SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – A history of fear and violence in Sacramento’s history is expected to receive a new chapter Monday morning as the suspected East Area Rapist, Joseph James DeAngelo, 74, is expected to plead guilty to 26 counts of murder and kidnapping – and admit to 62 other rapes and criminal acts.
The charges are all a part of what some are calling California’s biggest criminal case ever, which goes back more than 40 years.
In 1970s Sacramento, there was a frenzy of fear and a search for an elusive suspect terrorizing neighborhoods.
Fear for Sacramento families’ safety put locksmiths in high demand then, and soon after, the violent attacks spread far and wide, with the elusive figure toying with victims as the chilling clues turned cold.
Past sketches showed a likeness of the rapist and murderer on the loose, but the attacks continued across California from Sacramento and Alameda to Santa Barbara and Ventura.
Evidence from eleven counties was documented and detectives’ work on the case spanned decades.
In 2017, there was a new push by law enforcement working on the case for help from the public.
“He’d be anywhere from 65 to 75 right now,” Detective Paul Belli with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office said then.
A DNA match sent from a crime scene to a genealogy website helped crack the case after a lifetime of the suspect, also dubbed the Golden State Killer, hiding in plain sight.
On April 24, 2018, the suspected East Area Rapist was taken into custody by Sacramento law enforcement after a decades-long search. DeAngelo, a Sacramento State graduate with a degree in criminal justice and a former police officer who served Exeter and Auburn, was found living in Citrus Heights.
He had been here all along. The name of the boat in his driveway: Scary.
After two years in custody, Joseph James DeAngelo now faces his judgment day. DeAngelo’s expected plea deal now takes the death penalty off the table for his sentencing.
CBS13 will have full live coverage of the plea hearing beginning at 9:20 a.m. on Monday. You can watch live on both CBS13 and CW31, as well as on our website.