It was justice long overdue for a man one prosecutor calls "the real-life Hannibal Lecter."
The man prosecutors say was the "Golden State Killer" pled guilty Monday to killing 13 people, including six on the Central and South Coasts, plus confessing to more than 160 other charges.
Joseph James DeAngelo was responsible for a two decade long statewide crime spree which left communities terrorized. He burglarized homes, sexually assaulted more than 50 women, and killed 13 people during the 1970s and 80s.
Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert helped spearhead the joint prosecution of the former police officer. She says he was a psychopath, and called him a real-life Hanibal Lecter
Prosecutors had sought the death penalty for the now-74-year-old man. DeAngelo agreed to plea guilty to 13 murder counts, and 13 felony counts of kidnapping in exchange for a life without the possibility of parole sentence. As part of the deal, he also admitted to dozens of other crimes that he could no longer legally be prosecuted for, because too much time had elapsed.
It was a difficult day for family and friends of the victims, as many details of the crimes committed by the so-called “Golden State Killer” were recounted. Over and over, horrific crimes were detailed by prosecutors.
So many people wanted to be on hand for the court hearing, it was moved from a Sacramento courtroom to an auditorium at Sacramento State University.
It was a cold case for decades, but DNA evidence led to the arrest of the Sacramento man in 2018.
He was accused of six killings on the South Coast. In 1979, Robert Offerman and Debra Alexandra Manning were shot to death at Offerman's condominium in Goleta.
In 1980, DeAngelo killed Lyman and Charlene Smith of Ventura. Then, in 1981, Cheri Domingo and Gregory Sanchez were attacked, and murdered. They were attacked in Domingo's home on Toltec Way in Goleta. It was just a few block away from Offerman’s condominium.
Prosecutors initially decided to seek the death penalty. Ventura County District Attorney Greg Totten says they realized that a trial could take years, and that the 74 year old man probably won't live through it. They wanted victims to see justice.l
The prosecutor says they are pleased to be able to bring a resolution to the cases, especially for the benefit of the families of those who died, and all of the other victims who have been living with this for decades.
DeAngelo will be formally sentenced in August. At that time, victims, and the families of victims will have the chance to talk to the man who damaged and destroyed so many lives.