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A local connection to the Golden State Killer

A criminal on the loose for 40 years has finally been arrested. 72-year-old Joseph James DeAngelo, also known as the Golden State Killer, was arrested Wednesday and booked into the Sacramento County Jail. He has eluded officers for more than 40 years, but in the last week, DNA evidence gave investigators a break.

Ammon, ID resident Sharon Nichols lived in the Sacramento area in the 1970s. She says DeAngelo terrorized her street by cutting off the power in the neighborhood and assaulting her neighbor. Almost a decade later, he attacked and tried to kill her sister-in-law.

“I’m so glad he’s caught,” Nichols said.

Armed with a gun, DeAngelo wore a mask as he tormented communities by breaking into homes while single women or couples were sleeping. This is exactly how Nichols remembers what happened on her street.

“The power went out. I thought someone hit a power pole or something. I looked down the street and there was a person coming down towards my house. He had stopped and taken his mask off, he was wearing a mask. and he lit up a cigarette,” Nichols said.

It was almost 6 a.m., her husband just left to work, and Nichols was with her three babies inside the house. Once the power went out, she tried to figure out what was going on — that’s when she saw DeAngelo walking down her street.

“I had a rifle in the house, our hunting rifles, and i went and got one and i put a bead on him. I could not fire a shot because it would go through the neighbor’s house and kill somebody. But I had it on him. He couldn’t see me, but I could see him,” Nichols said.

Nichols said he then jumped over her neighbor’s six-foot fence.

“All of a sudden there was screaming inside the house. He apparently had gotten in the house, into Jack and Sherry’s house and was doing what he does. And she was screaming, the babies were screaming,” Nichols said.

She says hearing what happened inside is something she will never forget.

“All of us on our street, Melvin Drive, had small children all in the same age group. And to see this and not know how he’s going to strike and what he’s going to do, if he’s going to come back. We just didn’t know. We were on pins and needles. He took something away from us that was unreal,” Nichols said.

If that wasn’t startling enough, a few years later she was told her sister-in-law was attacked in 1983. Based on the description, it was said that the site-in-law’s attacker was DeAngelo.

“He grabbed her purse, knocked her down. And the water was flowing down off an embankment and he took her down there and was trying to drown her. But she had fought him off, but he had beat her up pretty bad and was trying to rape her, too. But she beat him off and she played dead,” Nichols said.

DeAngelo’s victims ranged in age from 13 to 41. He is linked to more than 175 crimes in all between 1976 and 1986.

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