Prosecutors say Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, is the Golden State Killer.
Investigators believe he may be linked to 12 murders, 45 rapes, and 120 burglaries that happened between 1976 and 1986
His arraignment is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. ET.
This is going to be a complicated case in terms of jurisdiction. The Golden State Killer has been linked to crimes in 12 counties across California. District attorneys from all over the state were present when authorities announced DeAngelo’s arrest on Wednesday. Even the FBI was involved. Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert declined to answer questions about how this precisely will make its away through the court system.
If successful, authorities will give closure to numerous victims and their families. The most recent crime attributed to the Golden State killer–the rape and murder of 18-year-old Janelle Lisa Cruz–happened in 1986.
That isn’t to say that DeAngelo lacks a credible defense. Attorneys will likely debate over whether prosecutors tracked him down in a constitutional manner. Steve Grippi, the assistant chief deputy in the Sacramento district attorney’s office, said Thursday that they took DNA left by the suspect at crime scene, and put it in an online genealogy database, and found a match with DeAngelo’s relatives.
“We found a person that was the right age and lived in this area — and that was Mr. DeAngelo,” Grippi said, according to The New York Times.
Schubert had said they got “abandoned” DNA directly from DeAngelo. Generally, this practice is constitutional–In the 1988 U.S. Supreme Court case California v. Greenwood, justices ruled that it didn’t violate the Fourth Amendment to search garbage left for collection outside a home. But the fact that they left put the DNA on genealogy website touches on legal complications. Law&Crime‘s Aaron Keller examined that issue here.
[Mugshot via Sacramento County]