The Golden State Killer: Over A Decade of Crime

When a crime happens, it is a terrible thing, particularly when someone gets hurt. When several crimes happen of a similar nature, we have a tendency to worry. We panic about the safety of our area—but every area has its own threats. In this case, several different areas had the same threat, but they didn’t know about it originally. The Golden State Killer has gone by many different names, but it took over forty years to be able to track him down.

Photo of Golden State Killer and past aliases | Found on Sacramento County Sheriff’s Dept press release

A Chilling Background

At a young age, this killer experienced a disturbing event. He witnessed his sister being raped by two men at the military base where his family was stationed. Pairing this with a violent father, he did not develop like a normal young man. While he did follow a normal path in some ways, like joining the military and getting a degree, he had problems in other areas. Reports claim that he was known to have started with crime in his teen years and he had an interest in torturing animals.

The Same Crime, Different Places

The Golden State Killer is known for his ongoing crime sprees. From the early 70s to the late 80s, this criminal was loose on the streets and partaking in a lot of criminal activity. He was violent and bold, and it seemed like he didn’t care who he hurt. On his rampage, he murdered a long list of people, committed dozens of rapes, and burgled homes too. It seemed that he was just committed to a life of crime, which is what made it so hard to track him down. Since he embraced so many different kinds of crime, police failed to notice a pattern until it was too late.

To Protect and to Serve

Photo of Golden State Killer as police officer | Found at KARE11

One of the more horrific details about this violent murderer was the fact that he was actually a former police officer. While his time had once been spent helping people and keeping them safe, or so we are supposed to believe, his tune changed after he left the force. Instead, he seemed to have learned from the criminals—or worse, been inspired by them. It is believed that his law enforcement background gave him the edge that he needed to avoid being caught for so many years—and might have fueled his interest in traveling to different hunting grounds around California. Like other serial killers, he worked in bursts, and many believe we will never know the extent of his crimes.

A Killer of Many Names

Since the Golden State Killer operated in different areas, he acquired many different names. This is largely driven by the fact that police assumed he actually was multiple killers. Since he was striking with different types of crime and moving areas, some of the similarities didn’t quite stand out for some time. He was known as the Original Night Stalker, the East Area Rapist, and ultimately, a combination of the two: EARONS.

In the end, police realized that they were dealing with one man due to DNA evidence from two different crimes. These crimes were once believed to be unrelated, but the lab results showed that they were one and the same. Armed with this new information, police began to look at the case differently.

Everyday DNA Testing

Photo of Golden State Killer DNA | Photo found at

In a remarkable turn of events, police were able to locate the Golden State Killer decades later because of a genealogy database. Every day, more people are submitting their DNA for review in order to learn about their family histories and their medical background. In this case, relatives taking these tests paved the way for police to find him. His name was Joseph James DeAngelo.

Brought to Justice

Even though his crimes presumably began and ended decades before, police were able to finally solve the case. When he was identified, he was 72 years old and ended up being charged for a wide range of crimes. First and foremost, he was hit with several counts of first-degree murder. While he is believed to have raped over 50 women, he was not charged for this due to the statute of limitations. Still, they did manage to charge him with several accounts of abduction and kidnapping. Though many people rallied for him to receive the death penalty, he entered a plea to get out of it by disclosing additional crimes that he had committed. Joseph DeAngelo will die in prison for his crimes.

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