The arrest of a man believed to be the Golden State Killer could finally bring closure to families traumatized by three Santa Barbara County cases that took the lives of four Goleta residents.
On Tuesday, police arrested Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, who's a suspect in at least 12 killings and 45 rapes, at his home in Citrus Heights, a Sacramento suburb. Officials said they used DNA evidence to link DeAngelo to the crimes.
The Golden State Killer — also known as the East Area Rapist, the Diamond Knot Killer and the Original Night Stalker — is believed to have raped and killed victims in the Sacramento region between 1976 and 1978.
He's later thought to have raped victims in the Bay Area and committed homicides in Southern California.
The Original Night Stalker is linked to three crimes in Goleta: two double homicides committed in 1979 and 1981 and an attempted double homicide in 1979, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office.
"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," Sheriff Bill Brown said in a statement.
"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."
The Sacramento County Sheriff's Office notified the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office Cold Case Unit of the arrest just after 5 p.m. on Tuesday, according to the release.
Sheriff's detectives then traveled to Sacramento to help investigate Santa Barbara County-related cases.
Authorities believe the Original Night Stalker first struck the Goleta area in October 1979, when he attacked a couple asleep in their home. The victims escaped, and the suspect fled on a stolen bicycle.
Two months later, Robert Offerman, 44, and Alexandria Manning were murdered in their condo near Goleta.
In July 1981, Greg Sanchez, 27, and Cheri Domingo, 35, were found murdered in a home near Goleta where Domingo was housesitting. In 2011, DNA evidence linked the double homicide to other Original Night Stalker crimes.
The Sheriff's Office continued to investigate the crimes for decades and expressed gratitude to the public for providing leads and information.
"I am incredibly relieved as we all are here at the Sheriff’s Office that the suspect has been identified, arrested and that he will be brought to justice," said Detective Gary Kitzman.
This story was updated to include two photos of DeAngelo from his days as a police officer in the 1970s. The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office released these photos on April 30.