It’s been exactly a year today since 72-year-old former cop Joseph James DeAngelo was arrested on suspicion of being the Golden State Killer — aka the East Area Rapist, the Original Night Stalker and the Visalia Ransacker — a man believed to be responsible for at least 13 murders, over 50 rapes and hundreds of burglaries throughout six counties of California in the 1970s and 80s.
DeAngelo is set to face trial for 13 counts of murder and 13 counts of kidnappings to commit robberies. He’s unable to be tried for the alleged rapes due to the statute of limitations for rape cases in California previously being 10 years – and even though there’s no longer a time limit, the change to the law cannot be applied to past cases.
Even so, many people believe that the Golden State Killer’s reign of terror wasn’t limited to all the crimes attributed to him within the 1975-1986 time period, and a new episode of true crime podcast The Murder Squad is exploring the possibility that he may have been responsible for other crimes.
The podcast series is hosted by former Contra Costa County cold case investigator Paul Holes, who worked on the Golden State Killer case for 24 years, and investigative journalist Billy Jensen, who helped to finish Michelle McNamara‘s Golden State Killer book I’ll Be Gone In The Dark after the author’s sudden death in 2016.
In this new episode, the two hosts speak to a woman named Pamela Escalante, who hitched a ride to her night class at college on February 5, 1974 on a main road in Ventura, California. The young man who picked her up seemed relatively normal at first, but soon started driving erratically and ranting about the Vietnam War, saying he’d had to kill women and rape women while serving.
According to Pamela, he then drove his car straight into a lemon tree orchard and sexually assaulted her. When she managed to get out of the car he beat her and once she fell to the ground, drove over her head.
Miraculously, Pamela survived the brutal attack, and managed to get to a nearby house to call for help. While police investigated her case, it soon went cold. It wasn’t until DeAngelo was arrested and an old, 70s-era photo of him was published that there was a breakthrough. Pamela believes he is the man who left her for dead.
The Murder Squad asks listeners for help in piecing together DeAngelo’s timeline. Holes says that since DeAngelo didn’t have a big friendship circle, investigators have some gaps where his location can’t be accounted for. Though DNA evidence in Pamela’s case was wrongly destroyed (since there was a kidnap and attempted murder the statute of limitations never applied), if enough circumstantial evidence can link DeAngelo to the attack — or other attacks — he can be tried for them.
For more info on Pamela’s case and to listen to the episode, head to the official Murder Squad site HERE. And to listen to Pedestrian‘s own unsolved mysteries podcast All Aussie Mystery Hour, head to iTunes HERE, Spotify HERE or just listen / download below.