Joseph DeAngelo admits to decades-old rapes, burglaries and murders
Golden State Killer Joseph DeAngelo’s victims waited over 40 years for justice.
On Monday morning, Mr. DeAngelo finally admitted to committing 13 counts of murder, burglaries, kidnappings and dozens of rapes in the 1970s and 1980s.
The cases included four murders in Goleta.
Mr. DeAngelo, 74, appeared before Judge Michael G. Bowen in Sacramento County Superior Court.
Judge Bowen held the hearing in a ballroom on the campus of Mr. DeAngelo’s alma mater, Sacramento State. The court limited attendance to attorneys, credentialed media and family members to maintain social distancing guidelines.
“His monikers reflect the sweeping geographical impact of his crimes: the Visalia Ransacker, the East Area Rapist, the Original Night Stalker and the Golden State Killer,” Sacramento County Assistant Chief District Attorney Thienvu Ho said during his introduction to the case.
Court bailiffs escorted Mr. DeAngelo into the courtroom in a wheelchair. He appeared in court alongside his attorneys wearing an orange jumpsuit and clear plastic face shield.
Mr. DeAngelo pleaded guilty to the murders of: Claude Snelling, Kate Maggiore, Brian Maggiore, Debra Alexandria Manning, Robert Offerman, Cheri Domingo, Greg Sanchez, Charlene Smith, Lyman Smith, Patrice Harrington, Keith Harrington and Manuela Witthuhn.
Mr. DeAngelo admitted that he murdered Ms. Manning, Ms. Domingo, Ms. Smith, Ms. Harrington and Ms. Witthuhn during the commission of rape. He admitted he committed many of the murders and rapes during the commission of burglary.
He also admitted to 161 uncharged crimes, including burglary, kidnapping and rape, across Sacramento, Yolo, Stanislaus, Contra Costa, Alameda and Santa Clara counties. Under the terms of the plea agreement, the prosecutors agree not to seek the death penalty and not to file charges for the uncharged crimes.
Judge Bowen will sentence Mr. DeAngelo to 11 consecutive life sentences on Aug. 17. The court will give Mr. DeAngelo’s victims and their families the opportunity to make public statements during the sentencing hearing.
“The time for justice stands in front of us now. In the interest of justice for the victims, the families and the communities which we serve, this place, this plea at this time is in the best interest of the people of the state of California,” Sacramento County prosecutor Amy Holliday said.
Ms. Holiday explained that the plea will provide closure for the families and victims who have waited decades for justice. She added that the COVID-19 pandemic delayed Mr. DeAngelo’s preliminary hearing and limited the availability of courtrooms and jurors.
Mr. DeAngelo appeared frail and disengaged during the hearing. He answered “guilty” or “I admit,” as Judge Bowen read the charges.
However, Mr. Ho pointed out that Mr. DeAngelo has been known to exaggerate or feign “feeble incoherence” when confronted by law enforcement.
Santa Barbara County Chief Assistant District Attorney Kelly Duncan read the facts of the Santa Barbara County cases to Judge Bowen.
Mr. DeAngelo killed Dr. Robert Offerman and Debra Alexandria Manning in Mr. Offerman’s Goleta condominium on Dec. 30, 1979. Mr. Offerman and Ms. Manning planned a tennis match with friends, but when their friends arrived at Mr. Offerman’s residence, they found the pair dead in the bedroom.
Early that day, Mr. DeAngelo broke into Mr. Offerman’s condominium as Mr. Offerman and Ms. Manning slept. He tied their wrists with white nylon cord and raped Ms. Manning. Mr. DeAngelo then shot Ms. Manning in the head.
Mr. Offerman broke free of his restraints and tried to confront Mr. DeAngelo, but Mr. DeAngelo shot him three times. One shot went through Mr. Offerman’s heart and lung, killing him.
Mr. DeAngelo killed Cheri Domingo, 35, and Gregory Sanchez, 27, on July 26, 1981 while they were house-sitting a residence in the 400 block of Toltec Way in Goleta.
Ms. Duncan said the next morning, a real-estate agent found the victims as he prepared to show the house to a potential buyer.
“The realtor tried to use his pass key to open the front door, but the security chain was still engaged from the inside. The realtor walked around the house and found a rear sliding glass door open. He went inside and saw Greg on the bedroom floor obviously deceased and called 911,” Ms. Duncan said.
She said Mr. DeAngelo broke into the house through an unlocked bathroom window. Mr. DeAngelo shot Mr. Sanchez in the face with a handgun. The injured Mr. Sanchez tried to confront Mr. DeAngelo, but Mr. DeAngelo struck Mr. Sanchez in the head with a blunt weapon, killing him.
Mr. DeAngelo then bound, raped and bludgeoned Ms. Domingo.
“The defendant then beat Cheri in the head more than 10 times with the same weapon he used to kill Greg. One of the blows to Cheri’s head caused a large gaping wound and massive skull fracture on the right side of her head which would have caused instantaneous death,” Ms. Duncan said.
In 2011, Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s investigators, with the help from the local state Department of Justice DNA lab, found DNA evidence at the Domingo/Sanchez murder scene matched a number of Sacramento County rapes attributed to the Golden State Killer.
Sacramento County detectives discovered genetic material from multiple crime scenes matched material in an online genealogy database and connected that match to Mr. DeAngelo.
Detectives confirmed the match with DNA taken from a trash can outside Mr. DeAngelo’s Citrus Heights home. He was arrested on April 24. 2018.
“For those who were most severely affected by a violent crime, I saw that a part of them had died, and I wondered if they could ever fully recover,” Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley said in a statement.
“For 30 years, I have also believed that justice delayed is justice denied. Today, I saw so many emotions in the eyes of our victims. What I mostly saw was sadness and rage, but I also saw some signs of peace, which I hope will be the catalyst to spark the beginning of their healing process.”