Crime - Sacto 911

'It's jacked up.' These employees worked years with man suspected as East Area Rapist

Watch drone video of FBI investigators searching suspected East Area Rapist's home

A drone view from above as authorities process evidence at the Citrus Heights home of suspected East Area Rapist.
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A drone view from above as authorities process evidence at the Citrus Heights home of suspected East Area Rapist.

Jason Calhoon worked with Joseph DeAngelo at a warehouse job in northern Roseville for 27 years. He seemed like “a regular Joe,” except that he never smiled, Calhoon said.

Calhoon could not have imagined that DeAngelo would one day be arrested on suspicion of being the East Area Rapist. Police suspected years ago that the notorious figure attacked Calhoon’s baby sitter in Rancho Cordova, he said.

"I texted my mom yesterday when I heard,” Calhoon said Thursday morning outside the Save Mart distribution center in Roseville, where DeAngelo had worked since 1989. “I said, 'They caught him!' I am glad he’s caught."

A day after DeAngelo was charged in a series of murders tied to a crime spree that spanned more than a decade and terrorized the state, small details emerged Thursday about the life the 72-year-old man lived before FBI agents and Sacramento sheriff’s detectives arrived at his Citrus Heights home to take him into custody.

DeAngelo worked at the Save Mart warehouse near Blue Oaks Boulevard in north Roseville for 27 years until retiring last year, the company said late Wednesday. Calhoon said he and DeAneglo had worked at the warehouse since the day it opened. DeAngelo was a mechanic in the facility’s truck yard.

Most employees approached by The Bee outside the facility on Thursday morning refused to talk, some adamantly. One pointedly said DeAngelo has not been proven guilty.

Another worker at the facility, John Greene, said workers were expressing shock at DeAngelo’s arrest. Greene said he had only seen DeAngelo coming and going from the warehouse and that he seemed normal.

“We just heard; I can’t believe we work with someone who is faced with being a killer,” he said. “It’s jacked up.”

Save Mart said in a statement Wednesday that “none of (DeAngelo’s) actions in the workplace would have led us to suspect any connection to crimes being attributed to him.”

Meanwhile, DeAngelo's sister told The Sacramento Bee on Thursday that her brother never displayed "any kind of madness" as a young man or adult and that her family is haunted by thoughts of her brother's alleged victims.

Rebecca Thompson, DeAngelo's older sister, said in a phone interview that she was "pretty much in shock."

"As stunned as I am - because I've never seen him display any kind of madness or anything like that - I just can't believe it," Thompson said. "I've never seen anything to allow myself to think he could do such things."

Thompson lives in Exeter, a small town in Tulare County where DeAngelo, 72, was a police officer from 1973 to 1976.

"It's hard to believe," she said. "We're saddened and all kinds of things. We're sorry for the victims without any doubt. It's really hard to think about all the victims. The victims come to mind every time I think about it, of course."

Michael Perry, who was married to DeAngelo's sister, Connie, until she passed away last year, said DeAngelo had been in his house a couple of times and "was just a regular Joe Blow."

"I didn't know him too well," he said. "Evidently other people didn't know him that well either."

Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones said Wednesday that DeAngelo was a police officer in Exeter, near Visalia, from 1973 to 1976. He was then an officer in Auburn from 1976 to 1979, until he was dismissed after being charged with stealing a hammer and dog repellent from a Citrus Heights drug store, according at an article in the Auburn Journal.

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