On April 24, 2018, 72-year-old Navy veteran and former police officer Joseph James DeAngelo was charged with eight counts of first-degree murder connected to the Golden State Killer. DeAngelo’s spree dates back to the mid-1970s and spans across multiple California counties, including Sacramento, Santa Clara and San Joaquin.
The arrest was made based on a partial match to DNA of a fourth cousin found on the open-source genealogy website GEDmatch.
Months after his arrest, the internet started to buzz with an eerie revelation that suggests that DeAngelo might have still been active more than 30 years later in Folsom, California, just 15-minutes away from where he lived. Footage captured on a private residence security camera at 3:30 a.m. on April 14 shows what appears to be a man prowling in a wig.
The wig was secured by a headband and, as seen in the footage screenshots, the man was traveling with a bag.
The prowler walked up to the front door, rang the door bell, knocked, and prowled around for about minute before leaving after noticing the security camera. The woman that lives at the house is forty-something, petite, and brunette, all traits common to victims of the Golden State Killer. The Golden State Killer was also believed to have worn disguises like wigs.
The homeowner shared the creepy images on a local neighborhood watch page in April, but they made their way onto forums following the DeAngelo case in June.
Some have speculated that the prowler was DeAngelo, especially after comparing his mugshot to close-ups of the wig-wearing man’s face. While the internet went back and forth on whether the man in the footage resembled DeAngelo at all, one Reddit user went the extra mile and measured out the facial structure of both the prowler and the 72-year-old ex-cop.
According to his analysis, the measurements were startling and appeared to support the idea that the prowler was DeAngelo.
While there do appear to be some similarities between DeAngelo and the prowler, the creepiest part of the footage is the bag. According to victims that were attacked by the Golden State Killer (also known as the East Area Rapist and Original Night Stalker), he carried around what appeared to be a black doctor’s bag.
Looking closely at the security camera footage, the bag does resemble a doctor’s bag, or as an East Area Rapist ProBoard member deduced, even a bowling ball bag.
As the killer was known to be active until the late 1980s, it may seem odd that the 72-year-old man would randomly go back to his old ways more than 30 years later. The last known victim of the Golden State Killer was 18-year-old Janelle Lisa Cruz , who was found bludgeoned to death with a pipe wrench after having been raped while home alone on May 4, 1986, in Irvine, California.
The last known interaction with the man associated with the Golden State Killer and East Area Rapist crimes came in 2002, when a previous victim received a phone call at work. According to the victim, the rapist called and threatened that he would rape her again. Contra Costa County District Attorney Paul Holes speculated that the killer entered the restaurant and recognized her as one of his victims.
Regardless of whether or not the man in the footage was DeAngelo, it’s still an eerie bit of footage that definitely leaves more questions than answers. If it was the Golden State Killer, was he looking to start up his crime spree again? Or is it possible that DeAngelo had continued killing and raping, but left no trace of evidence to link the crimes to those of the 70s and 80s?
Even just the idea of him prowling voyeuristically again is bone chilling.
However, one online commentator said that the identity of the person in the images is a woman with mental health issues seen by a neighbor earlier that day.
Whatever the case, DeAngelo is now in custody and isn't talking. We may never know who was knocking that night.