Police say this 72-year-old man is the notorious Golden State Killer
After more than 40 years, an arrest has been made in the East Area Rapist case.
And for one of his victims who now lives in Sun City, that arrest brought a sense of relief.
The East Area Rapist, also know as the Golden State Killer, the Original Night Stalker and the Diamond Knot Killer, plagued California in the 1970s and 1980s. An official, speaking at a press conference in Sacramento on Wednesday, said he is also linked to the Visalia Ransacker crimes.
He raped at least 50 women and killed 12 people, Anne Marie Schubert, district attorney for Sacramento County, said at the news conference.
His victims ranged in age from 12 to 41.
Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, is charged in four homicides, including the 1978 murders of Brian and Katie Maggiore and the 1980 murders of Lyman and Charlene Smith, according to law enforcement officials speaking at the conference.
The arrest came after investigators made a DNA connection through a "discarded DNA sample." DeAngelo was not a suspect until six days ago, an official said.
"It is fitting that today is national DNA day," said Schubert. "We found the needle in the haystack, and it was right here in Sacramento."
DeAngelo is a former police officer, officials confirmed.
The Sacramento Bee reports DeAngelo was fired from the Auburn Police Department in California in 1979 after being charged with shoplifting a hammer and a can of dog repellant from a Citrus Heights, Calif., store.
The Sacramento Bee reports DeAngelo has lived in his Citrus Heights home since 1983.
Jane Carson-Sandler, now a Sun City resident, was the fifth victim of the East Area Rapist on Oct. 5, 1976.
Carson-Sandler said she received emails Wednesday from two detectives she has kept in touch with over the years informing her of the arrest.
"I just found out this morning," she said. "I'm overwhelmed with joy. I've been crying, sobbing."
Carson-Sandler said DeAngelo is not familiar to her.
"I just can't tell you how I feel," she said. "After 42 years — wow!"
Carson-Sandler has written one book and co-authored another about her attack. She recently appeared on HLN's Unmasking a Killer, a five-part series about the East Area Rapist.
She told The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette last month she hoped that by telling her story and reminding people about the decades-old crime, someone might come forward with information that brought her attacker to justice.
At the time of his attacks, the East Area Rapist was described as a white man, about 5 feet 10 inches tall, with blond or light brown hair and an athletic build.
Investigators had his DNA, and had been searching databases for a match for decades.
He began his spree in the summer of 1976 in the eastern district of Sacramento County. But he struck as far south as Orange County, more than 400 miles away.
The East Area Rapist often burglarized homes before attacking the victims who lived there.
His attacks had an eerie sameness: He began by shining a flashlight in the face of his victims while holding a gun or a knife. He then tied them with string — often shoelaces — he brought with him.
He always spoke through clenched teeth, as if trying to disguise his voice.
He sometimes made comments to his victims about seeing them elsewhere. At first, he only attacked women who were alone or with children. But later, he attacked while men were present, and tied them up, too.
He raped, “ransacked the residence” and took items from the home, according to the FBI. In some cases, he remained in the house for hours after the attack and even cooked meals.
As the number of attacks increased, they grew increasingly violent.
“Citizens were scared, frustrated, and angry that he could not be caught,” Carson-Sandler said in her book “Frozen in Fear,” published in 2014.
The entire Sacramento area was terrorized by a masked man who continued to strike no matter the security measures taken, Carson-Sandler remembers.
“This one man prompted what is believed to have been the most intense manhunt in the county’s history,” the Sacramento Bee reported in June 1981.
A book about the Golden State Killer was published in February by true crime writer Michelle McNamara.
"I'll Be Gone in the Dark" brought a renewed interest to the case, and reached No. 1 on The New York Times' bestseller list. An HBO series based on the book is planned.