SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The man known as the Golden State Killer pleaded guilty Monday in Sacramento to 13 murders and 62 rapes.
Joseph DeAngelo, 74, now faces life in prison without parole after pleading guilty to series of sadistic crimes from the 1970s and 1980s.
For the victims, survivors and their families, the road to justice was long and slow.
They say they finally have closure.
"He's taken two-thirds of my life from me," said Michelle Martin who was 23-years-old in 1978 when she was assaulted in her Contra Costa County home. "When he said guilty, it felt good. It did."
That sense of relief came after an hours-long hearing held in the ballroom of Sacramento State University to accommodate social distancing.
DeAngelo's reign of terror included murders, rapes and burglaries, which spanned the state in 11 counties, including Contra Costa County.
"Today is about remembering all the victims in this case and to finally hold DeAngelo responsible for these crimes," said Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton.
Now an admitted serial killer and rapist, DeAngelo once served as a police officer in Visalia and Auburn.
The crimes continued for years after he was fired from law enforcement and he eluded capture for decades.
DeAngelo was finally identified when Contra Costa County investigators got a break in 2018.
They submitted a DNA sample into a genetic database to find relatives of the killer which led them to DeAngelo. That technique now known as genetic genealogy has helped solve other cold cases.
DeAngelo faces 11 consecutive life sentences without parole in exchange for not facing the death penalty.
"I was 15 years old," said Kris Pedretti, who was raped in 1976 in Carmichael, a suburb of Sacramento. "I think there is a lot of closure and he's having to live with the fact that we're hearing every single thing that he said and what he did to us and he's owning it."
DeAngelo's sentencing hearing is scheduled to start on Aug. 17.
It is expected to last for days because survivors will be giving victim impact statements.
It will be held in Sacramento with the exact location still to be determined.