Golden State Killer evaded authorities for over four decades: A look back at the East Area Rapist case

Police have reportedly arrested a man they believe may be the elusive Golden State Killer or East Area Rapist, who has evaded authorities for four decades.

As CrimeOnline previously reported, jail records show that Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, was taken into custody overnight, and booked into the early hours of Wednesday morning. DeAngelo is a former police officer who was fired from his job for shoplifting in 1979, three years after the rapist, killer, and burglar began terrorizing the Sacramento area. He would later

The Golden State Killer, also known as the East Area Rapist, was an unusual case not just in that the suspect evaded detection for so many years despite a habit of lingering in the homes of his victims, but that his M.O. changed dramatically over the years. He began as a serial rapist, targeting homes east of Sacramento that he is believed to have scoped out in advance, and sometimes called the residents repeatedly to get a sense of their schedules.

He initially targeted women who were home alone or single mothers with children, but later began attacking women while their husbands were home. He would reportedly force the woman to tie up the man, and would sometimes place a stack of kitchen plates on the man’s back, threatening to kill everyone in the home if he heard any of them break.

After committing dozens of rapes and burglaries, the suspect is believed to have shot a couple to death in the Sacramento area in 1978 while they were walking their dog. By the next year, he had moved further south, and began a killing spree that took him as far south as Orange County.

According to the Los Angeles Times, DeAngelo was arrested in connection to a 1980 double murder in Ventura, California. In 2011, authorities had connected DNA evidence from a 1981 double murder to evidence collected from other crime scenes believed to be associated with the East Area Rapist.


[Feature image: Suspect sketch/FBI]