The Original Night Stalker was a person who had committed around 200 acts of assault, burglary, and murder between 1976 and 1986 in California. This person managed to evade law enforcement for that decade and was not heard from again after that. The crimes went unaccounted for more than 40 years until 2017 when DNA analysis was available to help better identify this cold case. The initial DNA gathered from years of crime scenes were able to pinpoint a few men in the area originally overlooked.
This is the story of the investigation.
According to the Sacramento Bee, a man by the name of Joseph James DeAngelo and few other men had close matches to the DNA already gathered from the past crime scenes.
"Both DeAngelo and the blonde man born in 1958 were on the same family tree as someone who loaded a DNA profile onto the open-source genealogy website GEDmatch. Police started to investigate them and three other white men of a certain age related to the GEDmatch user, who was at best a third cousin of the suspected Original Night Stalker.
At first, Holes thought DeAngelo, now 72, was too old to be their suspect. And while investigators always believed the Original Night Stalker could have been a police officer because he had evaded authorities for so long, Holes thought it would have been very difficult for DeAngelo to have committed attacks in San Jose, Contra Costa County and throughout the Sacramento area while serving full-time as a cop in Auburn. Especially since his name had not been seen in the 15,000+ documents received in the entire case."
However, as more facts about DeAngelo came in the authorities began to pay more attention to him.
The key piece of evidence that created a high level of interest in DeAngelo would become known soon after.
"During a July 1978 assault of a 33-year-old housewife in Davis, the Original Night Stalker was sobbing and saying, 'I hate you Bonnie, I hate you Bonnie,'"
Holes said. "We thought that was significant."
After some searching, investigators discovered DeAngelo had been engaged to a woman named Bonnie in 1970. This created enough friction to put DeAngelo at the top of the list.
In 2017, Law Enforcement began to track his movements and mounted a new form of investigative tactics for this special case.
The new tactic would be to pick up discarded materials containing the suspects DNA and cross-reference those with other DNA samples from the past crimes scenes.
"On April 20, detectives picked up an item DeAngelo discarded in public and ran the DNA through the crime lab. It had some similarities to the East Area Rapist, but not enough for an arrest. Detectives grabbed another sample from something DeAngelo tossed on Tuesday morning. That one was a hit."
Later that same day DeAngelo would be arrested. After years of investigating they had finally got the man they knew was, in fact, the murderer. After reports had come through, the family was notified and shocked by the facts about their grandfather.