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Golden State Killer’s ex-fiancee joins long line of victims confronting him in court

Joseph James DeAngelo Jr., the Golden State Killer, has admitted to multiple murders and rapes.
Joseph James DeAngelo Jr., dubbed the Golden State Killer, has admitted committing more than a dozen murders and 50 rapes.
(Santiago Mejia / San Francisco Chronicle)

Through tears and anger, with trembling hands and fierce glares, victims again appeared in court Wednesday to confront the serial rapist — the assailant known as the Golden State Killer — who upended their lives four decades ago.

Accompanying them was the woman whose name Joseph James DeAngelo Jr. cursed during at least one of his attacks, his college sweetheart.

Bonnie Ueltzen was not allowed to speak in court since she wasn’t among the victims of the murders, rapes and other crimes DeAngelo admitted committing.

But the woman who had been briefly engaged to him in the early 1970s stood Wednesday in silent confrontation.

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At 19, Ueltzen broke off the engagement because of what she said was her increasing fear and unease. Days later, DeAngelo showed up at night at her bedroom window, seeking to abduct her at gunpoint for a Nevada wedding, until her father intervened and sent him away.

A decade later, police reported that DeAngelo repeatedly said, “I hate you Bonnie,” during a 1978 rape, the 37th attack.

Ueltzen, 69, had been invited to the hearing by Jane Carson-Sandler, the fifth rape victim of the assailant who was then known as the East Area Rapist and later dubbed the Golden State Killer. Carson-Sandler had hoped having Ueltzen by her side would jolt DeAngelo into finally acknowledging the victims of his crimes.

“DeAngelo, I want you to look at me ... and I want you to remember what I say,” Carson-Sandler commanded as she began her impact statement.

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But as he has done for two years of court proceedings, he kept his eyes straight ahead, focused on a blank spot on a wall.

To an early love interest, Joe DeAngelo was energetic and worldly. Now, nearly 50 years later, he stands accused of an extended spasm of violence — home invasions, rapes, murders — in the 1970s and ’80s.

“I may have been one of your victims, DeAngelo, but you know what? Now I am a survivor-thriver. ... Yes, evil one, I turned my pain into power and my mess into a message,” Carson-Sandler continued.

“One quarter of me, being a Christian, I want to say to you, ‘May God have mercy on your soul,’” Carson-Sandler said. “Then there is another three-quarters of me that want to say to you, ‘Buddy, just rot in hell.’”

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The impact statements are part of an extraordinary three days of hearings that began Tuesday, leading up to sentencing on Friday.

DeAngelo, 74, has admitted to killing 13 people, starting with a Visalia college instructor seeking to thwart the abduction of his daughter in 1975, and ending with the rape and murder of a teenage girl in Orange County in 1986. His plea deal includes 53 attacks on 87 victims in 11 counties, including 50 rapes, but leaves out two sexual attacks and a shooting that also have been blamed on him.

Family members of those who were murdered are to make their impact statements on Thursday.

As part of a plea agreement with prosecutors, DeAngelo is to be sentenced Friday to 26 life sentences plus eight years, 11 of those life terms to run consecutively. To accommodate as many victims as wish to attend, the hearing will be held in a ballroom at Cal State Sacramento, the university where DeAngelo graduated with a criminal justice degree half a century before.

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At the start of the violence, DeAngelo served as a small-town police officer in Tulare and Placer counties. He became a father, married to a woman who became a prominent women’s rights lawyer. He eventually was fired from policing after being caught shoplifting dog repellent, and he took up a quiet life as a truck mechanic in the Sacramento suburbs.

DeAngelo’s slack expression in court hearings and his current use of a wheelchair have also needled prosecutors, who on Monday asked a judge for permission to play in court jailhouse videos that showed that the 74-year-old inmate was both animated and agile. Judge Michael Bowman refused them.

Victims of Joseph James DeAngelo Jr. will spend three days telling the court about the impact of his crimes before he is sentenced Friday.

A growing number of victims complained Wednesday that the same lack of communication between counties that hindered police efforts to capture DeAngelo in the 1970s and 1980s persists.

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“I have never been informed ... never an email, text message or phone call,” said Joanne Miyao, castigating the Santa Clara district attorney’s office for leaving her largely unaware of the proceedings. “It is wrong that victims were left in the dark.”

And for the second straight day, victims of his serial rapes declared victory over their attacker.

“I would like Mr. DeAngelo to meet the woman he violated... who he may have thought he broke but did not,” said Miyao, the victim of his 42nd rape attack, describing herself as “a survivor.”

“As for forgiveness, I am not there yet. I am not sure I can get there,” she said.

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Others told the judge they wished DeAngelo could be sentenced to death. Some, like Bob Hardwick, who was bound during the rape of his future wife, Gay, laid out a fantasy punishment that included near-nightly attacks by fellow prison inmates, doing to DeAngelo what he had done to his scores of victims.

“It is imperative for justice to be achieved and these attacks to continue for the rest of his life,” Hardwick said. “So I say this one thing, to future inmates of Joe DeAngelo, if you are listening, please remember what I have said.”


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