Discarded DNA led police to Golden State Killer suspect Joseph James DeAngelo, a former cop who became a person of interest only six days ago

Authorities in Sacramento have released further details about the arrest of the suspected Golden State Killer, who was taken into custody overnight in the first major break in the decades-old case.

Representatives from the Sacramento sheriff department and the District Attorney’s office held a press conference Wednesday afternoon that continued for over an hour while providing very few details about how exactly Joseph James DeAngelo became the prime suspect in the 42-year-old case  — just six days ago.

On Tuesday night, authorities apprehended DeAngelo, a former police officer who worked for two different police departments during the early years of his serial raping spree, when he violently sexually assaulted dozens of women in the late 1970s. The sexual assaults escalated to murder, and the Golden State Killer appeared to have vanished by 1986.

But in reality, DeAngelo appears to have stayed in California. He was apprehended in his Citrus Heights home, in Sacramento County, before being booked into jail in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

“The answer has always been in Sacramento,” District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert said in the press conference.

Schubert later confirmed the DeAngelo became a person of interest less than a week ago. Authorities who spoke at the press conference didn’t specify exactly what put the suspect on their radar, but did repeatedly make reference to DNA technology, suggesting that authorities may have recently came into possession of DNA evidence that they were able to cross-reference against a sample from DeAngelo.

Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones said at the press conference that authorities began surveilling DeAngelo’s home after he became a person of interest, and obtained a “discarded DNA” sample.

DeAngelo, 72, is reportedly being held without bail. Authorities at the press conference said he appeared surprised by the arrest, but it is not known if he said anything to the arresting officers.

The Golden State Killer, also known as the East End Rapist, is believed to be responsible for 12 murders and nearly 50 rapes between 1976 and 1986. The arrest is reportedly connected to two separate double murders: Brian and Kate Maggiore, who were shot while walking their dog in 1978 near the Sacramento County area where the East End Rapist was active; and Lyman and Charlene Smith, who were shot to death in their home in Ventura County after the suspected serial rapist moved further south in the state and began regularly killing his victims.

As CrimeOnline previously reported, Joseph DeAngelo was a former police office in California. Authorities confirmed at Wednesday’s press conference that DeAngelo worked for the Exeter Police Department from 1973 to 1976; and then moved to the Auburn Police Department from 1976 to 1979. He was fired after he was arrested for shoplifting a hammer and dog repellent spray from a drugstore.

“Very possibly he was committing his crimes during the period he was employed as a police officer,” Sheriff  said in the press conference.

District Attorney Schubert said at the press conference that authorities would soon release more information about how DeAngelo was identified and apprehended.

“This case is still active,” she said. “We can’t answer the specifics on the exact type of technology but that will come out.”


[Feature image: Joseph DeAngelo/Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office]