As victims of the Golden State Killer plan to speak in court before he is sentenced to life in prison this week, one woman recounted how the night she was raped 44 years ago changed her life forever.
Jane Carson-Sandler spoke out ahead of Joseph James DeAngelo Jr.'s sentencing hearing this week, saying that sometimes she still experiences flashbacks from that night in 1976. DeAngelo, who was wearing a ski mask, confronted Carson-Sandler with a butcher knife as she lay in bed with her toddler son in her California home. Her husband had left for work.
Carson-Sandler said she can’t go skiing now out of fear she will be triggered by someone wearing a ski mask.
"Our wounds heal and our scars remain," Carson-Sandler said.
Carson-Sandler is just one of DeAngelo’s numerous victims. As part of a plea deal to spare him the death penalty, DeAngelo admitted to 161 crimes involving 48 people, including 13 murders and numerous rapes. Many of the sexual assaults he admitted to carrying out could not be prosecuted because the statute of limitations had passed by the time he was arrested.
DeAngelo carried out his crime spree in the '70s and '80s and the crimes were spread across multiple California counties. The then-unknown killer became known by several different names, such as the Original Night Stalker, Visalia Ranscaker, East Area Rapist and most recently, the Golden State Killer.
In the 1990s, detectives began to realize through DNA that the crimes were being committed by the same person. Among DeAngelo’s murder victims were Charlene and Lyman Smith, a Ventura couple found bludgeoned to death in the bedroom in March of 1980. Charlene was also raped. It was DNA from that case that eventually led to DeAngelo’s arrest.
In their search for the Golden State Killer, investigators uploaded DNA left at crime scenes to GEDmatch and looked at the connections that popped up. From there, authorities probed the connections and ultimately obtained a direct DNA sample from an unidentified object discarded by DeAngelo, authorities said. They plugged DeAngelo’s DNA back into the genealogy website and found a match, officials said.
On Tuesday, testimony from DeAngelo’s Sacramento County rape victims alone is expected to take a full day. More rape victims and family members of those murdered by DeAngelo, 74, are also supposed to speak on Wednesday and Thursday in Sacramento County Superior Court.
"The statements from all victims are designed to enlighten all parties and the public to the swath of damage that violent predators leave in their wake," said Cheryl Temple, Ventura County's chief assistant district attorney. "They can be cathartic for victims to write and deliver, and they truly shift the focus from the defendant to the societal impact of crime.”
The court proceedings are set to be live-streamed on the Sacramento County Superior Court's YouTube channel.