'Golden State Killer' arrested 40 years after rape and murder spree

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Officials have arrested a man known as the "Golden State Killer," a violent criminal whose crimes span from Sacramento to the East Bay and down to Southern California. (KGO-TV)

A man known as the notorious "Golden State Killer" is believed to be in custody, Eyewitness News has learned.

Joseph James DeAngelo was arrested by Sacramento sheriff's officials at approximately 2:30 a.m. Wednesday. A source tells Eyewitness News that DeAngelo is a former police officer.

The killer was also dubbed the "East Area Rapist" and the "Original Night Stalker" after a series of Southern California slayings, as well as the "Diamond Knot Killer."

Authorities say the elusive criminal committed at least 12 homicides, 45 rapes and dozens of burglaries across the state in the 1970s and 1980s.

"The subject has eluded investigators for over 40 years and the victims and their families deserve justice," a Sacramento official said two years ago.

The notorious killer first struck 40 years ago in Rancho Cordova.

"He came in and had a ski mask on and jumped on the bed and had a knife," according to a victim account from the FBI.

He was also a burglar.

"After it was all over and done with, he went through the stuff in the room, took money out of my purse," a victim said.

In the months that followed, a slew of sexual assaults in the east area of Sacramento County and later Contra Costa County took place. The motive was distinctive and brutal.

"Sock stuffed in my mouth, blindfolded, gagged, hands tied, legs tied, and then, you know, pulled me up like this, because I was on my stomach, and put me back in bed and said, 'If you move, I'm going to kill you,'" a victim said.

That was in the late 1970s. But in 2000, DNA evidence confirmed a link between the Bay Area crimes and murders in Southern California during the 1980s. The "East Area Rapist" had become the "Golden State Killer."

"This serial offender was probably one of the most prolific, certainly in California, possibly within the United States," said Sacramento County Sheriff's Sgt. Paul Belli.

In 2016, the FBI joined California officials in their renewed hunt for the suspect, and $50,000 reward was announced for his arrest and conviction. He's linked to more than 175 crimes in all between 1976 and 1986.

Armed with a gun, the masked rapist would break into homes while single women or couples were sleeping. He would tie up the man and pile dishes on his back, then rape the woman while threatening to kill them both if the dishes tumbled.

He often took souvenirs, notably coins and jewelry, from his victims, who ranged in age from 13 to 41.

KGO-TV and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
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