An unforgettable case.
Today, April 24, marks the three-year anniversary of the arrest of Joseph James DeAngelo Jr., a former police officer who came to be known as the Golden State Killer after committing a myriad of heinous crimes—including murder and rape—across the state of California over a 13-year period. And while the arrest was certainly a victory for law enforcement, famed cold case investigator Paul Holes, who worked closely on this case, noted that the capture of DeAngelo didn't take away the victims or their loved ones' pain and suffering.
"Well, I pretty much remember everything about that case. It was so ingrained with me, you know, I was involved with that case for 24 years," Holes said in an exclusive chat with E! News. "I'm still in touch with some of the survivors of his attacks, as well as some of the family members of victims whose lives were lost."
Per Holes, although the victims and their families "got an answer," this still "has not provided any relief from the trauma that they have suffered for decades."
"It is still a healing process for them and many of them will probably never totally recover," he explained. "And it just speaks to the gravity of the crimes that he did."
The now 53-year-old host of The Murder Squad podcast was first introduced to the case in 1994, when he was tapped as an investigator for the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office. At the time, the perpetrator in those cold case files was referred to as the East Area Rapist. Thankfully, due to a DNA breakthrough in 2001, it was discovered that the crimes committed by the Visalia Ransacker, the East Area Rapist, the Diamond Knot Killer and the Original Night Stalker were actually done by one man, later rebranded as the Golden State Killer.
Following years of collecting DNA evidence connected to these unsolved crimes, Holes got in contact with genealogist Barbara Rae-Venter. And it was through this genealogist that a successful genetic profile and family tree was used in the arrest of DeAngelo.
In 2020, DeAngelo, whose criminal activity spanned between 1973 and 1986, pled guilty to 13 counts of first-degree murder and 13 other felony counts of kidnapping to commit robbery. He also admitted to additional crimes, including attempted murder, rape, first-degree burglary, false imprisonment and robbery. He was uncharged for these crimes as part of a plea agreement, which took the death penalty of the table. The convicted killer is now serving a life sentence in prison.
Holes, who recently took on a new role for the 2021 reboot of America's Most Wanted, said the Fox series allows "people to understand" that there are plenty of victims, who have suffered from different crimes, who still "want to have justice."
Catch up on the first season of Fox's reboot of America's Most Wanted here.