For 40 years, the person known as the “Golden State Killer” eluded capture. On Wednesday, multiple law enforcement agencies announced the arrest of Joseph James DeAngelo in connection with the case.
Along with law enforcement officials, people across the country have been following the case for years.
Keith Komos runs Cold Case EARONS, a website solely dedicated to investigating the “Golden State Killer” case. EARONS is an acronym, standing for “East Area Rapist Original Night Stalker,” the two names used early in the investigation. From the late 1970s to the late 1980s, at least 12 murders and about 45 rapes happened across California, with more than half in the Sacramento region.
Komos is based in Houston, Texas, and works as a technology consultant for local universities.
“I was not terribly interested in true crime. I got into it as just a way to use my computer skills to help out. And I like to work puzzles, I like to work complex problems. And I saw this as one of those complex problems,” Komos says.
Komos hadn’t heard about the East Area Rapist until about two years ago when Kat Winters, his colleague, asked for help researching the case. The two went on to write a book titled Case Files of the East Area Rapist/Golden State Killer.
Komos says the case became an obsession.
“Sometimes, a social activity or something would be suggested to me and I’d be like, ‘Well, I’m in the middle of this.’ Stepping back from that, I realize I did give up things to work on this,” Komos says.
He and Winters were also working on identifying the “Visalia Ransacker,” a serial burglar who operated in Visalia, California during the mid-1970s. There’s now evidence to suggest that the Visalia Ransacker is also the East Area Rapist, closing Winters and Komos’ case.
Komos says he now wants to focus his efforts on active cases that are still open and believes information on open cases should be more available to the public.
“Maybe the public can help," he said. "Maybe raising awareness on these cases helps these investigators and helps the district attorney justify the allocation of resources to these cases and helps them get solved.”
Komos says he was going to continue investigating the East Area Rapist case this weekend. Now that officials have arrested a suspect, he says he’s going to spend this weekend celebrating.