'Golden State Killer' Joseph DeAngelo pleads guilty to 13 murders, dozens of rapes across California

His crimes extend from 1973 through 1986 across more than a dozen California counties.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Accused Golden State Killer, Joseph DeAngelo, 74, has pleaded guilty to all of the crimes he's charged with - including 13 murders - at a hearing in Sacramento.

He also admitted to many criminal acts he wasn't charged with that took place in multiple California counties.

RELATED: Accused Golden State Killer returns to court following offer to plea

The former Exeter Police officer and now convicted killer's crimes - including dozens of rapes - extend from 1973 through 1986 across more than a dozen California counties. His crime spree started with bedroom ransackings and a murder in Visalia.

In a makeshift courtroom on the Sacramento State campus, families of victims watched as attorneys detailed the horrific killings and rapes they say went on for decades.

It wasn't until two years ago that new DNA technology called genetic genealogy led authorities to the predator also suspected of being the Visalia Ransacker.

Many witnesses, victims, or law enforcement officials who were involved in the case have aged or even passed away.

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On Monday morning, DeAngelo pleaded guilty to the 1975 murder of former College of the Sequoias journalism professor, Claude Snelling.

Prosecutors said Monday the scope of Joseph DeAngelo's crime spree is staggering.

Prosecutors from six California counties, including Tulare, filed 26 felony charges against DeAngelo.

RELATED: Visalia detective came face to face with 'Visalia Ransacker' serial killer in 1975

In exchange for his guilty pleas and confessions, DeAngelo will escape the death penalty and instead will spend the rest of his life in prison.

"This place, this plea, at this time is in the best interest of the people of the state of California," said Amy Holliday with the Sacramento County DA's Office.

DeAngelo's very first guilty plea was for the murder of College of the Sequoias Journalism Professor Claude Snelling in the fall of 1975.

Snelling died trying to save his teen daughter from being kidnapped by DeAngelo.

The murder in Visalia is believed to be DeAngelo's first.

RELATED: Visalia detective came face to face with 'Visalia Ransacker' serial killer in 1975

He was an Exeter police officer at the time.

"Beth witnessed DeAngelo shoot her father twice from a distance of ten feet using his left hand. DeAngelo then turned and pointed the revolver in the direction of Beth and kicked her three times in the face before running out of the family's backyard," said Tulare County Assistant District Attorney David Alavezos.

As part of the plea, DeAngelo also admitted to the crime of kidnapping to commit the rape of Snelling's daughter.

He then admitted to the attempted murder of Visalia Police Detective Bill McGowen several months later during a stakeout related to Snelling's death and a series of crimes that earned him the nickname 'The Visalia Ransacker.'

It took hours for DeAngelo to confess to all of his crimes on Monday.

And the case still isn't over.

Sentencing is scheduled for later this summer.

Here are the victims that DeAngelo pleaded guilty to murdering:

  • Claude Snelling - Tulare County
  • Katie Maggiore - Sacramento County
  • Brian Maggiore - Sacramento County
  • Debra Alexandria Manning - Santa Barbara County
  • Robert Offerman - Santa Barbara County
  • Cheri Domingo - Santa Barbara County
  • Greg Sanchez - Santa Barbara County
  • Charlene Smith - Ventura County
  • Lyman Smith - Ventura County
  • Patrice Harrington - Orange County
  • Keith Harrington - Orange County
  • Manuela Witthuhn - Orange County
  • Janelle Cruz - Orange County
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