Man in the window: He was a spectral figure whose first killings involved dogs. Over the course of two decades of burglaries, animal killings, rapes and, finally, murders, he was called by many names: the Cordova Cat, the Visalia Ransacker, the East Area Rapist, the Creek Killer, the Diamond Knot Killer, the original Night Stalker and most famously, the Golden State Killer. More than 40 years passed before investigators concluded it was the work of one man.
After two years in jail, Joseph James DeAngelo Jr. admitted to 13 murders and 201 uncharged crimes of rape, assault and burglary from a crime spree that extended from the early 1970s to the mid-1980s. To understand the makings of such a killer and the full toll of his crimes, the Los Angeles Times interviewed his teenage fiancée, his family and friends, detectives who struggled to piece together a broad spectrum of disturbingly similar crimes and rape victims whose pain was compounded by a society that afforded little protection or understanding. Almost from the start, psychiatrists and psychologists warned that a dark impulse drove such a criminal mind. Detectives grilling DeAngelo in the interrogation room, as his pleas for a lawyer were ignored, witnessed an interior battle between good and evil ... if they believed it.
Listen to the podcast
Top photo: Screenshot of archival news footage covering the East Area Rapist. (Center for Sacramento History)
Credits: Digital production by Andrea Roberson. Additional production by Jessica Perez.