A look at the behavior of the Golden State Assassin suspect

While waiting for the COVID-19 pandemic from an RV parked several hours east of Reno, Jim Huddle cannot escape the presence of his brother-in-law.

There is the memory of Joe DeAngelo, enjoying his late night horror movies, clenching his teeth with excitement when the blood started; in a forced whisper, he growled, “Look at that!

There is a surprise to see DeAngelo pull a gun out of the trunk of his car to scare two men during an altercation in the parking lot.

And there is growing suspicion of crushed gold bars that DeAngelo pulled from a garage stash that he said were melted South African coins.

Now, many years later, Huddle, 69, can’t help but wonder if they had a darker provenance.

“We were like brothers. He introduced me as his brother, ”he told The Times. “It is a strange thing that someone can be so kind and so evil at the same time.”

On Monday, if everything goes as expected, Joseph James DeAngelo Jr., 74, will plead guilty to 26 criminal charges stemming from 13 murders and 13 rapes. You will also be asked to admit up to 62 additional crimes related to rapes and other attacks against dozens of children, women and men in 10 counties during the 1970s and 1980s.

Prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty for the former Auburn police.

The strictly drafted legal procedure will take place on a ballroom stage at the same Sacramento university from which DeAngelo graduated in 1972 with a degree in criminal justice, along the same trail as the river, detectives believe he traveled. to hunt down their first victims. The spacious configuration was chosen because it allows the physical distance required to protect against the spread of COVID-19. Masks will be required, but those worn by DeAngelo and his lawyers will be clear so that the audience can see his face, projected on two screens on the wall.

A court official, speaking anonymously, said the audience appears “designed like a reality show.”

Prosecutors say the statement would avoid criminal proceedings that could take years and cost taxpayers more than $ 20 million.

But the deal also means there won’t be a big reveal beyond what prosecutors include in their opening remarks. Evidence against DeAngelo remains sealed, leaving victims alone with the statement that a family DNA match linked DeAngelo to crimes that terrorized entire cities.

At least for now, Huddle, a retired Radio Shack employee and production inspector, is one of the few people within DeAngelo’s circle who could offer some clues to the “why” and “how” behind the alleged prolonged explosion of a man. violence. She is one of the few people with a family connection who breaks her silence around a man being hunted down and eventually marketed as the Golden State Assassin.

His slim, self-published book will be released the day after DeAngelo’s scheduled statement, titled “Killers Keep Secrets.” Huddle said the moment is a coincidence; The publication was established months before the surprise agreement was reached.

Huddle met DeAngelo in the summer of 1971, when his sister, Sharon, brought DeAngelo to his home to meet his family. Sharon was 17 years old and only a year of high school. DeAngelo was 25 years old, a Vietnam Navy veteran seeking a criminal justice degree. Jim Huddle offered to let his sister’s boyfriend move in with him. Just a few weeks earlier, DeAngelo told her that another woman had broken her wedding engagement.

While searching for a relationship with his sister, Huddle said, DeAngelo continued to obsess over Bonnie Colwell. “He was saying, ‘Yeah, that Bonnie, she broke my heart,’ and ‘She was the love of my life.’ Apparently she broke him up so much that he couldn’t love Sharon the way he loved her,” Huddle said in an interview with The Times.

Huddle never knew that Bonnie rejected DeAngelo for what he described as a pattern of abusive treatment, which included pointing a gun at her to force her to marry him. Nor did I know that nine years later, rape victims described a crying, unstable attacker who sometimes yelled, “I hate you, Bonnie!”

DeAngelo married Sharon Huddle in 1973 while working as a police officer in little Exeter, California, shortly before a series of looting began in neighboring Visalia. The maniacal night robberies culminated in the attempted kidnapping of a young teenage girl’s bedroom in 1975 while her family slept, and the murder of the girl’s father when she interrupted the attack.

The brothers-in-law fired pistols and ran dirt bikes and motorcycles. DeAngelo hated having his picture taken. He used to make stories that made him seem important.

He described the day DeAngelo opened his wife’s old stove in the garage and pulled out a cloth package. Wrapped in a towel were pancake-sized molten gold patties and a small hand-cast gold bar. Huddle said DeAngelo told him that he had melted the South African Krugerrands, purchased through high-interest loans to other sailors during the war in Vietnam.

Huddle said he now suspects that the gold was spilled from the coins and jewelry. DeAngelo is accused of robbing hundreds of victims. Investigators never recovered what they said were trophies of a murderer.

Over the course of 40 years, DeAngelo never seemed to share deep feelings, Huddle said. DeAngelo appeared as “plastic” and “false”.

“He was never a moving person,” said Huddle.

After being fired as an Auburn police officer for stealing from a hardware store, an angry DeAngelo told him he wanted to kill his former police chief, Huddle said.

“I mean, gosh, you’re just talking crazy,” Huddle recalled saying to his brother-in-law. He said he warned DeAngelo: “You are not going to get away with it. Because they will always be looking for the guy who did that.”

After DeAngelo lost his job at Auburn, East Area rapes in central California stopped, and a series of rape-related murders began in Southern California.

The change in crime coincided with the hiring of Sharon Huddle by the National Labor Relations Board in Los Angeles. She and her husband rented a house in Long Beach, Jim Huddle confirmed, while documents obtained by The Times show that DeAngelo collected payments from the state of California for job training. He started a second career as a diesel mechanic.

Both men had daughters almost the same age, and DeAngelo would take the girls out to play at night in the darkness of a closed park. Sometimes, I would watch horror movies with the girls until dawn. “He said, ‘Oh, it won’t bother you, Jim,'” Huddle said.

Victims of the man who raped dozens of women in the Sacramento suburbs in the late 1970s described hearing a similar whisper of gravel forced between clenched teeth.

Huddle has a photograph of the time, one of his daughters perched on DeAngelo’s lap in his new suburban home in Citrus Heights. A photo of his wife caring for their new baby hangs on the wall behind them.

It was the spring of 1983 when, after 50 rapes and 12 increasingly bloody murders, the chain of crimes suddenly stopped. Five years later, there would be a final rape attack and the murder of a teenage girl alone at home.

DeAngelo called Huddle’s parents “Mom” and “Dad” and came to see them even after Sharon moved in 1990 with her three daughters. He finally divorced DeAngelo in 2019, securing his home and his monthly Teamsters pension under a confidential agreement. In addition to a brief statement expressing sympathy for the victims, Sharon Huddle has flatly declined to comment.

With his self-published book, paid out of pocket, Huddle is part of the expanding business orbit around the famous serial killer case.

On a much larger and more lucrative scale, the night before the guilty plea hearing, HBO will begin a six-part dramatization of the late crime writer Michelle McNamara’s efforts to unmask the cold-case criminal she renamed Golden State Killer. Her book “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark” was released two months before DeAngelo was arrested.

The HBO series of the same name is based on three dozen bank boxes of evidence files that the writer pulled out of the Orange County Police evidence room and tape recordings she made of confidants, but the focus is mostly on McNamara.

Some of the victims are puzzled. The murder victim’s sister, Janelle Cruz, publicly shared a copy of the HBO memo warning her of “images and graphic information” while saying “connecting with you has been so significant.”

“I didn’t even tell them about this,” Michelle Cruz posted on Twitter.

Jennifer Carole was distraught, as she watched the HBO preview, seeing the naked and bloody bodies of her father and stepmother, Lyman and Charlene Smith, and the broken pieces of the log in the fireplace used to crush their skulls.

The crime scene photos were among the open investigative files McNamara obtained from the police.

“I am deeply disturbed that anyone outside the police had access to these files,” said Carole.

The HBO production also came with confidentiality deals with crime victims, paid interviews, and catering for a garden party that is the setting for the series finale.

Kris Pedretti, 15, when she was raped and tormented in 1976 by someone then called the East Area Rapist, said the two-year arrest parade, criminal hearings, and countless news, podcasts, including one by The Times, show cable news. , books, conventions on real crimes and other splits have been overwhelming.

“My emotions right now, through this live reality show … can be compared to a roller coaster ride,” Pedretti said. “As soon as the balance returns from the latest DeAngelo news, a new roller coaster appears, each time with tighter turns and steep slopes.”

Some of the victims’ families have found a public voice. Pedretti, once her father stopped her from talking about her rape, started a private Facebook group for survivors of sexual assault.

Carole documents the progression of the case through a blog and a podcast, saying that her 400 followers share her ambition to look beyond crime for entertainment.

Former Air Force officer Jane Carson was the first of the East Area rape victims to speak in public and wrote a book describing her rape and encouraging rape victims to report their attacks and seek support and advice.

Carson expressed his anxiety over Monday’s guilty plea, over the media camera benches and the great room; about sitting masked and away from her fellow survivors, to see DeAngelo admit her 1976 rape.

“I just wish it was in a much smaller and much more personal setting, because I want to hear him admit to each of his crimes,” he said. “It’s going to be a circus. I just wish it was over.