Records: DNA from tissue in trash can led to Golden State Killer arrest

Joseph James DeAngelo appears in Sacramento Superior Court, Friday, June 1, 2018, in Sacramento, Calif. He is suspected in at least a dozen killings and roughly 50 rapes in the 1970s and '80s. (José Luis Villegas/The Sacramento Bee via AP, Pool)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — DNA from a tissue left in a trash can led authorities in April to arrest a former police officer suspected of being California’s notorious, elusive Golden State Killer, according to warrants released Friday.

This undated law enforcement photo provided by the Sacramento County, Calif., Sheriff’s Office shows Joseph James DeAngelo. DeAngelo, a suspected California serial killer who committed at least 12 homicides and 45 rapes throughout the state in the 1970s and ’80s was identified April 25, 2018, as a former police officer, an official said. | Photo courtesy Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office via The Associated Press, St. George News

Documents released by a judge at the request of news outlets detail the case Sacramento County sheriff’s investigators pieced together to obtain arrest and search warrants for 72-year-old Joseph DeAngelo, who is facing murder charges in multiple counties.

DeAngelo is suspected of committing at least a dozen killings and roughly 50 rapes in the 1970s and ’80s.

The documents also offer a window into the crimes that terrorized California.

After investigating for more than 40 years, police zeroed in on DeAngelo by using genealogical websites to identify potential relatives of the killer based on DNA collected at a crime scene.

Investigators used DNA from a semen sample collected at the double murder of Lyman and Charlene Smith in 1980 in Ventura County to find one of DeAngelo’s relatives and eventually the suspect himself, according to the warrants.

After identifying DeAngelo as a suspect, investigators followed him to a store outside Sacramento and took a swab from the door handle of a car he exited. That sample didn’t immediately lead to an arrest.

The use of so-called “touch DNA” — collected when only a few human cells are left behind when someone touches an object — has raised controversy among forensic experts.

Three days later, investigators collected trash from cans left outside DeAngelo’s home in Citrus Heights, California.

A piece of tissue plucked from the trash proved to be the piece of evidence they needed to obtain an arrest warrant, according to the documents.

DeAngelo was arrested several days later and has since been charged with 12 counts of murder in Sacramento, Ventura, Santa Barbara and Orange counties. Prosecutors haven’t yet decided where he’ll be tried.

Defense attorney Joe Cress stands next to his client Joseph James DeAngelo appears in Sacramento Superior Court, Sacramento, Calif., June 1, 2018 | Photo by José Luis Villegas/The Sacramento Bee via Associate Press, Pool, St. George News

Investigators have searched DeAngelo’s house, vehicles and storage locker, as well as his computer and cellphone. It’s not clear what was recovered from DeAngelo because a judge ruled that those records should remain sealed.

Authorities said the Golden State Killer stole dozens of rings, watches, cufflinks and tie pins over the years that detectives hoped to find, along with an odd assortment of items including women’s purses, cameras, jewelry made from coins, china, a clock radio and a wooden bowl. He also took drivers’ licenses, photographs and other identification from his victims, according to the documents.

Detectives also hoped the killer might have kept three blunt objects containing blood, tissue and hair from four victims who were beaten to death. One of the weapons is described as “possibly a metal sprinkler head.”

The heavily redacted affidavits show a chilling pattern of behavior. Neighbors reported numerous silent or lewd phone calls before the double murder of Brian and Katie Maggiore in Sacramento in 1978.

A 25-year-old woman in the neighborhood reported finding shoeprints outside her bedroom window and drawings in what appeared to be bodily fluids, according to the affidavit.

The Maggiores were shot while on a walk one evening. The attacker then fled, running through multiple neighbors’ yards. To one, he said, “excuse me, I’m trespassing,” the documents state.

The killer was prone to “explosive violence” when cornered and, once confronted by police or neighbors, he tended to never again attack within that same jurisdiction, the documents said.

Descriptions provided by those neighbors helped investigators draw their first composite sketch of the killer.

Written by KATHLEEN RONAYNE, Associated Press. Associated Press writers Don Thompson and Sophia Bollag and Michael Balsamo in Los Angeles contributed.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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  • comments June 2, 2018 at 5:22 pm

    It actually still bothers me to know that creatures that are supposedly human can be so evil. It baffles the mind. 50 rapes and 12 murders, and like they say, it probably is a lot more than that in actuality. hmm…

    • comments June 2, 2018 at 5:25 pm

      another interesting thing: when creatures like this breed they actually do pass on the natural predisposition to psychopathy. It’s actually a genetic trait. That’s why psychopaths can’t be fixed. It’s hardwired into their DNA.

      • Carpe Diem June 2, 2018 at 5:44 pm

        I’ve read this monster was subjected to witnessing his sister being raped while he was 7 or so. I can’t imagine it, but if true it appears to have jump started some serious evil.

        • comments June 2, 2018 at 6:51 pm

          Like I say, it runs in families.

          • comments June 2, 2018 at 7:03 pm

            I’ve not heard anything about that, but that’s assuming the perpetrator of these rapes was… a relation. They actually can’t be fixed with any amount of therapy. There is actually nothing to be “rehabilitated” because their brains are genetically malformed to make them a psychopath. I wouldn’t actually classify them as human even. I’d classify them as rather “a creature”–more of a demon if anything. The only fix for psychopathy is death. These are creatures born with no conscience. As far as to why nature or God made such things is anyone’s guess, but psychopaths need to be rooted out and exterminated. It isn’t an easy process because they are often very cleaver and very good at hiding their nature, but maybe future technology will allow for such. Witness traumatic events can never “make” someone a psychopath. They are simply born that way. In this creature’s lineage there were probably other creatures that showed the traits of psychopathy. It’s much more common in males than females. As to the specifics in how the genetic traits are passed along I’m not versed in this. But it is a real shame these types of creatures live among us, and even look human, but I’m quite sure they are not.

          • ladybugavenger June 3, 2018 at 12:00 pm

            You’ve heard God is good. God is good. He gives us all a free will. Unfortunately many chose evil. Evil comes in all forms. From lying to the obvious rape and murder. Unfortunately, far more choose evil than God.

            You call it genetics, I call it demons that have not been faught and are passed down. It’s a warfare.

            Happy Sunday! God bless you all. There was a time in my life that “atheist Bob” would have said I should have been aborted. Thank you Jesus for saving me and not giving up on me ❤
            Thank you Jesus for saving me

          • comments June 3, 2018 at 1:18 pm

            Thankfully I’ve never had to advise anyone to get an abortion. I’d prefer there to never be abortions, but I will continue to be a supporter of it for my very politically incorrect reasons.

            The levels of evil by creatures like this in the article are actually demonic. Trying to explain it with religion is more confusing than anything. Why would an all powerful Jesus/God let these sort of demons run loose and victimize people for so long, and then get away with what they did and retain their freedom for so long? There truly is evil out there, but religion does a poor job of explaining it. Goofy old mythology with magical Jesuses and such may bring comfort to some, and good for them, I suppose. It doesn’t help me to understand it though. Religion is far too schizophrenic and to close to delusional. But I still don’t like atheist ideology at all–it can be disgusting.

          • ladybugavenger June 3, 2018 at 9:51 pm

            I completely understand your reasons about religions. Especially since you were involved, at one point, in a cult.

            “atheist” Bob, you may think I’m religious because I love Jesus, but I’m not religious at all and I share some of your views about “religions”

            Just know religion cant save anybody

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