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Ex-wife of Golden State Killer Joseph DeAngelo shares heartbreak in victim impact statement


The ex-wife of Golden State Killer Joseph DeAngelo has broken her silence for the first time in over two years since he was arrested for 13 known murders and dozens of rapes across California.  

Sharon Huddle, a Sacramento divorce attorney, shared her devastation at learning the truth about her ex-husband and his heinous crimes in a victim impact statement submitted to Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael Bowman this week.  

Huddle, who did not mention DeAngelo by name in her statement, described how she has suffered from post traumatic stress disorder and lived in constant fear ever since he was identified as the Golden State Killer. 

DeAngelo, 74, in June pleaded guilty to 13 counts of murder and 13 counts of kidnapping that occurred between 1975 and 1986. He also confessed to 161 other crimes – many of which were rapes – that he couldn’t be charged for because they took place outside the statute of limitations. 

He is set to be sentenced on Friday and faces life in prison after avoiding the death penalty under a plea deal with prosecutors.  

Thursday marked the third day of heart-wrenching testimony from DeAngelo’s victims and survivors, including Huddle. 

The ex-wife of Golden State Killer James DeAngelo revealed her heartbreak over his crimes in a victim impact statement submitted to a Sacramento court during his sentencing hearing. DeAngelo is pictured on Thursday during the second day of victim testimony

Huddle and DeAngelo married in 1973 and have three daughters and a granddaughter together. 

They had been separated since 1991 but remained legally married until last year, after DeAngelo’s arrest in April 2018. 

In her statement, obtained by the Sacramento Bee, Huddle recounted how her husband had lied to her about where he was going when she was working night shifts – leaving her completely in the dark about his horrific attacks. 

She described the ‘devastating and pervasive affect’ DeAngelo’s crimes have had on her and her family, even though they didn’t experience the violence directly.    

‘I will never be the same person,’ Huddle wrote. ‘I now live everyday with the knowledge of how he attacked and severely damaged hundreds of innocent people’s lives and murdered 13 innocent people who were loved and have now been missed for 40 years or more.

‘I live everyday with post traumatic distress where any unexpected noise, or movement of any person or object, can be perceived by my mind as a threat to me.

‘Simple everyday experiences such as a car moving from one lane into another lane behind your car can bring fear to me.’ 

DeAngelo is pictured in the early 70s when he worked with the Exeter Police Department. He married Huddle in 1973

She went on to explain how even the most banal tasks like grocery shopping have become a source of terror.  

‘Once while shopping at Trader Joe’s grocery store, a hand touched my forearm while I was looking into a freezer. 

My heart began to race and my body jolted. I was terrified that I was about to be harmed, when in reality someone I knew just wanted to say hello to me,’ she wrote.

‘I have lost my ability to trust people. I trusted the defendant when he told me he had to work, or was going pheasant hunting, or going to visit his parents hundreds of miles away.’ 

She noted that she was often working during the night – either on the graveyard shift at a Jack in the Box restaurant or when studying for law school.   

‘When I was not around, I trusted he was doing what he told me he was doing,’ she wrote.

‘Now, without the ability to trust, my relationships with other people are severely impacted.’ 

Huddle concluded her words by saying she does not want her words to detract from the impact statements from DeAngelo’s other victims and their loved ones.  

DeAngelo, 74, in June pleaded guilty to all 13 counts of murder, 13 counts of kidnapping, and confessed to 161 uncharged crimes – many of which were rapes – which go back beyond the statute of limitations

SacBee reported that Huddle’s statement was not expected to be read aloud in court even though it was submitted to the judge.  

Huddle’s only previous statement came back in June 2018, two months after DeAngelo’s arrest.  

‘My thoughts and prayers are for the victims and their families,’ she said at the time.

‘The press has relentlessly pursued interviews of me. I will not be giving any interviews for the foreseeable future. I ask the press to please respect my privacy and that of my children.’

Prior to marrying Huddle, DeAngelo was engaged in the early 70s to Bonnie Jean Colwell, who broke off the engagement. At least one victim of the Golden State Killer reported that her attacker said ‘I hate you Bonnie’ during the assault. 

DeAngelo came face to face with his ex-fiancée – now Bonnie Ueltzen – on the second day of his sentencing hearing Wednesday.  

Bonnie Ueltzen, right, who was engaged to DeAngelo in the early 1970s before breaking it off, was not allowed to speak to the court but she joined rape victim Jane Carson-Sandler, left

Ueltzen was not allowed to speak to the court as she is not listed as a victim of his crimes but she joined rape victim Jane Carson-Sandler. 

Introducing Ueltzen, Carson-Sandler said: ‘I also want to especially thank a friend who is accompanying me here today. That friend is Bonnie.

‘If Bonnie were able to speak Joe, she would want you to know Joe that as just a teenager 50 years ago she broke her engagement to you when she realized that you had become manipulative and abusive.

‘Even a gun pointed at her face could not make her choose you.’ 

Standing in the front row, Bonnie removed her face mask so DeAngelo could see her face and looked him in the eye. 

During the testimony, the killer sat in an orange jail jumpsuit, staring straight ahead and wearing a mask as protection against the coronavirus.   

Carson-Sandler told the court: ‘DeAngelo, I want you to look at me…and I want you to remember what I say.

‘You didn’t destroy my life in your cowardly, cruel and sick behavior. 

‘One quarter of me, being a Christian, I want to say to you: ‘May God have mercy on your soul.” Then there is another three-quarters of me that want to say to you, ‘Buddy, just rot in hell.”

Jane Carson-Sandler confronts Joseph James DeAngelo during the second day of victim impact statements at the Gordon D. Schaber Sacramento County Courthouse on Wednesday

During the testimony, the killer sat in an orange jail jumpsuit, staring straight ahead and wearing a mask as protection against the coronavirus

Years before DeAngelo is suspected of starting his reign of terror, he met Bonnie Colwell when they were both students at Sierra College in Rocklin, California, 20 miles from Sacramento. 

‘We always thought there was a Bonnie significant in his life, it could be a mother, a wife, a girlfriend, a childhood crush,’ Paul Holes, an investigator who has been looking into the case for years, told The Mercury News.

‘Most certainly if he’s making the statement: “I hate you, Bonnie,” while he’s attacking another female, he is what we call an anger retaliatory rapist. Instead of directing his anger at what’s making him angry, he’s directing it sideways on to someone else to be able to satisfy that anger,’ Holes said.  

Many victims have said they thought justice would never come as the former police officer seemingly vanished after each crime, confounding investigators until he was arrested in 2018 by using a new form of DNA tracing. 

More than four decades after the crimes, some of the victims finally got the chance to say their piece this week.  

Rape victim Gay Hardwick said Wednesday: ‘I’ve heard that he may have been abused as a child, that he experienced sad things in his life, that he had to move around a lot, that his fiancee jilted him. 

‘But a lot of people go through bad times, and they don’t become serial rapists and murderers.’ 

Gay Hardwick, left, is comforted by her spouse Bob Hardwick, center, and San Joaquin County’s District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar during the second day of victim impact statements with Joseph James DeAngelo present

The only time DeAngelo looked down Wednesday was during testimony from his youngest victim, Mary Berwert, who was 13 when he raped her. 

‘He truly is an evil monster with no soul,’ Patti Cosper, the daughter of rape survivor Patricia Murphy, read from her mother’s statement.

Lisa Lilienthal described DeAngelo as a sadistic ‘boogeyman’ as she testified by video about the attack she witnessed on her mother. 

DeAngelo’s nicknames illustrated the sweep of his crimes: the Visalia Ransacker, thought to be responsible for about 100 burglaries and one slaying in the San Joaquin Valley farm town; the East Area Rapist; the Original Night Stalker; and finally, the Golden State Killer when investigators finally linked the crimes that stretched across much of the state.

The family of Debbie Strauss, who died in 2016, recounted what became the signature that marked DeAngelo’s crimes after he escalated to attacking couples instead of single women and girls.

He would force his victims to bind themselves with shoelaces then balance plates on the man’s back with a warning that he would kill both victims if he heard the plates rattle while he raped the woman.

‘He spent hours raining his terror through threats and unspeakable abuse. He would leave his victims shaking in fright while he went to the kitchen to eat, only to return and then the abuse and vileness started all over again,’ said Strauss’ mother, Dolly Kreis. 

‘Today the devil loses and justice wins,’ said Debbi Domingo McMullan, the daughter of Cheri Domingo, said on Thursday.  

Debbi McMullan (left) and Melanie Barbeau confront DeAngelo at the Sacramento County Courthouse during the third day of victim impact statements on Thursday. DeAngelo killed McMullan’s mother, Cheri Domingo, and Domingo’s boyfriend, Gregory Sanchez, in 1981

Domingo, 35, was killed alongside Gregory Sanchez, 27, on July 27, 1981. McMullan said she was just 15 at the time, ‘a fragile teenager whose world had just been turned upside down’.

‘I had watched my mom and Greg dance carefree across our living room for the last time,’ she recalled through tears while DeAngelo sat expressionless, as he has throughout the hearings.

The trauma led to her years-long ‘downward spiral’ of depression and drug abuse that left her ‘hopeless, homeless,’ before a newfound faith in God put her on a new path.

McMullan called DeAngelo a ‘pathetic excuse of a man who will now, finally, be held accountable for his actions’.

Another woman who spoke Thursday was Elizabeth Hupp, whose father Claude Snelling was killed in 1975 while trying to stop DeAngelo from kidnapping his then-16-year-old daughter.  

‘My dad died saving my life that night and he is my hero,’ Hupp said as she broke down in tears.

Elizabeth Hupp, daughter of Claude Snelling, breaks down in tears as she reads her victim impact statement in court on Thursday. Snelling died thwarting DeAngelo’s attempted kidnapping of his daughter Hupp when she was 16 in 1975

While DeAngelo was able to live a normal life with his family for all those years, her dad’s killing left ‘a huge hole in my heart’, she said, because he wasn’t there to walk her down the aisle at her wedding or be a grandfather to her children.

‘Little did we know that the man stalking me was actually a police officer, someone who is sworn to protect people and not to terrorize and harm people,’ she said.

DeAngelo was known as the East Area Rapist by February 2, 1978, when he fatally shot Katie Maggiore, 20, and Brian Maggiore, 21, as they walked their dog around their Rancho Cordova neighborhood in Sacramento County.

‘You no longer live in the shadows, we all know who you are,’ Katie’s brother, Ken Smith, told DeAngelo about his acts of ‘terror and evil.’

‘You lurked in the dark so you could prey on innocent victims,’ Smith said. ‘Well, now you are prey, DeAngelo, and you can look over your shoulder the rest of your life’ in prison.

DeAngelo kept his eyes trained on the table in front of him throughout much of Thursday’s hearing in Sacramento County Court


DeAngelo Jr., a former cop, eluded law enforcement for decades until his DNA was linked to the crimes through, a genealogy website that one of his relatives had submitted their DNA to.

While his real identity remained a mystery until then, his crimes earned him a series of ominous names. 


1974-1975: 120 burglaries in Visalia and surrounding areas 

June 18, 1976: Sexual assault/rape, Rancho Cordova

July 17, 1976: Sexual assault/rape, Carmichael

August 29, 1976: Burglary, attempted sexual assault, Rancho Cordova

Sept. 4, 1976: Sexual Assault/rape, Carmichael

Oct. 5, 1976: Sexual Assault/rape, Citrus Heights

Oct. 9, 1976: Sexual Assault/rape, Rancho Cordova

Oct. 18, 1976: Sexual Assault/rape, Carmichael

Oct. 18, 1976: Carjacking, Rancho Cordova

Nov. 10, 1976: Kidnapping, Citrus Heights

Dec. 18, 1976: Sexual Assault/rape, Carmichael

Jan. 18, 1977: Sexual Assault/rape, Sacramento

Jan. 24, 1977: Sexual Assault/rape, Citrus Heights

Feb. 7, 1977: Sexual Assault/rape, Carmichael

Feb. 16, 1977: Assault, attempted murder, Sacramento

March 8, 1977: Sexual Assault/rape, Sacramento

March 18, 1977: Sexual Assault/rape, Rancho Cordova

April 2, 1977: Sexual Assault/rape, Orangevale

April 15, 1977: Sexual Assault/rape, Carmichael

May 3, 1977: Sexual Assault/rape, Sacramento

May 5, 1977: Sexual Assault/rape, Orangevale

May 14, 1977: Sexual Assault/rape, Citrus Heights

May 17, 1977: Sexual Assault/rape, Carmichael

May 28, 1977: Sexual Assault/rape, Sacramento

Sept. 6, 1977: Sexual Assault/rape, Stockton

Oct. 1, 1977: Sexual Assault/rape, Rancho Cordova

Oct. 21, 1977: Sexual Assault/rape, Sacramento

Oct. 29, 1977: Sexual Assault/rape, Sacramento

Nov. 10, 1977: Sexual Assault/rape, Sacramento

Dec. 2, 1977: Attempted sexual assault, Sacramento

Jan. 28, 1978: Sexual Assault/rape, Carmichael

Jan. 29, 1979: Sexual Assault/rape, Carmichael

Feb. 2, 1978: Brian and Katie Maggiore were killed, Rancho Cordova

March 18, 1978: Sexual assault/rape, Stockton

April 14, 1978: Sexual assault/rape, Sacramento

June 5, 1978: Sexual assault/rape, Modesto

June 7, 1978: Sexual assault/rape, Davis

June 23, 1978: Sexual assault/rape, Modesto

June 24, 1978: Sexual assault/rape, Davis

July 6, 1978: Sexual assault/rape, Davis

Oct. 7, 1978: Sexual assault/rape, Concord

Oct. 13, 1978: Sexual assault/rape, Concord

Oct. 28, 1978: San Ramon

Nov. 4, 1978: Sexual assault/rape, San Jose

Dec. 2, 1978: Sexual assault/rape,San Jose

Dec. 8, 1978: Sexual assault/rape (DNA link), Danville

Dec. 18, 1978: Sexual assault/rape, San Ramon

March 20, 1979: Sexual assault/rape, Rancho Cordova

April 4, 1979: Sexual assault/rape, Fremont

June 2, 1979: Sexual assault/rape, Walnut Creek

June 11, 1979: Sexual assault/rape (DNA link), Danville

June 25, 1979: Sexual assault/rape, Walnut Creek

July 5, 1979: Attempted sexual assault, Danville

Oct. 1, 1979: Attempted sexual assault/murder (no DNA) Goleta

Dec. 30, 1979: 2 people killed, Goleta

March 13, 1980: Sexual assault/rape, Lyman and Charlene Smith were killed (DNA link), Ventura

Aug. 19, 1980: Sexual assault/rape, Keith and Patrice Harrington killed, Dana Point

Feb. 5, 1981: Sexual assault/rape, Manuela Witthuhn killed (DNA link), Irvine

July 27, 1981: 2 people killed (DNA link), Goleta

May 4, 1986: Sexual assault/rape, Janelle Cruz killed(DNA link) Irvine

First, he was the Visalia Ransacker, a burglar who ravaged people’s homes from 1974-1975, stealing personal items and scattering women’s underwear around the crime scenes. 

Next, he was the East Area Rapist, a shadowy predator who assaulted dozens of women between 1976 and 1979. 

Between the burglaries and rapes, he started killing, earning himself the name of the Golden State Killer and the Original Nightstalker.

What triggered his sadistic tendencies remains largely a mystery.

DeAngelo grew up following his US Airman father around with his mother and sister. 

Little is known about his upbringing beyond that they were, at one time, stationed in Germany. 

His sister’s son, Jesse Ryland, has told in the past how DeAngelo would often see his father beat his mother, Kathleen. 

He also claimed that he witnessed his sister being raped by two airmen when she was just seven and he was nine.  

Ryland speculated that may have been the catalyst for his obsession with rape later in life. DeAngelo has never commented on it. 

The family returned to the US and settled on the West Coast by DeAngelo’s teenage years. 

His father was posted overseas in Korea later but he and his mother and sister stayed. His mother, according to a profile in the Los Angeles Times in 2018, started seeing a married man who had his own family. 

It left DeAngelo in charge of caring for his younger siblings. 

Former childhood friends told how he would try to fit in to their families as if they were his own.

He graduated from Folsom Senior High School in 1964 and joined the Navy, working as a damage control man aboard the Canberra during the Vietnam War. 

No other details of his military career are known. 

A 1967 article in The Auburn Journal, the local newspaper where his parents live, describes him as a 21-year-old due home on leave.  

After returning to the US from Vietnam, he met Bonnie Colwell, a science student who ultimately broke his heart. 

He and Bonnie were at one time engaged but she broke it off in 1971. 

When he was arrested in 2018, Bonnie went into hiding. 

DeAngelo’s next known milestone was not until 1972, when he graduated from California State University with a degree in criminal justice. 

From there, he joined The Exeter Police Department where he worked as an officer on the burglary unit. 

It’s in this job that he learned how to commit seemingly perfect burglaries himself. 

It was also while he was working there that he married Sharon Marie Huddle. 

The pair had three daughters, who are now all adults. 

Between 1974 and 1975, a figure who became known as the Visalia Ransacker carried out more than 120 burglaries in the area. For decades, his identity was unknown. 

When DeAngelo was arrested in 2018 for the murders and rapes of dozens of others, he was quickly tied to the Visalia Ransacker crimes and blamed for them. 

His signature, when burglarizing, was to leave women’s underwear scattered at his crime scenes. 

In 1975 was when he graduated from burglarizing to attempted kidnapping and then killing, shooting dead Claude Snelling who was protecting his teenage daughter, Elizabeth, from being kidnapped. 

Elizabeth, 16, woke up at 2am on September 11, 1975, to see a man in a ski mask, standing over her bed, telling her to go with him or be killed.

He dragged her from her room and out of the family’s backdoor towards their carport but was stopped by Snelling who happened to be in the kitchen at the time. 

Elizabeth later recalled: ‘I heard a yell and saw my dad charge out the back door. 

‘The kidnapper] threw me down and shot my dad twice. Then he pointed the gun at me.’

DeAngelo hit her with the gun and kicked her but fled. Snelling died on his way to the hospital.  

In 1976, he left the Exeter Police Department and started working for the Auburn Police Department.

That is when his relentless raping began. 

Between 1976 and 1979, he raped dozens of women in the area. 

It terrorized the neighborhoods where he picked his targets and earned him the name East Area Rapist. 

One of the victims recalled how he lay down next to her after the attack and sobbed: ‘I hate you, I hate you, I hate you Bonnie.’ 

DeAngelo was fired by the police department in 1979 after being caught shoplifting a hammer and dog repellent from a drugstore in Citrus Heights, one of the areas where he would attack women.  

He then spent 27 years working at a Save Mart Supermarkets distribution center, fixing trucks, before retiring in 2017. 

It’s unclear when but he and his wife separated some time before his 2018 arrest which came as a shock to his neighbors and relatives. 

It was the first time police had tested samples of DNA found at some of the crime scenes against DNA being stored by GEDMatch. 

One of DeAngelo’s relatives had willingly submitted their sample to find out more about their ancestry. 

Since his case, it has been used as a crime-solving technique hundreds of times. 

DeAngelo’s neighbors described him as ‘cantankerous’, unlikable and a ‘curser’. 

While he has been blamed for 88 crimes, he has also been exonerated in others.

Among his rapes is the attack of a 13-year-old girl who recalled in detail being assaulted while he shone a flashlight in her face. 

‘In a very harsh whisper, he would say, ‘Do you want to die? 

‘Do you want me to kill your mother? Do you want me to slit her throat?” Wardlow said.

 ‘I answered him immediately, ‘I don’t care,’ and he’d say, ‘Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!” Margaret Wardlow, who was raped by him in 1977, recalled to Inside Edition after his arrest last year. 

DeAngelo’s wife and children have never spoken of his crimes. 

His sister was stunned when he was arrested. 

‘As stunned as I am – because I’ve never seen him display any kind of madness or anything like that – I just can’t believe it. 

‘I’ve never seen anything to allow myself to think he could do such things,’ Rebecca Thompson, his older sister, told The Sacramento Bee at the time of his arrest. 


Claude Snelling: September 11, 1975

Claude Snelling

September 11, 1975

Journalism professor Claude Snelling, 45, was asleep in his home in Visalia, California when he heard an odd noise outside at about 2am. 

He rushed outside to find a masked man dragging his 16-year-old daughter Elizabeth away.

The abductor shot Snelling twice, killing him, and fled the scene on foot, leaving Elizabeth unharmed. 

She later told how her father saved her life. 

DeAngelo had woken her up, standing over her in a ski mask. He told her to go with him or risk her life. 

She said it was ‘blurry’ but that she remembered him dragging her. 

‘The kidnapper] threw me down and shot my dad twice. Then he pointed the gun at me.’

DeAngelo hit her with the gun and kicked her but fled. Snelling died on his way to the hospital.  

The shooting was connected to the work of the Visalia Ransacker, believed to be responsible for 102 burglaries in the area, when ballistics matched the gun that killed Snelling to one that had been stolen in a previous break-in. 

Brian and Katie Maggiore: February 2, 1978

Brian and Katie Maggiore

February 2, 1978

Brian Maggiore, 21, and his wife Katie, 20, were walking their dog in their Rancho Cordova neighborhood, just outside Sacramento, on February 2, 1978. 

The FBI said the couple were chased down before being shot and killed by the Golden State Killer.

Dr Robert Offerman and Alexandria Manning: December 30, 1979

Dr Robert Offerman and Alexandria Manning

December 30, 1979

Dr Robert Offerman, 44, and Alexandria Manning, 35, were killed at a home in Goleta near Santa Barbara. 

Offerman, an osteopathic surgeon, and Manning, a clinical psychologist, had their hands bound with twine. 

Lyman and Charlene Smith (left) and Patrice and Keith Harrington (right)  

Lyman and Charlene Smith

March 13, 1980

Lyman Smith, 43, and his wife Charlene, 33, were bludgeoned to death with a fireplace log in their Ventura County home. 

Smith was an attorney who was just days from being appointed a judge. His wife worked as a court clerk. 

Patrice and Keith Harrington

August 19, 1980

Patrice Harrington, 28, and her husband Keith, 25, were killed in their home at Dana Point. Police said they were beaten with a blunt instrument.   

Patrice was a pediatric nurse and her husband was a medical student at UC Irvine.  

Manuela Witthuhn (left) and Janelle Lisa Cruz (right)

Manuela Witthuhn

February 5, 1981

Manuela Witthuhn, 28, was raped and beaten to death in her home in Irvine. 

She was home alone at the time because her husband was in the hospital recovering from an illness. 

Cheri Domingo and Gregory Sanchez 

Cheri Domingo and Gregory Sanchez

July 27, 1981

Cheri Domingo, 35, and Gregory Sanchez, 27, were house sitting in Goleta when they were murdered in bed. 

Domingo was found with her hands tied and suffering massive head injuries. Sanchez was shot and bludgeoned.

Janelle Lisa Cruz

May 4, 1986

Janelle Cruz, 18, was bludgeoned to death in her family’s home in Irvine. She was home alone at the time and police found her lying across her bed. 

A real estate agent who was selling the family’s home was the first to discover the teen’s body. Blood was found spattered throughout the home and police believe she was beaten with a pipe wrench.  

Three cops ‘decommissioned’ as innocent family’s home raided

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