Neighbors in this Sacramento suburb watched stunned as a ranch house became became a center of the investigation into the notorious Golden State Killer, who preyed on victims across California in the 1970s and 1980s.
The crush of police vehicles, media trucks and yellow crime scene tape stood out in an otherwise quiet neighborhood of cul de sacs and well-maintained two-story homes.
Authorities said the man who lived in the home — 72-year-old Joseph James DeAngelo Jr., -- was arrested in connection with the slayings. Local and federal authorities descended on DeAngelo’s beige, single-story home Tuesday evening and remained there Wednesday morning, when they removed two cars, a boat and a motorcycle from the garage.
The suspect was a police officer in Auburn during the 1970s, but was fired after he was accused of shoplifting a hammer and dog repellent, according to a 1979 newspaper article. He is suspected of committing some crimes while he was still on the force, but his arrest is related to a 1980 double homicide of a Ventura County couple, according to law enforcement sources.
Curious neighbors and visitors lingered to get a look at the spectacle. A blue vinyl tent was erected at the suspect’s garage door. Agents in black “FBI EVIDENCE RECOVERY TEAM” shirts backed up a black pickup truck with a black trailer attached.
Carisa Calnon, 42, a businesswoman from Fair Oaks, drove seven minutes from Fair Oaks to observe the scene. Richelle Taylor, 42, came from Granite Bay, five minutes away.
Richelle is a true crime fan. She’s reading “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark,” late writer Michelle McNamara’s recently published book about the Golden State Killer, although she had to take a break because she was so disturbed by it. She also listens to the “My Favorite Murder” podcast and was familiar with the case in that way. “I assumed he was down south—or dead,” Richelle said.
Carisa said she grew up around here. She and her family moved here from Germany in 1979, right when “everything was happening” around the case. Her father was in law enforcement, so the case was especially scary to her.
As Carisa and Richelle discussed the case, a driver pulled up in a white car: “What’s happening?” They said there was a high-profile arrest and the car drove off.
Carisa: “I was watching all the newsfeeds and I said, you know what, this is history. So I came here. I just saw them pull a boat out of the garage.”
“This neighborhood has been around for a long time. It’s very nice, it’s mature, there’s a lot of law enforcement. This guy lives a few blocks away”—she remarked incredulously—“this is everybody’s dream, to catch this guy. And he was right here.”
Richelle said she had just been discussing the case with her mom the other day, reminding her they had lived in Stockton at the time the killer was active there.
“It’s a little surreal,” she said, knowing he lived nearby. Carisa agreed that “surreal” was the right word.
Richelle: “I just had to see it for myself.”
Jack Haddad, 51, a physician, and his wife Hala Doumat, 35, a real estate agent, live just down the street.
Neither said they knew the suspect but Hala said she regularly walks by his house with her three kids. She described the neighborhood as very quiet and friendly. Jack said he’s lived here for six years and is probably the newest to the block.
Hala said she saw officers around 8 a.m. wearing FBI jackets. “I was scared,” she said.
Just two weeks ago, the couple had watched a documentary on the Golden State Killer. Jack said he was shocked it had taken so long to solve the case.
“I have mixed feelings,” Jack said of the arrest. “If something so horrific can happen so close to you, anything goes.”