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'Golden State Killer' survivors address him in court: 'That night forever changed me'

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Kuzma/iStockBy EMILY SHAPIRO, ABC News

(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) — Survivors of Joseph DeAngelo, the man now known as the “Golden State Killer,” addressed him directly in court this week in powerful and emotional victim impact statements.

DeAngelo’s four-day sentencing hearing, which includes statements from survivors and victims’ families members, began Tuesday with victims of rapes in Sacramento County.

‘Had complete control over me’

The daughter of rape survivor Patricia Murphy read a statement on her mother’s behalf Tuesday as DeAngelo sat silently in a white face mask and orange jail shirt.

On Sept. 4, 1976, Murphy, a 29-year-old single mother, was attacked outside her parents’ house.

“That night forever changed me,” the statement said. “I never felt safe for many years. It was hard for me to trust … I was always looking over my shoulder expecting someone to jump out at me.”

“I wonder why he picked me to be one of his rape victims? Did he know my name?” she said. “He punched me in the face and broke my nose. I had a concussion from falling backwards … it soon became clear that he and his knife had complete control over me for the next two hours.”

“The lump on my nose [from the punch] never went away,” her statement said. “I learned to accept it was just part of my face.”

Murphy later turned to alcohol and drugs to “numb my pain,” she said.

Murphy, still suffering from PTSD, was hospitalized for several days after DeAngelo’s arrest. She had trouble sleeping and had vivid nightmares.

DeAngelo pleaded guilty to 13 counts of first-degree murder in front of dozens of victims and victims’ relatives in June as part of a plea deal, which also required him to admit to multiple uncharged acts, including rapes, which were described in horrific detail by prosecutors.

The death penalty was taken off the table in exchange for the guilty pleas. DeAngelo will be sentenced to life without parole.

‘Whatever it took to save herself and her family’

On Oct. 18, 1976, Winnie Schultz, a wife and mother of two, was raped in her home.

Her son, Pete Schultz, who read a statement on her behalf Tuesday, recalled how DeAngelo tied him to the bed until his hands turned blue.

His mother was bound, blindfolded and raped, and her wedding ring was stolen, he said.

“Our mother is not Jane Doe No. 22 and we are not just No. 37 uncharged offense. We are the family of Winnie Schultz and we have all survived because of her bravery and resolve to do whatever it took to save herself and her family,” Pete Schultz said.

Pete Schultz said his mother, now a breast cancer survivor and grandmother of four, is still married to his father after 55 years.

‘I would never be a child again’

On Dec. 18, 1976, Kris Pedretti was 15 years old when she raped by a knife-wielding man who said he would kill her if she did not obey him.

“He tormented me. And he told me over and over again he would kill me. And I believed him,” she said in court Tuesday.

Pedretti said she thought she was going to die at three different times that night.

The next morning, “I woke up knowing I would never be a child again,” she said.

Pedretti said her parents did not let her talk about that night, which forced her “to live my life like the rape never happened.”

She said she struggled for 41 years with extreme panic attacks, failed relationships, unhealthy coping mechanisms, few friends and frequent job changes.

“Though I have found my way to a happy and safe life,” she said, “DeAngelo deserves his sentence of life without parole in the most dark and lonely containment.”

Pedretti said she thinks the victim impact statements should be his only reading materials in his prison cell.

DeAngelo, now 74 years old, was accused of committing 13 murders as well as multiple rapes and burglaries in the 1970s and 80s, terrorizing communities from Northern to Southern California.

The “Golden State Killer” crimes went unsolved until April 2018, when DeAngelo was arrested in Sacramento County.

DeAngelo became the first public arrest obtained through genetic genealogy, a new technique that takes the DNA of an unknown suspect left behind at a crime scene and identifies him or her by tracing a family tree through his or her family members, who voluntarily submit their DNA to public genealogy databases. This allows police to create a much larger family tree than using law enforcement databases.

To identify DeAngelo, investigators narrowed the family tree search based on age, location and other characteristics.

Authorities conducted surveillance on DeAngelo and collected his DNA from a tissue left in a trash. Investigators plugged his discarded DNA back into the genealogy database and found a match, linking DeAngelo’s DNA to the DNA found at multiple crime scenes, prosecutors said.

Since DeAngelo’s arrest, over 150 other crime suspects have been identified through genetic genealogy.

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