Newsletter: Essential California: A Golden State Killer mystery

Joseph James DeAngelo Jr. is suspected of being the Golden State Killer responsible for a string of killings and rapes in the 1970s and ‘80s.
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Wednesday, May 2, and here’s what’s happening across California:


In decades of searching for the Golden State Killer, investigators have been puzzled by one mystery more than many of the others. Why did the attacker, who raped and killed in dozens of neighborhoods in Sacramento, the East Bay and the Central Valley, suddenly veer so far south to Santa Barbara, Ventura and Orange counties? Even after an arrest in the case, the answer to that question remains elusive. The suspect had family in the area, but that might not fully explain it — or explain it at all. Los Angeles Times

— With the Golden State Killer case now in the hands of the court, can DNA finally solve the Zodiac Killer case? Sacramento Bee


— The final hours of what authorities believe was the killer’s final victim, Janelle Cruz. Washington Post

Attorneys for the Los Angeles Times and several other news outlets are suing for court records related to the arrest of the man suspected of being the Golden State Killer and the search of his Citrus Heights home. Los Angeles Times

Big man on campus

Austin Beutner, a philanthropist and former investment banker, on Tuesday was named superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation’s second-largest school system. His selection was the biggest move yet by a Los Angeles school board majority elected with major support from charter school advocates. Los Angeles Times

Steve Lopez has some advice for the new superintendent. Los Angeles Times

Lawsuit No. 32

Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday announced a lawsuit by California and 16 other states against the Trump administration to stop it from rolling back aggressive national fuel economy standards championed by the state. “Trump is definitely running a one-man demolition derby on science, the Clean Air Act and a lot of things we are trying to do,” the governor said. Los Angeles Times

— Why Californians should be worried about the polar ice melts. Los Angeles Times

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At the pier: An Oklahoma company that operates 15 theme and water parks across the country has taken over as operator of the Santa Monica Pier’s amusement park and its nine-story Ferris wheel. “We have nothing specific to announce today but we will continue to make investments in this facility.” Los Angeles Times

They marched: A small but boisterous crowd hit the streets of downtown L.A. for a May Day march and yet another critique of Trump. Los Angeles Times

Onward: Residential development will replace the old Montgomery Ward in Panorama City, part of a larger revitalization effort. Curbed Los Angeles

Ah, memories: L.A. has a new taco burger, and it’s not quite as lame as the school cafeteria name suggests. L.A. Taco


For the birds: A homeless Los Angeles man won a second chance Tuesday to hold the city liable for euthanizing his pet birds. A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals revived a lawsuit by Martino Recchia over the fate of 18 pigeons, a crow and a seagull he kept in boxes and cages in his home on a sidewalk. Los Angeles Times

Lights and sirens: A day of crazy police pursuits, including a motor home driven by a parolee with two of his children on board. Los Angeles Times

The latest: An official autopsy of Stephon Clark, an unarmed black man fatally shot by Sacramento police officers, calls into question the conclusions drawn by an independent doctor hired by the man’s family. Associated Press

Allegations: Eight women have told the journal Science that they were sexually harassed by Salk Institute biologist Inder Verma, allegations that the star researcher denied through his attorney on Tuesday. San Diego Union-Tribune


What an adventure: These two San Francisco Chronicle reporters rode every Muni line in 18 hours and lived to tell about it. “Follow that rickshaw!” San Francisco Chronicle

Housing shortage: Silicon Valley’s rental fever hits new highs, and many say they simply can’t afford it. Mercury News

Where’s the cake? A milestone for Sacramento, which passed the 500,000 population mark. Sacramento Bee

Help needed: Can a civilian oversight panel help L.A. County’s troubled Probation Department? KPCC


Busy, busy: Have tourists made Yosemite unbearable? San Francisco Chronicle

Lend me your ears: Dumbo is flying again at Disneyland. And this time, it’s all happening in the shade. Orange County Register

About that letter: NBC staffers reportedly felt pressured to sign a letter supporting longtime NBC News journalist Tom Brokaw after he was accused of sexual misconduct last week. Los Angeles Times

Rock and roll: Gibson Brands Inc. filed for bankruptcy with a turnaround plan that will give some of the company’s lenders equity ownership of the American business that has supplied guitars to B.B. King, Elvis Presley and Pete Townshend. Bloomberg

Hmm: Kanye West explains himself. Kind of. New York Times


Los Angeles area: partly cloudy, 64, Wednesday; sunny, 68, Thursday. San Diego: cloudy, 63, Wednesday; sunny, 67, Thursday. San Francisco area: sunny, 63, Wednesday; partly cloudy, 61, Thursday. Sacramento: sunny, 81, Wednesday and Thursday. More weather is here.


Today’s California memory comes from Lindie Banks:

“My mother used to take me to the merry-go-round at the Santa Monica Pier. I remember the thrill I got when I got the shiny ring that earned me an extra ride. I loved the music and the joy of feeling the up-and-down movement as we glided around. I felt transported into another world.”

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. Send us an email to let us know what you love or fondly remember about our state. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints and ideas to Benjamin Oreskes and Shelby Grad. Also follow them on Twitter @boreskes and @shelbygrad.