Joseph James DeAngelo was known for decades only as the East Area Rapist, the Original Night Stalker, and The Golden State Killer. For decades, he haunted areas of Sacramento and Southern California, committing a series of burglaries, rapes, and murders throughout the 1970s. Authorities had been attempting to match DNA left by the serial killer at the crime scenes since the 1990s, but had been unsuccessful in finding an exact DNA match.
In 2018, investigators enlisted the help of a forensic genealogist to attempt to find familial matches of the DNA, which works similarly to popular ancestry companies like 23 & Me. Using the open DNA database GEDMatch, authorities were able to find a distant relative and used this match to build a family tree and determine who within that family would be in the area and match the description of the assailant. This led investigators to Joseph James DeAngelo, a retired mechanic who had once been employed as a Police Officer in Auburn, California. Without DeAngelo's knowledge, investigators were able to get a sample of his DNA from a discarded soda cup and matched it conclusively to the DNA from the crime scenes.
Joseph James DeAngelo was apprehended at his home located at 8316 Canyon Oak Dr. in Citrus Heights. He surrendered without incident and ultimately pled guilty to 13 count of murder. Unfortunately, the statute of limitations had expired on the dozens of rapes and more than 100 burglaries that DeAngelo had committed. DeAngelo was sentenced to multiple consecutive life sentences and remains incarcerated by the California Department of Corrections.