Police arrest former officer suspected of being serial killer who murdered 12 and raped 50

Joseph James DeAngelo has been charged with murder (AP/Handout)

Police say a former officer arrested in California is one of the most notorious serial killers in US history.

Joseph James DeAngelo is suspected of being the ‘Golden State Killer’, who is tied to dozens of killings and rapes in America in the 1970s and 1980s.

The 72-year-old ex-police officer has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the 1980 killings of a couple.

Authorities gather outside the home of suspect Joseph James DeAngelo in Citrus Heights, California (AP)
Artist renderings of a serial killer and rapist, also known as the “East Area Rapist” and “Golden State Killer” from 1976 to 1986 (AP)

DeAngelo was arrested at his home in Sacramento, California, after DNA taken from the killings led them to him, according to Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert.

She told reporters: ‘We knew we were looking for a needle in a haystack, but we also knew that needle was there.

‘We found the needle in the haystack, and it was right here in Sacramento.’

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She said dozens of people committed their professional lives to the search and spent hundreds of hours seeking ‘justice for these victims and their families’.

Authorities in Sacramento County have also arrested DeAngelo on suspicion of murder in the killings of married couple Brian and Katie Maggiore in 1978.

The Golden State Killer is also known as the ‘East Area Rapist’, a masked attacked linked to at least 12 killings and 45 rapes on victims aged between 13 and 41.

Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert discusses the arrest of Joseph James DeAngelo (AP)
Authorities search the home of DeAngelo after he was taken into custody (AP)

He is linked to more than 175 crimes in all between 1976 and 1986.

The attacker terrorised victims by breaking into the homes of single women or couples while they slept.

Often he would tie up the man and place dishes on his back before raping the woman while threatening to kill them both if the dishes fell off.

A sketch and details of a stolen ring the attacker took from one of his victims (AP)

He often took souvenirs, such as coins and jewellery.

DeAngelo was fired from the Auburn Police Department in 1979 after being arrested for stealing a can of dog repellent and a hammer from a drug store.

Comedian Patton Oswalt has credited his late wife Michelle McNamara for her work in pursuit of the Golden State Killer.

Comedian Patton Oswalt is crediting his late wife Michelle McNamara for her work in pursuit of the so-called Golden State Killer (AP)

She had been writing a book about the case but died in her sleep at the age of 46 in April 2016 before she could finish it.

Oswalt helped finish the book and it became a Number one New York Times best-seller.

Ventura County District Attorney Greg Totten said prosecutors will seek the death penalty against DeAngelo.

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