Murder That Haunted Ventura County May Come To A Close
Murder That Haunted Ventura County May Come To A Close
With the arrest of Joseph DeAngelo, Ventura County may close a chapter on a notorious unsolved murder mystery. Authorities in Sacramento arrested DeAngelo, who they claim is the Golden State Killer. DeAngelo is suspected in more than 50 reported rapes and at least 12 homicides. He faces charges in the deaths of two Ventura County residents in their home in 1980.

Lyman and Charlene Smith died when the killer broke into their home beat the couple to death. Initially, investigators suspected a business partner, but they could not make a case against him.

Besides the Smith murders, authorities linked DeAngelo to eight homicides in Santa Barbara and Orange Counties, and two in Sacramento. Police used DNA evidence from numerous crime scenes to connect DeAngelo’s crimes. Reporters tagged him as the East Area Rapist, the Original Night Stalker and the Golden State Killer. Authorities did not realize at the time that the rapes and murders were the work of one person.

Cold case investigators developed DeAngelo as a suspect after submitting his DNA to an ancestry website for DNA matching to relatives. Based on the results of the test, investigators created a family tree and developed three potential suspects. Additional DNA tests excluded two of the suspects. Detectives collected a DNA sample from DeAngelo using materials he discarded in his household trash.

It’s not yet clear which jurisdiction(s) will prosecute DeAngelo, or even whether authorities will try all of the cases. Following his dismissal from the police force, DeAngelo worked as a mechanic until his retirement. He lived with one of his daughters at the time of his arrest.

Ventura murder lawyer


This case demonstrates the importance of having an experienced murder lawyer on your side. The case raises issues regarding the use of the state’s DNA database. It also raises privacy and search concerns regarding the private use of DNA samples.

When you face homicide charges in California, your life is literally in the balance. By itself, a homicide conviction can result in the death penalty. Multiple homicides bring you even closer to facing execution. Don’t settle for an inexperienced attorney or one who won’t fight aggressively for your freedom.

Contact Robert Helfend or call toll-free at (800) 834-6434, (805) 273-5611, (310) 456-3317 or (818) 591-2809 for an immediate consultation on your Ventura County murder case.

Photo Credit: Justin Grimes, via Flickr

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