Natalia Bedes-Correnti and her husband had nicknamed their cantankerous neighbor “freak” after hearing one too many expletives shouted across Citrus Heights’ quiet streets.
Joseph James DeAngelo’s ire was never directed at anybody in particular as far as Bedes-Correnti could tell, but instead constituted bursts of anger out of frustration.
He couldn’t find his keys or something was out of place so he’d shout out the F-word as he dug through his old Toyota sedan’s back seats, she said.
“A lot of the neighbors know that about Joe – that he was a screamer and a curser,” Bedes-Correnti said. “We had nicknamed him ‘freak,’ my husband and I. He used to have temper tantrums.”
They expressed shock that authorities charged DeAngelo as being the notorious Golden State Killer, who terrorized Sacramento and other communities with a series of attacks in the 1970s and 1980s.
Bedes-Correnti and her husband have lived in Citrus Heights’ Willow Oak neighborhood for more than 20 years, where they count themselves among a generation of longtime homeowners who have shared Fourth of July fireworks in cul de sacs and watched each other’s children grow up and move out.
DeAngelo was there before Bedes-Correnti and her husband moved in. The couple left San Diego for work and moved across the street and one home down from the former police officer in the late ’90s. In the years since their arrival, Bedes-Correnti’s impression of DeAngelo has been whittled down to a couple of peculiarities.
The first was the swearing.
“If we were outside doing yardwork or whatever, he’d start screaming or yelling or cursing. We would always go back inside like, ‘Ugh.’ I was just like, ‘You don’t know where that can lead let’s just go back inside,’” Bedes-Correnti said. “The F-word was his favorite. ‘F’ing keys.’
“The second was his lawn. I used to wave as I drove by. He would wave back. He was outside a lot – he was very meticulous about his yard,” she said. “He had some decorative rocks on the lawn. He’d get down on his hands and knees and trim around each rock by hand. And he mowed. He kept up that lawn meticulously.”
But other than that, Bedes-Correnti said, nothing was memorable about DeAngelo as a neighbor.
He had a fishing boat, a dirt bike and an old Toyota. She said DeAngelo was handy and even set his own concrete in the front yard.
“Obviously he was spookin’ poor Paul,” Bedes-Correnti said with a chuckle. “It was probably one of those persons doing surveillance.”
DeAngelo also asked Bedes-Correnti a few years ago if she was interested in selling her Toyota Echo -- he was looking for a reliable vehicle for his daughter. She turned him down.
“He’s a Toyota guy,” she said.
DeAngelo lived with his adult daughter and granddaughter, Bedes-Correnti said. She has not seen either of them in weeks.
A New York native, DeAngelo graduated from Folsom High School outside Sacramento in June 1964 and joined the Navy that September, according to an August 1973 article in the Exeter Sun. He did his naval training in San Diego.
He served 22 months in combat in Vietnam, including duty on the gun line off North Vietnam.
Sean Ragan, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Sacramento office, said DeAngelo’s stints as a police officer in Exeter, near Visalia, and Auburn, near Sacramento, took place about the time of some of the slayings he is accused of occurred. The Auburn Journal reported in a front-page article on Aug. 29, 1979, that DeAngelo had been dismissed from the Auburn police force for stealing a can of dog repellent and a hammer from a Sacramento drugstore.
More recently, he worked for Save Mart Supermarkets.