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Police believe Golden State Killer murdered at least 12 people: What we know about the victims

After over 40 years hiding in plain sight, a former police officer believed to be the Golden State Killer is in custody: Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, was arrested Tuesday night on suspicion that he is the elusive killer once known as the East End Rapist.

The suspect is believed to be responsible for at least 12 murders, nearly 50 rapes, and 120 home invasions – and as of Wednesday, DeAngelo has been officially linked to a murder committed by the Visalia Ransacker, a notorious serial burglar who killed a journalism professor in 1975. DeAngelo may have been working for the police force investigating the Visalia Ransacker during the crime spree. But Exeter Police Chief John Hall told the Visalia Times Delta that police records from the 1970s don’t exist, making it impossible to confirm if DeAngelo was involved in the investigation of his own crimes.

The East End Rapist began attacking his victims in 1976; he allegedly raped dozens of women and a 13-year-old girl before committing a double murder in 1978. Four decades later, the families of the victims have gotten closure some believed they never would.

At the time his arrest, DeAngelo was reportedly charged in connection to the separate double murders of  Brian and Katie Maggiore in Rancho Cordova in 1978, and Lyman and Charlene Smith in Ventura in 1980. By Wednesday afternoon, DeAngelo was reportedly charged with four more counts of murder. Here’s what we know about his victims:

Katie and Brian Maggiore

FBI

The East Area Rapist is suspected of murdering Katie and Brian Maggiore, a young married couple, after encountering them on February 2, 1978, when they were out walking their dog in the Sacramento County area where the rapist targeted his sexual assault victims. It is not known why the couple was killed — perhaps they had witnessed the East Area Rapist, who was known to surveil homes he would later target for rapes and burglary, acting suspiciously. By the time the Maggiores were killed, the East Area Rapist was connected to over 30 rapes in Sacramento County. He wouldn’t kill again until later the next year, when he had moved out of Sacramento County and began attacking victims in southern California.

Dr. Debra Alexandria Manning and Dr. Robert Offerman

Offerman, 44, and Manning, 35, were found shot to death in Offerman’s condominium in Goleta, California, on December 30, 1979.

According to Los Angeles Magazine, Offerman, an orthopedic surgeon, had recently began dating Dr. Manning when the Golden State Killer attacked them in the middle of the night. Both were found dead in the bedroom, with Manning bound at the wrists. Offerman was found on his knees at the edge of the bed holding twine, suggesting that he too had been bound and broke free before the suspect shot him three times.

Charlene and Lyman Smith

KTLA video screenshot

Charlene, 33, and Lyman, 43, a married couple, were found bludgeoned to death in their Ventura home on March 13, 1980. Lyman was an attorney who was about to be appointed as a judge. Charlene had been sexually assaulted.

Patrice Briscoe Harrington and Keith Eli Harrington

KTLA screenshot

Newlyweds Patrice Briscoe Harrington, 27, and Keith Eli Harrington, 24, were also found bludgeoned to death in their home Dana Point — a gated community — in August of the same year. The couple had been married for only three months. Patrice, a nurse, had been raped. A murder weapon was never found. 

Manuela Witthuhn

Facebook/48 Hours screenshot

While her husband was hospitalized with a viral infection, 28-year-old Manuela Witthuhn was bound, raped, and murdered in her Irvine home in February 1981. According to the Daily Bulletin, authorities believe the Golden State Killer expected to find a married couple home together. Manuel’s husband David was briefly a suspect in her death but was later cleared through DNA evidence.

Cheri Domingo and Gregory Sanchez

In July of that year, the Golden State Killer returned to Goleta and murdered Cheri Domingo, 35, and her boyfriend Gregory Sanchez, 27. The couple was house-sitting at the time for Cheri’s aunt. Both victims were found beaten, and Sanchez was also shot. Cheri left behind two children.

Janelle Cruz, The last known victim

Facebook

Janelle was only 18 years old when she was brutally killed by the suspected Golden State Killer. Like many of his other victims, she was beaten to death; so severely that the blood soaked through a mattress, according to People magazine. 

It is not known why DeAngelo, if he is fact the Golden State Killer, stopped his murder spree when he did. Authorities are still working to fill in the details of his life in the last three decades, though he appears to have remained in California, where he raised a family with his wife.

 

 

[Feature image: Katie and Brian Maggiore, FBI]