The man authorities believe terrorized California for decades as the long-elusive Golden State Killer, has been cleared of one of the many murders he's been linked to.
Joseph DeAngelo did not kill 14-year-old Donna Jo Richmond in 1975, prosecutors said on Tuesday, according to the Associated Press.
DNA testing excluded him as a suspect in her murder. Instead, it confirmed the man already convicted of her murder was in fact responsible.
Richmond disappeared the day after Christmas 1975 while going for a bike ride near Exeter. Her body was later found in an orange grove. She had been strangled, beaten and stabbed 17 times.
DeAngelo worked as a police officer in Exeter in the 1970s and his high-profile arrest last year prompted prosecutors to review the conviction of Oscar Clifton, a carpenter and painter who served life in jail for kidnapping and murdering the teen. He died behind bars in 2013.
His conviction, which also included attempted rape, relied heavily on the fact that his invoice book was found under the victim’s bike, according to the Fresno Bee.
Although it had been speculated that DeAngelo could have framed Clifton, DNA appears to show otherwise.
Semen left behind at the scene did not match DeAngelo’s DNA, according to the Fresno Bee report.
"I am again confident, just as this office was the previous times we reviewed the case, that the countless hours of report analysis, evidence evaluation, court transcripts, and DNA evaluation solidifies that Oscar Clifton tragically and violently ended the life of Donna Jo Richmond in an orange grove the day after Christmas in 1975," District Attorney Tim Ward said in a statement on Tuesday.
Last year, DeAngelo was charged with 13 murders and 18 of the more than 50 rapes he’s accused of committing. Law enforcement believes that he is also behind the Visalia Ransacker crime spree. Visalia is located not far from Exeter.
In October, lawyers and law students stated publicly that they believe DeAngelo could be linked to even more of murders than the 13 he is accused of committing. One such homicide is the 1978 case of 34-year-old Patricia Neufeld in Garden Grove, California, according to CBS 13 in Sacramento. She was a young mother who was bludgeoned to death by a bowling pin. Another is the rape and bludgeoning death of Joan Anderson in Fountain Valley. She was bludgeoned with a hammer in 1979, according to the Los Angeles Times.
DeAngelo has not been charged with either Neufeld or Anderson’s deaths.
The lawyers and law students did not appear to try to link DeAngelo to Richmond’s death.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
[Photo: Associated Press]
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