cold case murders.


By now, the police had managed to create a profile of their suspected killer. White male, slender but athletic, 5″10, size 9, A-type blood, physically agile. They also created an image with probable physical characteristics from witnesses. 18-25 when he first started, light eyes and hair, small penis. (Shouldn’t laugh). They also found tiny paint chips at scenes and suggested he worked in construction. A psychological profile was also created. This suggested he had police technique knowledge, a criminal record, voyeur tendencies, unmarried, arrogant, sexually aggressive etc. You get the picture, not a very nice person.


In 1977 poem entitled “Excitement’s Crave” by someone claiming to be the East Area Rapist was sent to a Sacramento newspaper. It is possible that this was inspired by a police chase of the supposed killer a couple of days before.

“To make a movie of my life / That will pay for my planned exile.
Just now I’ d like to add the wife / Of a Mafia lord to my file.
Your East Area Rapist
And deserving pest.
See you in the press or on T.V.”

There were also many calls made to police, claiming;”I’m the East Side Rapist and I have my next victim already stalked and you guys can’t catch me.” In December 1977,”Merry Christmas, it’s me again!” Previous rape victims also reported calls where they were threatened with another rape. In 1991, a victim received a call and spoke to him for a whole minute. She reported hearing children in the background, leading to suspicion that he was a family man.

Arrest and Trial:

In many incidents that he committed, DNA evidence was left behind but for years police had no match on their database. In America in June 2016, authorities released news that they were conducting a nationwide search and offering a $50,000 reward for information. After their plea, police were able to eliminate several suspects from their investigations.

Law Enforcement Personnel uploaded the DNA profiles to a personal genomics database and managed to identify the killer’s family members using medical and criminal records. They identified Joseph James DeAngelo, and extracted DNA from personal items outside his home. After 4 months of testing against 650,000 other profiles, the DNA was found to be an exact match to the killers profile.

On April 25th 2018, it was announced that they had a suspect. The 72 year old, a former police officer, was arrested on 8 counts of first-degree murder based on DNA evidence. However, due to Californian law, he cannot be tried for any rapes that occurred before 2017. I know that the trial hasn’t finished yet, but DNA doesn’t lie, so he must be the killer.

(DeAngelo is second from the left as a police officer.)

Earlier Life:

Joseph James DeAngelo was born in New York. He was in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War, and upon return was a police officer from 1973-79. He was fired from this job after being caught shoplifting a hammer and dog repellent. From 1990 until 2017 he worked as a truck mechanic, his work between these jobs is unknown.

He had been engaged to a woman named Bonnie in 1970, but they never married. This matched a statement he made during one of his attacks, “I hate you, Bonnie!”. Potentially their breakup was a cause of his anger and violent tendencies. The victim had been adamant he said “Bonnie” and not “Mommy”.

In 1973 he married a woman named Sharon with whom he had 3 daughters. They broke up in 1991. At the time of his arrest, he was living with his daughter and granddaughter. His brother-in-law remembers him casually bringing up the East Area Rapist in conversation during the original case. Neighbours reported that he frequently engaged in loud outbursts.

Current Situation:

His DNA is still being tested in hopes it can be linked to the death of a mother and young son in California, 1978. Another man, Craig Coley, was in prison for this for almost 4 decades, his wrongful conviction was overturned in November 2017.

He is currently on suicide watch, and has undergone psychiatric evaluations. In trial, he entered handcuffed and in a wheelchair indicating poor health. He also seemed dazed and had delayed speech. Some believe this is a dangerous act to gain sympathy. A lead detective claims he was seen riding a motorbike only 2 weeks ago, so is actually physically able.

He has not entered a plea deal, and returns to court on May 14th 2018. Potentially, he could also be found to be the Visalia Ransacker. 



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