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Sacramento Police Say They Have Taken The Golden State Killer Into Custody

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

We turn now to Sacramento, Calif., where authorities today announced the arrest of a suspect in the decades-old Golden State Killer case. Here's Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert.

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ANNE MARIE SCHUBERT: We found the needle in the haystack, and it was right here in Sacramento.

CHANG: Police have been hunting a man they say is responsible for 12 murders, about 50 rapes and more than 100 burglaries in a crime spree that terrorized the state in the 1970s and '80s. Bob Moffitt of Capital Public Radio has been following the case and joins us now. Welcome.

BOB MOFFITT, BYLINE: Happy to be here.

CHANG: So this suspect was identified as a 72-year-old man, Joseph James DeAngelo. What can you tell us about him?

MOFFITT: Well, we know that he was a police officer in Exeter, Calif., which is down by Fresno. He was there for three years, from 1973 to '76, and then went to Auburn from '76 to '79 before he was thrown off the force for shoplifting a couple of items from a local store and prosecuted in Sacramento and lost a job. After that, he just sort of disappeared.

CHANG: And investigators from 10 counties have been working on this case for years. What finally led to this arrest?

MOFFITT: Well, DNA evidence. The question is, where did the DNA evidence come from? The district attorney's office and the sheriff's department is not letting us know, but they are saying that, in some way, a DNA link was identified between the suspect in the case and an unknown member of the public, who also shared various components of DNA with a bunch of other people - several dozen people.

And so the sheriff's department then had to take that information, whittle out the people that couldn't possibly be suspects, and then zero in on people who could be suspects, which is how they ended up at Mr. DeAngelo's door.

CHANG: And how did the arrest go down? Do you know the details?

MOFFITT: Well, according to Sacramento Sheriff Scott Jones, they were concerned that the suspect might have some sort of escape plan in place, and so they waited for him to come out of his house. Staked out his house for, I believe, five days.

CHANG: Wow.

MOFFITT: Collected some DNA evidence in the process.

CHANG: They didn't leave for five days?

MOFFITT: Well, they were monitoring. They were seeing what his habits were and when they could, they believe, safely apprehend him. He came out of his house, was going to leave somewhere, and that's when they swooped in and arrested him.

CHANG: So this suspect is being charged in four homicides. What happens to all the other cases believed to be connected with him?

MOFFITT: Well, all the district attorneys that spoke to media today promised to prosecute their cases as well. It's unclear as to whether they may all prosecute them together in the same venue or whether they may prosecute them independently. That discussion is ongoing, and there has not been an outcome yet announced.

CHANG: All right. That's Capital Public Radio's Bob Moffitt in Sacramento, Calif. Thank you very much, Bob.

MOFFITT: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.