SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — It was one of the greatest unsolved mysteries of our time, until now.

Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert said, “The answer has always been in Sacramento.”

Forty years after striking terror across the Sacramento region and then up-and-down California, the East Area Rapist has now been identified as 72-year-old Joseph DeAngelo was finally captured inside his Citrus Heights home.

“I was shocked to know this was right underneath our nose,” said one neighbor.

The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department said detectives had been staking DeAngelo out at his home for 6 days.

“We were able to confirm what we thought we already knew—that we had our man,” said Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones.

Authorities were able to collect discarded DNA found at DeAngelo’s home and then compared it with DNA samples from crime scenes all those years ago, but they’re not saying what or who led them to the accused killer in the first place.


UC Davis forensic science professor Ruth Dickover said, “I suspect that they got some tips and information that helped lead them to this guy.”

UC Davis Forensic Science Professor Ruth Dickover.

Dickover says the initial DNA match is a huge break, but not a slam dunk.

“They have to get DNA that’s not discarded from him, but a known reference sample that’s properly collected from him and test that and see how that compares.”

Four decades later, the East Area Rapist is now behind bars. While justice did not come quickly in this case, authorities promise it will be served.

“We are committed, we are determined and we will, God willing, hold this man fully accountable for these crimes,” said Ventura County District attorney Greg Totten.

The Sacramento County District Attorney said DeAngelo had never been on the department’s radar before. He is scheduled to make his first court appearance Friday afternoon.