#childabductors | Golden State Killer pleads GUILTY to 13 murders and 13 kidnappings

The Golden State Killer is in court to plead guilty to 26 charges of murder and kidnapping on Monday and also admitted to 62 rapes that he can’t be charged for because they happened so long ago, bringing a final end to a sinister, decades-long saga of kidnappings, rapes, murders and the shocking capture of a once elusive crime figure. 

Joseph James DeAngelo Jr., 74, is expected to plead guilty to 13 counts of murder and 13 counts of kidnapping as well as admitting 62 rapes that prosecutors couldn’t charge him with because so much time has passed since they occurred.  

The deal spares him the death penalty and was the result of weeks of negotiations. Now, he will die in prison.  

Prosecutors had previously rejected an offer from him to plead guilty to avoid execution, but law enforcement sources said they were eager to bring the case to a close because many of his victims’ relatives are ageing and struggling with health problems. 

The remarkable plea hearing took place in a ballroom at Sacramento State University and DeAngelo, frail and in an orange prison jumpsuit, appeared on the stage. 

He had to be wheeled on stage by his attorneys and answered ‘yes’ and ‘yes your honor’, sometimes with hesitation, when asked by the judge whether or not he understood the terms of his deal.  

It could not take place in an ordinary courtroom because 150 of his victim’s relatives showed up and a larger room was needed to enforce social distancing. 

Prosecutors said the time for justice was now because many of the victims had waited decades to for it and were now so elderly they might not be able to wait for a jury trial. 

‘The scope of Joseph DeAngelo’ crime spree is simply staggering. His monikers reflect the sweeping geographical impact of his crimes. 

Joseph James DeAngelo, the Golden State Killer, appears in a court hearing in California on Monday to plead guilty 

DeAngelo was helped out of his wheelchair by his lawyers

DeAngelo was helped out of his wheelchair by his lawyers

The frail 74-year-old was wheeled in to the university ballroom

The frail 74-year-old was wheeled in to the university ballroom 

The ballroom on Monday where Joseph James DeAngelo , the Golden State Killer, pleaded guilty to 13 counts of murder and 13 counts of kidnapping to avoid the death penalty

The ballroom on Monday where Joseph James DeAngelo , the Golden State Killer, pleaded guilty to 13 counts of murder and 13 counts of kidnapping to avoid the death penalty 

‘Each time he escaped, slipping away silently into the night, leaving communities terrified for years. For over 40 years the biggest question remained unanswered who was the serial killer and rapist?’ said one. 

Prosecutors on Monday described how DeAngelo’s semen was found at the scene of some of the crimes and matched to the relative’s sample in GEDMatch.com.  

They also told how he ‘he feigned feeble incoherence in the interview room’ after his arrest but was heard talking to himself, saying: ‘I did all that. I didn’t have the strength to push him out, it was like he’s a part of me. I didn’t want to do those things. 

‘I pushed Jerry out and had a happy life. I did all those things. I’ve destroyed all their lives so now I’ve got to pay the price.’ 

Prosecutors read through a timeline of the crimes , giving details of all the killings, before the judge asked DeAngelo how he wanted to plead. 


DeAngelo Jr., a former cop, eluded law enforcement for decades until his DNA was linked to the crimes through GEDMatch.com, a genealogy website that one of his relatives had submitted their DNA to.


1974-1975: 120 burglaries in Visalia and surrounding areas 

June 18, 1976: Sexual assault/rape, Rancho Cordova

July 17, 1976: Sexual assault/rape, Carmichael

August 29, 1976: Burglary, attempted sexual assault, Rancho Cordova

Sept. 4, 1976: Sexual Assault/rape, Carmichael

Oct. 5, 1976: Sexual Assault/rape, Citrus Heights

Oct. 9, 1976: Sexual Assault/rape, Rancho Cordova

Oct. 18, 1976: Sexual Assault/rape, Carmichael

Oct. 18, 1976: Carjacking, Rancho Cordova

Nov. 10, 1976: Kidnapping, Citrus Heights

Dec. 18, 1976: Sexual Assault/rape, Carmichael

Jan. 18, 1977: Sexual Assault/rape, Sacramento

Jan. 24, 1977: Sexual Assault/rape, Citrus Heights

Feb. 7, 1977: Sexual Assault/rape, Carmichael

Feb. 16, 1977: Assault, attempted murder, Sacramento

March 8, 1977: Sexual Assault/rape, Sacramento

March 18, 1977: Sexual Assault/rape, Rancho Cordova

April 2, 1977: Sexual Assault/rape, Orangevale

April 15, 1977: Sexual Assault/rape, Carmichael

May 3, 1977: Sexual Assault/rape, Sacramento

May 5, 1977: Sexual Assault/rape, Orangevale

May 14, 1977: Sexual Assault/rape, Citrus Heights

May 17, 1977: Sexual Assault/rape, Carmichael

May 28, 1977: Sexual Assault/rape, Sacramento

Sept. 6, 1977: Sexual Assault/rape, Stockton

Oct. 1, 1977: Sexual Assault/rape, Rancho Cordova

Oct. 21, 1977: Sexual Assault/rape, Sacramento

Oct. 29, 1977: Sexual Assault/rape, Sacramento

Nov. 10, 1977: Sexual Assault/rape, Sacramento

Dec. 2, 1977: Attempted sexual assault, Sacramento

Jan. 28, 1978: Sexual Assault/rape, Carmichael

Jan. 29, 1979: Sexual Assault/rape, Carmichael

Feb. 2, 1978: Brian and Katie Maggiore were killed, Rancho Cordova

March 18, 1978: Sexual assault/rape, Stockton

April 14, 1978: Sexual assault/rape, Sacramento

June 5, 1978: Sexual assault/rape, Modesto

June 7, 1978: Sexual assault/rape, Davis

June 23, 1978: Sexual assault/rape, Modesto

June 24, 1978: Sexual assault/rape, Davis

July 6, 1978: Sexual assault/rape, Davis

Oct. 7, 1978: Sexual assault/rape, Concord

Oct. 13, 1978: Sexual assault/rape, Concord

Oct. 28, 1978: San Ramon

Nov. 4, 1978: Sexual assault/rape, San Jose

Dec. 2, 1978: Sexual assault/rape,San Jose

Dec. 8, 1978: Sexual assault/rape (DNA link), Danville

Dec. 18, 1978: Sexual assault/rape, San Ramon

March 20, 1979: Sexual assault/rape, Rancho Cordova

April 4, 1979: Sexual assault/rape, Fremont

June 2, 1979: Sexual assault/rape, Walnut Creek

June 11, 1979: Sexual assault/rape (DNA link), Danville

June 25, 1979: Sexual assault/rape, Walnut Creek

July 5, 1979: Attempted sexual assault, Danville

Oct. 1, 1979: Attempted sexual assault/murder (no DNA) Goleta

Dec. 30, 1979: 2 people killed, Goleta

March 13, 1980: Sexual assault/rape, Lyman and Charlene Smith were killed (DNA link), Ventura

Aug. 19, 1980: Sexual assault/rape, Keith and Patrice Harrington killed, Dana Point

Feb. 5, 1981: Sexual assault/rape, Manuela Witthuhn killed (DNA link), Irvine

July 27, 1981: 2 people killed (DNA link), Goleta

May 4, 1986: Sexual assault/rape, Janelle Cruz killed(DNA link) Irvine

While his real identity remained a mystery until then, his crimes earned him a series of ominous names. 

First, he was the Visalia Ransacker, a burglar who ravaged people’s homes from 1974-1975, stealing personal items and scattering women’s underwear around the crime scenes. 

Next, he was the East Area Rapist, a shadowy predator who assaulted dozens of women between 1976 and 1979. 

Between the burglaries and rapes, he started killing, earning himself the name of the Golden State Killer and the Original Nightstalker.

What triggered his sadistic tendencies remains largely a mystery.

DeAngelo grew up following his US Airman father around with his mother and sister. 

Little is known about his upbringing beyond that they were, at one time, stationed in Germany. 

His sister’s son, Jesse Ryland, has told in the past how DeAngelo would often see his father beat his mother, Kathleen. 

He also claimed that he witnessed his sister being raped by two airmen when she was just seven and he was nine.  

Ryland speculated that may have been the catalyst for his obsession with rape later in life. DeAngelo has never commented on it. 

The family returned to the US and settled on the West Coast by DeAngelo’s teenage years. 

His father was posted overseas in Korea later but he and his mother and sister stayed. His mother, according to a profile in the Los Angeles Times in 2018, started seeing a married man who had his own family. 

It left DeAngelo in charge of caring for his younger siblings. 

Former childhood friends told how he would try to fit in to their families as if they were his own.

He graduated from Folsom Senior High School in 1964 and joined the Navy, working as a damage control man aboard the Canberra during the Vietnam War. 

No other details of his military career are known. 

A 1967 article in The Auburn Journal, the local newspaper where his parents live, describes him as a 21-year-old due home on leave.  

After returning to the US from Vietnam, he met Bonnie Colwell, a science student who ultimately broke his heart. 

He and Bonnie were at one time engaged but she broke it off in 1971. 

When he was arrested in 2018, Bonnie went into hiding. 

DeAngelo’s next known milestone was not until 1972, when he graduated from California State University with a degree in criminal justice. 

From there, he joined The Exeter Police Department where he worked as an officer on the burglary unit. 

It’s in this job that he learned how to commit seemingly perfect burglaries himself. 

It was also while he was working there that he married Sharon Marie Huddle. 

The pair had three daughters, who are now all adults. 

Between 1974 and 1975, a figure who became known as the Visalia Ransacker carried out more than 120 burglaries in the area. For decades, his identity was unknown. 

When DeAngelo was arrested in 2018 for the murders and rapes of dozens of others, he was quickly tied to the Visalia Ransacker crimes and blamed for them. 

His signature, when burglarizing, was to leave women’s underwear scattered at his crime scenes. 

In 1975 was when he graduated from burglarizing to attempted kidnapping and then killing, shooting dead Claude Snelling who was protecting his teenage daughter, Elizabeth, from being kidnapped. 

Elizabeth, 16, woke up at 2am on September 11, 1975, to see a man in a ski mask, standing over her bed, telling her to go with him or be killed.

He dragged her from her room and out of the family’s backdoor towards their carport but was stopped by Snelling who happened to be in the kitchen at the time. 

Elizabeth later recalled: ‘I heard a yell and saw my dad charge out the back door. 

‘The kidnapper] threw me down and shot my dad twice. Then he pointed the gun at me.’

DeAngelo hit her with the gun and kicked her but fled. Snelling died on his way to the hospital.  

In 1976, he left the Exeter Police Department and started working for the Auburn Police Department.

That is when his relentless raping began. 

Between 1976 and 1979, he raped dozens of women in the area. 

It terrorized the neighborhoods where he picked his targets and earned him the name East Area Rapist. 

One of the victims recalled how he lay down next to her after the attack and sobbed: ‘I hate you, I hate you, I hate you Bonnie.’ 

DeAngelo was fired by the police department in 1979 after being caught shoplifting a hammer and dog repellent from a drugstore in Citrus Heights, one of the areas where he would attack women.  

He then spent 27 years working at a Save Mart Supermarkets distribution center, fixing trucks, before retiring in 2017. 

It’s unclear when but he and his wife separated some time before his 2018 arrest which came as a shock to his neighbors and relatives. 

It was the first time police had tested samples of DNA found at some of the crime scenes against DNA being stored by GEDMatch. 

One of DeAngelo’s relatives had willingly submitted their sample to find out more about their ancestry. 

Since his case, it has been used as a crime-solving technique hundreds of times. 

DeAngelo’s neighbors described him as ‘cantankerous’, unlikable and a ‘curser’. 

While he has been blamed for 88 crimes, he has also been exonerated in others.

Among his rapes is the attack of a 13-year-old girl who recalled in detail being assaulted while he shone a flashlight in her face. 

‘In a very harsh whisper, he would say, “Do you want to die? 

‘Do you want me to kill your mother? Do you want me to slit her throat?”‘ Wardlow said.

 ‘I answered him immediately, “I don’t care,” and he’d say, “Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!”‘ Margaret Wardlow, who was raped by him in 1977, recalled to Inside Edition after his arrest last year. 

DeAngelo’s wife and children have never spoken of his crimes. 

His sister was stunned when he was arrested. 

‘As stunned as I am – because I’ve never seen him display any kind of madness or anything like that – I just can’t believe it. 

‘I’ve never seen anything to allow myself to think he could do such things,’ Rebecca Thompson, his older sister, told The Sacramento Bee at the time of his arrest. 


Claude Snelling: September 11, 1975

Claude Snelling: September 11, 1975

Claude Snelling

September 11, 1975

Journalism professor Claude Snelling, 45, was asleep in his home in Visalia, California when he heard an odd noise outside at about 2am. 

He rushed outside to find a masked man dragging his 16-year-old daughter Elizabeth away.

The abductor shot Snelling twice, killing him, and fled the scene on foot, leaving Elizabeth unharmed. 

She later told how her father saved her life. 

DeAngelo had woken her up, standing over her in a ski mask. He told her to go with him or risk her life. 

She said it was ‘blurry’ but that she remembered him dragging her. 

‘The kidnapper] threw me down and shot my dad twice. Then he pointed the gun at me.’

DeAngelo hit her with the gun and kicked her but fled. Snelling died on his way to the hospital.  

The shooting was connected to the work of the Visalia Ransacker, believed to be responsible for 102 burglaries in the area, when ballistics matched the gun that killed Snelling to one that had been stolen in a previous break-in. 

Brian and Katie Maggiore: February 2, 1978

Brian and Katie Maggiore

February 2, 1978

Brian Maggiore, 21, and his wife Katie, 20, were walking their dog in their Rancho Cordova neighborhood, just outside Sacramento, on February 2, 1978. 

The FBI said the couple were chased down before being shot and killed by the Golden State Killer.

Dr Robert Offerman

Alexandria Manning

Dr Robert Offerman and Alexandria Manning: December 30, 1979

Dr Robert Offerman and Alexandria Manning

December 30, 1979

Dr Robert Offerman, 44, and Alexandria Manning, 35, were killed at a home in Goleta near Santa Barbara. 

Offerman, an osteopathic surgeon, and Manning, a clinical psychologist, had their hands bound with twine. 

DeAngelo is also charged with murdering Lyman and Charlene Smith at their Ventura County home on March 13, 1980

Patrice and Keith Harrington were killed in their home at Dana Point on August 19, 1980

Lyman and Charlene Smith (left) and Patrice and Keith Harrington (right)  

Lyman and Charlene Smith

March 13, 1980

Lyman Smith, 43, and his wife Charlene, 33, were bludgeoned to death with a fireplace log in their Ventura County home. 

Smith was an attorney who was just days from being appointed a judge. His wife worked as a court clerk. 

Patrice and Keith Harrington

August 19, 1980

Patrice Harrington, 28, and her husband Keith, 25, were killed in their home at Dana Point. Police said they were beaten with a blunt instrument.   

Patrice was a pediatric nurse and her husband was a medical student at UC Irvine.  

Manuela Witthuhn

Janelle Lisa Cruz

Manuela Witthuhn (left) and Janelle Lisa Cruz (right)

Manuela Witthuhn

February 5, 1981

Manuela Witthuhn, 28, was raped and beaten to death in her home in Irvine. 

She was home alone at the time because her husband was in the hospital recovering from an illness. 

Cheri Domingo and Gregory Sanchez 

Cheri Domingo and Gregory Sanchez 

Cheri Domingo and Gregory Sanchez

July 27, 1981

Cheri Domingo, 35, and Gregory Sanchez, 27, were house sitting in Goleta when they were murdered in bed. 

Domingo was found with her hands tied and suffering massive head injuries. Sanchez was shot and bludgeoned.

Janelle Lisa Cruz

May 4, 1986

Janelle Cruz, 18, was bludgeoned to death in her family’s home in Irvine. She was home alone at the time and police found her lying across her bed. 

A real estate agent who was selling the family’s home was the first to discover the teen’s body. Blood was found spattered throughout the home and police believe she was beaten with a pipe wrench.  

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