April 25 (UPI) -- Authorities in California announced Wednesday they arrested the so-called Golden State Killer more than 40 years after the start of a decade-long rape and killing spree throughout the state.
Sacramento County sheriff's officials arrested Joseph James DeAngelo on Tuesday and booked him into the county jail on two counts of murder.
Investigators previously linked 12 deaths and 45 rapes to a single perpetrator active between 1976 and 1986 in the Sacramento, Central Valley and Southern California region. The Golden State Killer -- also known as the East Area Rapist, Original Night Stalker and the Diamond Knot Killer -- also is suspected of burglarizing hundreds of residences.
"For over 40 years countless victims have waited for justice," Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert said during a news conference.
"The answer has always been in Sacramento," she said earlier.
Schubert said authorities were able to tie the deaths of Brian Maggiore and Katie Maggiore in 1978 to DeAngelo using DNA evidence.
Ventura County District Attorney Gregory D. Totten said his office also filed two first-degree murder charges against DeAngelo for the 1980 deaths of Lyman Smith and Charlene Smith.
"This 1980 murder has long been a source of fear and angst," Totten said. "This is a case that much like the rapes that occurred ... in the Sacramento area, literally struck fear in the hearts of Ventura County residents."
He called the mystery of the Smith case a "source of frustration" for law enforcement officials.
The Sacramento Bee reported law enforcement agents from the FBI, Sacramento County and Southern California converged on DeAngelo's residence in Citrus Heights early Wednesday. The 72-year-old lived there for at least two decades.
Police believe the suspect in the Golden State Killer case raped 37 people and killed two in the Sacramento and Central Valley area between 1976 and 1978 before moving to the Bay Area and Southern California and continuing the attacks.
Most of the killer's victims were women who were home alone or with their children. If their husbands were home, they were often tied up during the attack.
"We had people sleeping with shotguns, we had people purchasing dogs. People were concerned, and they had a right to be. This guy was terrorizing the community. He did horrible things," FBI Special Agent Marcus Knutson, who headed the FBI investigation, said in 2016.
One victim, Jane Carson-Sandler, told The Island Packet in South Carolina, where she now lives, that she was "overwhelmed with joy" at the news of DeAngelo's arrest.
"I've been crying, sobbing," she said. "I just can't tell you how I feel. After 42 years -- wow!"
She told the newspaper the East Area Rapist sexually assaulted her in her Citrus Heights home on Oct. 5, 1976. Carson-Sandler has written books and appeared on HLN seeking help to close the decades-old case.
DeAngelo was an officer with the Auburn Police Department for three years in the 1970s and he also had a job with the police department in Exeter, which is near Visalia where crimes from 1973 and 1976 may also be linked to him. He was divorced and was living with his daughter and granddaughter at the time of his arrest.
The Golden State Killer case was the subject of I'll Be Gone in the Dark, an investigative book written by the late Michelle McNamara and a podcast of the same name featuring interviews with McNamara, her husband Patton Oswalt and others who worked on the book.
Oswalt, an actor and comedian, helped to get McNamara's book published after her death in 2016 and has promoted it since its release in February.
"If they've really caught the #GoldenStateKiller I hope I get to visit him," he wrote on Twitter before California authorities officially announced the arrest. "Not to gloat or gawk -- to ask him the questions that [McNamara] wanted answered in her 'Letter to an Old Man' at the end of #IllBeGoneInTheDark."
As recently as 2016, the FBI offered a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the killer.