LOS ANGELES - For years I've been fascinated by the hunt to find the infamous "Golden State Killer."
He eluded capture for decades. This assailant moving up and down the state of California leaving a path of heartbreak in his wake.
Today 74-year-old Joseph DeAngelo, the confessed Golden State Killer, was sentenced to life in prison; no possibility of parole.
Prosecutors called the scope of his violence "simply staggering." 87 victims at 53 crime scenes, encompassing nearly a dozen counties.
Last June, DeAngelo agreed to plead guilty to 13 murders and 13 rape related charges. The plea deal avoided a possible death sentence for the former cop turned killer. With COVID-19 protocols in effect, a Sacramento ballroom was turned into a makeshift courtroom.
All this week, his victims and their families testified in detail to the pain he inflicted on them. Listening to the testimony made me sick to my stomach. The brutality of these crimes described with vivid accuracy, not dimmed by the passage of time. DeAngelo sat there motionless, mask on, not looking at his victims. But today, on the day he was to be sentenced, he stood up, removed his mask, and told victims he was " truly sorry."
Those words rang hollow to Ron Harrington, the brother of Keith Harrington. Harrington's brother, Keith and his wife, Patty were bludgeoned to death in August of 1980 in their Dana Point home. Patty had been sexually assaulted. Harrington said he was shocked today by the killer's apology. He said DeAngelo was trying to "fake his humanity" and was a "sociopath."
The Harrington Family has been scarred by these sadistic crimes. The father of Keith Harrington discovered the crime scene and "never got over it."
Today brothers Ron and Bruce held a vigil for their late brother and his bride and all the other victims of DeAngelo. In their estimation the sentence was an imperfect solution. Ron told me he believed in the death penalty for the Golden State Killer. But given the massive case, spanning over decades with aging victims and aging witnesses, it was the best outcome for justice.
Ironically, today, was forty years to the day Ron received the call that his brother and sister in law had been brutally murdered.
It's also Ron Harrington's birthday. I asked him if he felt his late brother's presence in court with him today. In hushed tones, he answered " I hope so.... I think so. I just miss him. He was so special. So was Patty." And he said he felt some measure of closure today.