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A suspect has finally been arrested in the unsolved case of a serial killer and rapist in California in the 1970s and 1980s known as the Golden State Killer, the New York Times reports. Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, was arrested early on Wednesday morning on two accounts of murder, according to Sacramento County jail records. The Golden State Killer reportedly killed 12 people, raped 45, and burglarized more than 120 homes in multiple Californian communities from Sacramento to Orange County between 1976 and 1986.
The Golden State Killer also went by a couple other names, notably East Area Rapist and Original Night Stalker. His victims tended to be women who were home alone or with their children, but after some time, the list expanded to include husbands and wives. It has been 40 years since the first recorded attacks, and no one has ever been identified as a suspect in the case, according to CNN. The crimes began in the Sacramento area, and his first homicide is believed to be a Sacramento-area couple in 1978, but there are unsolved cases up and down the state with his traces.
"Over the years, we heard of homicides down in Southern California, and we thought it was the East Area Rapist," Larry Crompton, retired detective for Contra Costa County Sheriff's Department, told CNN. "But he would not leave fingerprints, so we could not prove, other than his M.O., that he was the same person. We did not know anything about DNA."
Two years ago, the FBI announced a $50,000 reward for any information that could lead to the serial killer’s arrest and conviction. The FBI described him as a white male, close to six feet tall, with long or light brown hair.
"We have his DNA," Paul Holes, who investigated the case for the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office, said. "If we find the right guy, we will know we got the Golden State Killer. This is a solvable case."
The mystery surrounding the identity of the serial killer has remained alive in the past decades. "The sheriff's department never gave up on this investigation," Detective Paul Belli of the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department said in 2016.
The case was further explored by comedian Patton Oswalt’s former wife Michelle McNamara's book, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, which was finished after her death in April 2016. Oswalt took to his Instagram on Wednesday to react to the news.
“I think you got him, Michelle,” he said.
A post shared by Patton Oswalt (@balvenieboy) on Apr 25, 2018 at 6:15am PDT
As Oswalt mentions in his video, Sacramento district attorney Anne Marie Schubert and Sheriff Scott Jones will provide more details during a press conference scheduled for 12 p.m. Sacramento local time.
If they’ve really caught the #GoldenStateKiller I hope I get to visit him. Not to gloat or gawk — to ask him the questions that @TrueCrimeDiary wanted answered in her “Letter To An Old Man” at the end of #IllBeGoneInTheDark. pic.twitter.com/32EHSzBct5— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) April 25, 2018