UPDATE: Former police officer named as suspected serial killer

By  | 

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on developments in a California serial killer case (all times local):

Joseph James DeAngelo — Photo: Sacramento County Sheriff's Dept.

1:25 p.m.

California authorities say they studied the behavior of a man they suspect of being a serial killer in the 1970s and '80s and surprised him with arrest.

Sacramento County Scott Jones told reporters that Joseph James DeAngelo was taken into custody without incident Wednesday as he left his Sacramento-area home. He was a former police officer in the city of Auburn.

Jones said DeAngelo also was an officer in Exeter, in Southern California, from 1973 to 1976 "around the time of the Visalia Ransacker cases." That serial criminal was tied to burglaries and one killing.

Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert says DeAngelo's name hadn't been on authorities' radar before last week in connection with the "East Area Rapist" case.

That serial killer is tied to at least 12 homicides, 45 rapes and dozens of burglaries across California.

___

12:55 p.m.

A family member of a couple who were victims of a California serial killer decades ago said the arrest of a suspect has brought closure.

Bruce Harrington, whose brother and sister-in-law were killed in 1980 in Orange County, told reporters Wednesday that it's time for victims' families to grieve and "bring closure to the anguish that we all suffered for the last 40 odd years."

He cheered the work of law enforcement, who said they arrested Joseph James DeAngelo on Wednesday after DNA helped solve the case.

Prosecutors say Harrington's brother, 24-year-old Keith Harrington and his wife, 27-year-old Patrice Harrington, were killed in 1980 in their home.

DeAngelo has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the 1980 killings of a couple in Ventura County.

An attacker who became known as the "East Area Rapist" is accused of at least 12 homicides, 45 rapes and dozens of burglaries across California.

___

12:45 p.m.

California authorities say a man they suspect of being a serial killer tied to dozens of slayings and sexual assaults in the 1970s and '80s has been charged with murder.

Ventura County District Attorney Greg Totten told reporters Wednesday that his office charged Joseph James DeAngelo with two counts of first-degree murder in the 1980 killings of a couple.

Totten says prosecutors will seek the death penalty against the former police officer.

Authorities in Sacramento County also have arrested DeAngelo on suspicion of murder in the slayings of married couple Brian and Katie Maggiore in 1978.

Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert says DNA helped solve the case.

The attacker who became known as the "East Area Rapist" is accused of at least 12 homicides, 45 rapes and dozens of burglaries across the state.

___

12:35 p.m.

California authorities say DNA in two 1978 killings in Sacramento led to the arrest of a man suspected of being a serial killer tied to dozens of slayings and sexual assaults in the 1970s and '80s.

Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert told reporters Wednesday that the DNA helped solve the case in the last six days.

She said the "answer was always going to be in the DNA" and the connection came in the slayings of Brian and Katie Maggiore.

Authorities say a serial killer committed at least 12 homicides, 45 rapes and dozens of burglaries across the state. The attacker became known as the "East Area Rapist."

___

12:25 p.m.

California authorities say the arrest of a suspected California serial killer who's accused of dozens of slayings and sexual assaults in the 1970s and '80s comes after tireless work.

Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert told reporters Wednesday that dozens of people committed their professional lives to the search and spent hundreds of hours seeking "justice for these victims and their families."

Authorities say a serial killer committed at least 12 homicides, 45 rapes and dozens of burglaries across the state. The attacker became known as the "East Area Rapist."

___

A DNA match in the past six days tied a former police officer to some of the crimes committed by a California serial killer behind at least 12 homicides and 45 rapes throughout the state in the 1970s and '80s, police officials announced Wednesday.

Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, who was fired from the Auburn Police Department, was arrested after a DNA sample came back as a match to the Golden State Killer, Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert said.

Officials said DeAngelo had been arrested on suspicion of committing four killings in Sacramento and Ventura counties and charged with two counts of murder in the Ventura case.

"We knew we were looking for a needle in a haystack, but we also knew that needle was there," Schubert said. "We found the needle in the haystack and it was right here in Sacramento."

"The answer was always going to be in the DNA," she said.

Armed with a gun, the masked attacker terrorized communities by breaking into homes while single women or couples were sleeping. He sometimes tied up the man and piled dishes on his back, then raped the woman while threatening to kill them both if the dishes tumbled.

He often took souvenirs, notably coins and jewelry, from his victims, who ranged in age from 13 to 41

DeAngelo was fired from the Auburn Police Department in 1979 after he was arrested for stealing a can of dog repellant and a hammer from a drug store, according to Auburn Journal articles from the time.

The FBI says it had a team gathering evidence at a Sacramento-area home linked to DeAngelo.

Jane Carson-Sandler, who was sexually assaulted in California in 1976 by a man believed to be the so-called "East Area Rapist," said she received an email Wednesday from a retired detective who worked on the case telling her they have identified the rapist and he's in custody.

"I have just been overjoyed, ecstatic. It's an emotional roller-coaster right now," Carson-Sandler, who now lives near Hilton Head, South Carolina, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "I feel like I'm in the middle of a dream and I'm going to wake up and it's not going to be true. It's just so nice to have closure and to know he's in jail."

Carson-Sandler was attacked in her home in Citrus Heights, California.

FBI and California officials in 2016 renewed their search for the East Area Rapist and announced a $50,000 reward for his arrest and conviction. He has been linked to a total of more than 175 crimes between 1976 and 1986.

As he committed crimes across the state, authorities called him by different names. He was dubbed the East Area Rapist after his start in Northern California, the Original Night Stalker after a series of Southern California slayings, and the Diamond Knot Killer for using an elaborate binding method on two of his victims.

He was most recently called the Golden State Killer.

Authorities decided to publicize the case again in 2016 in advance of the 40th anniversary of his first known assault in Sacramento County.

Neighbor Kevin Tapia, 36, said when he was a teenager, DeAngelo falsely accused him of throwing things over their shared fence, prompting a heated exchange between DeAngelo and Tapia's father. He said DeAngelo could often be heard cursing in frustration in his backyard.

"No one thinks they live next door to a serial killer," Tapia said. "But at the same time I'm just like, he was a weird guy. He kept to himself. When you start to think about it you're like, I could see him doing something like that but I would never suspect it."

___

Associated Press writer Jonathan J. Cooper contributed to this report from Citrus Heights, California.