The Visalia Police and the Tulare County District Attorney announced on Monday that Golden State Killer suspect Joseph DeAngelo will be charged for the 1975 murder of Claude Snelling in Visalia, California. They announced that they believe he is the so-called Visalia Ransacker.
The Visalia Police Chief Jason Salazar and Tulare County District Attorney Tim Ward were present at Monday’s press conference.
"We have identified Joseph James DeAngelo as the sole suspect in the Visalia Ransacker series and the Claude Snelling murder,” Salazar said.
Ward said that first-degree murder charges will be filed against DeAngelo for the murder of Snelling.
It has long been suspected that the Golden State Killer and the Visalia Ransacker are one and the same, according to the Los Angeles Times. The Visalia Ransacker burglarized about 100 homes in the small California city of Visalia in 1974 and 1975. One of those burglaries turned deadly on Sept. 11, 1975, when Snelling, a journalism professor, was shot outside his home after he chased after the ransacker, according to the Visalia Times Delta.
DeAngelo has already been charged with murdering 12 people across California in the 1970s and 1980s. He is also suspected of raping more than 50 women and committing over 100 break-ins, but he hasn’t yet been charged for any of those crimes. The Golden State Killer, also known as the East Area Rapist, was known for raping women with their husbands or boyfriends present in the house. Often, he would torture the men by putting dishes on their backs and telling them he’d kill them if they made any noise.
But before the spree of rapes, there was the so-called Visalia Ransacker crime spree.
Before Snelling was shot, his daughter Elizabeth Snelling (now Snelling-Hupp) who was only 16 at the time, believed that the masked suspect tried to abduct her during the break-in.Hupp told told Oxygen's "Golden State Killer: Main Suspect" about the night she was almost abducted by the Visalia Ransacker.
"I woke up to a man laying [sic] on top of me with a ski mask on," Snelling-Hupp said. "And I was very groggy at first, and I was thinking that it was maybe one of my younger brothers. Then when I heard his voice, it was kind of this low, whispery growl, and he said to not scream or he would stab me to death."
She said the attacker told her that she was going to go with him.
"He led me out of the house and he told me to shut up or he would kill me. That's when I looked in the house and I saw my dad had come through the kitchen."
Claude Snelling then let out a roar and charged toward his daughter's abductor, according to her recollection. The Ransacker pushed Snelling-Hupp to the ground before shooting Claude twice.
"And then the guy pointed the gun at me, and I just was crouched in a ball and put my head down and just knew it was going to be over. And instead, he started hitting me in the head with the gun and kicking me, and then he took off running," Snelling-Hupp told "Golden State Killer: Main Suspect."
Ward said that the filing against DeAngelo will help bring justice for Snelling's death.
"Mr. Snelling died trying to save his daughter," he said.
[Photo: Getty Images]