SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Former police officer Joseph James DeAngelo Jr. pleaded guilty Monday to 13 counts of first-degree murder, closing a decades-long investigation into a string of grizzly murders that terrorized California in the 1970s and ’80s.
According to NPR, wheelchair-bound DeAngelo, 74, barely spoke and did not look at the victims’ families during the proceedings, except to answer “yes” and “I admit” to the charges as they were read.
“Mr. DeAngelo is acknowledging his guilt for the heinous crimes he has committed,” Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton said.
“There is really nothing that could give full justice because he has committed horrendous acts and murder up and down the state of California. But at least we can now begin the process — after decades — to bring some closure to families,” she added.
According to The Sacramento Bee, DeAngelo agreed to plead guilty to 13 counts of murder and 13 counts of kidnap for robbery, starting with the Nov. 11, 1975, shooting death of college professor Claude Snelling in Visalia, California.
By day’s end, DeAngelo also was scheduled to admit to 62 rapes and other crimes committed during his 12-year spree from Sacramento to Orange County for which he has not been formally charged, the Bee reported.
In addition to the 13 murders, DeAngelo committed a total of 50 rapes, Sacramento County Deputy District Attorney Thienvu Ho said, noting he inadvertently confessed two years ago while left alone in an interview room after being confronted with evidence of the crimes, the newspaper reported.
“I did all those things. I’ve destroyed all their lives,” DeAngelo was observed muttering to himself, while audibly blaming an inner demon, the Bee reported.
“I didn’t have the strength to push him out. He made me,” DeAngelo said, according to Ho’s account.