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Ventura County DA files murder charges against East Area Rapist suspect

Here are the headlines behind the horror of East Area Rapist, 1977-2018

FBI agents and detectives took into custody Joseph James DeAngelo, who is suspected of being the East Area Rapist. The rapist also was known as the Golden State Killer, linked to 45 rapes and a dozen murders.
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FBI agents and detectives took into custody Joseph James DeAngelo, who is suspected of being the East Area Rapist. The rapist also was known as the Golden State Killer, linked to 45 rapes and a dozen murders.

The Ventura County District Attorney’s Office has filed murder charges against Joseph James DeAngelo, the Citrus Heights man arrested Tuesday whom authorities believe to be the East Area Rapist.

DeAngelo faces two charges of murder with special enhancements for burglary and rape in connection with the 1980 slaying of Lyman and Charlene Smith.

Lyman Smith was about to be named a Ventura County Superior Court judge when DeAngelo allegedly broke into the couple’s home and tied them up with a drapery cord. The unusual pattern in which the attacker bound their hands earned him the nickname "the Diamond Knot Killer."

The killer then raped Charlene before bludgeoning the two of them to death in their bed with a log from the fireplace.

Both Lyman, 43, and Charlene, 33, had had extramarital affairs, and Charlene’s lover was initially considered a suspect in their murders, according to the Santa Paula Times. DNA samples later tied the Smiths’ murders to other killings in Southern California about the same time.

Years later, investigators would conclude the Diamond Knot Killer, the Original Night Stalker and the East Area Rapist were one and the same. Writer Michelle McNamara dubbed the mysterious murderer the "Golden State Killer" in a 2013 article for Los Angeles Magazine.

The Smiths were found a few days later by Lyman’s 12-year-old son, Gary, who had come over from his mother’s house to mow the lawn, according to an Associated Press story at that time.

DeAngelo already faced four murder charges with four enhancements of lying in wait, three robbery enhancements and three rape enhancements in connection with Orange County murders in 1980, 1981 and 1986. Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert has also pressed charges for the 1978 murders of Rancho Cordova couple Brian and Katie Maggiore.

Authorities believe DeAngelo killed at least 12 people in the 1970s and 1980s and raped 45 women or more, including at least 37 in the Sacramento area.

The Santa Barbara County District Attorney's Office announced it had not yet decided whether to prosecute DeAngelo for the 1979 murder of Robert Offerman and Debra Manning or the 1981 killing of Cheri Domingo and Gregory Sanchez, both in Goleta.

For a full list of the East Area Rapist’s alleged crimes, click here.

Benjy Egel: (916) 321-1052, @BenjyEgel

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