By Jennifer McGraw

SACRAMENTO COUNTY (CBS13) – From 1976 to 1978, the East Area Rapist tormented and raped 38 women and murdered a Rancho Cordova couple.

Now the torture is over for some knowing he’s behind bars.

On Wednesday, the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office announced that a suspect had been arrested in the case. He has been identified as 72-year-old Citrus Heights resident Joseph James DeAngelo.

The news comes as a shock and relief for dozens of victims, many of whom still live in the same area where the rapist struck decades ago.

“He looked like a monster,” Rose Thomas said.

For more than 40 years she has waited to see who the man was behind the mask.

“It was just a horror to see what he did,” she said. “He hit me over the head with that billy club thing and he tried to tie up my hands.”

Rose was one of the first victims believed to have been attacked by the East Area Rapist.

It was 1976, she was home alone with her teenage daughters.

“I went to call the police and while I was calling police, he jumped through the window,” she said, adding. “He was mostly naked and had a thing over his face.”

WATCH HER FULL INTERVIEW

Her older daughter wasn’t home at the time but says that monster plagued their family for years.

“It was terrifying. The fact that they didn’t find him and didn’t find them and didn’t find him and then the crimes kept happening, that was pretty horrific,” said Sue Arico, Rose’s daughter.

As horrific as it was, the three escaped, but not without a fight.

“I wasn’t afraid to die, for a cause you know I wouldn’t die for nothing, but for my children, I would die,” Rose said.

Others weren’t able to get away.

Within just a few blocks from their house, the East Area Rapist is blamed for several rapes from 1976. Investigators believed it continued for 2 years until finally, he killed.

Brian and Katie Maggiore were just 20 and 21 years old.

“You know you’re young and living your life the way you were supposed to be,” said Susan Conell, the couple’s dear friend.

Investigators believe the Maggiore’s were walking their dog when the pair stumbled upon him. After a struggle, he shot them both dead and then took off.

“I miss them both so much,” Conell said.

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