The Golden State Killer Economy – Who’s Making Money

I was roasted on Reddit* the other day – totally unexpected – and it seems like things got weird when someone accused me of posting to promote my coaching business. Of course, my website has my coaching business on it, but that wasn’t why I was there. I was just participating in the discussion like everyone else, and then suddenly I was defending myself. It’s the first time that’s happened in two years since I went public.

Let’s start at the top: the prosecution and defense of DeAngelo.

There’s no doubt there’s a Golden State Killer economy. Holy smokes; it starts with the $20M price tag that prompted AB 141 to pay for jurisdictional expenses “incurred in connection with the prosecution and defense of Joseph DeAngelo.” There are a lot of people getting paid to try and defend this case. There are lawyers and researchers, scientists and testing facilities, computer experts and investigators and legions more who are working for both sides. We are nothing if not job security as this case is being prepped for the prelim. Also, don’t forget travel and housing expenses as teams from around the state come in and out of Sacramento to move things froward. We can debate if this level of expense is necessary, (and goodness knows I will in an upcoming blog), but let’s just accept this at face value. If we ever get to trial, chances are, this cost will likely increase.

Then there’s the content value of the case itself.

News, movies, documentaries, books, podcasts, blogs – some of these are highly monetized and some make no money at all. We all know when HBO or Michelle McNamara are telling the story, the intention is to make money. Not the only intention, but let’s accept one chooses that approach because there’s money to be made. Maybe that’s a better way to say it. I’m not casting blame here, merely noting there’s an economy in play and we all participate in it. In this category, I believe these folks truly care about the subject matter and the victims. I’ve worked with some of these folks and I’ve found them to be credible.

But we also have the exploiters. The folks whose sole motivation is money. They aren’t interested in the truth and have no interest in the victims, they are only interested in selling their product. I encourage everyone to keep their eye out for these folks; they are fairly transparent and tend to have a pattern to their behavior like focusing on click-bait, lying and repetition of same themes.

And then there are the victims; have they made money? Do they make money?

The honest answer is no, with a few exceptions. For the most part, any of us who are making money off the crime have been remarkably transparent. Jane Sandler-Carson wrote a book (not an affiliate link). That’s legit. She lived the experience; she did the work to write the book and she lives her truth. To the best of my knowledge, no one has been paid for any television appearances. There’s one activity where some folks got an unexpected honorarium, but I can’t disclose it and when I finally can, it won’t surprise you. And it wasn’t much.

Victims aren’t making bank on this. In fact, generally we are all financially poorer because of DeAngelo’s crimes and arrest. Of the victims I know, we are out-of-pocket on therapy, time away from work for hearings and other legal proceedings. Some of us travel to Sac to participate in these activities and have hotel bills. If there’s one thing the “true crime” industry has done that’s a disservice to victims, it’s the implication that everyone is making money.

We simply aren’t.

It’s maybe the saddest part of the Golden State Killer economy. Yes, there are some Victim Assistance programs but they vary by jurisdiction and they are publicly funded so there aren’t deep pockets. Honestly, many of us are doing okay and feel like those funds should be used by people with greater need.

So back to Reddit and the great Jen Carole takedown.

Let’s get real. I don’t make money on my blog. You can do a quick check and see there’s no advertising. In fact, when I tried some affiliate ads, I got no clicks (and I was highly selective). Why? Because that’s not what my blog is about. Yep, it’s just me, the website (I pay for) and my computer.

It is the same for my podcast. Honestly, the reason I stopped doing it is I had to work and didn’t have time to dedicate to doing it well. I would very much like to sell my podcast and get paid to do it so I can afford to attend the preliminary trial in May. I am transparently sharing that with you. I have no idea if I can sell it. My coaching business is how I figured I could earn a living while attending court because I can coach in off-hours. My LawyersDaughter.com audience is not my coaching target. That’s why I have two URLs (that I pay for): one for my business and one for this journey.

I don’t intend to sound defensive. I just reread this blog and I still might. That’s truly not my point. My point is, if DeAngelo died tomorrow, this little  economy is a house of cards. It all falls down with a few exceptions. I think the highly developed content will have a longer lifespan, but most of what’s been created around this [expletive deleted] criminal will fall by the wayside. As it should. And if you don’t believe me, just look at Casey Anthony and Scott Peterson, both who are realizing they are beyond irrelevant. So how do they goose the system to try and make money? They exploit it. Sickening.

On behalf of the victims, we appreciate your goodwill. We have no intention of exploiting it. We will take the opportunity to support ourselves if it makes sense. If you feel we have crossed a line, please speak to us directly. Otherwise know, you’ve bet on the right people in this hot mess.

And it’s appreciated.

*This did not happen in the EARONS sub-Reddit. I traveled outside our group and I will never do that again! The EARONS community has been amazing and honestly, along with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. and those of you that read this blog, have been so supportive. It’s the reason I have the courage to do these speaking engagements. 


March 2020 – Santa Cruz, Sacramento and Ventura

I’m coming to town in March. Absolutely free. Get a ticket by clicking on the graphic!

Live Event with Jennifer Carole - Free!

Court Date Aug 23 | Twenty-Six New Charges for Joseph DeAngelo

In just a few days, the names of the 9/11 victims will be read again in New York. I can’t listen to them. It tears me up and it’s been 17 years! I get lost thinking about all the little things like did they have kids (who are now grown) or were they engaged or pregnant. They were just people doing what we all do every day – going to work. Firefighters and law enforcement ran in to do what they do every day. And just like that, hate changed us. To the bottom of our collective souls. And so when the names are read every year, it doesn’t feel like enough. I know it’s important – but it resonates with the loss we all shared that day. 

You’d think we’d know more about what was going to happen when we all assemble for another hearing day in the world of Joseph DeAngelo. But we don’t. We get email from victim services, but it’s often really cryptic and light. This hearing was a surprise. We’d all been building our lives around today, September 5th, where we were supposed to attend an “update” hearing. We’d even planned a little barbecue at Carol Daly’s house afterward. But the District Attorneys had other plans. Everything got moved up to August 23 and the plan was to file 26 more charges against Wee Willy Winky.

Our group continues to grow with every court date.

As I’ve said, we all meet on this one outside corner before court so our handlers – the Victim Services folks – can wrangle us and get us into the courtroom with minimal drama. Since the courtroom is still in the jail, we have to go through the metal detector and walk the gauntlet of reporters. This time, they actually moved us into an area behind the courtrooms (so we didn’t have to go through the media) and took us into an empty courtroom first where we could play a little and put our anxiety to work. (I don’t think that was their intention, they were just protecting us, but man, it turned out to be a good way for us to touch things and goof around. And yes, I did take silly pictures of people too, but I can’t share them because I want to protect everyone’s privacy.)

Charges filed
That bailiff, whose face I cant show, is one kick ass woman. She keeps us all in line and herds the media like a boss! This courtroom is way more organized than Judge Sweet’s courtroom (that’s not a judgment).
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You know I had to touch these bars. It’s definitely stronger than it looks. That thing is solid. The brown door goes to an elevator hallway that allows the prisoners to come into the courtroom and then scoot back up to their cell.(Do prisoners scoot? When did I start writing children’s books?)
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I feel like this sign needs the word “dammit” at the bottom. I am surprised there isn’t a sign in other languages but I don’t know what that elevator hallway looks like, so they may have already gotten the message.

It’s kind of funny because as we grow as a group, we are becoming a force: I think there were maybe 20 of us this time! I didn’t realize this would happen – don’t know why, I guess I just hadn’t thought about it before. Of course, I never thought there would be an arrest. I hope it keeps happening. I hope all the Sacramento (and beyond) survivors get to come and feel the power of what it means to have the upper hand. I also really enjoy seeing the friendly media who I’ve come to know and appreciate on a personal level. I guess I better be friendly with them because now that Sacramento is the home for the trial, we are all going to be spending a great deal of time together.

When the time came, they moved us through the back room (where the judge and others typically enter the courtroom) and got us into our regular room, Dept 61. We were greeted by ALL the District Attorneys who were lined up on the prosecution side. I instantly recognized DA Totten, the Ventura DA (my DA as I affectionately call him) and I rushed over to introduce myself and shake his hand. He flashed a giant smile at me – we hadn’t met before – and I had a chance to thank him for being so well-spoken on the press conference held that Tuesday, and for expressing his commitment so eloquently. I am freaking proud of him – he’s been working on this case since he joined the Ventura DA’s office. The Sacramento Bee spoke with him:

Ventura County District Attorney Greg Totten said later in an interview Carole’s presence was one of several reasons he needed to be present for the arraignment.

“This was the first case I ever worked on as a young law clerk in the Ventura County District Attorney’s office,” Totten said. “And the daughter of Lyman Smith, who was brutally murdered in Ventura County, was here today, and for me it was personally very important to be here.”

What a guy. He asked to talk with me after the hearing so I hung back afterward and spent a few minutes with him. I think the collaboration the District Attorney’s have managed is amazing. I have worked on some tough cross-functional teams, but I never had to worry about voters at the same time. Seeing them all there, in a row, resolute and committed; it was powerful.

Court’s in session.

With the Honorable Judge Michael Sweet presiding, court started. DeAngelo slid into the cage as silently as I imagine he broke into homes. Not a freaking sound from this man. I sat behind him hoping to see his hands cuffed behind him, but no such luck. Assistant Public Defender Diane Howard was back in court and being as obsequious as ever. She stood close, nearly touching him at the shoulder, and I know she could smell him. Just yuck.

At this point, he’s been in jail for four months and the weight loss is significant. I have no idea if he’s eating, but I know he’s not getting beer. He has lost maybe 40 pounds and this makes him look gaunt and frail. But I think he’s just back at his fighting weight. He stood looking straight ahead as usual in a military-like parade rest – attentive but not at attention. He doesn’t even really look at Howard during the course of the hearing. He looks at the judge and that’s about it. Well, there’s also the mouth breathing. I remember on the phone calls he made, he liked to pant. Maybe he just can’t close his damn lips! The Bee’s reporter noticed how he looked as well:

Looking, pale, thin and frail, the 72-year-old former police officer stood silently inside the courtroom cage on the first floor of the Sacramento County Main Jail building without speaking.

The District Attorneys were introduced and there was a discussion of DeAngelo’s ability to pay for a legal defense. So far, he’s been leaning on the Public Defender’s office. But defending him against these crimes is going to cost a small fortune. It could mean he will lose all his assets as he liquidates them to pay legal fees. I have no idea what that does to his family but I think (hope) they are all adults and somehow finding a way to cope and manage financially. I can’t even imagine how upside-down their world must be. At the hearing in December, we’ll find out if he qualifies for an Indigent Defense.

As he considers that, I’d like to offer a recommendation – and maybe his family can push for this because it would absolutely be a blessing for them – he needs to simply take a plea. Own it man. You thought you were “Da Man”; the bad-ass mother f–ker who could get anyone and not get caught. You had the courage to destroy lives without fear of retribution. If you are all that, then step up. Do it for your family. Own your shit and put this thing to bed. Just admit it was you and we can all get back to living. And you can join the general population instead of death row.

The list of additional charges.

In late April, at his first arraignment, he was charged with the deaths of the Maggiores. That was enough to bind him over and keep him in custody. But the charges read in court were expanded and clarified. There were also 13 counts of kidnap that allowed prosecutors to reach into some of the rape cases and hold him accountable. I need Kat Winters and Keith Komos to map these charges to what they have in their awesome book* to help me confirm these are all DNA cases – but I’m sure they are. We sat for 30 minutes, the gallery in silence, as each charge was read. You wanna freak yourself out? Read these out loud.

Count 1: Murder of Claude Snelling, Sept. 11, 1975, in Visalia; using a .38 revolver.

Count 2: Murder of Kate Maggiore of Rancho Cordova, Feb. 2, 1978; using a gun of unknown caliber.

Count 3: Murder of Brian Maggiore of Rancho Cordova, Feb. 2, 1978; using a gun of unknown caliber.

Count 4: Murder of Debra Alexandra Manning of Santa Barbara County, Dec. 30, 1979; using a gun of unknown caliber and special circumstances because it includes rape and burglary.

Count 5: Murder of Robert Offerman of Santa Barbara County, Dec. 30, 1979; using a gun of unknown caliber and special circumstances because it includes burglary.

Count 6: Murder of Cheri Domingo of Santa Barbara County, July 27, 1981; using a gun of unknown caliber and special circumstances because it includes rape and burglary.

Count 7: Murder of Greg Sanchez of Santa Barbara County, July 27, 1981; using a gun of unknown caliber and special circumstances because it includes burglary.

Count 8: Murder of Charlene Smith of Ventura County, found March 16, 1980; and special circumstances because it includes rape and burglary.

Count 9: Murder of Lyman Smith of Ventura County, found March 16, 1980; and special circumstances because it includes burglary.

Count 10: Murder of Patrice Harrington of Orange County, Aug. 21, 1975; and special circumstances because it includes rape and burglary.

Count 11: Murder of Keith Harrington of Orange County, Aug. 21, 1975; and special circumstances because it includes burglary.

Count 12: Murder of Manuella Witthuhn of Irvine, found Feb. 5, 1981; and special circumstances because it includes rape, robbery and burglary.

Count 13: Murder of Janelle Cruz of Irvine killed May 4, 1986; and special circumstances because it includes rape and burglary.

[Now take a small breath here; we got one, but it lasted just a few seconds while Judge Sweet prepared to read more.]

Count 14: Jane Doe 1 of Sacramento on Sep. 6, 1976; robbery.

Count 15: Jane Doe 2 of Sacramento on Apr. 2, 1977; kidnap and use of a firearm during the commission of a crime.

Count 16: Jane Doe 3 of Sacramento on Apr. 15, 1977; kidnap, robbery and use of a firearm during the commission of a crime.

Count 17: Jane Doe 4 of Sacramento on May 3, 1977; kidnap, robbery and use of a knife and firearm during the commission of a crime.

Count 18: Jane Doe 5 of Sacramento on May 14, 1977; kidnap, robbery and use of a knife and firearm during the commission of a crime.

Count 19: Jane Doe 6 of Sacramento on May 17, 1977; kidnap, robbery and use of a knife and firearm during the commission of a crime.

Count 20: Jane Doe 7 of Sacramento on May 28, 1977; kidnap, robbery and use of a knife and firearm during the commission of a crime.

Count 21: Jane Doe 8 of Sacramento on Oct. 1, 1977; kidnap, robbery and use of a knife and firearm during the commission of a crime.

Count 22: Jane Doe 9 of Sacramento on Oct. 2, 1977; kidnap and use of a knife and firearm during the commission of a crime.

Count 23: Jane Doe 10 of Contra Costa County on Oct. 7, 1978; kidnap, robbery and use of a knife and firearm during the commission of a crime.

Count 24: Jane Doe 11 of Contra Costa County on Oct. 13, 1978; kidnap, robbery and use of a knife during the commission of a crime.

Count 25: Jane Doe 12 of Contra Costa County on Oct. 28, 1978; kidnap, robbery and use of a knife and firearm during the commission of a crime.

Count 26: Jane Doe 13 of Contra Costa County on Jun. 11, 1979; kidnap, robbery and use of a firearm during the commission of a crime.

The other rapes and burglaries won’t be charged because the statute of limitations has run out in those cases.

Guys, I gotta tell you, listening to this list be read out loud was pure hell. A journalist friend had brought a young person with her to court because they had to rush off to Reno after the hearing. Normally this is just a pop-in and get it done hearing with very little drama. But surprise! This was heavy as hell. I spoke to him before it got started and said, “Wow, you’re here to see a murderer,” and my friend waved me off in that parent-way that communicates (dummy-up, he doesn’t know all that). Welp, after this list being read, he knew. I talked to him afterward to see how he took it in, but I have a feeling that car ride afterward might have included a good discussion.

As each count was read, I took notes, which always provides me with cover so my feelings don’t take over. Even with this distraction, as these words were spoken I had this heavy feeling of dread. Every life on that list (and the 100+ more who had been raped, ransacked or intruded upon) had been changed by the actions of this one person. This doesn’t even include his family. Over the decades I’ve had to deal with my dad’s name being in places that don’t necessarily make me that happy. Books, documentaries, news stories and now a list of crimes. It’s surreal: my dad wanted to be famous. But he wanted it for making a difference and being an extraordinary lawyer and judge (and inevitably a elected official). He never wanted it like this. And yet…

I’ll take my dad’s fame from this case.

And here’s why: nothing has had a bigger impact on criminal justice than DNA. I don’t know if anyone is counting (where are my nerds), but many many crimes have been solved since DeAngelo’s arrest thanks to DNA. In addition, missing persons are being identified left and right. And there are new ideas about using DNA with suspects because DNA testing is getting better and much faster. I was tweeting about this the other day – I feel kinda proud to be part of this case with all the good that’s coming out of his arrest.

Finally, as things wrapped up, the media was there and many of the survivors understandably don’t feel comfortable talking with them. I had gotten a call in the morning from Fox 40 and agreed to talk with them after the hearing. That was fine but I had no idea when the bailiffs shooshed us out the door, that there would be a gaggle of reporters and I was basically alone! At the end of the questions, I spent a bit more time with the guy from the Associated Press (he’s the blond guy with glasses on my right). It was his first time on this beat, he’s new to Sacto (if I got his story right) and he was impressed with the gaggle. We had a really nice talk and I welcomed him to our madness: life after arrest.

A group of the survivors got together than afternoon. Sadly I missed it because I had to stay to talk with Totten and then I got back on the road to Santa Cruz because I had knee surgery the next day.

Charges filed
I’m so damn short. Like five foot one at this point. This doesn’t show it very well, but I feel like I’m in a little hole compared to these folks. Thankfully, they were very kind and courteous.

One of the best things about writing this blog, is getting feedback from you either via comments (below) or on Twitter. For long thoughts, commenting here or an email is best. But if you want to just shoot the you-know-what or be silly, Twitter is awesome. You might see my politics leak through but don’t let that bug you; I believe folks with different opinions make good friends. The support I’ve received this summer has been nothing I would have ever expected. Thank you for that – even if all you did was visit this blog. I feel the support and it helped me get through my little surgery, get back to work and find my inner momentum again.

 

 

*Their amazing, comprehensive book is currently on back order – let me know if you’re trying to buy it and I’ll hook you up!

The Day of the Arrest: How I Learned DeAngelo Had Been Caught

The week before DeAngelo’s arrest, I had worked a trade show called RSAC. It’s the biggest cybersecurity show in the US. It happens in San Francisco and I did it while on a crutch (busted up leg) and launching a huge PR campaign. The cover image is from one of our event buttons – it just happens to fit here. It freaking rocked and I worked my fingers to the bone. I needed a little time off to do laundry and recover from the previous week. Rest. That was my goal. Rest. Had no idea an arrest was imminent and they’d lay me off the day after I would see him for the first time

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My “old” life. Right before DeAngelo was arrested, this book I edited by cyber criminologist Mike McGuire from Surrey, was a stone cold success at RSAC. I am still so proud of it. Cybercrime isn’t going away, sad to say, it will get worse.

Queue blissful morning music gently waking me from my deep slumber.

I was sleeping-in on Wednesday, April 25th. Usually up around 6:30am, on this day, I got to sleep-in. Around 8:30 I was awake enough to grab my phone and check messages. There was a text from Lisa.

“Could this really be him?” she asked. It was followed by a link to a news story.

“Hmmm,” I replied with no commitment. I headed to Twitter.

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This message from Lisa was the first moment I heard about DeAngelo.

There the story was blowing up. He was in custody and law enforcement was feeling pretty darn confident. I started shaking. My hands could barely hold my phone. I sent a text to my family and then called my mom. She wasn’t really firing on all cylinders yet and if she had heard, it hadn’t registered.

“They caught him,” I told her.

“What? Who? What are you talking about?” mom said. I always talk too fast for my mom. Especially when we first start the conversation.

“The Golden State Killer, or East Area Rapist. Mom. Our guy. They caught him. After all these years, he’s in custody.” It was weird to say it. “I gotta get up. This is nuts. It’s all over the news. I sent a message to the boys.” We talked a bit more and then I hit the shower. I put on decent clothes but nothing fancy. I expected the phone calls to come in and lots of “ohmigods” and “can you believes” but I didn’t expect things to blow-up like they did.

First things first. Trust but verify. Like any true crime lawyer’s daughter would do.

First, I called the Ventura police to see if they would just confirm we had the right guy. I talked with an investigator who assured me it was a good arrest (did he say that or do I just watch way too much Law and Order?). Anyway, it didn’t matter because the Ventura District Attorney, Gregory Totten, called me a few minutes later and told me what I have wanted to hear my whole adult life. Since science had already solved this case through DNA, all we needed was the human.

“We got him and it’s a 100% match,” he said.

“You’re kidding. It’s true? He’s the guy?” I was shaking again. Actually, pretty sure I didn’t stop shaking that day until around 11pm.

“He’s the guy. Watch the press conference at noon. I’ll talk to you soon,” and he was off to do District Attorney things.

After that I did something I hadn’t done since my dad died. I decided to use my real name to shout victory. I merged Jennifer Carol Smith (Jenny) and Jennifer Carole (grown-up) into one person in my online social media and suddenly everyone knew who I was. With the speed that accompanies social media, the journalists figured it out and headed to Santa Cruz. Since I once owned a baby bib company (Big Bellies, it was fun, made no money but suited my entrepreneurial spirit), my address wasn’t all that hard to find. I also got phone calls; so did my mom. I had gotten rid of my landline a few years ago so I was a little harder to find than I used to be, but mom managed to forward calls to me rather easily.

A pause for the cause. A few feelings got in through the craziness.

Before the press conference and after just one interview, the tears finally came. I’m pretty sure it was relief. I’m not sure how the others feel, and I was never called or harassed after-the-fact by DeAngelo, but I did live in fear. Especially when I found out he was a serial killer and I had just had a baby. In fact, after coming back home from an Unsolved Mysteries episode, I got a dog. A hypo-allergenic dog that was going to protect us. Daisy. Unfortunately, I was way more mental than I had thought and the puppy crying flipped me back into a postpartum mess and I had to give my little Daisy to a friend. Daisy was renamed Phoebe and turned out to be a wonder-dog that made my friend Patty’s mom (and everyone else including the neighborhood) amazingly happy.

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Little Daisy who became Phoebe and a neighborhood hero.

Instead, I had to deal with the fear pragmatically. I was always vigilant and aware of my surroundings. I went to self-defense classes and took Katie as well. I made sure I knew who was home during the day and which house Katie was could run to if there was ever any danger. But I guess one doesn’t really understand the hold fear has on you until it’s gone. In the moments after Totten told me DeAngelo was a 100% DNA match, I felt relief. Tremendous relief. They got him. He was behind bars.

The press was here that day until pretty late. With so many reporters around, the atmosphere was collegial and collaborative. Folks made time for one another and helped me feel at ease. It was about 11pm when I realized I hadn’t eaten at all – funny thing adrenaline. It really is a great appetite suppressant. As I lay in bed that night I realized the day had been a lot like the day Gary found dad and Charlene. Chaotic, busy and no chance to really know how I felt.

But when I finally got in bed I realized I did know. I felt good. Satisfied. Resolved. He was in jail. And a chapter we never expected was just beginning.

[Note: I’ve started a podcast and you can grab it from Apple iTunes and SoundCloud. Why would you want to listen to what you just read? I am finding there’s stuff I want to chat about that’s hard to capture in writing. And I figured out how to do it so why not? Finally, it drives my mom and kid nuts when I walk around reminding them to listen to my podcast. There are so few opportunities to torment your family members, how could I resist! My goal, if I’m not traveling, is to post a podcast within 24 hours of a blog post.]

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This is a Skype interview with an LA station I used to watch as a kid! KTLA down south. My goal is to see if I can get anyone on the other end to crack-up. I do think I got them laughing.
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Yes, my house. Remarkably clean for me. I know some of you will look closely so that’s Gary’s wedding in the upper right and Jay’s wedding by the camera lens. Another friend’s wedding picture is in view. Cat crap everywhere. And Gumby – he was once held for ransom at a company called Borland. That Gumby has been abused by so many. The eagle is named Mueller.
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Kind of loved the relationship between the camera folks and the reporters. I tried to get him to smile. Seriously. But nah. This interview crossed over to Telemundo!

Court Date July 12 | Another Hearing and Meeting New Survivors

Sometimes we get so good at our jobs we can do them almost on autopilot. We don’t realize everyone else has no idea what we are doing or why we are going so fast. This was how Thursday went down. Fast, sloppy and almost chaotic. The slap-dash of serial rapist-murder hearings. 

I’m pretty sure the Sacramento heat is going to kill me. I know, I’m a damn broken record. It’s gotta be my age. I used to live there! Yet I remain a delicate flower. At least the hearing was set for 1:30 instead of 8:30am. I get it, it meant more heat but sleep was also a good thing. This time I had Katie in tow – my daughter – and I bored her to death preparing her for what was going to happen and who she was going to meet.

We drove up Wednesday from Santa Cruz. It’s about a three hour drive unless you leave later than you planned because your teenager doesn’t really understand the time-space continuum. Then, it’s a five hour drive. With pit stops and food and drink. We were going to see some people I hadn’t met before. Three folks in particular who’d spent much more time being active on the case than I. Jane Carson-Sandler was in town to do a book signing at Barnes and Noble in Citrus Heights. That happened on Monday and Debbie Domingo-McMullan was in town to support her. Carol Daly showed up as well. I didn’t make it up there that early, but they said they enjoyed it immensely and I think it got them fired up for the week ahead.

 First timers were everywhere.

We knew we’d have a big squad this time. And we did. We typically gather about 15 minutes before court and greet one another and catch up. That’s where I got to meet Jane, Debbie and, surprise for me, Margaret Wardlow! She was just 13 when that beast attacked her. They all looked amazing; vibrant, healthy, engaged. But while they managed their outward appearance in that moment, later we learned they were also wrestling with their demons. As I describe how this arrest has sent me back to my 18-year-old self bringing back memories that aren’t very pleasant, they too found themselves back at their early ages in that moment.

I don’t want to share their stories without permission, so let me share it in the aggregate. Making this arrest has taken us back. It’s made forty year old memories more vivid and brings up some of the vulnerability that goes with being younger. There’s something to be said for being a 50 year old woman. There is an ease at 50 that women talk about and it’s true. Being pulled back to a time when our innocence was ended by violence is pretty jarring. For me it means nightmares and fucked-up memories (yeah, just wait, I’ll be sharing them).

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This whole town is freaking under construction. The sidewalk was closed but we didn’t care. Move that Ditch Witch boys! We’re coming through!

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The media skillfully beats the heat and waits inside for us. Other folks were freaking out about all the cameras, “Why are they here!?” one woman cried out in a slight panic. It’s gotta feel weird to see all this when you’re there for a case that has nothing to do with our freak show.This hallway gave many pause. Especially the survivors who came who want to remain anonymous. Victim Services is good about getting us into the courtroom once everyone is through security. We hustled down the hallway and entered the courtroom. This time things moved very fast. We were seated quickly and then the press was allowed in. 60 Minutes Australia was there to film (I really need to see their version of Andy Rooney – “You know when you get those shrimp off the barbie and one doesn’t really look like a shrimp? What is that?” Please write your own joke here – or better yet, add to comments below!).

Don’t blink or you’ll miss it.

Normally, court has a process that helps us all understand what will happen next. With new folks with us, we had explained what would happen and I’ll be damned if the court didn’t make us liars this time. Debbie said she timed it: the whole thing lasted two and a half minutes. It was a cluster. They didn’t ask us to be quiet. They didn’t tell us to turn off our phones. Both are signals we are getting ready to start. No one announced the judge was in the room – he was in and started talking before I even got settled! DeAngelo appeared without warning. And that is rough when you are seeing him for the first time. A little warning is appreciated.

I was extremely disappointed to see he was handcuffed in front this time. I’ve been taking great satisfaction with his hands being cuffed behind his back. It’s like everyone was in a rush on Thursday. He seemed more at ease and a lot slimmer. I’m guessing the alcohol bloat is gone but there’s also less body. If he was a natural slim, it appears he’s getting back to his old self. I’m not even sure he knew what was happening it went so fast. His attorneys were there including Diane Howard.

Essentially the procedure (what is this part called?) was continued because the prosecution is still in the process of providing the defense evidence from discovery. We’ve had several folks confirm there was nothing recovered from the house, so what they heck is all this “deep” discovery about? One potential explanation is new jurisdictions with new cases and current jurisdictions with new cases. I just need to say one thing about all this: let’s not boil the ocean. Let’s do one and get it done and then we can prosecute more. Time is ticking people! This man has literally nothing to live for (except his family and that is really their journey, not his).

The defense also continues to object to press coverage. The judge continues to assert the public has a right to know. I continue to laugh thinking if you hurt over 100 people, you get what you deserve.

Walking out of the courtroom, we were greeted by a sea of cameras. This time it was for Debbie, Jane and Margaret. Katie was shocked by the momentum and frenzy. “Yup,” I told her, “every time.” We were asked to go over to the District Attorney’s office afterward so Katie and I broke away from the pack.

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I lagged behind to talk to a reporter-friend and missed some of the swarm.
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Because I was behind, these photos aren’t that great. Sorry!

District Attorney offices got dogs!

We walked over to the office and suffered poor white trash meltdown. My photo below with Reggie shows it. Katie’s pic is blurred. Clearly it was the heat-stroke (not the operator). We talked about the case and while I pumped them for information about where the trial might happen, they were successful in not giving away any scoops. While we were talking, Reggie, the wonder-poodle, came out to visit. He was super friendly and showed us his tricks. His subpeona delivery is on fleek (please accept my use of on fleek as my feeble attempt to pander to my younger readers).

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I’m so bummed this is out of focus. But that’s Katie!
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Look at that red face. My word!

Off to the after-party.

The big win for this week was the after-party. We met at the home of one of the squad and had a potluck barbecue that allowed us to share stories and meet even more people who’ve been impacted by DeAngelo. I’ve said it before but I never expected this chapter of our crimes and I must say, it’s the best. No judgments and no expectations, everyone is allowed to just be who they are and experience their healing in the way that works for them. Debbie had brought swag for us (see this blog’s cover photo for my new computer bag! thanks Debbie!).

Carol Daly (retired undersherriff) brought homemade ice cream that took me immediately back to my grandmother’s front yard on Palm Drive in Carmichael. Richard Shelby (retired investigator) and Todd Lindsay (producer from Unmasking a Killer) were there. It was a mellow, yummy good time. One of the interesting arguments we had was this stupid thing we (women?) where we compare who had it worse. Not in an effort to be the most harmed but instead, the way it works is to minimize our hurt because someone else’s is worse.

Every woman who has ever done this raise their hand. Men, now your turn. See, just a few men’s hands are raised. But women, I bet we’ve all done it.

The weird, twisted debate? Is it worse to be a rape survivor or a murder survivor? You know you’ve entered the land of weird when this is the debate. The rape survivors feel like we have it worse because our folks are gone – forever. We argue the rape folks have it worse because they had to live in fear their whole lives. I’ve decided we both win. Because if we are able to have this much compassion and empathy for one another, we are the winners.

Next court date is September 5th. Lots of stories to share with you before then.

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Turns out survivors eat good food! yum!
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Carol Daly – I consider her a kick ass feminist who changed the way we help rape victims.
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Richard Shelby, dedicated investigator.
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Todd Lindsay, producer of Unmasking a Killer. I was thoroughly impressed with his investigative work on the special.

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Citrus Heights Barnes and Noble Was Packed with Stories, Interest and Support

“Look for Karen,” Ray texted, “She’s coming up for the book event tonight!” Holy cow, I thought, she’s coming all the way to Citrus Heights to see Patton and crew? I knew Ray (and Karen) from my gig at WebEx, part of Cisco. I know East Area Rapist sleuths are a committed group, but I truly had no idea. I figured the evening would be busy and I had mixed feelings about going, but wouldn’t ya know it, the first person I saw when I got there was none other than Karen! She was like number 10 or 15 in line. It was so good to see a familiar face.

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Is this not the face of moral support? Karen in all her glory!

This was a big night. I’ve been thinking about how to do this post because a lot happened. So I think I’m going to break it into two parts (read part two). Part one – this one – I’ll focus on the support because I haven’t stopped being lifted by what happened last Wednesday. I’m serious. A crowd of 450+ people (ahh, the numbers, they are already starting to inflate. I feel so political!), a crowd of nearly 500 people filled the chairs, aisles, nooks and crannies of the Barnes and Noble in Citrus Heights. You can read the news reports if you want an overview, but here’s how it felt – and what it meant – to those of us who’ve lived this . insanity.

Little set up here: after court on Tuesday, I had a chance to watch some of the live feed from the courtroom on KCRA. When you watch like this, there’s a running chat window that let’s people react, comment and say nutty things (um, my word). I kept seeing this darn hashtag pop up, over and over, and I had no idea what it meant. I had intended to Google it but forgot, until I was stopped at the light on Greenback at Auburn Blvd. There, ahead of me, was the same hashtag in bumpersticker form! Don’t tell the CHP, but I Googled it right then and found out #SSDGM meant, “Stay Sexy, Don’t Get Murdered.” Color me confused. The light turned green and off I went.

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You know this car is going to Barnes and Noble. Who are you? I’m stalking you! See the #SSDGM on the window?

I arrived around 4pm. As usual, the media trucks were already in place. What I didn’t expect was the line. I mean I knew there would be a line, but I didn’t know what kind of people would spend their day waiting to see Patton and crew talk. Turns out, pretty amazing people. I walked the line, talking with folks, thanking them for caring about this crime and had a chance to hear some of their stories. No matter what, when anthropologists study this crime, I hope they focus on what I’ve found. Fear didn’t make people run from one another; fear brought people together. It seems from the start, when the terror was high, folks looked out for one another. Have to say, it’s still happening.

[I was going to add photos here but there are too many, so I’m putting them below.]

I unlock the secret code.

As the line queued, I grabbed a quick bite at Starbucks, which was graciously paid for by Erin Newbold who was right in front of me in line and recognized me. It’s so stinkin flattering when that happens. You guys have no idea how your support feels – it’s amazing. Melanie was on her way and they were going to stick us in the very front for the talk. It was barely 5pm when the store decided to let folks in. And that’s when the real fun began!

Within minutes, folks filled the chairs and the buzz of excitement started. I took a look at the crowd and I’ll be damned if a woman wasn’t wearing a #SSDGM shirt! Finally! I would get some answers. Turns out, it’s the motto for the fans of My Favorite Murder – a podcast I’d love to be on one day (hint hint). These fans are also known as Murderinos and they wore their commitment to their fandom proudly (look at all the Murderino shirts in the photos!). I immediately took to them. Most of them were women – okay, like 95% of the audience was female – and they were smart, sassy and savvy. Some of my favorite S words. 

Then someone asked me to sign their book. Really, I thought, I didn’t write it. But there were the pictures of my dad and Charlene. Both of them in their high school yearbook photos, looking young and fresh and ready to conquer the world. Sure. I’d sign it. And with that, I ended up signing maybe 100 books – working the crowd (I loved talking with you guys) and getting to meet so many people who lived through the East Area Rapist or grew up knowing about it from their families. The very idea that we were all there together with a suspect in custody made us all a little euphoric.

Did I mention HBO was there?

HBO has optioned the McNamara book for a documentary. They are still deciding how they want to tell the story and which aspects of the story to tell – I argued this is a multi-season series at a minimum – and they were filming this event as part of the production. Everyone in attendance were put on notice, they could be filmed! That probably explains why everyone looked so pretty.

As we assembled, the press was on the left, in the front, and the HBO crew was all over the place. Three chairs were set at the front of the room with three microphones. With multiple introductions, the guys finally arrived and the discussion got started. Patton sat on the right (facing the crowd), Paul Haynes in the center and Billy Jensen on the left. Rather than any formal remarks, the guys immediately took questions from the audience.

At this point, I have more to say about the talk, but I’m going to put that in part two.

Come back to the Green Room.

As the talk concluded, they whisked us (the survivors) and speakers back to the Green Room. That’s funny because it was really the store’s break room for the employees. I didn’t realize we would have time alone with the guys. Had I known, I might have held one of my questions for afterward. Patton, Paul and Billy spent time with the survivors which was really wonderful. HBO was filming so if anything good happened, I’m sure we’ll find out. I realized I hit the wall and I headed out.

The bookstore was almost empty.

The team had nearly put the whole store back together. I walked outside and reporters were filing their stories. I had parked way in the back and as I approached my car there was another woman getting into her car. I asked her if she enjoyed the evening. She had and then we talked a bit. I don’t even remember what we said, but it was just what I needed to make the transition and get back in my car to head home to the hotel.

What a night. Thank you all for being so amazing. [Read [art two.]

Photos!

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The storefront is big but inside is huge! I’m so happy people still love books!

 

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I was just with these guys in the morning at the Marriott! Thank you Marriott for the kindness.

 

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Such commitment, such dedication. This is the front of the line. Apparently started at 11:30am.

 

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Did not realize that was Karen sitting there until she spied me! This line went around the building.

 

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Love the media and how even this is part of “the story”.

 

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When you are a color-coordinated crime fighter!

 

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Murderinos! I’m so coming to a Meet Up. Maybe around the July 12th weekend?

 

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Erin buying me a protein box and a strawberry acai (add black tea – I guess I’m an expensive date).

 

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Security. Check. The guy in the oversized jacket figured out he’s way more agile sans jacket.

 

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Before.

 

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After. Those folks are some of DeAngelo’s neighbors. They all talk about his driveway tirades.

 

And BAM! Look at that shirt! Everyone stay sexy and yes, please don’t get murdered.

 

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This is still early. The aisles filled up, the rows in the stacks. So many enthusiastic people.
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I made someone take this photo so I could torture my daughter! I tell her I’m Harry Styles. She groans.

 

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How cool is this?! Megan took her book to CrimeCon and then brought it to Barnes and Noble.

 

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Watch this: this guy works with Ali Wolf. Don’t know his name, but I’m sure he’s riding her coattails. : )

 

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Left to right: Billy Jensen, Paul Haynes and Patton Oswalt.

 

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Loved that Patton stopped for this woman. She was off to the side and probably saw nothing. Still winning.

 

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And just like that, everything was disappeared. Thank you Barnes and Noble.

May 29th In Court with East Area Rapist Victims

Yesterday, Memorial Day, it was quiet downtown near the jail. I was looking for a place for a “survivor coffee” after court. I passed a woman who looked homeless. She was bloody and I could see a lot of her battered body. Her clothes were tattered, maybe torn, her left shoe was missing and she looked as if she’d been ravaged. I drove back around the block to try and see how badly she was hurt. I struggled. Should I call for help? Then I always think about unintended consequences. Would the police come and arrest her for something and not respond to her condition? I decided not to call and tortured myself all night for my decision. This morning, on my way to court, I saw her again. She had bathed in the river (an assumption but very likely). She was wearing what looked like muslin around her like a towel. No other clothes. No other belongings. She was on the 16th Street bridge putting a single calla lily into a bottle, like a vase, and placing it on the bridge for all to see. It seemed like her way of saying goodbye.

Ah Sacramento – land of oven heat and refrigerator cold. It was hot today. I’m a wuss. I can’t handle the heat. We had a high of 98 – that’s actually not bad for Sacramento in the summer. I parked in the H Street garage and went down to the corner to wait for my Victim Services person, Ann. I was surprised when I was joined by a number of other survivors and their support people. As we gathered, there was actual enthusiasm among the squad. We realized we are growing in size and that felt good (see The Power of Women for more).

I slip/slide between the words victim and survivor and I want to take a minute to explain: for me, a survivor is anyone who was attacked by DeAngelo and managed to walk away. In my book, getting out alive is everyone’s first priority and I’m so proud of those of you who could do it. The victims are really those of us who lost the people we love to murder. Similarly, we buried our people, brushed ourselves off and moved forward and that is also survival as far as I’m concerned. When I bundle us together, I tend to say survivors because I want to acknowledge living with violent crime is hard and changes us. And I also realize many people who are interested in this crime, have had violent crime touch their lives too.

Rolling into court.

The courtroom – department 61 – is in the jail. There are three (maybe four) courtrooms that exist off this hallway that’s in the front of the building. We go through metal detectors, grab our purses off the conveyor belt and then “hang out” in this hallway waiting for the doors to open. Typically there are media there and we way hello to the reporters and cameramen (didn’t see any women) we know, and then Victim Services whisks us into the courtroom. Once inside, the lawyers come greet us, we push the limits of where we are allowed to sit and then we settle in. We are often in at 8:30 and court doesn’t really start until 9am.

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This hallway outside the courtroom is usually packed, the heat comes in that sun room window and there are a few benches.

These are old courtrooms. The seats are close together and they don’t want us to sit in the first row of the gallery behind DeAngelo because…I don’t know why. They tried to make some excuse about our safety, but honestly, they’d be better off saying it’s for his safety. I can’t tell you how much I want to be in that front row, breathing heavily with the occasional growl. I just want those hairs on the back of his neck to twitch knowing we are right behind him. There’s a sign, printed on 8.5 by 11 inch paper that says, “Do not talk to or make any type of contact with inmates.” Got it. I will restrain myself.

DeAngelo came in with a bit more vim and vigor this time. He entered through the cage door and I was satisfied to see his hands handcuffed behind his back. He has wide shoulders relative to his arm length and so the cuffs appeared to be a little uncomfortable. They weren’t as tight as the bindings he used to tie people up, so I knew he’d be just fine with the discomfort. He stood at attention the whole hour facing the judge or briefly looking at his lawyers. He didn’t look at us (he’s supposedly not allowed to). He didn’t flinch, rock, or do anything but stand at attention. Looks like Control will be playing a role in this proceeding. The only time his hands shook were in the final minutes when we were dismissed and he was waiting to get back out the door. His hands trembled but the rest of him remained composed.

Getting down to business.

As I shared in my other blog about the day’s arguments, we were there to hear the three different law teams point of view on what should and shouldn’t be kept private. I liked hearing the different positions: it’s a little insight into how they different teams think and their court demeanor. I was not impressed with the man representing DeAngelo today. He’s a little squirrely and I found his arguments to be superficial.

We spent the first few minutes in a heated debate between a bailiff and a photographer. Actually, one does not debate a bailiff. One says, “yes ma’am” and listens, unless you’re a reporter who’s been told something different than the bailiff. Apparently the judge allowed only one video camera and one fixed camera in the courtroom – to function as part of the media pool – meaning they had to share what they were getting with everyone else. Alas the AP understood they could be in the courtroom but the judge changed it up and said only the Sacramento Bee feed could be there. I may have this wrong in terms of who got the final okay, because it was an influx situation with lots of feelings. Needless to say, the bailiff won.

Once court began, I took notes like a beast but it was so hard to keep up. What did surprise me was the case law they referred to as justification for their arguments. You know these crimes are in another whole league when these are the cases they are citing as precedence.

  1. The defense brought up Dr. Loftus and her work about eyewitness accounts being a bad source of evidence (um, who cares, DNA).
  2. Duffy spoke to Waller vs. Georgia, in which a suppression hearing held in secret was considered inappropriate.
  3. The judge asked if the Jackson case should be considered? Duffy argued the decision to keep the warrant sealed was unique because Michael Jackson was known around the world and absolutely had more press coverage than maybe anyone else?
  4. I believe the judge referred to the Menendez brothers and the decision about including the psychiatrist’s notes as part of testimony (would it taint the jury pool)?

[At some point during my rapid note taking, I look up and the bailiff that’s in the cage with DeAngelo appears to have fallen asleep on his feet. I smiled; seems no one is afraid of DeAngelo these days.]

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Apparently it’s important that you don’t sleep in the courtroom. Note from the peanut gallery: a little air conditioning would help.

It was interesting to hear Duffy Carolan, the media’s lawyer, talk about ways to ameliorate the potential downside of sharing the information. I love the word ameliorate. It’s a chewy word that is tasty when you say it and speaks to a way to right something wrong. She had a list of ideas that would mitigate the potential harm sharing information from the search warrant and search returns could do to prospective juror members (regardless of jurisdiction – so not just Sacramento, but Ventura, Orange and Santa Barbara counties as well.

There was a lot of discussion about the public’s right to know and case law was cited that shows “investigatory value doesn’t outweigh the public need to know” which, as I understood it, means there is value is us seeing progress being made and good police work being done. It restores the public trust in our institutions (if I understood this correctly). It was interesting to hear they talking about  a jury that may not be seated for as many as five years (WTF?!). When it all comes down to it, when we learn the venue for the first case, it will all be based on the “innoculation the jurors receive during voir dire,” as the judge explained.

And then the lawyers and the judge went “in camera“.

That means privacy! As I understand it, they began a point by point review of every piece of information in the search warrant to decide what we can see and what we can’t. [We know now that’s 123 pages of information. Those arguments (discussions) continued Thursday and their decision was finally made public on Friday.] While they went into session, we thought we were coming back for a decision, but it ended up taking the rest of the week.

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Everything here is super high-tech. The door was locked so unless you have the secret key, you can’t get in anyway.

When we returned to the courtroom at 2:15pm to find out if there was a decision, DeAngelo was brought back into the courtroom as well. I sat in roughly the same spot behind him but noticed the handcuffs had changed. This time, his hands were relaxed because they added an extra set of cuffs so it daisy-chained, allowing him to relax his shoulders and have very little tension on his wrists. Damn.

During this very short session, we were told the hearing would continue to Thursday. It was time to return to the heat (it was one hot day) and get back to our lives. Of course, for me, the best part of this day was being with the other survivors. I’ll never forget this day. 

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.

Today I Saw Joseph DeAngelo, The Golden State Killer, In Person for the First Time

I knew it would be tough to sleep. I felt the dread building into the evening and so I decided half a Xanax would help. Not so much. When the clock flipped to 1:30am, I was still talking to myself. I need sleep. I have to be up early. I was afraid the alarm wouldn’t ring; the traffic into Sacramento would be awful, I’d be late and miss the whole thing. At some point after that, I finally fell asleep. Morning came fast.

My instructions were to meet my Victim Services person at 8:15am at the H Street garage. Somehow I managed to get there a few minutes early and that gave me a chance to get a bit nervous. Ann showed up on time and away we went, to Superior Court, Department 61.

That says Sacramento County Main Jail!

I didn’t realize the court room was part of the jail. I was whisked through security, reminded to turn off my cell phone and walked down a long hall full of reporters. As I snaked my way down the hall, I could hear regular people asking the reporters what the heck was going on.  “East Area Rapist case,” was the typical response. It was 8:25am when we walked through the doors of the courtroom. Inside were only victims/survivors (I’m going to need a really good name for the fierce folks who were part of this group).

I wanted to notice as many details as possible.

The courtroom was small. I found a photo online but our room had the reverse orientation – we were seated on the right and the cage (!) was on the left side of the room. It was outfitted in standard 1970s decor (real wood? fake wood?) and utilitarian carpet. Large calendars were on the wall with days marked out – holidays, weekends. A clock was on the left near the back wall and I watched the time slowly move amid the commotion.

I was in the first seat in the front row. Seated next to me was the woman who was raped on June 18th. I don’t remember her name, but I will always remember her face. She was simply beautiful. She was also nervous and she brought her best friend for moral support (she actually said “moron support”, which was a laugh we really needed). I met a close friend of Debbie Domingo who I need to know more about (note to Debbie!). She was a spitfire and brought photos of the victims to hold up. There were two more folks next to her and again, in the melee, I didn’t hear names very well. Either way, I’d protect their privacy here anyway.

We were ready.

Everyone else was held outside until a little before 9am. The attorneys trying the case, the prosecutors, introduced themselves. [I am going to find out their names because they told us but we didn’t have a way to write things down. I will update when I get the names.] She was dressed in a black sheath dress and a jacket and simple string of pearls. I noticed because it was in contrast with DeAngelo’s attorney who was in a red sweater/jacket, black slacks and silver necklace. They both looked very put together and prepared. [Honestly, I want to smack myself for commenting on the women’s attire – but I found the fashion choices interesting and clearly intentional.]

The most striking thing in the room was the cage. You can see it in the courtroom photo (here’s another angle, his wheelchair is in front of the cage here).  It is an imposing site. It’s a cage with a lock on the front that needed a key to open the barred door. The bars were thick steel and then, as if someone said, “Can’t we make this fit the motif?”,  some paneling was added to the sides so, you know, it would bring the whole room together. The cage was empty and it was intimidating. I couldn’t imagine what kind of criminal would need something so substantial. Unless someone was mid-Meth trip, I couldn’t imagine someone needing that level of security.

As members of both legal teams, bailiffs and court staff moved easily from the courtroom to the backroom, we assumed that’s where DeAngelo would come from. I thought they would walk him out and lock him in the cage and we’d get started. But I was wrong.

DeAngelo enters the courtroom.

The bailiff read the rules (no noise, cameras, recordings, cell phone noises, etc) and in a jiffy, the judge entered the court. I’m not sure what he said because suddenly the lawyers for the defense jumped up, moved toward the cage and that’s when I realized there was a door that opened into the cage and it was through that door, DeAngelo entered.

The defense team used their bodies to create a wall between DeAngelo and us. All I could see at first was what appeared to be orange Crocs (actually, you can see them here when he was wheeled in before).  He was standing. I followed the bright, orange shoes up the matching orange legs and then couldn’t see anything. He was effectively blocked. At the same moment I heard that door open, I had grabbed for the hand of the brave woman sitting next to me. I knew it had to be horrifying to see him there, in front of her, after all these years. We held hands the whole time.

The judge listed off what seemed like a rather significant number of motions and responses and one caught my attention. There was a lawyer there representing the media: I believe the New York Times, the American Broadcasting Company and possibly others (news stories are mentioning others). They are working to make sure nothing is redacted from what was found during the searches of his home. But more about this later.

Finally, the male attorney moved and I was able to see DeAngelo’s profile. There he was. Just a man. An old, craggy-faced man who didn’t look pleasant. He looked angry. He had whiskers on his face and he shoulders where slightly stooped. His mouth barely moved when he whispered to his female attorney. She appeared to be soothing him and making a point of touching him and talking very close. It appeared intimate and it nauseated me. There’s nothing in the lawyer handbook about mothering your client. I mean sure, someone go check the index, but I’m 99% sure it’s not there.

And then as quick as it started, it was over. The defense lawyers closed ranks again and we could barely see him slip out the door. He shuffled a bit and I wasn’t sure if he was shackled or not – one of the news stories said he wasn’t. The reporters would have had a much better look as they were behind him on the left side of the gallery.

How did it feel?

Reporters ask this all the time. The problem with the question is it misses so many things: the context, the history, the assumptions and the reality. I think it’s maybe easier describing two things I didn’t expect to feel.

The first is catching DeAngelo doesn’t bring closure. I have been saying this for the last two weeks – there needs to be a word for the opposite of closure. I guess beginning could work but it misses the nuance. This is like re-opening an old wound.

I was instantly validated when I asked the others in the courtroom this morning if they felt closure and they said no, it’s made all the memories come back. Those damn memories. Which lead to the nightmares and images of brutality that live in each of our minds in our own way.

It also adds a level of complexity to our lives I didn’t anticipate. I’ll give you one example: how does one stay involved in a trial like this and work?!  I’ve taken some time off but we are looking at months if not years for this case. I don’t know what the answer will turn out to be on this front.

The second feeling in had today, might be considered cognitive dissonance – but at an abstract level. I was looking at another human being, a man I might pass on the street or in the grocery store. He might have been with his daughter or granddaughter. I would think nothing of it. But this man has lived in my mind as a monster for 38 years. I don’t know what I thought he would look like, but I didn’t think he would look human. That maybe makes me the most sad. Because he was a dad and a grampa and literally nothing matters to him. He’s just left destruction in his path. Brutal, evil, dark, compulsive, destruction. And no matter what happens at this point, we can’t get any of the goodness that’s been lost.

There was a bit more to my day, but I have to stop and get some sleep – long drive from Sacramento back home. I am glad I went. I treasure that moment holding hands. The next hearing is on May 29th.

Here’s part two! Finally!