She may be one of the Golden State Killer’s youngest victims: Mary Berwert said she was sexually assaulted in her family home when she was 13 years old.
It’s been an emotional week for Berwert. At 52 year old, she’s been waiting 38 years for an arrest and called it surreal. She only wishes her dad, her main protector, was around to hear it.
“Above all, I am so happy,” said Berwert. “It is the best news. There was a time I was like I’ll never know. I never thought I’d ever know.”
It was back in June of 1979, two months after Berwert celebrated her 13th birthday. Berwert said a man in a ski mask woke her up in her Walnut Creek bedroom, tied her hands and feet and held her at knife point.
“She was bound,” said Lt. Gary Johnson of Walnut Creek Police told KTVU in 1979. “He raped her. He didn't bother anyone else in the residence. The young girl's father and sister were in the residence unaware of the attack.”
Authorities later identified the suspect as the East Area Rapist and Golden State Killer, linked to a dozen murders and more than 40 rapes in California in the 1970s and 80s.
Three decades later, authorities arrested 72-year-old Joseph DeAngelo. A relative's DNA from a genealogy website cracked the case.
"There’s so many good things that could come from DNA and I wouldn't have imagined this,” said Berwert.
Berwert watched as DeAngelo made his first court appearance last Friday in Sacramento rolled out in a wheelchair. He did not enter a plea.
“I thought who are you fooling when I saw that video,” said Berwert.
DeAngelo is currently being held on murder charges. Berwert takes issue DeAngelo may not serve time for rape due to the statute of limitations in California. It was eliminated in 2016. It’s not retroactive.
“No, it's not really going to make a difference in the long run because he's going to jail but he should have to answer for what he did,” said Berwert.
It’s vindication her father would fight for. He died of a heart attack three years after Berwert's assault. It still haunts Berwert the moment she told him what happened.
“It killed him,” said Berwert. “It ripped his heart out. I was his little daughter.”
Berwert doesn't plan to see DeAngelo in court unless she's asked to testify. She said she's wasted too much time, too much pain on him. She doesn't want the death penalty but wants him to sit in jail. DeAngelo is due back in court on May 14.