SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Tearful family members of people killed by Joseph DeAngelo assailed him Thursday for stealing away their loved ones as he escalated his attacks from burglaries and rapes to a series of horrific murders that terrorized California four decades ago.
“Today the devil loses and justice wins,” Debbi Domingo McMullan, the daughter of one victim, said during the third day of a sentencing hearing for the 74-year-old man known as the Golden State Killer. She called him a "pathetic excuse of a man who will now, finally, be held accountable for his actions.”
Earlier in the week, a judge heard testimony from rape victims who endured sadistic, hours-long assaults by DeAngelo, a former police officer whose serial crimes began in Northern California. He later moved to Southern California, where his rapes followed the same pattern of binding couples he surprised while they slept and assaulting the woman as the man lay helpless.
By then, his assaults routinely ended in murder and his identity — hidden behind a ski mask — remained a mystery until investigators used a new form of DNA tracking to arrest him in 2018.
DeAngelo pleaded guilty in June to 13 murders and 13 rape-related charges stemming from crimes in the 1970s and 1980s. A plea deal with prosecutors will spare him the death penalty when he is formally sentenced Friday to consecutive life prison sentences.
The sentencing will follow days of excruciating testimony from his victims and their loved ones.
Prosecutors walked through his slayings in near-chronological order on Thursday in what one relative called a “timeline of horror” — from three early Northern California victims killed when they interfered with his assaults on women, to his 10 known Southern California murders.
DeAngelo was dubbed the Visalia Ransacker when he killed 45-year-old Claude Snelling on Sept. 11, 1975. The journalism professor in the San Joaquin Valley was slain while thwarting the attempted kidnapping of his 16-year-old daughter, Elizabeth Hupp.
“My dad died saving my life that night and he is my hero,” Happ said as she broke down in tears.
While DeAngelo was able to live a normal life with his family for all those years, her dad’s killing left “a huge hole in my heart,” she said, because he wasn’t there to walk her down the aisle at her wedding or be a grandfather to her children.
“Little did we know that the man stalking me was actually a police officer, someone who is sworn to protect people and not to terrorize and harm people,” she said.
DeAngelo was known as the East Area Rapist by Feb. 2, 1978, when he fatally shot Katie Maggiore, 20, and Brian Maggiore, 21, as they walked their dog around their Rancho Cordova neighborhood in Sacramento County.
“You no longer live in the shadows, we all know who you are," Katie’s brother, Ken Smith, told DeAngelo about his acts of “terror and evil.”
“You lurked in the dark so you could prey on innocent victims,” Smith said. “Well, now you are prey, DeAngelo, and you can look over your shoulder the rest of your life” in prison.
Debra Manning, 35, was raped and killed along with 44-year-old Robert Offerman on Dec. 30, 1979, in Santa Barbara County.
In a letter to the court, Manning’s best friends Natasha Holliday and Roseanne Howard remembered her as a “beautiful and brilliant” doctor while blasting DeAngelo for the “’obsessive madness” that led him to beat and shoot the couple before he bizarrely ate some of their Christmas turkey leftovers.
Cheri Domingo, 35, and Gregory Sanchez, 27, were killed on July 27, 1981, also in Santa Barbara County.
“You took beautiful lives in horrific, horrific ways,” a relative of Sanchez who did not further identify himself, told DeAngelo. “All of our lives were forever changed. You’ve tortured the parents, the families, for 39 years.”
Domingo's daughter, McMullan, said she was just 15 at the time, “a fragile teenager whose world had just been turned upside down.”
“I had watched my mom and Greg dance carefree across our living room for the last time,” she recalled through tears while DeAngelo sat expressionless, as he has throughout the hearings.
The trauma led to her years-long “downward spiral” of depression and drug abuse that left her “hopeless, homeless,” before a newfound faith in God put her on a new path.
The bodies of Charlene Smith, 33, and Lyman Smith, 43, were found March 16, 1980, in their Ventura County home.
Jennifer Carole, the daughter of Lyman Smith, said her 12-year-old brother, found the brutally beaten couple covered by a comforter.
They are part of DeAngelo’s “legacy of sadism, cruelty, moral and physical depravity,” Carole told the court.
The resolution of the case without a trial or death sentence will never be justice, she said. Still, she is determined to focus on the enduring good that followed his crimes, including victims who “have gone on to live amazing lives,” she said.
Finally, there were four slayings in Orange County.
Keith Harrington, 24, and Patrice Harrington, 27, were young newlyweds living in Dana Point when his father found them bludgeoned to death on Aug. 21, 1980. Manuela Witthuhn, 28, of Irvine was raped and murdered on Feb. 6, 1981.
DeAngelo's last and youngest known murder victim was 18-year-old Janelle Cruz of Irvine. She was raped and killed on May 5, 1986 — after a five-year gap that DeAngelo has never explained.