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Golden State Killer suspect charged in four more slayings

Golden State Killer suspect charged in four more slayings
Joseph James DeAngelo Jr. (Associated Press)

Accused serial killer Joseph James DeAngelo Jr. was charged in four more killings Thursday when prosecutors in Santa Barbara County charged him with a pair of double-slayings in 1979 and 1981.

DeAngelo, 72, the suspected Golden State Killer, allegedly killed orthopedic surgeon Robert Offerman and psychologist Alexandria Manning at the end of 1979.

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After a short foray into Ventura and Orange counties after those two slayings, prosecutors say, DeAngelo returned to the Goleta area in 1981 and bludgeoned Cheri Domingo and Gregory Sanchez to death.

In all, DeAngelo is accused in a dozen slayings up and down the state and suspected of at least one other. Authorities say he also raped dozens of women and burglarized more than 100 homes in a series of crimes that took investigators decades to piece together and connect to him.

DeAngelo is in custody in Sacramento County and could face the death penalty if convicted, officials said.

"Violent cold cases never grow cold for the victims or their loved ones," said Santa Barbara County Dist. Atty. Joyce Dudley when she announced the latest charges Thursday.

His first local victims were Offerman and Manning, whom prosecutors say he killed the night of Dec. 30, 1979.

Investigators say the Golden State Killer found the couple in bed, tied them up and eventually shot them both.

In what now-retired investigator Paul Holes suggested was possibly a transformative event for the suspect during a recent TV interview, the Golden State Killer encountered the younger, bigger Sanchez on July 27, 1981.

Sanchez, who was 27, met DeAngelo in the hallway of Domingo's home and was abruptly shot in the face.

But he didn't die, Holes said.

As the killer attacked Domingo, Sanchez regained consciousness and put up a fight.

The killer won and bludgeoned both Domingo and Sanchez to death, but Holes said that the struggle may have forced the killer to reassess his tactics. DeAngelo would have been approaching 40 years old at the time and is shorter than Sanchez. The fight may have scared the suspect into avoiding such risky attacks in the future, Holes said.

Authorities say DeAngelo committed only one more slaying after that fight — five years later in Irvine. Prosecutors say he raped and killed 18-year-old Janelle Cruz in Irvine in 1986. She was home alone.

With the four murder charges filed against DeAngelo on Thursday, the 72-year-old has now been formally accused in all 12 known slayings connected to the Golden State Killer.

Dudley said her office began piecing together a case against DeAngelo shortly after receiving word from Sacramento authorities that they'd taken him into custody April 24.

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"We never stopped hoping or believing an arrest would be made," Dudley said.

Dudley said she alerted Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown, who sent investigators to Sacramento to begin searching for potential ties between DeAngelo and the killings in Southern California. Thus far, investigators and prosecutors have been tight-lipped about their progress, though they say they've had success.

DeAngelo's work and residential history places him in Central and Northern California at the times of a wave of violent crimes in those areas, but ties to him farther south have been more difficult to trace.

For more than 40 years, the man who was once known as the Cordova Cat Burglar, the Visalia Ransacker, the East Area Rapist and then the Original Night Stalker had eluded identification.

It took an innovative — and some say controversial — approach of comparing crime scene DNA to publicly available genealogy databases to home in on a handful of suspects.

Once DeAngelo's name came up, investigators watched him until they surreptitiously obtained two samples of his DNA to compare with their evidence.

The results came back a match, authorities said, and DeAngelo was arrested at his home in a Sacramento suburb. The other suspects were dead ends, officials said.

On Friday, Dudley will host the district attorneys of Sacramento, Orange and Ventura counties to consider if it is feasible, and best, to try DeAngelo in one location for all 12 killings. Dudley declined to say which method she would prefer and said she does not expect to reach a decision at the meeting.

UPDATES:

4:30 p.m.: This article was updated with background and additional comments from the Santa Barbara County district attorney.

This article was originally published at 3:20 p.m.

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