Golden State Killer

SUSPECTED KILLER — In this April 27, 2018 file photo, Joseph DeAngelo is arraigned in Sacramento County Superior Court. DeAngelo, the man accused of being a notorious California serial killer who eluded capture for decades had been arrested by Sacramento police in the 1990s, years before he was connected to the murders. That's according to court records obtained by the Sacramento Bee newspaper.

SACRAMENTO (AP) — The man suspected of being a notorious Cal­if­or­nia serial killer who elu­ded capture for decades had been arrested by Sac­ra­mento police in the 1990s, years before he was con­nect­ed to the killings, a news­paper reported Fri­day.

Joseph DeAngelo, now in jail as the suspected “Gol­den State Killer,” was ar­rested in a 1996 sting oper­a­tion on allegations he had held up a gas station, the Sac­ramento Bee reported. Sac­ramento police had prom­ised Super Bowl tick­ets to people facing out­stan­ding warrants to lure them, and DeAngelo re­spon­ded.

DeAngelo spent several hours in jail but the gas sta­tion charges were later dismissed. The Bee ob­tained court records linked to a $1 million civil lawsuit he filed against the gas station owner that outline details of the arrest.

It would be 22 years be­fore police would arrest De­An­gelo again, this time link­ing him to at least 13 murders and more than 50 rapes across California in the 1970s and 80s. He’s been awaiting trial on 26 charges in the same Sac­ra­mento jail since last April and has not entered a plea.

The case of the so-called Golden State Killer and East Area Rapist eluded in­ves­tigators for decades; the suspect’s last known kill­ing occurred in 1986. In­ves­tigators zeroed in last year on DeAngelo by using DNA and genealogy web­sites.

Sacramento Police Sgt. Shaun Hampton said po­lice would not have had any way of knowing in the 1990s that DeAngelo was allegedly linked to the crimes. The department was not routinely collecting DNA samples at the time.

“The evidence wasn’t there, the technology wasn’t there,” he said. “I don’t think there’s any way we could have known, there was no way for us to iden­tify this person by him simply being in our jail for a few hours.”

DeAngelo had prepaid for gas at a station when the pump malfunctioned, prompt­ing him to go inside to seek a refund. The clerk did not understand him and reported him as an attempted robber, ac­cord­ing to court records from a 1998 settlement conference in his civil lawsuit. Records didn’t show the terms of the settlement.

William Wright, De­An­gelo’s attorney at the time, said he remembered De­An­gelo as a “nice guy” who was upset about what hap­pened at the gas sta­tion. He did not realize his cli­ent from 22 years earlier was the Golden State Kill­er until contacted by the newspaper.

“I’d seen the guy TV, but I never made the con­nection,” Wright said. “He was very pleasant when he was talking to me.”

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