US & Canada

Golden State Killer suspect: Joseph James DeAngelo appears in court

Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, appears at his arraignment in California Superior court in Sacramento Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, did not enter a plea and was denied bail

The former policeman charged with committing a series of murders and rapes attributed to the "Golden State Killer" has made his first court appearance in Sacramento, California.

Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, appeared in an orange prison jumpsuit, handcuffed to a wheelchair.

He was formally arraigned on two murder charges dating back to 1978.

Mr DeAngelo is a suspect in 11 other murders and 51 rapes committed across California between 1976 and 1986.

He was arrested on Tuesday at his home in Citrus Heights, a Sacramento suburb, after a 40-year manhunt.

Investigators linked him to DNA left at crime scenes, in part thanks to a genealogy database designed to trace family histories.

DNA sent to such a site by a relative of the murderer may have provided a crucial clue to police.

The Golden State Killer, also known as the East Area Rapist, Original Night Stalker, and the Diamond Knot Killer, terrorised communities in central, northern and southern California.

Mr DeAngelo spoke only briefly in court to confirm he had a lawyer. He did not enter a plea, and was denied bail.

Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones said Mr DeAngelo is on suicide watch in the psychiatric ward of the county jail. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The photo being held up shows Cheri Domingo and Greg Sanchez, who were murdered by the Golden State Killer

Some survivors were present in court for the hearing, as well as victims' friends and family members.

One woman was pictured holding up a picture of two of the Golden State Killer's victims, Cheri Domingo and Greg Sanchez.

Mr DeAngelo's next court appearance is scheduled for 14 May. Authorities have said more charges are likely to be filed in due course.

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Media captionGolden State Killer: 'A staggering crime spree'

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