Police arrest, identify suspect in East Area Rapist case
More information about Joseph James DeAngelo, the 72-year-old man alleged to have been the East Area Rapist, is coming to light.
Law enforcement agencies believe DeAngelo is the man behind at least 45 rapes and 12 murders in California in the 1970s and 1980s. He was arrested Tuesday afternoon in his Citrus Heights house and booked into Sacramento County Jail early Wednesday morning.
Other nicknames for the East Area Rapist include the Golden State Killer, the Diamond Knot Killer and the Original Night Stalker. Here's what we know about DeAngelo so far.
▪ He has Sacramento ties. Born in Bath, N.Y., DeAngelo graduated from Folsom High School in June 1964 before enlisting in the U.S. Navy and going to fight in Vietnam, according to newspaper clippings and records obtained by The Bee. While in the Navy, DeAngelo was awarded a National Defense Service medal, a Vietnam Service Medal (bronze star) and a Vietnam Campaign Medal, according to records.
After returning from the war, he earned an associate's degree in police science from Sierra College and a bachelor's degree in criminal justice with a focus on criminal law from Sacramento State. He then interned with the Roseville Police Department for a short period of time before moving south.
▪ He lived in another place that experienced a notorious crime. DeAngelo worked as a police officer in Exeter, a city about 10 miles from Visalia, from 1973 to 1976, according to Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones. In 1974 and 1975, the Visalia Ransacker burglarized more than 85 homes and killed a College of the Sequoias journalism professor. Many people believe the Visalia Ransacker and East Area Rapist are the same person, and Jones noted that DeAngelo served as a police officer in Exeter during that two-year period.
▪ He worked in law enforcement in Auburn. After leaving Exeter, DeAngelo became an officer with the Auburn Police Department from 1976, when he is believed to have committed his first rape, until his termination in 1979. DeAngelo was charged with shoplifting a hammer and a can of dog repellent from a Citrus Heights drug store and chose to forfeit his job rather than answer the city's questions or request an administrative hearing, according to an Auburn Journal article.
▪ He was married and has kids. DeAngelo wed Sharon Marie Huddle of Citrus Heights at Auburn First Congregational Church in fall 1973, according to a wedding announcement in The Sacramento Bee. The two later divorced. He lived with a daughter and granddaughter until his arrest Tuesday. Some of his family members have been interviewed by law enforcement, Jones said. A newspaper clipping online also said he was engaged prior to Huddle to Bonnie Jean Colwell of Auburn, Ca.
This is a breaking news story. Please return to sacbee.com for updates.
Benjy Egel: (916) 321-1052, @BenjyEgel