Former police officer turned suspected serial killer Joseph DeAngelo, 72, was arrested in April and he has since been charged with all 12 murders attributed to the Golden State Killer, also referred to as the East Area Rapist.
The crimes he is accused of committing sprawled from Sacramento all the way to Southern California in the 1970s and 1980s, including two in Sacramento County, two in Ventura County and four in Orange County. In addition to the murders, he's also accused of committing about 50 rapes, none of which he has been charged with. For decades, the man behind the crimes remained a mystery. Only recently, police took DNA obtained from one of the elusive killer's crime scenes, which sat in evidence storage for decades, and brought it to the free genealogy site GEDmatch. It matched with the DNA of one of DeAngelo’s relatives, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Police then collected DNA from DeAngelo's trash to confirm the match before his arrest.
Who were his victims?
Brian and Katie Maggiore
Brian and Katie Maggiore, a young married couple, were walking their dog in the Rancho Cordova area of Sacramento at around 7 p.m. on Feb. 2, 1978 when they were shot to death. Police believe that they were shot in someone else's backyard while trying to flee the attacker, according to The Sacramento Bee.
Brian, 21, worked as an administrative specialist at Mather Air Force Base east of Sacramento. Katie was 20. They had been married less than two years. Their friend Susan Conell, who grew up with them told KTXL in Sacramento, “They were so friendly, such good people, came from good families. We just couldn’t understand.”
Conell said the couple had dreams of traveling the world and having a family; aspirations that were tragically destroyed. It wasn’t until 2016 that investigators tied their murders to the East Area Rapist. For years, police thought there were at least two different attackers. Even though this marked the first time he elevated his crimes to murder, it marked the last crimes in the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department’s jurisdiction.
Dr. Robert Offerman and Dr. Debra Alexandra Manning
On Dec. 30, 1979 Dr. Robert Offerman and Dr. Debra Alexandra Manning were found shot dead in Offerman’s condominium in Goleta. Offerman, 44, worked as an orthopedic surgeon, and Manning, 35, was a psychologist. Manning was found dead on a waterbed, her wrists bound behind her with twine. Offerman was at the foot of the bed, also tied up with the same twine but it appeared that he broke free from his restraints before he was murdered, according to Los Angeles Magazine. They were both shot to death.
Charlene and Lyman Smith
On March 13, 1980, Charlene and Lyman Smith were bludgeoned to death inside their Ventura County home after someone broke in in the middle of the night, according to Cold Case. Lyman, 43, was a lawyer who was about to be appointed a Ventura County Superior Court judge and Charlene, 33, was a home decorator.
Lyman served on the governor’s traffic safety board and he even wrote the California law which requires children be placed in child safety seats. His brother Donald Smith told the Idaho State Journal that Lyman “was always looking out for people. He always put kids ahead of himself.”
Sixteen years later, a detective suggested that it may have been the same killer from the other three crime scenes because of how their hands were bound and other similarities: bludgeoning and a break-in during the middle of the night.
Patrice and Keith Harrington
On Aug. 19, 1980, Patrice and Keith Harrington were bludgeoned to death inside their Dana Point home. Patrice, 28, and Keith, 24 lived in a gated community. Keith was a medical student at University of California, Irvine and Patrice worked as a registered pediatric nurse, according to Los Angeles Magazine. They were described as a quiet couple who had only been married for a few months, according to Los Angeles Magazine.
On Feb 26, 1981, Manuela Witthuhn was raped and bludgeoned to death inside the bedroom of her suburban Irvine home. She was a 21-year-old who worked as a loan officer. Her husband was hospitalized at the time of her murder, which cleared him as a suspect.
Cheri Domingo and Gregory Sanchez
On July 27, 1981, Cheri Domingo, 35, and Gregory Sanchez, 27, were murdered in Goleta. Cheri, a mother of two, was house-sitting for her aunt and Gregory, her boyfriend, was visiting. She was bludgeoned to death and he was shot. They both worked with computers and met each other at the same computer technology firm. Domingo’s daughter, Debbie-Domingo-McMullan, said that her mother was her best friend growing up.
Domingo-McMullan told Oxygen.com at CrimeCon that the first year after the muders was tough.
"I kept hoping to hear from detectives saying, 'OK we got this lead or hey we're learning stuff and we're getting close.' And, I never got any kind of communication like that. So within that first year I think my hope just went down the toilet and I spent the next 20 years just sort of resigned to the fact that my mom and Greg's case was a cold case and it was probably never going to be solved. And I just had to kind of learn to accept that and drive on with life."
But, in the early 2000s, everything changed when police told her that the couple's death may be connected to a string of murders. In 2011, detectives from Santa Barbara County took DNA from the murder scene and conducted tests which officially connected Cheri and Sanchez' deaths to the other murders committed by the Golden State Killer.
"So for me that was that was that was cement that was that was a link into this club that nobody really wants to be a part of," Debbi told Oxygen.com.
That club? The club of having family members murdered by a serial killer.
Below, a person holds up a picture of the couple at DeAngelo's arraignment.
On May 4, 1986, Janelle Lisa Cruz, just 18, was raped and bludgeoned to death in Irvine. She was home alone while her family was vacationing in Mexico.
“He bound her, raped her, and bludgeoned her beyond recognition,” her sister Michelle Cruz said at CrimeCon in 2017. “It’s a vision that has haunted me for 30 years.”
Author Michelle McNamara, who wrote “I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer” said in an interview that she’s an intriguing victim because there was a cooling period before her death.
Michelle Cruz told Oxygen.com during a phone interview that she and Janelle were inseparable. Michelle was one year younger than Janelle, just 17 when Janelle was killed.
“Anything that we did, we pretty much did together except for the time that she was murdered,” she said, adding that she was out of town, working at a ski resort on Mammoth Mountain in California.
“Janelle was funny and very charismatic,” Michelle said, adding that her sister reminds her of Marilyn Monroe when she rewatches family video of her. “She’s very soft-spoken and witty but on the other hand she’s the type of person who will speak up for people when they are getting bullied, which she did a lot.”
She said her sister, who was only 5'1" tall, was feisty when she needed to be.
“She wasn’t going to let people mess with the underprivileged,” Michelle said, adding that a former classmate reached out to her last year to tell her that Janelle stuck up for her when she was being harassed in high school.
Michelle was not happy with the way her sister, and their mother, was portrayed in "I'll Be Gone in the Dark." She said that there were inaccuracies about their personal lives, including the allegation that their mother was on drugs.
“My mom was a hardworking hairdresser,” she said. “She worked six days a week and they were very close. It really affected my mother. She has never been the same, ever. After Janelle died, she was so stressed out that her hair began falling out.”
[Photos of Janelle Cruz: Provided by Michelle Cruz]