Debbi Domingo was 15 years old when the Golden State Killer murdered her mother in 1981 while she was house-sitting in Goleta, California, with her boyfriend.
After nearly 40 years of waiting, Domingo learned Wednesday that police had arrested Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, of Citrus Heights, California, on suspicion of the slayings along with dozens of other killings, rapes and burglaries associated with the Golden State Killer in the 1970s and '80s.
"I just wanted it to really sink into him that he thought he got away with it, but he didn't,” Domingo told KSBY. “That's not the case. He's not getting away with it."
Cheri Domingo, 35, and her boyfriend, Gregory Sanchez, 27, were killed on July 27, 1981, by the killer then known as the Original Night Stalker. He also was known as the East Area Rapist, Diamond Knot Killer and Visalia Ransacker until the various cases throughout California were linked by DNA evidence and, in time, dubbed the Golden State Killer case.
Michelle Cruz, sister of Janelle Cruz, slain by the Golden State Killer in 1986 in Irvine, Calif., called DeAngelo’s arrest “surreal” and “unbelievable” on ABC News.
“I'm so thankful this journey is finally over," she said. "And I can rest and go to bed at night and rest easier knowing that he's in jail and he'll never walk free again."
Jane Carson-Sandler, who was raped by the attacker then known as the East Area Rapist in Sacramento in 1976, said she was stunned by news of the arrest.
"I'm overwhelmed with joy. I've been crying, sobbing,” she said. "I just can't tell you how I feel. After 42 years — wow!"
Loretta Maggiore said she felt "relief" on hearing the news that the man accused of killing her son and daughter-in-law, Brian and Katie Maggiore, in 1978 had been caught. The couple were slain while walking their dog in Rancho Cordova, Calif.
"All these years, I was hoping he was dead already," Maggiore said. "I'm glad they got him. I'm thrilled to death."
Jennifer Carole Smith was 18 when her father, Lyman Smith, was killed with his second wife, Charlene Smith, inside their Ventura, California, home in 1980.
"This has been quite a day," she told KTLA after news of the arrest broke Wednesday. "I have to say, I never thought this would happen.”
Smith told the station she was startled to learn DeAngelo had worked as a police officer in Exeter and Auburn, California.
"I can't believe this despicable human wore a uniform," she told KTLA. "I suspect it gave him a way to use his brutality — in I would suspect illegal ways — but it gave him an outlet for his brutality."
Margaret Wardlow was 13 when the East Area Rapist woke her with a flashlight beam in her face in her Sacramento home in 1977.
“My inside voice told me, ‘You are going to be raped, this is what’s going to happen to you, and you’re gonna survive,’ and it was just that simple,” she told KOVR.
She said news of DeAngelo’s arrest came as a relief.
“This is the greatest gift ever,” Wardlow said. “I am so thrilled with it, tickled they caught him, couldn’t be any better news.”
Bruce Harrington, brother of Keith Harrington, who was killed in 1980 in Orange County with his wife, Patty, spoke at a press conference Wednesday in Sacramento on DeAngelo’s arrest.
"Sleep better tonight. He isn't coming through the window," Harrington said to survivors. "He's now in jail and he's history." DeAngelo was arrested Tuesday outside his home based on DNA evidence, authorities said.