A search warrant and affidavit unsealed Friday in the Golden State Killer case gave new details as to how suspect Joseph James DeAngelo Jr.’s DNA was obtained, and those details included a visit to a popular arts and crafts store.
Investigators followed DeAngelo, 72, to a Hobby Lobby store April 18 in Roseville, about three miles from his Citrus Heights home, and swabbed the door handle of his car as he shopped in the store, according to the affidavit. The highly-redacted court documents were unsealed in response to a motion filed by The Associated Press, the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle.
DeAngelo, a former police officer, stands charged with a total of 12 murders. He is also accused of more than 50 rapes and over 100 burglaries in a spate of crimes in the 1970s and 1980s that earned the man responsible multiple nicknames, including the Original Night Stalker, the East Area Rapist and the Visalia Ransacker.
The search warrant issued in the case covered a plethora of items, from clothing, jewelry and other mementos taken during the burglaries, rapes and homicides to driver’s licenses and photographs of the Golden State Killer’s victims. The warrant also sought any potential murder weapons, as well as any blood, hair or tissue found on those items.
The warrant also sought any of DeAngelo’s property that could link him to the crimes, including clothing worn at those times and photos of the suspect through the years. DeAngelo was ordered to give fingerprints, saliva, blood, skin and bodily fluids, the warrant said.
Police officials were also authorized to take photos of his body, particularly of his genitals, the document said.
DeAngelo initially became a suspect in the cold cases after Paul Holes, a now-retired Contra Costa County investigator, uploaded the Golden State Killer’s DNA profile onto an open source ancestry website, where he found a similar profile belonging to the alleged killer’s distant relative. Once DeAngelo, through the database and other circumstantial evidence, became a prime suspect, Holes and other investigators began trying to secretly obtain his DNA.
Read the unsealed search warrant and affidavit of Sacramento County homicide Detective Robert Peters below.
Two days after DeAngelo’s April visit to Hobby Lobby, the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office’s crime lab returned DNA results on the swab from his car door, which court records said showed a mixture of three people contributed to the genetic material on the car door.
The DNA of the person who contributed 47 percent of the material was identical to the profile of the killer in the March 16, 1980, double homicide of Lyman and Charlene Smith in Ventura County, the court documents said.
Investigators on April 23 set out to get additional DNA samples from DeAngelo, this time at his home on Canyon Oak Drive Citrus Heights. Three days of surveillance indicated that DeAngelo was the only man seen at the home during that time frame, the affidavit said.
When the home’s trash was put out by the curb, multiple items were taken and sent to the lab for DNA analysis. Lab technicians got a hit off a tissue from DeAngelo’s trash.
The DNA results confirmed the previous test, indicating that the male source of the DNA was the killer in the Smith case, the affidavit said. Lyman Smith, a 43-year-old former prosecutor, and his wife, 33, were bludgeoned to death with a log from the home’s fireplace. Charlene Smith was also sexually assaulted.
Smith’s 12-year-old son found their bodies when he showed up to cut his dad’s grass the next day.
DeAngelo was arrested the evening of April 24 and the news of his capture broke the following day.
The DNA taken from Charlene Smith’s body had previously been matched to DNA in multiple other murder cases, including the August 1980 double homicide of Keith and Patrice Harrington, both 28, who were beaten to death in their Dana Point home; the February 1981 bludgeoning death of Manuela Witthuhn, 28, in Irving; and the May 1986 beating death of Janelle Cruz, 18, also in Irving.
DeAngelo is also charged in Santa Barbara County in the Dec. 30, 1979, double slaying of Dr. Robert Offerman, 44, and his girlfriend, Dr. Debra Alexandria Manning, 35, inside Offerman’s condominium in Goleta. The couple’s killer broke in through a sliding glass door, tied them up and shot them to death.
Santa Barbara County prosecutors have also filed charges against DeAngelo in the July 27, 1981, double slaying of Greg Sanchez, 27, and Cheri Domingo, 35, who were killed in Domingo’s home just blocks from where the Offerman-Manning homicides took place nearly two years before. Sanchez was shot and beaten to death, while Domingo was raped before she was bludgeoned.
A semen stain found on a blanket at the Sanchez-Domingo scene matches the DNA profile found in the other cases, the affidavit said. The DNA also matched that found in several of the rape cases.
The first two homicides DeAngelo was charged with was the February 1978 shooting deaths of Brian and Katie Maggiore in Rancho Cordova, located in Sacramento County. The couple is believed to have stumbled upon their killer as he either prowled their neighborhood or burglaries a home.
Brian Maggiore, 21, a military policeman and sergeant in the U.S. Air Force, is believed to have chased the prowler into a nearby backyard, where he was shot. Katie Maggiore, 20, was then shot. The couple’s dog, who they had been walking, was found in the swimming pool nearby.
The couple’s slayings were tied to the East Area Rapist, in part, by a single pre-tied shoelace found in the yard where they were killed. The shoelace resembled ligatures used in prior rape cases, authorities said.
The affidavit said that the neighborhood was also one targeted by the East Area Rapist and that in the weeks before the fatal shooting, residents had reported a number of break-ins, prowling incidents and lewd or hang-up calls at their homes.
The East Area Rapist stopped targeting Rancho Cordova after the slayings and appeared to move on from Sacramento County after the April 1978 release of a composite drawing of a man suspected in the Maggiore slayings, the court documents said.
The unsealed affidavit also provided more detailed insight into DeAngelo’s background.
Born in November 1945, DeAngelo grew up in the Sacramento area and attended Folsom High School, located just a few miles south of the infamous Folsom State Prison. He left the area in 1973 to become a police officer in Exeter, located about 250 miles south in Tulare County.
Exeter is also just 20 minutes away from Visalia, where the first of the burglaries attributed to the Visalia Ransacker began the following March. The Ransacker’s activity culminated in the September 1975 attempted kidnapping of a 16-year-old girl.
The girl’s father, who looked out a kitchen window and saw his daughter being led away, ran outside, where he was shot twice. The father, College of the Sequoias journalism professor Claude Snelling, stumbled back into the house and collapsed at the front door, where he died.
Snelling’s death was attributed to the Ransacker after the bullets that killed him were linked to those fired in a previous Ransacker case.
The affidavit pointed out that DeAngelo in 1974 attended the Kings County Public Safety Academy, which was affiliated with the college at which Snelling taught.
DeAngelo has not been charged with Snelling’s slaying. He is being held without bond in the Sacramento County Jail.
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