SACRAMENTO, California (AP) – Gay Hardwick stood arm-in-arm with her husband facing a criminal called the Golden State Killer and could not recognize the older man bent in a wheelchair as the sadistic rapist who had terrorized them for 42 years before .
In a muffled and raspy voice, Joseph James acknowledged DeAngelo Jr. – a serial rapist before becoming a serial killer – in two words, “I admit” that he attacked the pair in 1978 when he pleaded guilty on Monday to 13 murders, admitting that dozens of rapes and crimes were too old to be prosecuted as part of a deal to avoid the death penalty.
“It was the clenched teeth and, you know, the breathing voice, so there was no resemblance at all – there is no resemblance to the old man sitting in front of us today,” said Gay Hardwick. “I’m not sure much of that is being feigned.”
Hiding behind a ski mask during his crimes, DeAngelo was behind a clear plastic shield so that the surviving victims and their families could see his face, even though they wore masks to prevent possible spread of the corona virus. The hearing took place in a Sacramento State University ballroom to house more than 150 observers at a safe distance during the pandemic.
The seemingly feeble and feeble 74-year-old ex-cop, who once entered bedrooms where he spewed abrasions and threatened to use a .357 Magnum to shoot everyone’s heads, seemed lost when he turned to his lawyer every time. mentioned the lurid details of attacks that frightened part of Northern California in the 1970s.
But where some saw a weak and confused man, others saw a master manipulator.
The day before his arrest in 2018, DeAngelo weaved his motorcycle through highway traffic to lose the police who were chasing him, prosecutors said. When he appeared in court two days later, he looked like the lost man who stepped aside with his mouth half open on Monday.
“I’m very angry that he’s up there pretending he can’t even remember,” Jennifer Carole, whose father, lawyer Lyman Smith, was killed in 1980 with his wife Charlene Smith, who was raped before being murdered in Ventura. “I feel a lot of anger that I haven’t felt so strongly before.”
Carole cried when the prosecutor described how her father and stepmother were beaten with firewood. A pile of used tissues lay on the floor next to her chair.
A veteran from Vietnam and a grandfather, DeAngelo had only been on the investigators’ radar just before his arrest.
About a decade after the last murder, they linked a series of attacks in central and northern California to the murders in Southern California and settled on the nickname Golden State Killer for the mysterious attacker.
Police used crime-scene DNA to find a distant relative through a popular genealogy website database, then built a family tree that eventually led them to him. They secretly collected DNA from his car door and a discarded tissue to get an arrest warrant.
The retired truck mechanic was arrested at his home in the suburbs of Sacramento – the same area he terrorized in the mid-1970s and earned the title of East Area Rapist.
DeAngelo did not cooperate with the authorities. But he mumbled some sort of confession after his arrest that cryptically referred to an alter ego named “Jerry,” telling him to compel the wave of crimes that ended abruptly in 1986.
“I did all that,” DeAngelo told himself when he was alone in a police interrogation room after his arrest in April 2018, Sacramento prosecutor Thien Ho said.
“I didn’t have the strength to push it out,” said DeAngelo. “He made me. He went with me. It was like I was in my head, I mean, he’s part of me. I didn’t want to do those things. I pushed Jerry out and had a happy life. “I did all their lives. So now I have to pay the price.”
Although prosecutors suggested that DeAngelo had faked a split personality, Ho said his reckoning day had arrived.
“The scope of Joseph DeAngelo’s crimes is simply staggering,” said Ho.
Prosecutors have committed detailed sadistic acts that he committed after entering undetected and surprising couples in bed by shining a flashlight in their faces and threatening to kill everyone in the house – including young children – if they did not follow his orders.
The masked sniper initially said he only wanted their money to earn their cooperation, and ordered women to tie their husbands or boyfriends with shoelaces bedside down.
He put signs on the backs of men and said they would both be killed if he heard the plates crash during repeated rapes.
In a house in Contra Costa County in the fall of 1978, he told a woman that he would cut off her son’s ear if she did not have oral sex after raping her.
“I admit,” said DeAngelo after the prosecution read the description of the crime.
He stole various items, sometimes a few bottles of Budweiser and some money, sometimes diamond rings. He slipped into the dark on foot or by bike and even avoided the police who sometimes thought they could almost catch him.
DeAngelo knew the area well.
He joined the police force in the farming town of Exeter in San Joaquin Valley in 1973, where he committed his first murder.
DeAngelo was one of the officers seeking a serial burglar responsible for about 100 burglaries in the neighboring town of Visalia.
Community college professor Claude Snelling was murdered by the suspected “Visalia Ransacker” after trying to avoid kidnapping his 16-year-old daughter.
After three years with the police, DeAngelo moved back to the Sacramento area, where he worked with the Auburn Police in the Sierra foothills until 1979, when he was caught shoplifting, a dog repellent, and a hammer – two items that are helpful could be for a burglar.
After that arrest, which cost him his job, DeAngelo went crazy trying to avoid charges, Ho said. He doubted DeAngelo’s walk in the interrogation room three decades later and said he similarly had “weak incoherent feignments.”
James Alan Fox, a criminologist at Northeastern University, said most serial killers don’t have dual personalities or inner voices, although movies often portray them that way.
Serial killers who get away with attacks for years are usually devious and organized. A person suffering from a serious mental illness is unable to do so. Serial killers blaming an alter ego for their crimes usually pretend, he said.
“Someone should suggest that they did all these things because of this voice,” Don’t blame me, blame the voice, “said Fox.
A guilty plea and life imprisonment avoid lengthy and expensive lawsuits, prosecutors said in defense of the agreement that will result in life imprisonment without parole. Victims will face DeAngelo during a lengthy sentence that begins on August 17.
Victims began to appear in the public as reports of their attacks were read. Nearly two dozen showed solidarity as a prosecutor from Sacramento – where most of his assaults took place – each of which is described in detail. They cheered and laughed when Deputy Prosecutor Amy Holliday noted that victims consistently reported that DeAngelo had a small penis.
A man, Victor Hayes, who was held at gunpoint while his girlfriend was raped in 1977, shouted that he wanted his name read aloud.
“I’ve been waiting for 43 years. I’m not ashamed of what happened. I’ve never been John Doe in my life, ”Hayes said later. “I want liability, and liability starts with my name.”
Gay Hardwick said she was happy to have her attack recognized, even though DeAngelo could not be charged – and knowing he would die in prison.
“It is a pity that he is not younger and can serve a longer sentence,” she said. “It is a pity that he was able to lead the prosperity of his life unimpeded and that the rest of us had to carry a burden all these years.”
Melley was from Los Angeles. Associated Press journalist Stefanie Dazio contributed from Los Angeles.
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