Joseph James DeAngelo Jr. has confessed that he is the Golden State Killer who terrorized California with a long and sadistic series of crimes in the 1970s and 1980s. In a courtroom set up in a Cal State Sacramento ballroom, the 74-year-old uttered his first guilty plea Monday in a "hushed, raspy voice," the AP reports. DeAngelo is set to plead guilty to all 26 crimes he is charged with—13 murders and 13 charges of kidnapping for purposes of robbery—along with 62 other crimes, including dozens of rapes, the Los Angeles Times reports. He'll be sentenced to life without parole in August, in proceedings that could last a week as a slew of victim impact statements are shared. The former police officer agreed to plead guilty in return for being spared the death penalty. He was arrested in 2018 after he was traced through DNA a relative submitted to a genealogy website.
During his 12-year rape and murder spree, DeAngelo went from attacking lone women to targeting couples, often tying up the man before he raped the woman. Investigators believe he only stopped because he was becoming too old to physically overpower his victims, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. DeAngelo's crimes were "simply staggering" in scope, says Sacramento County assistant chief deputy district attorney Thien Ho. DeAngelo's monikers—including the Visalia Ransacker and the East Area Rapist—"reflect the sweeping geographical impact of his crime, Ho says. "Each time, he escaped—slipping away silently into the night, leaving communities terrified for years." Authorities say they will hold a press conference at 6pm Eastern after the proceedings are over. (Read more Joseph DeAngelo stories.)