Ex-policeman charged with decades-old serial killings

A photo of accused rapist and killer Joseph James DeAngelo is displayed during a news conference on April 25, 2018 in Sacramento, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/AFP)
Updated 26 April 2018
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Ex-policeman charged with decades-old serial killings

  • The prosecution will consider pushing for DeAngelo to be executed if convicted
  • He currently faces charges of at least 12 murders and 50 rapes

SACRAMENTO, Calif: A man once sworn to protect the public from crime was accused Wednesday of living a double life terrorizing suburban neighborhoods at night, becoming one of California’s most feared serial killers and rapists in the 1970s and ‘80s before leaving a cold trail that baffled investigators.
Former police officer Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, was arrested at his home Tuesday after DNA linked him to crimes attributed to the so-called Golden State Killer and he initially was charged with eight counts of murder and could face dozens more charges, authorities said.
The culprit also known as the East Area Rapist, among other names, is suspected of at least 12 slayings and 50 rapes in 10 counties from Northern to Southern California. The armed and masked prowler sneaked in through windows at night and surprised sleeping victims who ranged in age from 13 to 41.
When encountering a couple, he was known to tie up the man and pile dishes on his back. He threatened to kill both victims if he heard plates crash to the floor while he raped the woman. He then ransacked the house, taking souvenirs, notably coins and jewelry before fleeing on foot or bicycle.
Despite an outpouring of thousands of tips over the years, DeAngelo’s name had not been on the radar of law enforcement before last week, Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert said.
“We knew we were looking for a needle in a haystack, but we also knew that needle was there,” she said. “It was right here in Sacramento.”
A break in the case and the arrest came together in “light speed” during the past six days, Schubert said, though authorities refused to reveal what led to DeAngelo.
Sacramento Sheriff Scott Jones said detectives with “dogged determination” were able to get a sample of DNA from something DeAngelo discarded, though he wouldn’t say what the item was. The genetic material was not a match, but there were enough similarities for investigators to return for more and they said they were able to get a conclusive match.
After watching DeAngelo for several days, deputies took him by surprise Tuesday.

 

I feel like I’m in the middle of a dream and I’m going to wake up and it’s not going to be true,

Victim Jane Carson-Sandler

 

“It looked as though he might have been searching his mind to execute a particular plan he may have had,” but never had time to act, Jones said.
DeAngelo was arrested on suspicion of committing double-killings in Sacramento and Ventura counties and later charged with four counts of murder in Orange County, officials said.
Ventura County District Attorney Gregory Totten said that before prosecutors decide whether to seek the death penalty, there will be a “solemn and formal death review process that typically takes many months before a decision is made.”
DeAngelo, who served in the Navy, was a police officer in Exeter, in the San Joaquin Valley, from 1973 to 1976, at a time a burglar known as the Visalia Ransacker was active, Jones said.
He transferred to the force in Auburn in the Sierra foothills near where he grew up outside Sacramento. About 50 crimes, including two killings, were attributed to the East Area Rapist during the three years DeAngelo worked in Auburn, but Jones said it wasn’t clear if any were committed while on duty.
DeAngelo was fired from the Auburn department in 1979 after being arrested for stealing a can of dog repellant and a hammer from a drug store, according to Auburn Journal articles from the time. He was convicted of the theft and fined $100.
Ten slayings occurred after he was fired and all took place in Southern California.
DeAngelo worked for 27 years in a distribution center for Save Mart Supermarkets in Roseville, a Sacramento-area suburb. He retired last year, said Victoria Castro, spokeswoman for The Save Mart Companies.
“None of his actions in the workplace would have lead us to suspect any connection to crimes being attributed to him,” Castro said in a statement, adding that the company was working with investigators.
Although it’s unusual for serial killers to stop, Jones said they have no reason to think DeAngelo continued to commit crimes after 1986, when the last rape and killing occurred in Orange County.
“We have no indication of any crimes with a similar or at least a close enough link to his MO and other things that he’s done in the past to link him to anything from ‘86 on,” Jones said. “We just have nothing at this point.”
Jones said he always thought the rapist was alive, but might be in prison.

No one thinks they live next door to a serial killer

Neighbor Kevin Tapia

 


For the prosecutors and investigators, the arrest not only marked a significant professional achievement but also a personal one that had touched their formative years and early careers.
Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley was a college student volunteering at a rape crisis center and “sat with survivors who had been assaulted by this guy.”
The wave of horrifying crimes had brought an end to a more innocent era in the Sacramento suburbs when children rode bicycles to school, played outside until dark and people didn’t lock their doors, Schubert said.
“It all changed,” said Schubert, who was 12 at the time. “For anyone that lived here in this community, in Sacramento, the memories are very vivid. You can ask anyone who grew up here. Everyone has a story.”
Totten said he was a young law clerk in the office during the investigation into the 1980 slayings of Lyman and Charlene Smith that “struck terror in the hearts of Ventura residents.”
“We had no idea this killer was connected to so many other crimes,” Totten said.
In 1999, Orange County sheriff’s homicide detectives were able to use DNA to link the Irvine slaying of Keith and Patrice Harrington to nine other slayings in in Orange, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. The genetic evidence was later used to connect the same suspect to dozens of rapes in Northern California.
Harrington’s brother, Bruce, helped bankroll a successful 2004 ballot initiative campaign to take DNA from all convicted felons and some arrestees.
“To the victims, sleep better tonight, he isn’t coming through the window,” Bruce Harrington said at the news conference announcing the arrest.
Jane Carson-Sandler was one of the first victims when she was sexually assaulted in 1976 in her home in Citrus Heights, the same community where DeAngelo was arrested at home.
She said she received an email Wednesday from a retired detective who worked on the case telling her they identified the rapist and he’s in custody.
“I have just been overjoyed, ecstatic. It’s an emotional roller-coaster right now,” Carson-Sandler, who now lives near Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. “I feel like I’m in the middle of a dream and I’m going to wake up and it’s not going to be true. It’s just so nice to have closure and to know he’s in jail.”
FBI agents and other investigators were gathering evidence at DeAngelo’s neatly kept home on Wednesday. Jones said they were looking for mementos that may have been stolen from victims.
Neighbors said DeAngelo took meticulous care of his house, which was always perfectly painted and his lawn manicured. But he was known for an explosive temper and loud cursing.
Kevin Tapia said when he was a teenager, DeAngelo falsely accused him of throwing things over their shared fence, prompting a heated exchange between DeAngelo and his father.
“No one thinks they live next door to a serial killer,” Tapia said. “But at the same time I’m just like, he was a weird guy. He kept to himself. When you start to think about it you’re like, I could see him doing something like that, but I would never suspect it.”

Now read the voice of a victim: “I just wonder when he first saw me, how long he had been stalking me,” Jane Carson-Sandler explains how her morning in 1976 turned to horror


Unmapped roads raise risk to Southeast Asian rainforests — study

An aerial photo of a road running through an palm plantation in Dumai, Riau, Sumatra island, Indonesia. (Antara Foto/Rony Muharrman/via REUTERS/File)
Updated 27 May 2018
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Unmapped roads raise risk to Southeast Asian rainforests — study

  • Researcher Alice Hughes found that roads have penetrated areas previously considered untouched and unreachable by vehicles.
  • An average of 75 percent of roads in five countries were missing from OpenStreetMap (OSM), a mapping platform widely used by researchers and academics.

KUALA LUMPUR: Forests in parts of Southeast Asia face greater threats than previously thought because researchers often rely on data that ignores new roads, which are precursors to deforestation and development, a study shows.
The paper, published this month by the journal Biological Conservation, showed that an average of 75 percent of roads in five countries were missing from OpenStreetMap (OSM), a mapping platform widely used by researchers and academics.
“Large-scale forest clearance is preceded by the growth of road networks, which provide a stark warning for the region’s future,” the study said.
Author Alice Hughes, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, studied a total of 277,281 square kilometers by analyzing satellite images and maps showing forest loss and coverage, as well as agriculture concessions.
She found that roads have penetrated areas previously considered untouched and unreachable by vehicles.
“We are deluding ourselves that we still have large tracts of inaccessible, pristine forest, when the reality is highly-fragmented, very accessible forests,” Hughs said on Friday.
Her research examined road networks in parts of Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.
“In some parts of the region, up to 99 percent of roads on those global maps, which are used as the basis for a huge amount of further analysis, are not included,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Deforestation and development of forests in the area studied have occurred at a rapid pace since 2000, said Hughes, while maps used by researchers do not regularly update their road data.
“Most of the time these roads are just providing access to forests and up to 99 percent of deforestation is within 2.5 km of road,” she said. “They are clearly the access method.”
She added that the region urgently needs better protection and enforcement for its remaining forests.
Indonesia, which is the world’s biggest palm oil producer, introduced a forest clearing moratorium in 2011 to help reduce deforestation.
Hughes said the ban should be expanded beyond just land designated as natural, untouched primary forest to include all high biodiversity forests.
Hughes’ research methodology should be used to determine whether the same patterns exist in other parts of the world, said Christopher Martius, team leader for climate change at the Indonesia-based Center for International Forestry Research.
“It is surprising that nobody ever did that before, and it is shocking that the result shows we grossly underestimated the possible threat to tropical forests from road building,” he said by email.