SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The youngest victim of the East Area Rapist is sharing her story after the arrest of a former police officer for the violent crime spree.
Margaret Wardlow was the 27th victim tied to the case in 1977 and was just 13 years old when she was raped.
She says she was obsessed with reading about the East Area Rapist as a young girl and says she used what she knew to survive.
“My inside voice told me, ‘You are going to be raped, this is what’s going to happen to you, and you’re gonna survive,’ and it was just that simple,” she said.
Joseph James DeAngelo, the man suspected of committing more than 50 rapes and a dozen murders across California, was taken into custody early Wednesday morning.
The arrest comes more than four decades after Wardlow was attacked in her Sacramento home.
Wardlow, then 13, says she was intrigued by the East Area Rapist’s crimes and used her research to stand up to him.
“I knew I wasn’t gonna let him have what he came for, and that was to have power over me by frightening me and have fear,” she said.
Wardlow says she was defiant with her attacker, despite his threats to kill her and her mother. She believes her demeanor saved her life and got him out of her home.
The arrest of DeAngelo on Wednesday is closure not just for Wardlow, but for the dozens of victims and their families whose lives have been turned upside down for decades.
“This is the greatest gift ever,” she said. “I am so thrilled with it, tickled they caught him, couldn’t be any better news,” she said.