Photo: Joseph James DeAngelo, the East Area Rapist
SACRAMENTO – A noon press conference held by the Sacramento District Attorney’s Office and attended by law enforcement representatives from numerous California counties announced the arrest of Joseph James DeAngelo and the match of his DNA to two murders committed on March 13, 1980.
Beginning on June 18, 1976 and continuing until May 4, 1986, and spanning numerous localities (including Rancho Cordova, Sacramento, Citrus Heights, Davis, Modesto, Ventura and Irvine), the “East Area Rapist,” also dubbed the “Golden State Killer” wreaked havoc, committing 12 homicides and 45 rapes. He was also known as the “Original Night Stalker” and the “Visalia Ransacker.”
A 1964 graduate of Folsom High School, DeAngelo had a stint in Vietnam before attending Sierra College pursuing a degree in political science. In 1970 he was engaged to Del Oro graduate Bonnie Jean Colwell, but they never married.
He married San Juan High grad Sharon Huddle in 1973 at the Auburn First Congregational Church, the same year he began working in Exeter as a police officer.
Sharon Huddle, a Roseville family law attorney, was admitted to the bar in 1982 (during the time of the crimes). Later she and DeAngelo divorced.
In the August 22, 1973 issue of The Exeter Sun, DeAngelo is quoted as saying that “without law and order there can be no government and without a democratic government there can be no freedom.” He also worked for the Auburn PD from 1976-1979.
The August 29, 1979 issue of The Auburn Journal reports that Auburn police officer Joseph James DeAngelo was fired after being arrested for shoplifting “dog repellent and a hammer” from the Pay N’ Save store on Greenback Lane in Citrus Heights.
Neighbors report that his 36-year-old daughter Misha also lives at the residence with her daughter. Another neighbor noted that DeAngelo told him and his wife that “he retired a few weeks ago and was planning to do a lot of fishing.”
The case suddenly moved very rapidly the past week or so and detectives conducted surveillance of him and collected a discarded item to make the DNA match.