SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. -- The California manhas been charged with four more counts of murder, officials announced Thursday. Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley said she is filling four counts of first-degree murder with special circumstances against Joseph James DeAngelo, who is currently in custody in Sacramento.
The 72-year-old former police officer is suspected of committing at least a dozen murders and more than 50 rapes across California in the 1970s and '80s.
The Santa Barbara charges relate to the July 1981 murders of Cheri Domingo and Greg Sanchez, and the December 1979 murders of Debra Alexandria Manning and Robert Offerman, all reportedly in the Goleta area. Dudley said Santa Barbara investigators, who have been involved in a regional task force headed by Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert, investigated DeAngelo after his arrest last month and found evidence to file the charges.
Both of the double murders were allegedly carried out during burglaries where DeAngelo was armed with a gun, according to the charges. He's accused of killing Domingo and Manning during the commission of a rape. DeAngelo faces life in prison or the death penalty.
Dudley wouldn't say whether DNA played a role in these cases. DeAngelo was arrested April 24 at his home after Sacramento investigators matched crime-scene DNA with genetic material from a distant relative in a. From there, they narrowed down their search to the Sacramento-area grandfather using DNA obtained from material he'd discarded, police said.
DeAngelo is also facing murder charges in decades-old cases in Sacramento, Ventura and Orange counties. Dudley said she is hosting a meeting of regional district attorneys Friday to discuss how to move forward with prosecution in the wide-ranging cases.
Dudley said she was emotional when Schubert called her last month to tell her of DeAngelo's arrest.
"When she gave me the words that victims across our state have been waiting to hear, I teared up," she said.
Dudley noted that DeAngelo is a suspect and maintains a presumption of innocence. He has not yet entered a plea.