He’s pleading guilty to more than a dozen murders, rapes, break-ins and more. ‘Real life version of Hannibal Lecter.’

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SACRAMENTO, CA – On Monday, the retired cop who has been accused of being the notorious “Golden State Killer” began pleading guilty to dozens of charges, including a series of murders, rapes, and break-ins that terrorized Californians in the 1970’s and 1980’s. 

Joseph James DeAngelo Jr., 74 appeared before Superior Court Judge Michael G. Bowman Monday morning in a Sacramento State University ballroom.  This venue was chosen because it is large enough to hold the more than 150 victims and family members of victims expected to attend. 

The victims and family members are expected to confront DeAngelo at an August sentencing, which is slated to last days.  Victims are also expected to read victim impact statements at the hearing.

On Monday, DeAngelo told Judge Bowman he would plead guilty to 13 murders and 13 kidnapping-related charges throughout California and he would admit to dozens of sexual assaults that he could not be criminally charged with. 

The charges linked to the rapes were filed as kidnappings to commit robberies because the statute of limitations for sexual assaults has expired. 

For more than 40 years, the prolific, but unidentified rapist and serial killer eluded authorities as DeAngelo, worked as an officer in two small-town police departments during the 1970’s. 

He worked as a cop in the Exeter Police Department from 1973 to 1976 and then in Auburn from 1976 until 1979 when he was fired for shoplifting a hammer and a can of dog repellent, authorities said.

The suspect has been known as the East Area Rapist, the Original Night Stalker, the Visalia Ransacker and the Diamond Knot Killer before he was dubbed the Golder State Killer. 

Some of the earlier crimes involved an armed and masked rapist who would break into sleeping couples’ suburban homes at night, binding the man while sexually assaulting the woman in central Northern California, authorities have said. 

In some cases, he would kill both the man and the woman. 

He collected “trophies,” including wedding rings and bikini Polaroids, as keepsakes.  He covered 10 counties over a 12-year span, ranging from Sacramento County to Orange County, which is 400 miles to the south, authorities said. 

Thanks to the use of new DNA techniques, investigators were finally able to make a break in the case.  Investigators used decades-old evidence to help compile a family tree on an online DNA database and then zeroed in on DeAngelo before arresting him in 2018

At the time of the arrest, DeAngelo was quietly living out his retirement in the Sacramento suburb of Citrus Heights. 

Now, almost two years later, DeAngelo said, “guilty” in a hoarse voice after Judge Bowman asked him if he killed journalism professor Claude Snelling in 1975. 

This being the first of 13 counts of first-degree murder and other uncharged counts DeAngelo is expected to admit to under the terms of the deal.  DeAngelo is finally admitting to being one of the nation’s worst serial predators as part of a deal with prosecutors and a handful of California counties. 

As part of the plea deal, prosecutors from the counties where DeAngelo committed his crimes read the specifics of each offense, laying out horrific details about him binding, robbing, raping, sodomizing, beating and killing various victims. 

After one double murder in 1979, he snacked on leftover Christmas turkey from a victim’s fridge and left the bones behind. 

This deal will spare him the death penalty, but he will be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. 

Sacramento County Deputy District Attorney Amy Holiday said:

“He will serve 11 consecutive terms of life without parole, with 15 concurrent life sentences and additional time for weapons charges.  He will also waive his rights to appeal.”

As part of the plea agreement, DeAngelo will be required to register as a sex offender and pay restitution to the victims or their families in an amount to be determined, as well as any fees or fines.

Law Enforcement Today has previously reported on a cold case solved later by DNA collected, this time in Los Angeles. Interestingly, the suspect in that case was an officer as well.

Here’s that story again.

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Murdered officer's grave desecrated before headstone even placed

Even with modern technology, some cases turn cold. Since 2015, a sexual assault case in Los Angeles has remained unsolved until now… when a Los Angeles Police Officer’s DNA matched that of a second rape years later.

Thirty-three year old Los Angeles Police Officer William Rodriguez has been charged with two counts of forcible rape with a special allegation of multiple victims, a Los Angeles Country press release reveals.

Rodriguez was accused of sexually assaulting a woman at his residence in the late fall of 2018. When DNA evidence was entered into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), it prompted a “cold hit” notification, according to the press release. The original assault occurred in 2015 with another woman under very similar circumstances.

Rodriguez has served with the Los Angeles Police Department for more than ten years. He was assigned to the LAPD’s Valley Traffic Division, according to a News Release from the Los Angeles Police Department. Rodriguez is currently incarcerated and has been relieved of his police powers.  

Los Angeles Police are taking the situation seriously.

“When one of our own breaks the trust of the people we are sworn to protect and to serve, it tarnishes the badge we all wear proudly on our chests… This arrest also reflects our commitment to pursue every lead no matter where the investigation takes us,” Los Angeles Police Department Chief of Police Michel Moore was quoted in the official LAPD New Release.

It has been determined that Rodriguez was off duty at the time of both sexual assaults.

Rodriguez is currently held on bail set and $1.2 million. Should he be convicted, he faces up to 30 years to life in state prison. His attorney James Blatt provided a statement to KTLA claiming:

“The fact is that there is no criminal record, he has strong family ties to the community and we don’t anticipate him being any danger to the community.”

Anyone with further information is asked to contact Robbery- Homicide Division Sexual Assault Section, Detective Sharlene Johnson, Serial No. 31825 at (213) 486-6910.

During non-business hours or on weekends, calls should be directed to 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (1-877-527-3247). Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477). Tipsters may also go to www.lapdonline.org, and click on “Anonymous Web Tips.”

The Los Angeles arrest comes just days after a former Tallahassee Police officer accepted a plea deal for the rape of a female motorist, also occurring in 2018. Former officer Vincent Crump pulled the woman over during a traffic stop.

According to WFSU’s Lynn Hatter, Crump advised the woman that he smelled marijuana and implied that he had leverage to protect her if she complied with his requests.

Fearing that she would be arrested, the woman moved her vehicle to a nearby parking lot where the uniformed officer had sex with her. She reported the incident as a rape and Crump was terminated by Tallahassee Police Chief Mike DeLeo the following day, according to Hatter.

On Friday, Crump pleaded to felony aggravated assault. He had originally claimed that the encounter was consensual.

Tallahassee Democrat’s Karl Etters reports that State Attorney Sarah Dugan gave a text message statement that:

“He won’t ever be in a position of power or authority ever again as a law enforcement officer and be able to put any other woman in the position that this victim was in…

Hopefully, by his career being taken away, him having to plea to a felony, go to jail, and be on probation it will show that we take law enforcement officers abusing their power very seriously, and we will work to hold them accountable even if there are multiple hung juries.”

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