Suspected Golden State Killer Joseph James DeAngelo Has Appeared In Court For The First Time

After a rollercoaster of a few days for true-crime watchers, the Golden State Killer/East Area Rapist case — one of the most prolific cold cases in U.S. history — is going to court. 72-year-old Joseph James DeAngelo made his arraignment appearance on Friday, decades after he allegedly committed 12 homicides and about 50 rapes between 1976 and 1986. As Jape Tapper reports in the above CNN clip, the courtroom was filled with victims and families whose lives were forever changed by the violent spree.

DeAngelo, who is said to be on suicide watch in the Sacramento County jail, was formally charged by the judge while appearing in a wheelchair in court. His next court appearance shall be on May 14. In the meantime, outlets are digging into DeAngelo’s life. After he was nabbed by police via information on genealogy websites, neighbors have revealed that DeAngelo mostly led the life of a recluse while living in the same home for decades, and they found him a little strange, although during “the last decade, he’s kept to himself.”

ABC News reports that DeAngelo was shocked when police approached him outside his home and told them that he “had a roast in the oven,” at which point officers stated that they’d take care of the matter. One neighbor, Colleen Fernandez, told the outlet that she recalled being in fear of the Golden State Killer decades ago, and she can’t believe he lived nearby:

“We walked by that house all the time … but we never saw him. I’m just thankful he got caught. It’s huge for this community. Even though it was 40 years ago, people still remembered … I was just a young woman. It was frightening. You’d definitely lock your doors and your windows. You had buddy system. I worked at a restaurant — I made sure somebody walked me to my car.”

Court proceedings will likely drag on for months, but Patton Oswalt continues to sing the praises of late wife Michelle McNamara’s book, I’ll Be Gone In The Dark, and the research that he believes help lead to DeAngelo’s arrest.

(Via ABC News, CBS News & CNN)