How The Golden State Killer Allegedly Used A TV During His Crimes

According to Reuters, Joseph James DeAngelo, the notorious and sadistic Golden State Killer, carried out no less than 13 murders and nearly 50 rapes between the years 1975 and 1986 in numerous counties along the West Coast. The California killer remained at large for what seemed like an eternity, leaving authorities and investigators in a maddening lurch as they painstakingly combed the earth for the culprit. It wasn't until 2018 that he was finally identified and brought to justice, and the grisly details of his treacherous crimes all came into full view after his house was searched amid a thorough investigation. "He's a psychological sadist," cold-case criminologist Paul Holes shared following DeAngelo's arrest (via the Daily Mail. "His big thing was the fear he was instilling in the victims."

Given his penchant for sadism, it's perhaps not surprising that DeAngelo allegedly used a TV in a fairly unusual manner during his crime spree.

DeAngelo's victims

"The walls were splattered with blood and gray matter. The bed was saturated with bodily fluids," Jennifer Carole shared in court before the sorrowful and decrepit form of her parents' killer (via ABC 8). "Gary [her brother] gently lifted the corner of the comforter to find my dad face down in the pillow cemented to the fabric by blood." In March 1980, DeAngelo broke into the home of Lyman and Charlene Smith in the middle of the night and killed them both as their children slept soundly in neighboring rooms. According to the Daily Mail, the killer used a fireplace log to bludgeon the couple to death.

Investigators shared that DeAngelo would break into the home of an unsuspecting female individual with the intention of raping and killing her in the middle of the night. If there was a man in the house at the time of entry, he was also tied up and made to watch as his paramour was viciously assaulted and killed (via Daily Mail). It was a meticulous and barbaric process that claimed at least 13 innocent lives throughout the '70s and '80s (via Reuters).

He allegedly used a TV to see his victims' terrified faces

During an appearance on the "My Favorite Murder" podcast, Paul Holes said the former California police officer turned cold-blooded serial killer would, after breaking into his victims' homes in the middle of the night and subduing them, sometimes throw a towel over their television set and turn the volume all the way down. He allegedly did this to produce a suppressed light that would allow him to see their terrified faces (via the New York Daily News). 

"(I) walk into DeAngelo's room, and he has a computer there, and he's got a towel over the monitor," Holes said. "I'm looking at that going, 'Is that just a dust cover? Or is he reminiscing (and) he wants a glow, you know? Is he pulling out any of those souvenirs and replicating the glowing environment from back in the 1970s?"

It's an eerie and unsettling picture — almost unnatural in its grotesqueness. While Joseph DeAngelo never really specified who he specifically subjected to this twisted and unnerving practice, investigators were able to ascertain that it was in fact part of his diabolical process during those horrible years of torment and mysterious terror. 

The Golden State Killer was finally caught in 2018

It's highly unusual for someone like Joseph DeAngelo to not only evade police during the years chronicling his horrific crimes, but for decades after the fact as well. However, in 2018, Daily Mail reported that DNA matching ultimately led to DeAngelo's arrest. Then 72 years old, DeAngelo was living alone in Sacramento when police came to his home and arrested him on the spot. 

As the investigation matured and evidence started to pile up against the long sought-after Golden State Killer, so did the murder and rape charges. Ultimately, after narrowly avoiding the death sentence, DeAngelo pled guilty to all 13 counts of first-degree murder as part of a plea deal and is currently serving several life sentences with no chance of parole. "Joe spending the rest of his life in prison is not justice," Jennifer Carole stated during her testimony. "Justice is not possible in this case" (per ABC 8).