California man arrested in 'Golden State Killer' case, suspected in 12 slayings and 45 rapes

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Reuters) - An elderly former police officer was arrested and charged in four murders authorities attributed to the Golden State Killer, a serial criminal suspected of dozens of rapes and slayings that terrorized parts of California during the 1970s and 1980s.

The suspect was identified by authorities at a news conference in Sacramento, the state capital, as Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, in a case that officials said was finally solved by DNA evidence.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has previously said that the man sought in the 40-year-old case was suspected of 12 slayings, 45 rapes and numerous burglaries in and around Sacramento, the eastern San Francisco Bay area and at least two counties of Southern California.

The suspect, who was also dubbed by investigators as the "East Area Rapist" and the "Original Night Stalker," is considered to be one of the state's most prolific serial killers, according to the FBI.

SEE: Police images of the killer: 

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Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, who authorities said was identified by DNA evidence as the serial predator dubbed the Golden State Killer, appears at his arraignment in California Superior court in Sacramento, California, U.S., April 27, 2018. REUTERS/Fred Greaves
An investigator puts evidence bags in a sheriff's vehicle after removing them from the home of Joseph James Deangelo, who was arrested for the East Area Rapist/Original Night Stalker/Golden State Killer case in Citrus Heights, California, U.S., April 26, 2018. REUTERS/Fred Greaves
Melanie Barbeaux holds a photo of victims of the Golden State Killer in the courtroom as Joseph James DeAngelo, who authorities said was identified by DNA evidence as the serial predator dubbed the Golden State Killer, appears at his arraignment in California Superior court in Sacramento, California, U.S., April 27, 2018. Sacramento Bee/Randy Pench/Pool via REUTERS
A combination image shows FBI sketches of an unknown individual known as the East Area Rapist/Golden State Killer (EAR/GSK) described as a White male, currently thought to be between the ages of 60 and 75 years old, shown in sketches released on June 15, 2016. Between 1976 and 1986, this individual was responsible for approximately 45 rapes, 12 homicides, and multiple residential burglaries throughout the State of California. FBI/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
An unknown individual known as the East Area Rapist/Golden State Killer described as a White male, currently thought to be between the ages of 60 and 75 years old, is shown in this FBI sketch released on June 15, 2016. Between 1976 and 1986, this individual was responsible for approximately 45 rapes, 12 homicides, and multiple residential burglaries throughout the State of California. FBI/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
An investigator removes items in evidence bags from the home of Joseph James Deangelo, who was arrested for the East Area Rapist/Original Night Stalker/Golden State Killer case in Citrus Heights, California, U.S., April 26, 2018. REUTERS/Fred Greaves
Sheriff's crime scene tape surrounds the house belonging to Joseph James Deangelo, who was arrested for the East Area Rapist/Original Night Stalker/Golden State Killer case in Citrus Heights, California, U.S., April 25, 2018. REUTERS/Fred Greaves
An unknown individual known as the East Area Rapist/Golden State Killer described as a White male, currently thought to be between the ages of 60 and 75 years old, is shown in this FBI sketch released on June 15, 2016. Between 1976 and 1986, this individual was responsible for approximately 45 rapes, 12 homicides, and multiple residential burglaries throughout the State of California. FBI/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
A police officer removes items in evidence bags from the home of Joseph James Deangelo, who was arrested for the East Area Rapist/Original Night Stalker/Golden State Killer case in Citrus Heights, California, U.S., April 26, 2018. REUTERS/Fred Greaves
Sheriff's crime scene tape surrounds the house belonging to Joseph James Deangelo, who was arrested for the East Area Rapist/Original Night Stalker/Golden State Killer case in Citrus Heights, California, U.S., April 25, 2018. REUTERS/Fred Greaves
Sacramento Sheriff Scott Jones talks about the arrest of a suspect in the East Area Rapist/Original Night Stalker/Golden State Killer case in Sacramento, California, U.S., April 25, 2018. Jones along with Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert, law enforcement leaders, the FBI and other elected District Attorneys from several other California counties participated in the news conference announcing the arrest of Joseph James Deangelo. REUTERS/Fred Greaves
An FBI evidence response team member walks into the garage of Joseph James Deangelo where other investigators were looking for evidence after Deangelo was arrested for the East Area Rapist/Original Night Stalker/Golden State Killer case in Citrus Heights, California, U.S., April 25, 2018. REUTERS/Fred Greaves
An unknown individual known as the East Area Rapist/Golden State Killer described as a White male, currently thought to be between the ages of 60 and 75 years old, is shown in this FBI sketch released on June 15, 2016. Between 1976 and 1986, this individual was responsible for approximately 45 rapes, 12 homicides, and multiple residential burglaries throughout the State of California. FBI/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
SACRAMENTO, CA - APRIL 27: Joseph James DeAngelo, the suspected 'Golden State Killer', appears in court for his arraignment on April 27, 2018 in Sacramento, California. DeAngelo, a 72-year-old former police officer, is believed to be the East Area Rapist who killed at least 12 people, raped over 45 women and burglarized hundreds of homes throughout California in the 1970s and 1980s. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Joseph James DeAngelo is taken on a wheel chair into the courtroom to be arraigned on two counts of murder April 27, 2018, in Sacramento, California. I - Investigators have accused him of of being the 'Golden State Killer,' who is suspected of committing more than 50 rapes and 12 murders. (Photo by Elijah Nouvelage / AFP) (Photo credit should read ELIJAH NOUVELAGE/AFP/Getty Images)
SACRAMENTO, CA - APRIL 27: Joseph James DeAngelo, (L) the suspected 'Golden State Killer', appears in court for his arraignment before Judge Michael Sweet (R), on April 27, 2018 in Sacramento, California. DeAngelo, a 72-year-old former police officer, is believed to be the East Area Rapist who killed at least 12 people, raped over 45 women and burglarized hundreds of homes throughout California in the 1970s and 1980s. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
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Officials said he was living in the Sacramento suburb of Citrus Heights when he was arrested on Tuesday.

"Joseph James DeAngelo has been called a lot of things by law enforcement ... Today it’s our pleasure to call him defendant," Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas told reporters.

"Finally, after all these years, the haunting question of who committed these terrible crimes has been put to rest."

Investigators said DeAngelo was a police officer in two different California departments during the 1970s - in the municipality of Exeter near the Sierra Nevada foothills of the San Joaquin Valley, and in the Gold Rush town of Auburn.

The case was investigated intensively in “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark,” a book published earlier this year. Author Michelle McNamara died in 2016, and the book was finished by a writer hired by her husband, Patton Oswalt. Oswalt said in a video posted on social media on Wednesday, "I think you got him, Michelle."

(Reporting by Fred Greaves in Sacramento; Additional reporting by Dan Whitcomb and Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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