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Friday, 27 April 2018

Following the News of the Golden State Killer

 
iddle of a September night in 1975, an unknown intruder tried to abduct a teenage girl in Visalia, Calif. When the girl’s father intervened, the criminal shot him dead.

The killing of the man, Claude Snelling, was shocking and brutal, but mentioned only briefly on the back page of Fresno City College’s student newspaper. An eight-paragraph write-up about the shooting, which occurred about 45 miles from campus, appeared just below a story about a new hit movie called “Jaws.”


Mr. Snelling’s death marked an escalation in a series of offenses attributed to someone known alternately as the Visalia Ransacker, the East Area Rapist and the Golden State Killer. The crimes continued for more than a decade — burglaries, homicides and rape after rape after rape — and soon dominated the pages of California newspapers from Los Angeles to Sacramento.

Finally, on Wednesday, the authorities charged Joseph James DeAngelo, a former police officer they accuse of being the Golden State Killer. Mr. DeAngelo, 72, faces eight counts of murder and is suspected of many more crimes. He has not been charged in Mr. Snelling’s death, nor many of the crimes detailed below.

A look back through California television reports, newspaper articles and even advertisements reveals growing alarm about the crime spree, the drastic steps some residents took to protect themselves and the investigative dead-ends that vexed a generation of police detectives.

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