When people sign up to the police force, they are usually proud to embrace the standing of their position as they learn how to fight crime. New recruits learn new skill sets, ones that will ultimately save the lives of the officer as well as the lives of innocent people.
But when a police officer become a cop and uses their position of authority to exploit or extort, that officer needs to be stopped; Before it’s too late…
Joseph always had a keen interest in the military, borne out by the fact that he was stationed in Vietnam during the war. He worked on a boat there with the American Navy, responsible for damage control and other technical duties. He was a quiet chap who kept himself to himself, although he did sometimes talk to himself.
After the Vietnam War ended, Joseph returned to his parents’ home in Auburn, Calif where he worked menial jobs for the most part. Joseph was strong, well trained and was excellent with his hands. He was a master at rope tying and knots; A fact that will become a lot more relevant later in our story. For now, Joseph decided to join his local police force and to serve for the good of his local community…
According to Joseph’s colleagues, he was just your average guy. When he got married to his wife, Joseph proudly gave his partner and other officers the grand tour of his newly-bought marital home. According to one officer who was present at that tour, “He was just an average person, an average Joe.”
No sooner had Joseph come out of training and began working the beat as a local police officer, when he found himself in hot water with his bosses. You see, Joseph was a strange sort of character and one night decided to steal some dog repellant and a hammer from a drugstore for reasons to this day known only to him. As Mr Willick, the then-Auburn police chief said, “I fired him,” adding “He violated the law.”
According to Willick, that was the last time he saw Joseph until his name resurfaced many years later for other reasons. For the next 27 years, Joseph worked at a Save Mart grocery distribution center. He was neither friends nor enemies with the people he worked with, just indifferent. Prior to his retirement in 2017, the company said that Joseph was just an average worker, “None of his actions in the workplace would have led us to suspect any connection to crimes.”
Rewind a few years and, to when Joseph was 24 and he got engaged to the love of his life, Bonnie. The two had attended the Sierra College, a community college in Northern California. Although, for reasons still mysterious, the pair never married. Instead, in 1973, Joseph met Sharon Huddle, a girl aged 20 at the time. Sharon, a lawyer, became Joseph’s wife and the couple raised three daughters together. They separated at some point but always remained in contact…
Terror In Citrus Heights
It was in the late 70s when the Sacramento suburb was rocked by a spate of rapes and murders, leaving 12 people dead and at least 45 sexually abused. At the same time, 120 homes were burglarized, and folks suspected that it was all the work of one, very determined man. But what possible connection could that have to Joseph?
Whoever was carrying out these murders and rapes had a bunch of nicknames attributed to him, in lieu of a real name: The Golden State Killer, the East Area Rapist, the Diamond Knot Killer and the Original Night Stalker, all of these names described a man who struck terror into the hearts of a whole town, while law enforcement were treading water looking for the killer…
The killer had managed to avoid being picked up by police as he meticulously covered his tracks and made sure he couldn’t be caught. The man only struck under the cover of darkness, at night. He would study his victim’s schedules and would break into homes to prepare ahead of time. He usually used his own shoelaces to bind his victims, and was a master with knots leading authorities to conclude that he must be either ex-police or ex-military.
Hiding In the Closet
In one horrific attack, the killer waited in a couple’s bedroom closet, having broken into their home. He would then wait for them to fall asleep before announcing himself with a bright flashlight. When the man in bed reached for his gun, the killer showed him the bullets he was holding which he had already removed from the weapon…
When investigators finally got a break, they were stunned to learn that their suspect was none other than Joseph James DeAngelo, an ex-police officer and a navy man. DeAngelo carried out almost all his attacks in the local area where he lived. He lived all that time with his adult daughters, who had no idea what daddy was up to in his spare time.
At least 15 attacks were carried out by DeAngelo in the Sacramento area until 1978; After that, DeAngelo branched out further afield and committed an additional 30 attacks, including rapes, robberies and murders. According to neighbors, the man was meticulous and often mowed his manicured front lawn with exacting detail…
Thanks to advances in DNA technology, a Contra Costa County Criminalist was able to connect two murders with DNA, leading to the arrest of Joseph DeAngelo. As soon as suspicions about the man were raised, cops followed DeAngelo in a sting operation, and picked up two items he had discarded in order to collect his DNA.
The Auburn police chief, Chief Willick, told reporters that he was personally embarrassed that DeAngelo had eluded him and his team for so long. “Anytime, my goodness, you know, the person was a police officer, it’s an embarrassment to law enforcement — not just an embarrassment to me,” he said…
According to Willick, he had zero indication whatsoever that DeAngelo was the serial murdered who had terrorized a town for decades, “anything that would say that this person was a vicious murderer, a serial rapist? No, nothing whatsoever, no indications, and that’s probably why the joint task force has worked 40-some-odd years to solve this case.” He said.
Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert, said recently that she was motivated to reopen the cold case as it approached its 40th years. She said she wanted to achieve closure for the families’ victims. “The answer has always been in Sacramento,” she said. “We all knew as part of this team that we were looking for a needle in a haystack, but we knew the needle was there.”…
Amazingly, it seems that DeAngelo’s crime spree extended even further than originally assumed. In cases like these, investigators go by the information they have, and often reveal a bunch more crimes once the suspect is in custody; And that’s exactly what happened with DeAngelo, who, it turns out, committed more than 175 crimes over a period of 20 years.
Following what was described as a “perfectly executed arrest” on DeAngelo, he was questioned before being taken before a judge. When in court, he was formally arraigned but only on two murder charges dating back to 1978. Investigators now need to prove beyond a doubt that he was the man also responsible for another 11 murders and 51 rapes between 1976-1986…
Due to the seriousness of the crimes alleged against him, DeAngelo was put on suicide watch ahead of his trial. He did employ a lawyer to represent him but did not enter a plea and has already been denied bail. If convicted, in line with California state law, Joseph James DeAngelo will be facing the death penalty.
There’s no doubt that once prosecutors have their case ready there will be additional charges bought against Joseph DeAngelo. Until then, police have their wok cut out for them trying to prove conclusively that DeAngelo was connected to all the murders and rapes. It is hoped that following his court appearance on May 14 this man will be put away for a very very long time, in the hope that some of the victims families can have the closure they so badly need.