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The Golden State Killer Pleads Guilty, Wrapping Up The Decades Long Case With Justice Served

By Jodi Smith | TV | June 29, 2020 |

By Jodi Smith | TV | June 29, 2020 |


First, the release of Michelle McNamara’s book about the elusive Golden State Killer and his decades of raping and murdering, “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark”, comes just two months prior to the arrest of suspect Joseph James DeAngelo. Now the HBO series based on her book premieres the night before DeAngelo pleads guilty to 13 counts of first-degree murder and admits to all uncharged crimes related to the Golden State Killer’s spree.

It’s almost like McNamara is orchestrating this all from the afterlife, which is a pretty rad thought to entertain even if you don’t believe in that sort of thing. The idea that her complete obsession with the case and the capture of its perpetrator was enough to assist law enforcement and prosecutors in ending this decades-long saga for DeAngelo’s living victims and the families of those no longer around to see justice prevail.

Of course, hours of detective work, multiple jurisdictions of police departments, DNA work via ancestry sites, and other realistic and very dedicated people all made this possible. But the timing is too delicious not to dwell on for a moment.

For those somehow unfamiliar, the Golden State Killer targeted residents of Visalia, Sacramento, and multiple other counties in California with burglaries, rape, and murder. He first set his sights women home alone before boldly attacking men and women in their own houses. He bound them, tormented them by pretending to leave and reappearing as they started to free themselves, and stole random objects to throw off the police before raping and killing them.

DeAngelo, a former cop, used his knowledge of investigations and patrol to choose and stalk his victims before leaving little to no trace of his identity behind in their homes. His police background likely gave him the idea to commit his crimes across several jurisdictions, knowing that departments in the early 1970s did not communicate well with each other. This allowed him to operate under the police assumption that a different serial killer was terrorizing neighborhoods in California, only later realizing it was one man with the same modus operandi.

DeAngelo was arrested on April 24, 2018, and began the long road to trial for the at least 13 murders, more than 50 rapes, and over 120 burglaries attributed to the Golden State Killer. The survivors involved with the trial asked to take the death penalty away in exchange for DeAngelo pleading guilty to the 13 charges against him and admitting to committing the other crimes he was accused of, which he accepted.

Jodi Smith is a Senior Reporter, Film & Television at Pajiba. You can email her or follow her on Twitter.

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