'Horrific man:' Suspected 'Golden State Killer' begins court proceedings

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KGO) -- Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, has been officially charged with eight counts of murder in three counties. His Friday court appearance was for the 1978 killing of a Sacramento County couple.

Police believe DeAngelo killed at least 12 people and raped dozens of women in the '70s and '80s.

The former police officer and Navy veteran was finally tracked down through a public DNA matching website and arrested early Wednesday morning.

RELATED: CoCo County Investigator Paul Holes is '100 percent sure' they have 'Golden State Killer'

The ex-police officer was in a wheelchair when deputies brought him into a Sacramento courtroom. He looked frail and elderly and spoke with a soft, raspy voice that everyone strained to hear.

DeAngelo is officially charged with two counts of murdering a Sacramento county couple while they were walking their dog in 1978. He's also suspected often more murders as the "Golden State Killer" and 50 rapes as the "East Area Rapist."

The crimes spanned a decade from the mid-70s to the mid-80s and went unsolved for 40 years.

Diane Hill of Rancho Cordova and daughter Kellie came to the courthouse today in hopes of getting a look at the suspect. "He's a horrific, horrific man who needed to be caught," said Hill.

RELATED: 'Golden State Killers' past and present in Sacramento jars neighbors

DeAngelo is represented by attorney Diane Howard with the public defender's office. She is asking people not to rush to judgement.

"We have the law that suggests that he is innocent until proven guilty. And that's what I was going to ask everybody to remember. Because I feel that he has been already been tried in the press," Howard said.

Click here for more stories, photos, and video on the Golden State Killer.
Copyright © 2021 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.