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For families of Golden State Killer victims, a day ‘so long overdue’

Joseph James DeAngelo Jr., 72, was arrested at his home in the Sacramento suburb of Citrus Heights.
(Sacramento District Attorney)

Families of the Golden State Killer’s victims have waited decades for answers, and on Wednesday they could see the face of a man police suspect in a years-long series of crimes.

Authorities arrested a 72-year-old Citrus Heights resident and former police officer, Joseph James DeAngelo Jr., in connection with the crimes in the 1970s and 1980s. Authorities say one man was responsible for 12 killings, 45 rapes and more than 120 residential burglaries between 1976 and 1986.

“It is time for all victims to grieve and to take measure one last time. To bring closure to the anguish that we’ve all suffered for the last 40 some odd years,” said Bruce Harrington, whose brother Keith and sister-in-law Patrice were slain by the Golden State Killer in 1980. “It’s time for the victims to begin to heal. So long overdue.”

Harrington spoke on behalf of the hundreds of friends and relatives across multiple generations who were affected by the rapes and slayings. He credited law enforcement for never giving up the case and praised their “tenacity, their patience, their unrelenting focus.”

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In 2004, Harrington helped move California voters to approve Proposition 69, which mandates DNA be collected from people arrested on suspicion of felonies and some misdemeanors; it is then stored in a state database.

Authorities had linked the slayings through DNA samples from the scenes. Recently they managed to get a sample of DeAngelo’s DNA, which helped shore up their case to arrest him in the killings, officials said.

“Sleep better tonight; he isn’t coming through the window,” Harrington said. “He’s now in jail and he’s history.”

Bruce Harrington's brother Keith and sister-in-law Patrice were slain by the Golden State Killer in 1980.
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press )
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Sacramento District Atty. Anne Marie Schubert noted the pain of the victims’ family when announcing the arrest.

“For over 40 years, countless victims have waited for justice,” she said. “Over these years, hundreds of individuals have sought justice for these victims and their families. Many have dedicated their virtual entire professions to seeking this answer.”

She also noted the killings changed the region.

“For us here in Sacramento, it was a time of innocence in 1976. No one locked their doors, kids rode bikes to school, parents let children play outside… you just needed to be home before dark.”

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“For all of us here in this community …. it all changed,” she added. “For anyone that lived here in this community here in Sacramento the memories are very vivid. you can ask anyone that grew up here — everyone has a story.”

Orange County Dist. Atty Tony Rackauckas added: “Finally, after all these years, the haunting question of who committed these terrible crimes has been put to rest.”


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