The Golden State Killer Suspect Was Just Charged For What May Have Been His First Murder

by Caitlin Cruz
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He's already been charged with crimes related to 12 deaths in California, but it turns out there might be more. On Monday, authorities announced the 13th murder charge for the "Golden State Killer" suspect. Authorities believe it could have been the suspect's first murder.

Tulare County District Attorney Tim Ward announced the charge at a press conference. "I have instructed my staff to file first-degree murder charges against Joseph DeAngelo for the 1975 murder of Claude Snelling," Ward told reporters, according to ABC News. "And in doing so, I hope we can take what is really our first step in not only holding him accountable for the crime in Visalia, but really providing justice — not only to the victim's family but to a community at whole."

DeAngelo is suspected in the shooting and murder of Snelling, who is believed to have been trying to thwart the abduction of his daughter, Elizabeth Hupp, in September 1975, CBS News reported. DeAngelo is also suspected in at least 45 rapes, in addition to the murder charges, according to USA Today.

"I say that because going back from the spring of 1974, this community was terrorized by these rampant crime and their tenacity and their intimate nature and their frequency" Ward said. "These crimes culminated, if you will, in the fall and winter of 1975, with the tragic murder of Mr. Snelling."

The 72-year-old DeAngelo worked as a police officer in City of Exeter between May 1973 and August 1976, CNN reported.

In September 1975, a masked gunman broke into their home and dragged her outside, Hupp told CBS This Morning. "That's when I heard my dad yell, and the man with a ski mask pushed me to the ground, turned, and shot my dad twice as he was coming through the back door," Hupp told the news program.

Snelling would die on the way to the hospital. "He died trying to save his daughter from an intruder in the early morning hours. He saved his daughter, became a hero to her that night and the community," Ward said.

Snelling's daughter was only 17 at the time of his death, according to CBS. "Those wounds never heal, the community was never given justice," Ward said, according to the Visalia Times Delta.

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Visalia Police Chief Jason Salazar said DeAngelo is not linked to the crime through DNA. Instead, he is linked to the crime via a firearm taken from another crime scene. "We have been able to locate victims and witnesses that were able to identify Mr. DeAngelo as the suspect back in that time. Those crimes were ultimately tied to the murder of Claude Snelling by a firearm that was taken from one of the Ransacker burglaries," Salazar said, according to CBS.

DeAngelo was arrested in April at home after familial DNA connected DeAngelo to crimes in the 70s and 80s, according to the Visalia Times Delta. DeAngelo did not enter a plea when he appeared in court for charges relating to the deaths of Katie and Brian Maggio in 1978, according to CNN. His trial has not begun.

The crimes DeAngelo is accused of are chronicled by true-crime writer and reporter Michelle McNamara in the book "I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer." She unexpectedly died while writing, and it was released posthumously.