My Life Has Been Incredibly Different Since the Arrest of Joseph DeAngelo

Yesterday Sacramento was able to announce the arrest of another monster. Terrorist. Piece of human excrement. The NorCal Rapist was identified via DNA and he’s in custody. Not to completely freak you out, but he worked at UC Berkeley – surrounded by women who clearly had no idea there was a predator in their midst.

The irony in that statement that has turned me into a complete mess this week.

The reality is, we know there are predators in our midst. We know they are our fathers, our husbands, our co-workers, our religious counselors and our government leaders. It’s all good to talk about the monsters who reveal in their reputation as monsters: our President has done an effective job of shining the light on MS-13, a horrible gang that uses rape and murder to terrorize mostly immigrants. But they are the exception – like frankly our brutal killer DeAngelo.

More often, women are hurt by the men they trust.

On August 23, when the charges were read against DeAngelo, new to the catalog were 13 counts of kidnapping. While it made for a dramatic read in court, and it’s tremendously satisfying that the DAs were able to add those important charges, it ended-up sending shock waves through the ranks of the victims.

And here’s why. Because most of the survivors in Sacramento are rape survivors, they had come to terms with two things: the statute of limitations expired on the rapes and their voices would only be heard via a Victim Impact Report that is either oral or written and isn’t subject to cross-examination. The minute the kidnapping charges were added, so was the requirement that these 13 women testify. For some, this isn’t something they want to do. Testifying means being cross examined and that’s is where victims are typically re-victimized in the legal process.

Based on the events of this week, this shouldn’t surprise anyone.

Ironically, it’s likely I won’t be called to testify because I don’t have anything particularly material to share on this case. I wasn’t at the house, I don’t know the suspect. I could be called to talk about my dad, but I think the defense could possibly do more with me than the prosecution. And even at that, it would be irrelevant because DNA puts him raping Charlene. He’s guilty and I don’t care about him. But I do care about re-victimizing those already hurt decades ago.

I had no idea how much DeAngelo’s arrest would change me. I have not been the same since that day. Parts of me I’ve push down or away have bubbled up nearly driving me crazy. I wrestled with the paradox I was living in as I met and supported my fellow survivors in Sacramento. As I celebrated their courage to face DeAngelo in court, I was struggling with what had been happening to me for the last year of my life. I just spent the last year being abused by my boss. I had to keep quiet or he might not give me by expense report reimbursement (it still came through short and it took four months to get the check. I can’t talk about the company because they only way I’d get severance and COBRA was signing a confidentiality agreement. I’d already met with an attorney and the only way he could have gotten rid of me without a lawsuit was to lay me off. So he did – while I was out on medical leave to catch my breath over the arrest. I remember crying and telling my mom I felt like a hypocrite because I wasn’t telling my story while I was encouraging others to be strong and share.

And there’s more. I need to talk about my dad. You’ve all asked me to – but I can’t yet. My dad could be Brett Kavanaugh. Truly. He would fit all the descriptions people have of the judge. And I don’t think my dad ever sexually attacked a woman. But he was abusive to the women in his family. That was our secret. Not sexually. Emotionally and physically. And I will talk about it. But I need a little more time.

I am like most women; I struggle with not wanting to impugn his reputation.

He really did amazing things for our community and my brothers must have learned some goodness from him because they are both married to amazing women. I’m proud of both my brothers for having healthy, balanced marriages – the kind I didn’t believe were possible as I grew up (hey you with the raised eyebrow thinking, hey, maybe that’s why Jen isn’t married; here’s a cookie, you’re a winner).

Because my dad was so tough on me, I grew up tough. I think he gets credit for that not because of his behavior but because of DNA. I am a lot like him. I don’t back down and I fight for justice. I can be incredibly annoying because I am so driven. Then imagine being trapped by circumstances that prevent me from fighting that fight. That’s the gut-punch of being abused. You’ve lived through the trauma but to get justice, one goes through a process that crushes the soul and strips us of our dignity and defies moral justice.

  • The state tries criminals on behalf of the people, not the victims.
    I think this is correct but in the pursuit of “fairness”, it’s actually tilted to benefit the law, not the humans. In fact, humanity is intentionally stripped from the legal process. If you don’t believe me, do a quick rhetorical analysis. Rhetoric was my major: it’s the understanding of how words are used to influence. I called it a degree in bullshit and people would agree and I’d say, “See, I just did it. It works!” In legalese, words that talk about feelings are subjective. Subjectivity is seen as bias and lawyers work to eschew bias and seek facts. Sadly, the fact that someone had to move 3,000 miles away to get away from their perpetrator because they are so scared, is fact but is meaningless without the emotion. One DeAngelo rape victim did just that. Moved away immediately, across the country. Apparently, Dr. Blasey-Ford did the same thing.
  • There are still too many men involved in investigating these crimes.
    We are so blessed to have a hero in our midst with Carol Daly. She says one of the ways she approached abuse victims was to encourage them to tell their story. Seriously. Prior to her involvement, that’s not how things went down – it’s the difference of being transactional (iterative questioning back and forth) and being contextual (what happened, how did you feel, doesn’t have to be from beginning to end because many women think more comprehensively). Without more women – many of whom have experienced abuse – we won’t be able to conquer the bullying and the bias that we saw this week. Watching 80+ year-old men delivering Dr. Blasey ultimatums was beyond tone deaf and inappropriate; it was absolutely revictimizing the victim. If you still don’t understand what she’s facing, watch this. I nearly vomited on Monday night when I watched. That’s when I knew I was also facing my own demons.
  • Good people do bad things.
    This is probably the most important part of what’s happening in America right now (and what causes me the most consternation). My former boss actively posed as a moral, wholesome man from Utah (that’s code – please read into that). When I tried to pursue things internally, I was told I was guilty of reverse discrimination and I was making the men uncomfortable. (That sound you hear is me screaming – yes, I can scream that loud.) Our NorCal Rapist worked at UC Berkeley as a safety specialist (oh irony, you are a minx). And of course, Wee Willie Winky DeAngelo, was eating at Charlie’s Café and bopping around Citrus Heights and was a former police officer. Nuff said.

From Twitter:
Since I’ve hit 50, I’ve thought a lot about how we function as humans. What I come away with after this tumultuous week that’s demonstrated just how often we hurt each other, I still have no real explanation. #sad #bebetter #KindnessMatters #WhyIDidntReport

— Jennifer Carole (@jcarole) September 22, 2018

I think a lot about the nature of humanity. There are so many things we have to figure out as humans: how to have agency, how to manage relationships, how to manage our health, how to support the people we love (and those we don’t even know) – we shouldn’t have to worry about other humans hurting us.

Based on where we are as a civilization, we should be doing better. Civilization actually means we are civil. But we just aren’t there yet.

We can be better. We can stop hurting one another. And it starts with closing your lips, opening your ears, being patient and showing kindness. A small shift that could create tremendous change. I wish that for all of us.

[Folks that follow me on Twitter know it’s been a tough week for me based on my tweets and you’ve been tremendously supportive. Thank you. It’s a great place to talk and meet other survivors. The true-crime community is amazing and we invite you to join us. Awhile ago I wrote a Twitter primer – if you’re new to the platform, it might help!]

 

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).
Charges filed
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?)
Charges filed
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!

Top Five Reasons Having the DeAngelo Trial in Sacramento is Pure Gold

When the FBI released the news about the Golden State Killer, the Orlando shooting massacre happened and took over the news. Today, when the DeAngelo press conference went live, Cohen was heading to court and the Manafort verdict was coming in. Our poor law enforcement folks can’t get a break! But it’s all good. On the day of the arrest, they owned the conversation with the best news ever. 

UPDATE: Rather flattering…Madison Wade from
ABC 10 in Sacramento turned this blog into a news story on August 23rd!

I got a call just before the press conference from Ventura District Attorney Gregory Totten. He wanted to let me know the venue for the trial would be Sacramento. I let out a little “whoop”. I couldn’t be happier. I was thinking we’d be in Ventura or maybe Orange County, but Sacramento hadn’t really been discussed as a viable option. And yet, these folks came up with the best decision possible given the scope and breadth of the crimes.

We also learned DeAngelo will be arraigned (again) this Thursday at 1:30 in Dept 61 (the courtrooms that are at the jail) on 13 more charges. At this point, we might as well turn these charges into trading cards. There are so many. I’m going to drive up and go to court. We have to keep-up the pressure (this is how it works in my head: he knows we are there, he hates that we are and the very idea that we are in the courtroom eats away at him as he wonders over and over how he got caught. Also in my head, ice cream has no calories – it’s a happy place).

But let’s get back to it. Here are my top five reasons for why it’s amazing that this trial will be in Sacramento.

It’s Affordable

Apparently there is reimbursement for victims who want to attend trials. I’m late to the party on this front but I will be catching up shortly. Reimbursement couldn’t hurt. I was running-the-numbers on how much it might cost to stay in Ventura or Orange County and it wasn’t looking good. It’s just more expensive to live down there – whether that’s an AirBnB or hotel. But in Sacramento, most folks won’t need housing and for those of us that do, it won’t be awful. If I can get my relatives to start building now, I should have a min-house to live in by the time the trial rolls around (I’m kidding – they all live up by Rescue, gorgeous but too far). But I have been threatening to buy a Vanagon (mind drifts off into land where no one can find me and I can sleep and work anywhere). Maybe I can find a Burning Man cast-off next month – could have spoilers and fire!

 Sacramento Has Excellent Journalistic Reporting

I could name drop here – I actually started to but realized I was leaving people out – so I won’t. But damn, there has been good reporting coming out of Sacramento. I have met reporters who are conscientious, connected and genuinely interested in us (the people featured in their stories) and how this criminal has changed the community. Sure, half of these reporters weren’t even born when the crimes started, but that doesn’t matter. They are covering all aspects of the story with respect, thoughtfulness and clarity. And it is appreciated. (Just busted myself up laughing thinking about how to write a warning to LA reporters who drive-up and find out tomato trucks throw tomatoes at you on Interstate 5 – what is wrong with me!?)

Sacramento Extended Law Enforcement Deserves It

Not to take anything away from my Southern California crime solvers, but clearly, based on quantity alone, Sacramento has earned the right to host this case. I realize everyone will be involved in actually trying the case but this means local law enforcement can drop in, get scoop and otherwise participate in this trial. This is bittersweet because we won’t be able to include many of the statute of limitations-expired cases (rapes). But, as I understand it, the District Attorneys want as many folks to participate as possible, so now this will be easier to have impact reports from victims that will round out the murders. That was a weird sentence to write.

Many Survivors Can Attend

Even if just for a day, having the trial in Northern California means more of us can attend and support one another – even if that’s some seven years from now – when the trial actually starts. DeAngelo has already been in jail nearly four months (see the count-up clock at the top of this blog). This thing is going to go on forever and many of us remain in the area. Being able to participate doesn’t bring closure (at least not for me), but it does mean justice and accountability. Every time I see him in that orange jumpsuit and handcuffs, I get a small measure of satisfaction.

This Case Belongs to Sacramento

I’ve long considered myself a Sacramentan. My family has always been in Sac, I went to Davis and then got my master’s at CSU Sacramento. My cousin actually chased after DeAngelo at one point as a reserve police officer. When I initially learned about the rapes in Northern California, I felt connected to everyone up north. Beyond my personal ties, there was nothing that demonstrated  the strength of this community more than what happened at Barnes and Noble. So many people with personal stories of their fear, break-ins, brushes with terror and more. When I say Sacramento, know that I widely stretch my arms to include Visalia and the larger Bay Area. I trust we will not get better support anywhere on the planet than the support we will get in Sacramento.

 

For everyone and anyone who is feeling like they won’t get justice because their rape kit was lost or expired and you still believe this is your guy – we will represent for you. I’ll have more after court on Thursday. And then I know, I know, I need to get back to blogging. I have a small surgery on Friday and then I’ll be on the mend. Finally!

News of the Day: DNA, Evidence, and Victim’s Assistance

My new friends in the media warned me about this. They said to be ready for the ups and downs. There would be quiet periods and then the noise would start again as decisions are made and new evidence presented. I’m glad they prepared me. I woke up this morning pretty hot because I’m really frustrated by some information that’s been leaked. It’s not the leak – I don’t think what’s been shared is at all harmful to the case and I hope our “informant” will manage information accordingly. Let’s dive in.

Rumor is, nothing was found at DeAngelo’s house (no evidence that is).

evidence Reddit
These folks on Reddit are incredible. Click on this image to see the full post on Reddit. Thank you to the poster!

I had not been on Reddit before last night. Then, a friend pointed me to a post that has everyone talking this morning. I don’t want to upset Reddit, so here’s just a small image designed to have you click in and read the whole thing (so Reddit gets the traffic it deserves). The upshot of the post is that nothing was found at DeAngelo’s house that ties him to any of the crimes (other than his DNA). They carried out more crap and dug holes in the back yard and stared oddly at the photos of his mother he had over his bed, but no damn evidence. How is that possible? How did he not make a mistake?

So I think it’s time for a brief community Grrr Fest (grrrr) and then it’s time to get back to putting our thinking caps on and figuring out where the hell he’s hidden all the stuff. There’s no way this control fiend threw it all away. No way. It’s out there and we need to find it. Collective “we” – I’m sure law enforcement is all over this. And yes, I know we have him on DNA. That’s awesome. That’s what I’ve been waiting for. But there are other reasons the souvenirs are so damned important.

They may be the only proof we have that he attacked women and men who no longer or never had DNA samples to rely on.

evidence Wind Drift
From the San Jose Mercury News: Jennifer Carole shows off one of the possessions from her father Lyman Smith, a bottle of cologne, in her home in Santa Cruz, Calif., on Wednesday, April 25, 2018. Her father, Lyman Smith and stepmother, Charlene Smith were both bludgeoned to death by the so-called “Golden State Killer.” (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

I have four women who’ve reached out to me. Billy Jensen said he has women that have reached out to him. I hope they have all contacted law enforcement. We need to find these souvenirs to help these women know if he was their attacker. There’s also great value – healing value – in getting these things returned to the survivors.

I’ve talked about it before and I have heard from people how much seeing their driver’s license again or that earring they never thought about then, but now desire more than anything. It’s so weird, but a lot of life comes down to these little things: the sock your child always chewed on, the smell of cologne your dad used to wear (one of my favorite photos from the media swarm on April 25th), or that class ring that was stolen in a simple house break-in. There are hundreds, if not thousands of folks participating in this investigation online. It’s time to put our thinking caps on and find the evidence.

Challenge on.

Today started with a call from KCRA about the Simi Valley case.

For those of you playing the home edition, law enforcement is scrambling all over the state of California (and beyond) to try and confirm or rule out DeAngelo for any crimes that have a close modus operandi (MO). In Simi Valley this week, they ruled DeAngelo out of a case that already jailed a man for nearly 40 years, only to be exonerated. Today it’s a crime they are still investigating. I feel so bad for the families who don’t have answers. Of course, until April, I was part of one of those families and we do have a way of moving on. But still, it’s hard to get your hopes up only to have them dashed once again. And no matter what, we are still left with wondering why.

In fact, despite the fact I’m a grown-ass woman, I still wonder about daily, how humans can be so cruel to other humans. Cruelty is not part of who I am and it makes it hard for me to understand how people want to hurt one another. But I know it happens. It doesn’t mean I have to tolerate it or like it. Maybe one of the best things about my recent adoption by the true crime folks out there, is as a group, your are a bad ass people! I have never experienced such kindness. We might be a hot mess of different people, but we share a commitment to helping those who have been harmed. Damn.

Victim Assistance included in the California budget going to vote today!

I didn’t realize there was a fund in California for victims of crime. This is actually an amazing resource. From the site:

“In 1965, California created the nation’s first victim compensation program, which was administered by the Department of Social Welfare. Responsibility for this program was transferred to the Board of Control in 1967.

The California Victim Compensation Board is a state program dedicated to providing reimbursement for many crime-related expenses to eligible victims who suffer physical injury or the threat of physical injury as a direct result of a violent crime. CalVCB funding comes from restitution paid by criminal offenders through fines, orders, penalty assessments and federal funds.”

Apparently 25 of us have applied for this relief. You do NOT have to be a victim of DeAngelo to qualify. This is for anyone who has survived a violent crime in California – but alas, there is a three year statute of limitations. The rider they are adding to the California budget extends the statute.

“…open up a new opportunity for victims of the East Area Rapist/Golden State Killer to file claims with the California Victim Compensation Board. Under current law, the statute of limitations for victims of the crimes in the 1970s and ’80s to file claims expired long ago. This proposal would give them until the end of 2019, and offer the right to file a claim to both victims and derivative victims suffering from emotional harm or financial loss — including from preparing to testify”

I wish it was across the board. These damn statutes keep working against the victims. There’s so much that happens at the time of a violent crime. It leaves you awash in people, advice, rules and sadness. To figure out how to help yourself with a service that’s unfamiliar, is a pretty high bar of expectation. If I ever get a chance to talk to the governor, I’m going to make him aware of this. I realize this could overburden the system, but I think people are fair and just and will only reach out for what they need.

Lord knows healing one another helps us all.

 

Open Letter to the Male Survivors of the East Area Rapist

I’m not sure I want to know what happened inside my dad’s house. Larry Pool shared a lot with me and I know they both went through hell. But the way the story goes in my head, my dad was bound and as Charlene was being led away, I know his mind was reeling. After the shock of being caught off guard passed, I can feel his brain racing to figure out how to get free. Both my dad and Charlene were fighters. He would have considered what was on his night table or in the drawer. He would have strained against the bindings to do something, anything, to help her. Like I said, I don’t want to know if that didn’t happen. I need to believe this is what happened.

Yesterday I wrote about the strength of the female survivors. But the truth is, there are male victims as well.

I can’t imagine the cognitive dissonance those men felt as they balance their own survival instinct with the need to protect their loved ones. They were trapped, struggling with the pain of being bound. They could hear their wives or daughters being hurt. One man died trying to protect his daughter. I don’t know if he’s been officially included by law enforcement, but for those of us who are involved, we include Claude Snelling as another victim.

Add your voice to the story.

As I struggle to understand the complex feelings a woman can feel after being attacked, I can only imagine how it must feel to be the dad, the husband, the boyfriend. The rage and powerlessness my dad felt must have been mind-blowing. I’m not sure our brains were meant to handle this kind of conflict.

We haven’t heard from the men in this story. I’d very much like to. I will keep your story confidential if you choose, but I’d like to share the experience and how your path to healing has worked – or not worked. It’s as simple as sending me an email at jennifer at jcarole.com.

I’m hoping we can all learn from this. Understanding how the men have dealt with this in the last 40 years is just another step in our healing.

 

The Power of Women – East Area Rapist Survivors Are Fierce

Had anyone at a Buckhorn Grill looked our way, they would have seen a group of women, whooping it up, sharing laughter and a meal and singing happy birthday. What a wonderful group of women exhibiting a level of resilience that I believe, belongs to women. No matter what, most women know how to “soldier on”. We might be battered, bruised, traumatized and exhausted, but for many of us, we keep going. I mean this in the best possible way.  

For all the good men out there, please forgive me, in advance, for generalizing. I’m gonna do it. I can’t help myself. Women freaking rock.

I started tonight writing about court, but I couldn’t stay focused. That’s because today was amazing – but not because of what happened in court. It’s because of what happened outside of court. It started at the corner of H Street and 7th in downtown Sacramento. That’s where Victim Services has us meet to walk over to the jail where our courtroom is located. I didn’t realize we’d all be there! It was amazing!

One after another, survivors started showing up just a bit after 8am (we had a couple wonderful men who joined us, don’t want to leave them out). I hadn’t met some of the women because I wasn’t in court for the initial arraignment. Others, I had met two weeks ago at the hearing that ended up being continued to today. There were smiles and hugs and introductions. Damn! This was a squad and we were heading to court to show that man we were not going to back down. It’s our turn now and he’s OUR bitch.

A recess allowed us to head out for coffee.

The judge switched to an “in camera” session – which means “in chamber” but really it was in the courtroom with lawyers only. Like a closed session of a board meeting. He said to come back at noon, so we were off to hang. As we walked away, a reporter was following us. I dropped back and asked him to let us be right now and we’d be happy to talk after the hearing was over. He graciously respected our request and off we went. In private.

We hid in a local cafe and had the most wonderful chance to talk. We were all over the place in our conversations, but it was interesting, funny and bittersweet. The women know I blog but I assured them, our conversations are private and not for blogging. As the time passed, we realized we needed to head back. We joined the media back in the hallway that holds us all as we wait for court to resume. Then we got the message, court wouldn’t restart until 2:15! OMG! We had time for lunch.

How many survivors can fit into a hybrid Accord?

Turns out five (plus driver). We were walking to a local eating joint when Dea pulled up and said, “Hey, wanna go to lunch?!”

Several of us knew Dea, a reporter from ABC, and she has a very good reputation among us. With the caveat that everything we’d say would be off the record, Dea took us over to the Buckhorn Grill. We were like a carload of college women – complete with lots of giggling and the discomfort that comes from jamming bodies into a car. Which is to say, it was awesome.

Turns out it is Dea’s birthday, so we had a reason to celebrate.

And now the part that I must share but I won’t attribute a word. We actually were the table of women discussing the one thing I think mean fear: penis size! Can you even imagine being the most notorious serial rapist and killer in America and the one thing that every victim knows, is that you have a small peen? After studying his hands today, I can only imagine.

What a wonderful day.

Courtroom machinations aside, this was an incredible day. It’s probably why I’m so fried tonight. I realize stepping out into the light might not work for everyone, but I personally believe it can be healing. Everyone is on their own journey. Everyone has their own process. But the community we had today was worth the heat, the standing around waiting and the challenge I have to remember names. While many couldn’t be at court today, we held you in our hearts. You were there in spirit. We represented.

At some point we will need to have a spiritual reunion. One woman spoke of a dream that she had the night DeAngelo was caught. At the end of the nightmare, she saw all the victims coming together in joyous celebration. What a wonderful vision.

If you are a victim and need help, please reach out to Sacramento Victim Services.

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!