'Golden State Killer' pleads guilty to California murders

(JUDGE) "How do you plead?

(DEANGLEO) "Guilty."

He terrorized California with a string of slayings, rapes and break-ins in a crime wave dating back to the mid-1970s, and on Monday - "The Golden State Killer" finally faced justice.

74 year old ex-policeman Joseph James DeAngelo on Monday admitted guilt to a multitude of crimes in front of victims and their families in a ballroom at Sacramento State University instead of a courthouse to allow for social distancing.

In all, DeAngelo agreed to plead guilty to 13 counts of first degree murder.

Sacramento County Deputy District Attorney Thienvu Ho:

"The scope of Joseph DeAngelo's crime spree is simply staggering, encompassing 13 known murders, and almost fifty rapes between 1975 and 1986."

DeAngelo entered the plea as part of a broader agreement with prosecutors from 11 California counties to admit to all allegations against him, charged and uncharged.

Under the terms of the plea deal, DeAngelo is spared a potential death sentence but will face life in prison without the possibility of parole.

DeAngelo's arrest in 2018 came after more than 40 years of investigation in a case that authorities said was finally solved by comparing crime-scene DNA evidence to information on genealogy websites used to track ancestry.

The breakthrough came about two months after the case gained renewed national attention in the bestselling book, "I'll Be Gone in the Dark."

A TV documentary series spawned by the book premiered by coincidence on HBO on Sunday.

Video Transcript

- How do you plead?

JOSEPH JAMES DEANGELO: Guilty.

- He terrorized California with a string of slayings, rapes, and break-ins in a crime wave dating back to the mid-1970s. And on Monday, the Golden State Killer finally faced justice. 74-year-old ex-policeman Joseph James DeAngelo on Monday admitted guilt to a multitude of crimes in front of victims and their families in a ballroom at Sacramento State University instead of a courthouse to allow for social distancing.

Sacramento County Deputy District Attorney Thienvu Ho.

THIENVU HO: The scope of Joseph DeAngelo's crime spree is simply staggering encompassing 13 known murders and almost 50 rapes between 1975 and 1986.

- In all, DeAngelo agreed to plead guilty to 13 counts of first-degree murder. DeAngelo entered the plea as part of a broader agreement with prosecutors from 11 California counties to admit to all allegations against him, charged and uncharged. DeAngelo is spared a potential death sentence but will face life in prison without the possibility of parole.

DeAngelo's arrest in 2018 came after more than 40 years of investigation in a case that authorities said was finally solved by comparing crime-scene DNA evidence to information on genealogy websites used to track ancestry. The breakthrough came about two months after the case gained renewed national attention in the bestselling book "I'll Be Gone in the Dark." A TV documentary series spawned by the book premiered by coincidence on HBO on Sunday.