The Latest: Genealogical websites helped ID suspected killer
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on a decades-old serial killing and rape case in California (all times local):
Prosecutors say they used online genealogical sites to find a DNA match for a California serial killing suspect.
The Sacramento County district attorney’s office said Thursday that authorities used DNA collected from a crime scene of the Golden State Killer and compared it to online genetic profiles.
Joseph James DeAngelo, a 72-year-old former police officer, was arrested at his home.
Authorities believe he’s responsible for at least 12 killings and 50 rapes in the 1970s and ’80s.
Prosecutors said at least one of the online genealogical profiles contained genetic information from a relative of DeAngelo. Investigators explored online family trees and followed clues to identify possible suspects.
The development was first reported by the Sacramento Bee.
DeAngelo is charged with eight counts of murder and is scheduled to be arraigned Friday.
A retired policeman who previously worked with the man accused of being a serial killer and rapist said it’s possible that suspect Joseph James DeAngelo helped with a search in a killing he’s now suspected of committing.
Farrel Ward helped investigate a 1975 slaying in Visalia that police have tied to DeAngelo.
Ward doesn’t recall DeAngelo directly working on the case. But said it’s possible he joined the search for the killer.
Ward said he worked with DeAngelo for several years at the Exeter Police Department and was shocked when DeAngelo was arrested in the Golden State Killer case.
Ward said DeAngelo was quiet and didn’t fit in with other officers.
Central California police say the former police officer accused in a series of killings and rapes is also the prime suspect in the 1975 death of a community college teacher.
If the link is confirmed, it would boost the number of victims to 13 in the serial killing case.
Visalia Police Chief Jason Salazar says detectives are working to tie suspect Joseph DeAngelo to the 1975 killing and about 100 burglaries committed in the region while DeAngelo was a police officer in nearby Exeter.
Salazar believes DeAngelo is the so-called Visalia Ransacker who terrorized the farming community about 40 miles (64 kilometers) south of Fresno in 1974 and 1975.
DeAngelo was arrested at his suburban Sacramento home and investigators have alleged he is also the so-called Golden State Killer responsible for 12 murders and dozens of rapes from 1976 to 1986 throughout California.
Investigators said they have tied DeAngelo to some of those crimes through DNA.
Salazar said there is no DNA evidence connecting DeAngelo to the 1975 death of teacher Claude Snelling, who was fatally shot when he caught a man trying to kidnap his 16-year-old daughter.
James Huddle said he always hoped police would catch the culprit who terrorized Northern California and prompted him to buy a pistol.
But he says he’s stunned to find out the man arrested Tuesday in the serial killing and rape case, Joseph DeAngelo Jr., is his former brother-in-law.
Huddle told The Associated Press it is “still just going crazy in my mind.”
Huddle says he recalls discussing the East Area Rapist once with his brother-in-law.
He told Oxygen.com that he couldn’t remember who brought up the subject.
Huddle said he is stunned thinking now about who he was talking to.
It has been more than 10 years since they spoke.
Huddle said he hasn’t spoken with his sister, Sharon Huddle, DeAngelo’s ex-wife, but had sent her a text message.
Investigators are scouring the home of a man accused in a string of California killings and rapes, looking for class rings, earrings, dishes and other items possibly taken from crime scenes.
Sacramento County sheriff’s Lt. Paul Belli said Thursday that authorities are also looking for weapons and other items that can link 72-year-old suspect James Joseph DeAngelo to the crimes in the 1970s and ’80s.
Belli declined to say what investigators have found.
Police officers, FBI agents and crime scene technicians were spending a second day in DeAngelo’s Citrus Heights home in suburban Sacramento.
DeAngelo was arrested after a nearly four-decade search for a criminal known as the Golden State Killer, the East Area Rapist and other monikers.
Investigators took two vehicles, motorcycle and fishing boat out of his three-car garage and put up tarps to block news cameras.
DeAngelo has not entered a plea.
News that police had arrested a suspect in the decades-old “East Area Rapist” case gave Betsy Reamer a nightmare about the time in 1979 when she thinks she may have seen him.
Reamer says she spotted a man in a ski mask riding a bicycle down the street of her Danville, California, neighborhood in the middle of the night.
She called police, who quickly arrived and asked her for details. She never learned for certain if the man she saw was the notorious serial killer and rapist who was tied to multiple crimes in Danville.
Still, Reamer says living in her quiet neighborhood was never the same.
She lived in the home with her two young children and husband, who often traveled for work. The family moved to Canada in 1981 and Reamer says she quickly shed memories from the time.
Reamer, who now lives in Delaware, is the mother of an Associated Press reporter.
A teenager who was friends with the granddaughter of a man accused of killing a dozen people and raping dozens of women throughout California says she spent many weekends at his home and never noticed anything odd.
Sierra Creech says she was friends with John DeAngelo’s granddaughter and spent almost every weekend for six months at his home in Citrus Heights, near Sacramento.
The 17-year-old says she and DeAngelo’s granddaughter, who were 8 or 9 at the time, were supervised by his daughter.
She says DeAngelo “was just nice.”
Her mother, 43-year-old Candace Creech, says she was shook up when she learned that the man who used to pick up and drop off her daughter is accused of such heinous crimes.
Candace Creech says she started crying from the shock of hearing the news of DeAngelo’s arrest.
Comedian Patton Oswalt says it’s “great news” that police arrested a suspect in the brutal murders and rapes that his late wife had spent years investigating.
Oswalt appeared on “Late Night with Seth Meyers” early Thursday and said news of the arrest felt like “a beginning of this whole other chapter.”
His late wife, Michelle McNamara, was a journalist who coined the name Golden State Killer and wrote a book on the 12 killings and 50 rapes. She died in her sleep in April 2016.
On Tuesday, authorities arrested 72-year-old Joseph James DeAngelo on suspicion of the murders.
Police didn’t give McNamara credit, but said her book kept interest up and tips coming in.
Oswalt says he’s relieved because “now it feels like this thing that she wanted so badly is done.”
AP writer Michelle A. Monroe contributed to this report.
This version corrects the spelling of Seth Meyers.
The suspected Golden State Killer became less prolific but deadlier after losing his job as a police officer.
Prosecutors say Joseph DeAngelo carried out his most violent crimes in the months after he was fired for shoplifting in 1979.
DeAngelo was charged Wednesday with eight counts of murder for killings in the late ’70s and early ’80s. He is suspected of killing 12 people and raping about 50 and could face more charges.
Authorities say DeAngelo is the man once dubbed the East Area Rapist for some four dozen sexual assaults in the suburbs east of Sacramento.
After losing his job on the police force, the suspect committed fewer crimes, but 10 were slayings and all were in Southern California.
Because the crimes spanned 10 counties the culprit was later dubbed the Golden State Killer.