Former police officer Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, was arrested Tuesday evening in Sacramento after DNA matched him to evidence found at multiple crime scenes from the 70’s and 80’s. Authorities have now positively identified DeAngelo as the infamous East Area Rapist, aka, the original Night Stalker (as opposed to Richard Ramirez, who is generally now referred to as “the Night Stalker).
Between the mid 70’s and into the 80’s a string of rapes, assaults and murders happened up and down the Bay Area, mostly near the Sacramento area but stretching as far south as Irvine. Then, sometime around the mid 80’s - they stopped but not before (at least) twelve people were murdered and more than 50 women had been raped. But because they suddenly stopped in 1986, the case of the Golden State Killer has remained unsolved for nearly four decades.
Writer Michelle McNamara, late wife of comedian Patton Oswalt, wrote “I’ll Be Gone In the Dark” (a phrase the killer said to one of his victims), a well received book about the East Area Rapist, dubbing him the “Golden State Killer.”
Apparently, McNamara had a minor obsession about the case and spent years researching and writing the book. She died of cancer before completing the manuscript. Her husband, with the help of a few investigators, finished the book last year and published.
Police, for some insecure reason, quickly point out that Michelle McNamara’s true crime novel had nothing to do with their arrest. Oswalt had a few things to say about that on twitter, writing:
“It did, but #MichelleMcNamara didn’t care about getting any shine on herself. She cared about the #GoldenStateKiller being behind bars and the victims getting some relief. She was Marge Gunderson in FARGO, not Chilton in SILENCE OF THE LAMBS.”
In a later tweet, adding:
“Also, the cops will NEVER and HAVE NEVER credited a writer or journalist for helping them solve a case. But every time they said #GoldenStateKiller they credited the work of #MichelleMcNamara and #IllBeGoneInTheDark.”
I don’t know if they have NEVER credited a writer or journalist but, he’s probably close to the truth. For a decades old unsolved serial rapist / murder case that has been cold for thirty years, keeping it in the public eye is important. Her book may not have solved the case, but it probably woke someone up to do - something.
And then, suddenly - authorities uncover DNA evidence! Remember, DNA testing was not around in the mid 70’s when the crimes happened and therefore is not even available from the majority of the crime scenes in question; however, there was enough found to link DeAngelo to multiple crime scenes including, at least, two murders.
I’m happy to hear the words, “The Golden State Killer has been caught” and am elated to know DeAngelo will spend the rest of his life behind bars. But I can’t help feel bittersweet because he got away with it for so long that, well - he basically got away with it. I mean, California doesn’t have the death penalty so, here he is, a 72 year old man that will go to jail and receive free meals, free health care and will probably only live another ten years. I want more punishment for him. I want the best years of his life taken from him as he rots in jail. Alas, justice has to settle for robbing him only of his senior years.
Anyway. The East Area Rapist, the Golden State Killer, the Original Night Stalker has finally been arrested and, I’m sure he will die in jail. And so I hope it brings his victims some peace and, from a few of the accounts I’ve read - it has.
So at least, there’s that.
Sad to say that the truth has become a diminishing commodity in America today. Particularly when it comes to many branches of government. Remember the old adage that “I’m from the federal government and I’m here to help you?” Too often, they are here to examine, investigate and even prosecute you.
A prime example of bungling, mismanagement and corruption are the antics, prominently in the news right now, of the FBI leadership. A criminal referral has been made against the former number two in command Andrew McCabe. The inspector general, according to The Washington Post,determined that McCabe lied to investigators four times, three of them while under oath.
This column wrote last week about former FBI head James Comey and his efforts to portray himself as being ethical and above the fray of partisan politics. Now we learn that Comey is also being investigated for leaking classified documents, and denying that he had done so. He blew off the matter by saying: “Good people lie. I think I’m a good person, where I have lied,” Comey said. So much for his above board ethics.
Comey obviously adopts the longstanding FBI adage that they can lie to you but you can’t lie to them. Yale law professor Stephen Carter puts it this way. “Lying is terribly corrosive and ought to be discouraged, but where law enforcement is concerned, I’ve been telling my students for decades that true respect for justice requires a symmetry. If I’m not allowed to lie to you, then you shouldn’t be allowed to lie to me.”
Carter then puts the onus directly back on the FBI. “If felony charges for lying to agents are important in order to preserve the integrity of the system of justice, perhaps felony charges for lying by agents are important, too. That way the people who “must fear the consequences of lying in the justice system “would include those who serve the public.”
Comey is saying that the memos he slipped in secret to The Wall Street Journal were his personal work product and exempt from FBI regulations. That lame excuse won’t pass muster. He wrote memos about an FBI investigation on an FBI typewriter. And he signed a required statement saying that he “will not reveal, by any means, any information or material from or related to FBI files or any other information acquired by virtue of my official employment to any unauthorized recipient without prior official written authorization by the FBI.”
Just last week, a former FBI agent, Terry Albury pleaded guilty to leaking classified documents to a news outlet. This is exactly what Comey did. Albury is now facing up to 10 years in prison. Isn’t what’s good for the goose also good for the gander?
The bottom line question is that if McCabe and Comey are guilty of lies under oath and giving out classified documents to the press, then should they be prosecuted and face jail time for their actions? Of course they should. The consequences of lying or leaking should be a deterrent both to those being investigated as well as the investigators themselves.
The only recourse a private citizen has to protect oneself against devious and false questions by an FBI agent is to tell them nothing. Here in Louisiana, it’s a rule urged by defense attorneys and recognized by many in the news media.
The rule was best enunciated a few years back in Gambit, a New Orleans newspaper. “If you are a public official in Louisiana, do not talk to the FBI. Not under any circumstances. Not even if you are innocent and have nothing to hide. Especially if you are innocent and have nothing to hide.”
First there was Watergate and now there is FBI-gate. Isn’t it a shame that way too often, you just can’t be sure who the bad guys are?
Peace and Justice