On Tuesday in Sacramento, California, 74-year-old Joseph James DeAngelo finally arrived in state prison to start serving multiple life sentences filed against him. The nation dubbed him the infamous “Golden State Killer,” known for inflicting countless rapes and murders across California during the 1970s and 1980s.
DeAngelo safely appeared at North Kern State Prison in the Central Valley on November 10. Based on his medical, security, program, and psychiatric needs, administrators will finalize his permanent prison destination.
Last June 13, DeAngelo pleaded guilty to 13 murders and 13 rape-related allegations that occurred between 1975 and 1986 all over the state. The plea agreement secured him from the death penalty as punishment for the crimes he committed.
The notorious “Golden State Killer,” now identified, took state authorities decades before finding the mastermind behind the numerous California rapes and murders during the 1970s and 1980s. In August of this year, DeAngelo stood in court and apologized to his victims’ families, stating that he was “truly sorry” for the deeds he did towards others.
“I listened to all your statements, each one of them, and I’m truly sorry for everyone I’ve hurt,” DeAngelo admitted during his plea proceeding. He uttered these words without the weak, quavering voice he uses to plead guilty to his offenses.
The victims and prosecutors stated that DeAngelo is a manipulative and vicious criminal who deceived investigators and his family members before he finally admitted his misdeeds. According to official reports, he committed about 53 separate crime scenes and victimizing 87 people in 11 California counties. DeAngelo’s identity got revealed after running multiple DNA tests to determine the crimes’ main suspect in 2018.
Sacramento County Superior Judge Michael Bowman rejected the apology. According to him, DeAngelo should rot in jail with “no mercy” to atone for the multiple crimes he did and the innocent lives he took for granted.
“When a person commits monstrous acts, they need to be locked away so they can never harm an innocent person,” Judge Bowman declared on behalf of DeAngelo’s victims.
DeAngelo was once a respectable police officer in Exeter, California. Before he committed multiple crimes, he served the law enforcement force with honesty from 1973 to 1976, until he performed his first crime in 1975.
On September 11, 1975, DeAngelo killed professor Claude Snelling by inflicting a gunshot wound on him at his Visalia, California home. According to prosecutors, DeAngelo murdered the professor in front of his daughter then proceeded to kick his daughter’s face thrice before he ran away. He still served as a police officer during this time.
After the revelation of “Golden State Killer’s” identity in 2018, several of DeAngelo’s family members broke their silence and addressed their side of the case. According to the letters they sent to court, their descriptions of DeAngelo completely opposes those of what multiple prosecutors labeled him to be. One of DeAngelo’s niece even wrote as a “hero” who took her camping and fishing, while another called him a “loving father figure.”
“I feel that someone else inside is inside him who I do not know,” a niece wrote in her letter sent to the case’s defense attorneys.
Even his former fiance detested on the prosecutors’ and victims’ image of DeAngelo.
“I didn’t see a criminal in him,” expressed DeAngelo’s former fiance Bonnie Cowell Ueltzen. “But I know now he was a burglar and a Peeping Tom before I ever knew him.”
Despite his family members’ conflicting feelings for him, many of them still testified that DeAngelo’s delinquent behavior surfaced in the past before he became a full-fledged criminal. Ueltzen stated that she called her engagement off with DeAngelo when she noticed him developing abusive tendencies.
“We’re all props in his big story, where he’s always been a criminal underneath,” said Ueltzen.