Golden State Killer set for multiple life prison sentences
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A former police officer once sworn to protect the public faces multiple consecutive life prison sentences Friday after he was ultimately unmasked as the mysterious Golden State Killer who eluded his fellow investigators for four decades.
Joseph James DeAngelo, 74, will die in prison after he pleaded guilty in June to 13 murders and 13 rape-related charges stemming from crimes in the 1970s and 1980s under a plea deal that spares him the death penalty. He also publicly admitted to dozens more sexual assaults for which the statute of limitations had expired.
Prosecutors called his more than decade-long spate of crimes “simply staggering,” encompassing 87 victims at 53 separate crime scenes spanning 11 California counties.
The case set several hallmarks.
To finally identify and arrest him in 2018, investigators pioneered a new method of DNA tracing that involves building a family tree from publicly accessible genealogy websites to narrow the list of suspects.
They linked nearly 40-year-old DNA from crime scenes to a distant relative, and eventually to a discarded tissue they surreptitiously sneaked from DeAngelo's garbage can in suburban Sacramento.
The same technique has since been used to solve 93 murders and rapes across the nation, said Ron Harrington.
“It is probably the most important (recent) advancement by law enforcement in solving cold case murders and rapes,” he said.
His family has been obsessed with solving the 1980 slayings of youngest brother Keith Harrington and his new wife, Patrice Harrington.
It led oldest brother Bruce Harrington to champion Proposition 69, passed by California voters in 2004, that expanded the collection of DNA samples from prisoners and those arrested for felonies and has since led to more than...