Joseph James DeAngelo Biography

Joseph James DeAngelo, also known as the ‘Golden State Killer,’ ‘East Area Rapist,’ ‘Visalia Ransacker,’ and ‘Diamond Knot Killer,’ is an American serial killer, rapist, and burglar currently facing trials for his heinous crimes. With a background as a former police officer, DeAngelo instilled fear in the minds of the public in California and surrounding areas for over a decade. Despite being suspended from the police department for theft, he managed to evade suspicion while working at a grocery store distribution center for 25 years. However, thanks to advancements in DNA testing technology, officials were finally able to track down DeAngelo after more than 40 years, bringing justice to his victims.

Quick Facts

  • Nick Name: East Area Rapist, Golden State Killer, Diamond Knot Killer, Original Night Stalker
  • Girlfriend: Bonnie Colwell (ex)
  • Also Known As: Visalia Ransacker, East Area Rapist, Original Night Stalker, Golden State Killer
  • Age: 78 Years, 78 Year Old Males
  • Family: Spouse/Ex-: Sharon Marie Huddle, siblings: Connie Ryland, John DeAngelo, Rebecca Thompson
  • Born Country: United States
  • Height: 1.78 m
  • Education: Sacramento State University

Childhood & Early Life

Joseph James DeAngelo was born on November 8, 1945, in Bath, New York, to Joseph James DeAngelo Sr. and Catherine Louise DeGroat. He has two sisters, Rebecca and Connie, and a brother, John. At the age of 9, DeAngelo witnessed the horrific rape of his sister, Connie, by two men.

DeAngelo attended the ‘Mills Middle School,’ in Rancho Cordova, for his early studies. In 1964, he graduated from the ‘Folsom High School.’ Thereafter, he joined the U.S. Navy. He served as a damage control man in the ship, ‘USS Canberra,’ during the Vietnam War.

In 1968, DeAngelo joined the ‘Sierra College’ and graduated with a degree in police science. In 1971, he joined the ‘Sacramento State University,’ and secured a graduation in criminal justice. He completed an internship at Roseville Police Department.


Joseph James DeAngelo served as a police officer in Exeter, from 1973 to 1976. In 1976, he was promoted to the post of sergeant, and was in charge of the ‘Joint Attack on Burglary’ program, organized by Exeter Police Department. From 1976 to 1979, he served in Auburn, Sacramento. While working there, he was arrested for shoplifting, when he was found stealing a hammer and dog repellent from a store. After the incident, DeAngelo was expelled from the police force.

There is no information about his life (for a decade) after his dismissal from police department. From 1990 to 2017, he worked as a truck mechanic at a distribution centre for the store, ‘Save Mart Supermarkets.’

DeAngelo began his criminal activities as early as 1974, when he was still in the police service. He was responsible for one murder, and several burglaries, that were committed in and around Visalia. The local media named the suspect as ‘Visalia Ransacker.’ His method of operation was breaking into houses, stealing low priced items and coins, leaving behind valuable things, and scattering the clothing and other items around the house.

Around 1976, DeAngelo started committing bigger crimes, and moved from burglaries to rape. He changed his area of operation too. He moved to Sacramento, and started targeting women who lived alone. DeAngelo selected houses, which had open spaces nearby, so that he could escape quickly. The attacker was given the nickname, ‘East Area Rapist.’

DeAngelo became bolder with every new crime. He attacked couples, blindfolded them, and tied them with shoestrings. After raping the female victims, he spent hours at the house, and consumed the food from their kitchen. His method was to leave the place stealthily, leaving his victims in doubt and confusion.

In the early 1980s, Joseph James DeAngelo started murdering his rape victims. His first victims were a couple who were walking their dog in the area where ‘East Area Rapist’ committed his crimes. The police suspected the hands of ‘East Area Rapist’ behind the murder. DeAngelo murdered his victims by shooting or bludgeoning them. He earned the name, ‘Original Night Stalker,’ during this period.

For over 40 years, the police were unable to capture this monster behind the hideous crimes that terrorized the public of California. DNA testing from several scenes of crime led them to the conclusion that the ‘East Area Rapist’ and ‘Original Night Stalker’ were the same individuals. To increase public awareness about this mass murderer, crime writer Michelle McNamara coined the name, ‘Golden State Killer.’

On April 24, 2018, DeAngelo was arrested in connection with crimes spanning over several decades. He was charged with eight counts of first-degree murder. He was found to be connected with 13 murders, more than 50 rapes, and over 100 burglaries. Several of the earlier crimes committed by him were covered under the law of limitations. It was a DNA analysis that helped the police in identifying the suspect. Police kept a watchful eye on DeAngelo for four months before the arrest. They collected his DNA sample from a tissue in his trash can, as well as from the door handle of his car.

Personal Life

In 1970, Joseph James DeAngelo was engaged to Bonnie Colwell, who was his classmate, but the two did not marry. It is reported that DeAngelo shouted the words, “I hate you, Bonnie,” after committing one of his murders. In 1973, DeAngelo married Sharon Marie Huddle, who later attended the law school, and became an attorney. The couple had three daughters. They divorced in 1991. At the time of his arrest, DeAngelo was living with his daughter and granddaughter.

After his arrest, DeAngelo was presented before the court. After reviewing his financial assets, the judge pronounced the ruling that DeAngelo is incapable of affording a private attorney. He will continue to be represented by an attorney appointed by the court. As the trial is expected to last for 10 years or more, the taxpayers will be bearing the burden of the trail.

Leave a Comment