He lived a quiet life in the suburbs, raised three daughters and was cooking a roast when agents arrested him.
This was the seemingly ordinary life of Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, a Vietnam War veteran and former police officer who is now the suspected Golden State Killer.
Authorities arrested DeAngelo last week for a California crime spree in the 1970s and '80s that included at least 12 homicides and about 50 rapes. The Golden State Killer evaded the law for decades, becoming one of the most mysterious serial killers in history.
During that time, DeAngelo appeared to live a normal life focused on his family and modest hobbies, according to those who knew him.
"I'm in disbelief. It's difficult to think about," his sister Becky Thompson told The Los Angeles Times. She called her brother "the kindest, gentlest man with his children."
DeAngelo was married for years to Sharon Huddle, an attorney, and the couple raised three children, one of whom is now an emergency room physician. The couple lived in suburbs throughout California before separating at some point.
Huddle's brother, James Huddle, told Oxygen.com that DeAngelo was a "good father" who never showed anything sinister in his behavior, although he said DeAngelo once asked him about the serial rapes in the '70s.
But others noticed a dark side emerging over the years. One neighbor, Natalia Bedes-Correnti, told the Los Angeles Times she and her husband started calling DeAngelo "freak" after hearing him shout expletives in their quiet Citrus Heights neighborhood.
“A lot of the neighbors know that about Joe — that he was a screamer and a curser,” she said, noting that he was a handy and meticulous homeowner who set his own concrete in the front yard. She said she suspects authorities are "probably going to look under those slabs."
Grant Gorman lived with his family in the house behind DeAngelo’s as a child and described his former neighbor as being “paranoid” and “angry.” On one occasion, Gorman recalled, DeAngelo left an anonymous voicemail threatening to kill their family’s dog for being too loud.
“It said, ‘If you don’t shut that dog up, I’ll deliver a load of death.’ My dad immediately recognized the voice on the message as our next door neighbor, Joe,” Gorman told ABC News. When Gorman’s father confronted DeAngelo about the message, Gorman said DeAngelo admitted that he had left it and was unrepentant.
The retired police officer was also paranoid, with Gorman explaining, “He’d accuse us kids here of spying on him in the backyard. Accused us of throwing things at the house or being on his property.”
After working as a police officer and then a truck mechanic, DeAngelo retired last year. He was working on a woodworking project in his garage last week when federal and local agents descended on his home, according to the Times. As they took him into custody, he reportedly asked if he could take out a roast he had cooking inside his house.
DeAngelo has been charged with four murders and could face dozens of additional charges for killings, rapes and burglaries linked to the Golden State Killer.
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