Ex-cop charged in 'Golden State Killer' case due in court

SACRAMENTO, April 27 (Reuters) - An ex-policeman was due in a Sacramento, California, courtroom on Friday to face the first murder charges filed in connection with a string of rapes and killings attributed to the "Golden State Killer" during the 1970s and 1980s.

Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, who was arrested earlier this week at his home in the Sacramento suburb of Citrus Heights, is scheduled for an arraignment on two counts of murder stemming from the 1978 shooting death of a married couple.

DeAngelo has so far been charged with eight counts of murder blamed on the Golden State Killer, in crimes that sprawled from Sacramento all the way to Southern California, including two in Sacramento County, two in Ventura County and four in Orange County.

He is suspected in a dozen slayings as well as 45 rapes and more than 120 burglaries in 10 California counties, a decade-long crime spree considered one of the most prolific in state history.

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

Investigators finally cracked the case, which has long haunted victims' families and law enforcement, by comparing DNA found at the crime scenes to genetic information on commercial genealogy websites that consumers use to explore their ancestry.

Detectives followed the family trees of close matches, seeking people who might be the killer. The process produced a promising lead a week ago, when the DNA of a relative pointed to DeAngelo based on his age and the fact that he lived near where the attacks occurred, according to a Sacramento prosecutor.

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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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DeAngelo was identified about two months after the case gained renewed attention in the recently published bestselling book “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark,” by journalist Michelle McNamara, who died in April 2016.

In addition to being known as the Golden State Killer the unknown suspect was also dubbed the “East Area Rapist” and the “Original Night Stalker,” at various times.

DeAngelo was a police officer in two small California communities - Exeter and Auburn - during the 1970s. He was fired from the Auburn force in 1979 after being accused of shoplifting a hammer and dog repellant from a store.

Authorities had long speculated the killer had some military or law enforcement training because of his proficiency with firearms and ability to elude capture for so long.

Jones acknowledged that some of the earlier crimes were committed while DeAngelo was a police officer. But authorities said his name never surfaced as a suspect prior to the latest break in the case, which they said came from a “discarded DNA sample” obtained by investigators. (Additional reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles Writing by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Bill Tarrant and Leslie Adler)

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