DNA a key in arrest of ex-Auburn Police officer in Golden State Killer case

Auburn Police say Joe DeAngelo served from 1976 to 1979
By: Gus Thomson, Reporter/Columnist
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SACRAMENTO - Authorities believe they have caught the notorious Golden State Killer.

And he's a former Auburn Police officer, who patroled city streets for three years during the late 1970s before being fired.

Joe DeAngelo, 72, of Citrus Heights, the man now linked by the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office to crimes by the notorious East Area Rapist, or Golden State Killer, was  taken into custody early Wednesday morning in the Sacramento area.

The arrest comes more than than three decades after he is alleged to have committed 12 murders and 45 rapes. The crimes are suspected to have taken place from 1976 to 1986.

During three of those years — from August 1976 to September 1979 — DeAngelo was employed by the Auburn Police Department as an officer.

Auburn Police issued a statement after Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert’s announcement of the arrest today in Sacramento. It said that his employment in Auburn was terminated after the three years. News accounts of the time said the firing came after a shoplifting conviction in Sacramento County.

Auburn Police stated that before being hired in Auburn, DeAngelo had worked as an officer with the Exeter Police Department.

“Even though this case reaches four decades into the past, the city of Auburn and its police department will do everything within its power to support this investigation and any prosecution that follows,” Auburn Police Lt. Victor Pecoraro said. “We will pull out all the stops for our Sacramento-area law enforcement partners in this horrific and historic case.”

DeAngelo was arrested by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department and booked on two counts of murder into the Sacramento County Jail at 2:30 a.m., according to jail records. He is being held without bail.

Schubert attributed DNA testing at the Sacramento County crime lab as a key component in  breaking the case.

“We knew we were looking for a needle in a haystack but the needle was there,” Schubert said.

The DNA evidence came in within the previous six days and investigators conducted surveillance operations to gather new samples. Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones said the “discarded DNA” was able to confirm “what we already knew.”

DNA was linked to several murder cases including a March 13 sexual assault and double murder in Ventura. The crimes covered by the serial murderer-rapist took place in 10 counties in Northern, Central and Southern California. The list provided by the District Attorney’s Office showed no cases from Placer County.

“Today at least brought the first step of closure for victims of these horrendous crimes,” Jones said.