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Joseph James DeAngelo appears in Sacramento Superior Court, Friday, June 1, 2018, in Sacramento, Calif. He is suspected in at least a dozen killings and roughly 50 rapes in the 1970s and '80s. (Photo: José Luis Villegas/The Sacramento Bee via AP, Pool)

The warrants allowing authorities to search the house of Joseph James DeAngelo, and charge him with a run of heinous crimes attributed to the notorious Golden State Killer back in April, have been unsealed by the California courts.

The documents show the criminal escalation of the accused rapist and murderer, who at various times over a decade was known as the Visalia Ransacker, the East Area Rapist, the Diamond Knot Killer and the Original Night Stalker.

The warrants show how authorities convinced judges to allow them to collect surreptitious samples of DeAngelo’s DNA from the handle of his car door—and also from his trash set out at the curb.

What the documents don’t show is the much-ballyhooed DNA genealogy search that led to DeAngelo in the first place. They also redact many of the details of the attacks themselves, which were perpetrated from 1976 to 1986, up and down California.

DeAngelo, now 72, has been in custody since his April 24 arrest.

Police have touted the use of GEDmatch, a public genealogy database that has been used in other investigations to startling success, as the breakthrough that narrowed down the list of persons of interest, resulting in DeAngelo’s arrest.

The warrants now show that:

  • The surreptitious DNA samples were taken from DeAngelo’s car door handle, and his trash. The swab of the car door handle provided a three-person mixture. The major contributor of 47 percent was consistent with the 1980 Ventura murder scene of Lyman and Charlene Smith. The additional surreptitious sample was from DeAngelo’s trash can set out at the curb. Only one piece of tissue provided interpretable DNA results, but those translated to a likelihood that DeAngelo was 47.5 septillion times more likely to be the Golden State Killer than an unknown and unrelated individual.
  • At least 58 official sexual assault and homicide case files on the East Area Rapist/Golden State Killer investigations total more than 10,000 pages of documents, according to the warrants.
  • The East Area Rapist apparently used “hang up and lewd phone calls” to establish patterns of activity in entire neighborhoods—and to torment potential victims: “Your affiant believes the EAR used these phone calls to gain intelligence on residents who were home and/or possibly vulnerable to attack or burglary.”
  • The suspected serial killer nearly claimed two more victims: an 18-year-old man and a Visalia police officer.
  • The 18-year-old man lived at home with his parents and a teenage sister at the time of the attack. The man and his father heard a noise from their backyard about 10:30 p.m. the night of Feb. 16, 1977. When they investigated, they saw the shadow of a man peering at the girl in the home. The suspect ran toward the street, and father and son chased after. The suspect vaulted a fence—and just as the son was jumping over in pursuit, the shot was fired, striking the teenager in the abdomen and sending him backward. A second shot was fired, and the prowler got away—but not before being seen by three girls who described him as having “heavy legs.” The teenager survived the attack. 
  • The Visalia cop almost stopped the Golden State Killer’s reign of terror before it had truly begun. The officer, who was lying in wait for the Ransacker to appear, spotted a prowler in the backyard peering through a window the night of Dec. 10, 1975—and the suspect kept one hand in his jacket pocket when confronted by the officer. The suspect, whose voice was described as juvenile and effeminate, quickly took a gun out and fired. But the round struck the officer’s flashlight and embedded in the battery. The prowler vaulted a fence and ran away as the cop fell backward. The Ransacker never again struck in Visalia, according to the documents. (It was partially footwear impressions that connected those break-ins and burglaries, and the single homicide in that series of attacks.)
  • The particulars of the actual attacks in the dozens of homes, including the rapes and homicides, are redacted by the court system.
  • One of the earliest East Area Rapist attacks, on Aug. 29, 1976, included a description of the suspect holding a revolver and wearing a black utility belt like that of a lineman—but no other clothing from the waist down.
  • Many of the East Area Rapist’s victims in the mid-1970s were local high school students who were home alone at the time of the attacks in their homes.
  • The East Area Rapist appeared to have used one natural feature to his advantage in his movements: “In most of the attacks, the suspect struck homes easily accessible from a drainage canal, creek, or open field adjacent a creek.”
  • The East Area Rapist attacks—described as “Phase One” in the documents—happened from June 18, 1976 until April 14, 1978. But they essentially came to an end with the slaying of Brian and Katie Maggiore.
  • The Maggiores’ deaths occurred after a close confrontation with the East Area Rapist, who had been extremely active in the nearby area in the weeks preceding the double homicide. The resulting composite sketch made from details provided by witnesses of the killer’s escape apparently prompted a change of geographic location: to Modesto and Davis in June and July 1978; East Bay through July 1979; and then Southern California from 1979 through 1986, where the majority of homicides were committed.
  • The rape scenes in Contra Costa County and the rape scenes in Sacramento were connected to the rash of murders through DNA testing of the semen recovered from the scene at the killings of Lyman and Charlene Smith, killed March 16, 1980. Although DNA was apparently not recovered at the crime scene where the bodies of Robert Offerman and Alexandra Manning (killed Dec. 30, 1979) were found, semen of the killer was recovered during the homicide investigations of Keith and Patrick Harrington (August 1980), Manuela Whittuhn (February 1981), Greg Sanchez and Cheri Domingo (July 1981), and Janelle Cruz (May 1986).
  • The search warrants sought a huge list of items taken from the dozens of crime scenes. They included personal jewelry like wedding rings, identification like driver’s licenses, underwear, other clothing and other personal items. As the warrants put it: “In this case, the suspect has accumulated a considerable amount of personal property from the victims, much of this property taken as trophies. It is your affiant’s belief the suspect would maintain the stolen items over the years; thereby, keeping them in an offsite location like a storage unit.”
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