Joseph DeAngelo, a former police officer who terrorized California as a serial burglar and rapist and killed more than a dozen people while evading capture for decades, pleaded guilty Monday to murders attributed to a criminal dubbed the Golden State Killer, the Associated Press reports. DeAngelo, 74, had never acknowledged the killings, but said “guilty” and “I admit” in a hushed and raspy voice in court as part of a plea agreement that spared him the death penalty for a life sentence with no chance of parole. DeAngelo offered a confession after his arrest that cryptically referred to an inner personality named “Jerry” that he said forced him to commit the wave of crimes that ended abruptly in 1986. “I did all that,” DeAngelo said to himself in a police interrogation room after his arrest in April 2018, said prosecutor Thien Ho.
“I didn’t have the strength to push him out,” DeAngelo said. “He made me. He went with me. It was like in my head, I mean, he’s a part of me. I didn’t want to do those things. I pushed Jerry out and had a happy life. I did all those things. I destroyed all their lives. So now I’ve got to pay the price.” Ho said, “The scope of Joseph DeAngelo’s crimes is simply staggering.” DeAngelo will plead guilty to 13 counts of murder and dozens of rapes that are too old to prosecute. Family members wept as the proceeding went on for hours. It wasn’t until after the crimes ended that investigators connected assaults in various parts of California and created the Golden State Killer nickname for the mysterious assailant. Police used DNA from crime scenes to find a distant relative through a genealogy website database and built a family tree that eventually led them to DeAngelo.