SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The DNA of a tissue left in a trash can led authorities to the arrest of a former California police officer suspected of the Golden State Killer, according to warrants released Friday.
The documents detail the case are joined by the Sacramento County sheriff’s investigators to arrest a 72-year-old Joseph DeAngelo.
He is suspected of committing at least a dozen dead and about 50 rapes in the 1970s and ’80s, making him one of California’s most elusive serial killers.
Researchers zero in on DeAngelo by the use of genealogical websites, to identify possible relatives of the killer, based on DNA collected at a crime scene.
The DNA of a semen sample was collected after a double murder in Ventura County in 1980, according to the warrants.
After the identification of DeAngelo as a suspect, investigators followed him to a shop in April and took a swab from the handle of a door that he uses. That example does not immediately lead to an arrest.
Three days later, the researchers collected trash cans left outside of DeAngelo’s home in Citrus Heights, California. A piece of tissue picked from the trash showed evidence that they are needed to obtain an arrest warrant, according to the documents.
The Associated Press and other news media fought to make the documents public over the objections of DeAngelo’s public defense. Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Michael Sweet has agreed to release 123 pages of records.
The victims’ identities and some details about the investigation were redacted at the request of the prosecutors.