Authorities in Sacramento, California say they have arrested a man responsible for a series of killings, rapes, and burglaries statewide in the 70's and 80's, ending one of California's longest manhunts.
"We found the needle in the haystack, and it was right here in Sacramento,'' Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert said.
A 72-year-old former police officer, Joseph James DeAngelo was arrested Tuesday in the Citrus Heights area of Northern California on suspicion of a pair of 1978 murders in Sacramento.
DeAngelo was also charged with capital murder for the March 1980 killings of Lyman and Charlene Smith in Ventura County. Smith was a lawyer and his wife a court clerk who were bludgeoned to death in their homes.
All told, the 72-year-old is accused of committing 12 murders, 45 rapes, and more than 100 home burglaries across California in the 70's and 80's.
"This 1980 murder has long been a source of fear and angst,'' Ventura County District Attorney Gregory Totten said.
Authorities have been searching for the suspect over the last forty years who has been known under a variety of names including the East Bay Rapist, the Original Night Stalker, and the Diamond Knot Killer.
More than 40 years ago, the first victim of the Golden State killer, Jane, was asleep in her bed with her 3-year-old son. She says she was abruptly awoken by a man standing in her bedroom doorway holding a large butcher knife, shining a light in her face.
The rape sparked a manhunt for a man that authorities say went on to commit several rapes and killings in California from 1976 to 1986. Because police had very little to go on, no suspects were ever identified in the case.
When DNA technology progressed in the late 1990s, tests helped law enforcement link previous cases to the Golden State Killer and create a timeline of the man's crimes which appeared to start in the summer of 1976 with a series of burglaries and rapes in Rancho Cordova, a suburb in Sacramento.
``It is time for the victims to begin to heal, so long overdue,'' said Bruce Harrington, brother of Keith Harrington. ``For law enforcement, bravo, bravo, bravo. Their tenacity, their patience, their unrelenting focus. .... Today is also a reaffirmation of the power and the public safety that's associated with forensic DNA technology.''
``We've always believed, at least for many years, that this case would begin and end with DNA,'' Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said. ``... Our team is going to work hard to make sure he never gets out.''
The investigation saw renewed interest following the publication of the late Michelle McNamara, the wife of actor/comedian Patton Oswalt. McNamara died in 2016 while working on the book, which Oswalt helped complete earlier this year.
McNamara's book included a passage that described the eventual capture of the California's most notorious serial killer saying he would hear a car pulling up outside and "footsteps coming up your front walk."
DeAngelo is currently being held without bail at the Sacramento County main jail.