DNA links lead to arrest of suspect in Santa Barbara County murders

Joseph James DeAngelo

Almost forty years after the suspect known as the Original Night Stalker is believed to have committed the first of three horrific crimes in Santa Barbara County near Goleta, officers arrested 72-year-old Joseph James DeAngelo.

DeAngelo is linked through DNA evidence to a double homicide near Goleta in 1981 and is believed responsible for another double homicide two years prior in 1979 and an attempted double homicide also in 1979. The crimes not only devastated the families and friends of those killed, but created fear and panic in Santa Barbara County and in other communities, he terrorized across California.

DeAngelo is tied to 12 murders, more than fifty rapes and potentially hundreds of burglaries that occurred across ten counties in California from the late seventies to mid-eighties.

Official have identified DeAngelo, of Citrus Heights, as being the Golden State Killer, who also held the monikers of East Area Rapist and Original Night Stalker. In order to solve the cold case, Investigators matched discarded DNA evidence with genetic evidence from the crimes.

“We know this is an emotional day for all of those who were impacted by this suspect’s reign of terror, but it is a great day in the annals of criminal investigation,” Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said. “This case is a great example as to how fortunate we are to have DNA technology advancements, which can help solve crimes even as long as 40 years later. Justice may have been delayed in this case, but it will ultimately be served.”

Sacramento County detectives arrested DeAngelo on Tuesday. Later in the day, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Cold Case Unit received notification that the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office made an arrest in the case. Santa Barbara detectives immediately traveled to Sacramento to partake in the investigation into the Santa Barbara County-linked cases.

According the sheriff’s office, the Golden State Killer’s Santa Barbara County crime spree began in Oct. 1979, when a couple was attacked while they slept in their home near Goleta. Both victims managed to escape, and the attacker fled the scene on a stolen bicycle.

Two months later, on Dec. 30, 1979, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Robert Offerman, 44, and psychologist Dr. Alexandria Manning, 35, were both brutally murdered in their condo in Goleta. Two years later, on July 27, 1981, Greg Sanchez, 27, and Cheri Domingo, 35, were found brutally murdered in a home near Goleta that Domingo was house sitting.

In 2011, investigators managed to link DNA evidence to the 1981 double homicide.

Authorities in several California counties are now preparing charges against DeAngelo.