Seeing DeAngelo for the First Time – Part Two

Two days have passed since seeing DeAngelo in court. There’s a dream I’ve been having since he was arrested that’s clearly from my own imagination and subconscious. In the dream, I am Charlene and watching Charlene at the same time – in that mystical way dreams commingle themes. I’m feeling his breath on me and the weight of his body and I’m screaming and pushing him away (because in my dream, my wrists aren’t tied); at the same time I’m trying to help her, to warn her that he’s dangerous. It ends as I force myself awake. I make myself consciously tell Charlene it’s okay now. Then I turn on Netflix and stream Frasier hoping that will help me fall back to sleep.

[Read part one.]

Monday seems like a week ago. Yesterday took a twist I did not expect. I was laid off. I can’t say much more about it at this point, but I was caught off guard and for those of you who follow me on Twitter, this is what demanded two margaritas and street tacos. Taco Tuesday. I’ve been so busy working night and day for my company for the last two years, I’d never been before. Turns out, I’ve been missing out. I guess it’s time for many changes. Don’t anyone start feeling all sorry for me. I could use a little break and I’ll speak up when I’m ready to job hunt!

After the hearing

In a future blog, I’ll share more about what it was like to work with 20/20 (simply awesome). During the taping, the producer, Jenna, and I just got on fabulously. Just before court started on Monday and after the press was allowed it, I happened to look back to see how full the room was, and I was surprised to see Jenna’s huge smile and goofy wave. I tell you, knowing she was there was really helpful for me. As court concluded, she mouthed, “Come with me?” and I shook my head yes. She went out ahead of me and my Victim Services person, Ann, helped me get through the mob of press people waiting in the hallway. I think you can see how packed it was in the still of the video from Fox 40.

I didn’t know what was going on behind me until later, but remember Melanie? The woman who is fierce and brought a photo of the murder victims? Well she walked her talk and moved through the press like a boss (whole story here).

As I got outside, I was finally able to speak with Jenna. First thing she did was ask where my mom was (more on that later, my mom is a hoot) and asked if I would be willing to talk with them on camera. “Sure thing,” I said as I noticed the lawyer for the media walking by.

This is the Media’s lawyer, Duffy Carolan.

“Excuse me,” I called out. “May I talk to you for a minute?”

She was gracious and said sure. I identified myself – I typically say “Ventura Murders” – and then told her I wanted to thank her for being there and representing just an important viewpoint. I happen to believe information does better in the light than the dark and the truth – even if it’s ugly – has value. The defense is arguing sharing information with the public will taint the jury pool. I think there’s merit in that argument, but not in this case. Not only is the magnitude exceptional, but this criminal made a point of making his crimes public. He called victims. He taunted the police. If the public has preconcieved notions, it’s pretty much his fault.

“But Jenny,” my dad would say, “Everyone has the right to a fair trial and an unbiased jury. And I would likely pop-off and say, “No Dad, he’s entitled to a jury of his peers. Where are you going to find 12 other serial killers?” You can see how this would go. Live in my head for an hour – see how these endless debates about principles, morality and justice go. It’s noisy in here.

She seemed surprised and happy that I supported her cause. I feel like she is representing a position that is completely aligned with the victims and I hope the judge agrees.

Is that a public defender ditching the media?

Jenna, from ABC, spotted Diane Howard leaving the back of the court building and ran after her to get a quote. Another outlet was already trailing her with a camera and a reporter. I think this is what they got from her. From my vantage point, she never stopped moving. If you watch the video, she was not interested in being interviewed.

Jenna is on the right with the pony tail. Howard is in the red jacket.

Based on her courtroom behavior and the video above, I can tell I’m not going to like her. Not because she’s defending him, but because of how she’s holding herself when she’s near him and how she’s acting like he needs protection. The beast was racing a motorcycle a week before his arrest. Based on what his neighbors told me, he went fishing on the Monday before his arrest. This old man will be just fine.

Let’s hit Starbucks.

I did a short interview for ABC – which was a bit nuts because you can see the train runs right up that street. But it was short and I appreciate they care about my point of view. After the interview, I met a new person on the ABC team who offered to buy me a coffee. Of course I hadn’t eaten anything because I had been so nervous in the morning and I was parched so we made our way to the train station.

The ABC crew. I’ve discovered these guys do a lot of heavy lifting and are rapid-response geniuses.

Dea didn’t want to do an interview. She just wanted to talk and get to know me a bit. It turned out to be an answer conversation because she’s a local woman who remembered the East Area Rapist as she was growing up. Turns out we were both at Sac State at the same time, in the same major – she was undergrad and I was in grad school. But we shared some teachers and couldn’t believe the coincidence. It was just such a nice rapport. It’s amazing how comforting that can be.

Isn’t Dea adorable? This is the smile of a person tolerating my need to take photos she knows I’m going to share! Thank goodness she indulged me.

Then Dea asked me maybe the best question anyone from the media has ever asked me: “What are we not covering in this story, that we should be covering?”

That stopped me dead in my tracks. What a brilliant, delicious, provocative question. And honestly, at that moment, I did not have an answer. But you might. So I extend the question to you – my gifted readers – please leave your comments and I will share them with Dea. I have it on good authority she reads this blog!

While I was at Starbucks, I got a text from Bill Harticon telling me Ali Wolfe from Fox 40 was looking for me via Twitter. This man has known me for just over a week and yet knew texting me was the only way get my attention when I’m “in the field”. I’m not a huge phone junky when I’m with people. So Bill wisely got my attention. I confirmed with Ali and headed down to the studio.

South Sacramento can be a little rough. I didn’t realize this rough, but I can see the danger in a rogue group of miscreants breaking into the studio and broadcasting fake news. (This is sarcasm.)

Excuse me, but was that a mermaid?

One thing I’ve learned to do, I mean it’s definitely a learned skill, is I notice things. So I’m sitting in the lobby, waiting on Ali, and I watch a mermaid come from the door across from me and leave the building. Yes. I missed the shot. And I’m just going to let you think about how that happened. In the next minute a group of dancers bounded out – they were very bouncy – and I said, “Excuse me, but was that a mermaid?” The girls turned to me and said, “Yep!” and then went back to their bouncing. I mean yes. What else could it have been?

Look. No mermaid or dancers. I blew it.

I enjoyed meeting Ali. I had been watching her local coverage in Sacramento and I thought she had been doing a good job with the story. We did the interview and then, of course, I turned the tables on her and asked for a photo.

Ali Wolfe and her adorable cameraman. Both made me feel very comfortable.

Before I left, Ali confirmed Fox 40 has a morning show and the mermaid – and dancers – had been part of the show. All in a day’s work for Ali, no doubt. I got back to my car where I got a call from the New York Daily News. Nancy Dillion and I have talked a few times – the first time she had to pull away because the Cosby verdict came in while we were talking. And on Monday, she’d been doing double duty because Margot Kidder had passed away. Looking at her bio page, she’s now in trouble with me because her photo isn’t there. And I got a chuckle because the Kidder story is there, along with Cosby and Golden State Killer. This woman is busy!

The reason I mention this interview is Nancy had done a really good job reporting my intentions along with my words. I think we all appreciate being understood and Nancy definitely has understood me and represented me well. After dealing with a horrendous reporter in Ventura 20 years ago, I remain cautious when I do interviews. There’s nothing worse than seeing something in print that isn’t true.

One down, many to go.

My drive home seemed to take forever. I got home and I was beat. But I wanted to record my memories as fast as possible. That was blog one. I intended to post this yesterday, but honestly, the extra day was probably good.  This is going to be a long ride. There will be good days and bad days. I suspect we’ll find a way to settle into this new reality. I so appreciate the support of those of you who read this blog and share  your thoughts.

22 thoughts on “Seeing DeAngelo for the First Time – Part Two

  1. Hello, Jennifer. I have a reaction to the “what’s not being covered ” question, but I warn you, it’s not profound. Details of how law enforcement surrounded JJD at his house and brought him in are scant, and I can’t imagine I’m the only one who wants to know exactly how it all went down. Reports on something as basic as what time of day it happened have greatly varied. Here’s a start on my questions: what time did LE arrive at his neighborhood to take him in, and at what time did they actually get him? How many men surrounded him and how did they position themselves? How were they able to ensure him not running back into the house? How did they ensure the safety of the neighbors? I heard that an officer feigned asking him for directions, and he began to gripe him out: if true, what exactly was said? JJD mentioned having a roast in the oven: was there really roast? If not, that’s pure calculation on his part to get back into the house, which I find chilling. Sac County jail has his booking time at somewhere round 2.30am: how long did it take to process him, and how long did they interview him, and is the booking time before or after processing/interviewing? I’d love to know what was said in the interview. Did JJD remain silent? Did he at all protest the accusations? Etc.
    I was at JJD’s house when Holes and Whit were filming 20/20 (you must have left by then, or came by later). Not even Paul could answer the roast question.
    I realize you’re not LE, but perhaps you know some of these answers, or maybe your readers do. If not, the next time anyone in the media puts out to you “what are we missing?”, maybe you could throw my questions their way.
    Thank you for your posts, and for entertaining mine. I wish you and your mom the best.

  2. Thank you for recording and sharing your thoughts. I am so sorry for your loss and am impressed by your attitude and thoughtful approach. You are an excellent writer and are bringing exactly what I think is needed in coverage of this story: realness, and a look at how those affected by these crimes are still feeling the reverberations from this individual’s actions. As you’ve noted, so many things have happened in the decades between the crimes and the arrest. A lot of reporting about this case feels detached, like they’re talking about things from a long-gone era, but you are shining a light on how fresh this continues to be for the survivors and everyone who grew up feeling the shadow of this monster. Keep up the good work.

    1. Wow – thank you. I am a very matter of fact person and yes, I never expected this chapter to be written! I find this phase fascinating because it’s when we get our power back and this trash is locked up and under State control – very satisfying. I appreciate your kind words. I love that folks are reading this and giving me feedback! Thank you so much.

  3. I enjoy these posts. They are thoughtful and meaningful and I’m glad you are speaking . Along with the Harringtons, your father’s case always struck me as the most mysterious and enigmatic of all the murders. So cold and so creepy. I hope you can find a measure of peace as they attempt to unravel the mystery. I hope you get answers.

    1. I agree. The murders were such a mystery for so many years and another man’s life was ruined by DeAngelo as he was tried but acquitted. I’ve always felt tremendous regret over that. The District Attorney at the time just didn’t imagine it could be so much more. Not in 1982 when he was tried. It makes me so sad.

      1. I also have a lot of admiration for the strength you are all able to show. I know we all wanted to know who he was and that many of us were victims of his stalking and had him break-in and that changed us even though we were not there when he did it. We were scared and always wondering if he was able to find us again or was he someone we knew…someone we saw everyday. It was creepy like when you go to a Halloween party and someone is wearing a mask that covers them up completely and you have no idea who it is. It is strange and with him being a mystery is was always horrifying. Those he raped and killed suffered the greatest. Not only did a man have his life destroyed regarding your father and Charlene’s murders but another man spend 35 years in jail for a murder we all believe DeAngelo committed in Visalia…Donna Jo Richmond. There is another young girl we believe he killed Jennifer Lynn Armour in 1974. His ability to kill was already in his personality before he moved back to Sacramento area in 1976. He is a monster like none and he thought he got away with it all and the destruction he left behind is so horrendous for so many. California was in terror of his attacks for so long. I got involved hunting him like so many because I couldn’t believe his tormenting me with the hang-up calls and breaking-in was random I thought I had to know who he was. When I knew what he did to Beth Snelling’s father and his attempt on her I had to buy all of the books read everything I could and try and follow the bread crumbs that were left out there and sort though the red herrings. I spend time trying to figure out how he knew your father or Charlene. I couldn’t believe it was random and I still don’t. They must have had some connection when your father was growing up in Sacramento. I do hope so many of these big giant blank spaces get filled in someday and somehow. I know what you mean though about the thought that there is no closure. The only closure will come with more facts and details. And of course the final verdict that he was found guilty of all his crimes and other crimes he committed are found and he is charged. For those that are no longer with us it is one part of the circle that is not anywhere near complete.

        As for the defense attorney…I feel or her a lot. It is a great case for her and it will surely make her career and the book she will most likely write She can’t appear to be harsh with this monster since he is entitled to a fair trial…way more decent and humane than his treatment of all the victims.

        I felt like when I heard he was being booked that I wanted to go outside and scream….and I felt like all of Sacramento would want to have a huge party in the streets…Maybe one will get planned but living in Sacramento from the beginning of his torment and way after his attacks stopped there…I know that Sacramento needs a way to heal and to celebrate that he is gone….and with all of the names he has been called this is one I love so much, “DEFENDENT!”

        1. Yours isn’t the first story I’ve heard about the terror this man caused. I can’t even figure out when he had time to go to the bathroom. He was so busy hurting people. I am dumbfounded about how he kept a job. Don’t get me started on how it could be possible his wife didn’t know. When we survivors had that lunch, we talked about needing a community healing – some kind of big-ass picnic where we all celebrate. Maybe we can find a venue and band who’d help us celebrate. Thank you for sharing your story here and helping folks realize, he was horrific.

  4. Jennifer,

    Thank you for blogging about your experience. My condolences to you and your family. I admire your tenacity and look forward to reading more. Thanks again.

    All my best.

  5. Jennifer- I’m so sorry for your loss..Can’t even imagine. And I understand how you may feel with his attorney touching him or getting close. He violated so many! What is she thinking? I’m sure a jury will see that and be repulsed. Anyways, about your recent job loss. Perhaps someone from above is looking out for you and it’s a godsend – maybe you’ll be able to attend the trial and finally put some closure on this chapter. I’m in Ohio, just finished I’ll be gone in the dark and am very intrigued by this case. Praying that he cooperates with authorities on everything. He’s old. He should repent now and hold nothing back. God Bless!

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words. This case is fascinating and infuriating and all the feels in between. I’m holding out hope this job loss is just that, a blessing in disguise as I figure out how this next unexpected phase of my life will go. I do so want to follow the trial. Thank you for following it with me!

  6. Good luck on the job hunt, and thanks for another interesting post.

    One thing, though: I think you might be being a bit too negative about that defence lawyer. From your description and from what the clip looks like, it seems that the reporters “ambushed” her on the street without formally asking for an interview in advance. If that was the case, I would have been annoyed in her place as well. They also asked some fairly dumb questions, such as about DeAngelo’s health, when they should have known that she can’t possibly comment on that in public.

    As for the lawyer appearing to “mother” DeAngelo in court, maybe there are alternative explanations for that too. She might just be trying to keep things calm and low-key?

    I don’t know, maybe I’m wrong. But I certainly don’t envy her right now. Someone has to be the public defender, and it’s a pretty damn thankless task when you have to defend someone like DeAngelo. Numerous people are going to hate her even though she’s just doing her job.

    1. I think you make some good points and yes, normally I’d for sure be more balanced. I got move provoked when we put her body between us and him; but I will keep your balanced thoughts in my head.

  7. It’s Teresa from Omaha again. Enjoyed reading your blog- its funny and real.. With an exclaimation on REAL! When I journal, it seems like such a great way to put things in perspective as well as to recall details I would otherwise forget. Keep it up Sis, one day at a time. Bless you. Teresa

    1. Hey Theresa – thank you. My humor sometimes gets me in trouble – but it’s been my life blood. And you’re right, writing really does help me process and thinking about things in a meaningful way. Thank you for reading and commenting! I love it.

  8. You forwarded the question– what story is the press not reporting? I think the press has under-reported the long-lasting effects of crimes like this, not just on the victims but on their families and descendants. There is the desire to protect the victims and to honor their brave survival, but the true, real story– which is what you report so beautifully– is how widespread and powerful the damage is. Murder doesn’t just stop at the murdered. It continues killing and hurting like rings in the water. This is what is needed to be honest about the damage this man has wrought.

    1. THIS is super interesting to me too. It hit me when I was talking to neighbors at his house. I remember how our lives were turned upside down by the crime itself and it touches so many. I think of the Parkland High School students who are realizing watching a friend get killed changes you forever. These things ripple out. I’m going to talk with Dea about your question/point of view. She’s the reporter from ABC who asked the question. This is really, really good.

  9. So glad you are writing this blog. Your perspective is really engaging. Thank you!

    1. Oh my thank you! I can’t write as fast as I am thinking about things these days.

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