The suspected Golden State Killer once asked his brother-in-law what he thought about the California crime spree and what he would do if he confronted the man responsible for it, the relative told Oxygen.com Wednesday.
James Huddle, whose sister married Joseph James DeAngelo, did not know DeAngelo had been arrested in the serial killer case until speaking with an Oxygen.com reporter.
"Oh my goodness," he said. "Wow. I'll have to process this."
DeAngelo has been charged with two murders in Sacramento and is the suspect in a years-long crime spree that included at least 12 killings and nearly 50 rapes.
Huddle described DeAngelo, a 72-year-old former police officer, as a "good father" who was into guns and ammunition as a hobby. He said DeAngelo and his wife raised three daughters, and were separated at some point.
Calls to Huddle's sister were not immediately returned.
The Golden State Killer is also known as the East Area Rapist, the name used for the suspect in a series of rapes around the same time as the California killings.
Huddle recalled DeAngelo once casually bringing up the East Area Rapist case in the early 1970s.
"He actually asked me about it once," Huddle told Oxygen.com. "He said, 'What do you think of that East Area Rapist? What would you do, Jim?'"
Huddle said he told DeAngelo that he'd attack the rapist if he caught him.
The case "was a big deal at the time," Huddle said. "We were all concerned about our families."
He said DeAngelo never again mentioned the case.
DeAngelo once served as a cop for the Auburn Police Department. Huddle said DeAngelo recently worked as a truck mechanic until he retired last year.
He said DeAngelo was into "normal" hobbies, such as fishing and model airplanes, and also "guns and reloading ammunition." But he said he never noticed anything sinister about DeAngelo's behavior.
The rapes and murders terrorized California from 1978 to 1986. The Golden State Killer remained one of the elusive serial killers in modern history, with no suspects named or arrested until Wednesday.
Listen to our Martinis & Murder episodes on the case:
[Photo: Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office]