'Golden State Killer' appears in Sacramento County Court for 1st time

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Friday, April 27, 2018
'Golden State Killer' appears in Sacramento court
A man suspected of being the "Golden State Killer" made his first appearance at Sacramento County Court.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- A man suspected of being one of California's most elusive serial killers appeared in court for the first time on Friday. The alleged "Golden State Killer" was arraigned in Sacramento County Superior Court on two counts of murder.

Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, was handcuffed in a wheelchair and five police officers surrounded him as he listened to the judge with his eyes barely open. He did not enter a plea and was denied bail.

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Prosecutors said that DNA from ancestry websites led to the arrest of the suspected "Golden State Killer," Joseph James DeAngelo.

A court official read the details of the charges that DeAngelo is facing and a judge asked if he had a lawyer.

In a frail voice, DeAngelo responded, "I have a lawyer." An attorney from the public defender's office was with him in court.

DeAngelo appeared in a wheelchair and was wearing an orange jumpsuit.

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DNA in two 1978 killings led to the arrest of the "Golden State Killer," tied to dozens of slayings and sexual assaults in the '70s and '80s.

He's facing two counts of murder, but he is suspected of at least 10 more murders and upwards of 50 rapes from 1976 to 1986.

Sheriff Scott Jones said Friday that DeAngelo was in a psychiatric ward of the county jail and has said little. The sheriff also said there's been "quiet reflection" and mumbling to himself.

Jones said investigators are sifting through every item, receipt and piece of paper from DeAngelo's home. They're searching for any possible clues to tie him to more than 170 crimes authorities believe he may have committed.

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In "I'll Be Gone in the Dark," Michelle McNamara chronicled her "obsessive" search for the elusive criminal known as the Golden State Killer.

Police searched his Citrus Heights home on Thursday for possible murder weapons as well as trinkets the accused "Golden State Killer" might have stolen from his victims.

Investigators tracked down DeAngelo using a genealogy website that contained genetic information from a relative. It was revealed Friday that the Florida-based GEDmatch had no idea its database was tapped in pursuit of the killer.

GEDmatch co-founder Curtis Rogers said law enforcement's use of the site raised privacy concerns that were echoed by civil liberties groups.

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The free genealogy website, which pools DNA profiles that people upload and share publicly to find relatives, said it has always informed users its database can be used for other purposes. But Rogers said the company does not "hand out data."

"This was done without our knowledge, and it's been overwhelming," he told The Associated Press.

For the team of investigators tracking the attacker, GEDmatch was one of the best tools, lead investigator Paul Holes told the Mercury News in San Jose. Officials did not need a court order to access GEDMatch's large database of genetic blueprints, Holes said. Major commercial DNA companies say they do not give law enforcement access to their genetic data without a court order.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.