How I’ll Be Gone in the Dark Really Affected the Hunt for the Golden State Killer

Per authorities’ count, DeAngelo attacked 106 women, men and children in 11 counties all over California’s broad expanse, from Sacramento County in the north to Orange County down south, between 1973 and 1986.

He’d break into people’s houses while they were sleeping, often calling beforehand and hanging up to make sure they were home. He would tie up whole families and stay in their homes for hours, sometimes helping himself to food in the kitchen. Another of his signatures: before he raped a man’s wife or girlfriend, he would tie up the partner and balance dishes on the man’s back, warning him that if he heard anything fall he’d kill the woman.

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Last month, in order to avoid a trial and the prospect of the death penalty, DeAngelo, now 76 and sometimes in need of a wheelchair to get around, pleaded guilty to everything he had been charged with: 13 counts of murder and 13 counts of kidnapping for purposes of robbery. He also admitted to 62 other instances of rape and abduction, crimes for which the statute of limitations to charge him had passed. He’ll be sentenced to life in prison.

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Some of his assault victims, as well as family members of those he’d killed—including six relatives of 18-year-old Janelle Cruz, his last known rape and murder victim—were there in person to witness the proceedings, which were moved from a courtroom to a ballroom at Cal State Sacramento (where DeAngelo received a degree in criminal justice from in 1972) due to social-distancing guidelines. 

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