Ex-Auburn, California Police Chief Nick Willick spoke out on Wednesday, after one of his former subordinates was arrested and identified as the infamous Golden State Killer.
Joseph DeAngelo, now 72, was taken into custody on Wednesday at his home in the Sacramento suburb of Citrus Heights. Cops say he is the notorious East Area Rapist and Golden State Killer, who raped and murdered more than 60 people across California in the 1970s and 1980s.
Perhaps one of the most shocking revelations about DeAngelo’s arrest is that he worked as a cop in the early years of his decade-long crime spree.
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Former Auburn, California Police Chief Nick Willick (pictured) spoke out on Wednesday about his former subordinate, Golden State Killer Joseph DeAngelo
Willick (left) was DeAngelo’s (right) boss at the Auburn Police Department from 1976 to 1979, first as his sergeant and then as the police chief
After serving in the Navy during the Vietnam War, DeAngelo returned to California where he got a job in the Exeter Police Department in 1973.
Three years later, DeAngelo transferred to the Auburn Police Department where he worked under Willick, who was first DeAngelo’s sergeant, and later his police chief.
DeAngelo (pictured) was arrested on Wednesday at his home in the Sacramento suburb of Citrus Heights
Willick remembered DeAngelo as an average cop.
‘There was nothing really while he was working at the Auburn Police Department that would say he was a mass murderer, serial rapist, burglar,’ Willick told CBS Sacramento on Wednesday.
‘Sometimes it’s just the person next door and apparently, that’s what Joe was,’ Willick added.
In the three years he worked for the Auburn Police Department, DeAngelo is believed to have committed about 50 crimes, including his first two murders.
While Willick remembered DeAngelo as an average cop, he did eventually fire him in 1979 for stealing a hammer and dog repellent from a convenience store. Authorities are now wondering if the items he snatched were intended as tools for the sinister rash of crimes he’s suspected of carrying out.
After learning about the theft, the police department conducted an investigation and fired DeAngelo.
Before working at the Auburn Police Department, DeAngelo served in the Navy and also worked as a cop in the Exeter, California Police Department
‘If I remember correctly he didn’t even have a hearing,’ Willick said. ‘I think he waived his hearing. He was prosecuted and we conducted our own investigation. And we terminated him based on the facts of the case.’
Willick issued a statement at the time of the D’Angelo’s arrest, telling reporters:’It is very important that the community have the utmost trust and faith in its officers’ integrity; when this trust and faith has been compromised, officers can no longer effectively function in the community.’
Once DeAngelo had been revealed as the killer, Willick looked back at the details of his crime spree and realized that his firing didn’t slow him down one bit.
‘Looking at the history of the crimes, nothing slowed down; if anything it seemed to accelerate,’ Willick said.
Ten slayings occurred after DeAngelo was fired and all took place in Southern California.
DeAngelo worked for 27 years in a distribution center for Save Mart Supermarkets in Roseville, a Sacramento-area suburb. He retired last year, said Victoria Castro, spokeswoman for The Save Mart Companies.
‘None of his actions in the workplace would have led us to suspect any connection to crimes being attributed to him,’ she said in a statement.
Investigators have released few details on what led them to DeAngelo, but say it was DNA that eventually connected him to the crimes.
They also say the investigation was ramped up in 2016 ahead of the 40th anniversary of his first known assault.