Did the East Area Rapist have an accomplice?
Detective Paul Holes, credited with coming up with the family-tree tracing method that caught suspect Joseph James DeAngelo last month, said Monday it's possible two people were involved in some of the crimes.
"Those of us who are familiar with the case files recognize that is a possibility," Holes said. "I've always just held open the possibility of a second person assisting in a few cases, but not being active through the whole series."
Holes said a second person may have assisted the East Area Rapist with a few of his early crimes. But "when he ends up escalating into homicide, I think it's just him," he said.
Sacramento Sheriff's Department spokesman Sgt. Shaun Hampton said it is "absolutely not true" that there could be a second person involved.
"According to Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Detective Sergeant Ken Clark, the sole suspect behind all of these alleged crimes is Joseph DeAngelo," Hampton said via email. Clark is the lead investigator in the case for Sacramento County.
Holes said there are four cases attributed to the East Area Rapist in which victims heard him speaking to someone else. In at least one case, a victim thought she heard a second voice.
Three of those cases were in Sacramento and one in Concord, Holes said. He declined to give the names of the victims because they haven't spoken out publicly.
Holes said in the Concord case, the victim was lying on the floor in the family room, near a door to the garage, when the East Area Rapist entered the garage carrying a bag of stolen items. Holes said the victim reported hearing her attacker say, "Take this to the car."
In one of the early Sacramento attacks, Holes said the victim reported that the East Area Rapist went into the living room of the house. The victim heard him say, "I thought I told you to shut up."
In another case, Holes said the victim heard a knock at the door, followed by the East Area Rapist speaking to someone outside.
Holes said the East Area Rapist may have been trying to control or confuse his victims by making it seem as if there were more than one assailant when in reality he was acting alone.
"He could have been talking to himself," Holes said.
That kind of manipulation could have been "part of his self-preservation," he said.
But a second perpetrator might also have been present, acting in a lesser capacity as a driver or lookout.
The East Area Rapist, also known as the Golden State Killer, is suspected of at least 50 rapes and 12 murders occurring in both Northern and Southern California from 1976 to 1986, though Holes and others believe he may have committed lesser crimes in the Central Valley earlier, where a burglar known as the Visalia Ransacker is suspected of more than 100 break-ins.
In April, authorities in Sacramento arrested DeAngelo and charged him with multiple counts of murder after Holes uploaded the East Area Rapist's genetic profile into a public genealogy database and used the resulting associations to create a family tree for the suspect, eventually tracing it back to DeAngelo.
Holes believes if the East Area Rapist did have an accomplice, he is likely dead. "If there was a second person, I think (the East Area Rapist) would have just killed him," to prevent the possibility of being exposed, he said.
Nevertheless, Holes said for years, as he worked the case, he had hoped to receive a call from the possible accomplice turning in his partner. "That was the tip call I was waiting for," he said.
Despite never having received it, he believes a second person remains an open question.
"Is there a second person, or isn't there?" Holes said. "We don't know."