Sacramento (dpa) - The “Golden State Killer”, a frail 74-year-old in orange-red prison garb, is driven into the room in a wheelchair. "Guilty" says Joseph James DeAngelo again and again in a weak, croaky voice on each of the 13 allegations of murder.
He also admits his guilt in the thirteen charges of kidnapping in connection with his acts of violence. In addition, there are over 160 crimes, from rape to robbery and burglary, which are already statute-barred. The court hearing lasted for hours on Monday (local time) in Sacramento, California.
That is the “real, alive version of Hannibal Lecter,” district district attorney Anne Marie Schubert told the press at the end, “a cruel, intelligent, sadistic serial killer”. Schubert plays on the cannibal and mass murderer Dr. Hannibal Lecter from the Hollywood thriller "The Silence of the Lambs" (1991) with Anthony Hopkins.
With his cold-bloodedness and cruelty, the “Golden State Killer” terrified the West Coast state for over ten years. The first murder in 1975 was followed by dozens of rapes in northern California, then a brutal series of murders in the south of the state until 1986. He often wore a ski mask and startled his victims with a bright flashlight.
On his nightly forays through quiet suburbs, he had knives, pistols, ropes and shoelaces with him. He often tied up the husbands, raped the women and, after long torture, killed them both. Most of the time he stayed at the crime scenes, helped himself to the fridge and let objects go out of the houses.
He left traces of DNA at the many crime scenes, which were fatal to him much later. In their long search for the fleeing perpetrator, investigators finally found what they were looking for on genealogy platforms that contained genetic information from a relative. In April 2018, more than three decades after the last murder, DeAngelo was arrested in a Sacramento suburb. The ex-policeman had been living unobtrusively with one of his three daughters.
The perpetrator now gets around the death penalty through the confession. He is due to be sentenced to life imprisonment in August. The surviving victims and the relatives of the murdered are spared a lengthy process with painful testimony.
But on Monday, those present heard shocking details from the crime scenes. The prosecutors from six districts described the cruel circumstances of the crime, some with tears in their eyes. The public was also able to watch the hearing via video.
The youngest victim was 13 years old. A young couple had only married months before. Among the dead was a native of Frankfurt, who was found killed in her bed in 1981 in Irvine, Southern California. The last victim attributed to the serial killer was an 18-year-old who was raped and murdered in 1986.
The crime series, which has not been clarified for years, also occupied American crime writer Michelle McNamara. In February 2018, her book “I'll Be Gone in the Dark” was published in the United States. Two months later, the then 72-year-old DeAngelo was arrested as a suspected serial killer. The US broadcaster HBO commissioned a six-part documentary series that premiered on Sunday.
© dpa-infocom, dpa: 200630-99-612209 / 2