How long is Joseph DeAngelo, the Golden State Killer, going to jail for?
Joseph DeAngelo, the man who was unmasked as The Golden State Killer, won’t be leaving prison for the rest of his life. He pled guilty to avoid California’s death penalty. Thus, he will most likely receive at least one life sentence without the possibility of parole.
Joseph DeAngelo pled guilty to multiple murders in northern California in the 1980s, and multiple rapes and burglaries in Sacramento in the 1970s which remained unsolved for years. Police finally caught DeAngelo after using his DNA at the crime scene in a sting on genealogy sites.
After the resolution of the case, one question remains: how many life sentences will Joseph DeAngelo rack up, and will he serve them concurrently or consecutively? Today, August 21, we found out.
How Joseph DeAngelo became the Golden State Killer
Joseph DeAngelo started off as the East Area Rapist in the 1970s. Over 50 homes in the Sacramento area were burglarized in the late 70s. The residences who were unlucky enough to be in the house when DeAngelo broke in, usually housewives, were often tied up and sexually assaulted.
Police were baffled as to who the burglar could be. Eventually, authorities concluded that he had a law enforcement background since he knew investigation procedures enough to evade capture.
Joseph DeAngelo was almost caught when he was arrested for shoplifting. The items he tried to lift were often used in home invasions, including dog repellant. DeAngelo, an officer at the time, was fired by his superior the same week. Feeling lucky he caught a break, he moved to San Fransico where he escalated his crimes to serial murder.
How officers caught DeAngelo after years
Catching Joseph DeAngelo took some ingenuity and modern technology. When DeAngelo was at large, DNA testing was barely a thing. Now, thousands of people upload their DNA onto the internet hoping to find their heritage and health traits through sites like Ancestry.com and 23AndMe.
Officers used Joseph DeAngelo’s DNA, found at crime scenes, and uploaded it onto two well-known genetic sites. After setting up a fake profile, they connected DeAngelo’s DNA with five men who were the same age who may have been in California at the time.
They narrowed it down to Joseph DeAngelo and staked his residence. They collected some of his spit from his garbage cans and analyzed it at the crime scenes. Finding a perfect match, they arrested DeAngelo on murder charges.
Joseph DeAngelo’s sentencing hearing
Joseph DeAngelo pled guilty during the coronavirus pandemic. Wearing a mask and a prison jumpsuit, he entered a plea of guilty to avoid the death penalty. Had he pleaded not guilty, the overwhelming DNA evidence would have convicted him anyway. Due to the aggravating circumstances, a jury would most likely have sentenced him to die.
On August 21, Joseph DeAngelo heard his fate. DeAngelo’s sentencing lasted hours, with victims and their families coming up to testify about the massive amounts of anguish his crimes caused them. DeAngelo’s face couldn’t be seen under his mask as his victims told the court about their grizzly encounters with DeAngelo.
Joseph DeAngelo’s address to the court
Finally, when it was his turn to speak, Joseph DeAngelo took off his mask and made a brief statement. “I’ve listened to your statements, every one of them,” he took a long pause before saying. “And I’m really sorry to everyone I’ve hurt. Thank you, your honor.”
It was unclear whether Joseph DeAngelo showed any remorse while he heard his victims’ and their families’ statements. His eyes looked expressionless over his face mask. The judge, Michael Bowman, even commented, “are you capable of comprehending the pain and anguish you have caused?”
During his statement, Joseph DeAngelo appeared to hold back tears. Whether this was his remorse, or that he was sorry he was caught will remain a mystery.
Joseph DeAngelo’s sentence
For the thirteen counts of murder Joseph DeAngelo pled guilty to, he was given eleven life sentences to be served consecutively, one concurrently, and another eight years. Even if he lived forever, he wouldn’t be released from prison for centuries.
On the possibility of the death penalty, Judge Bowman added: “The court accepts the plea. However, the court is not saying that Mr. DeAngelo doesn’t deserve to have the death penalty imposed.” Ultimately, Bowman added that DeAngelo will spend the rest of his life, and meet his death, behind bars.