Accused Golden State Killer Joseph DeAngelo is being eyed in an old California double murder that sent an innocent man to prison for nearly 40 years, according to reports Monday.
Joseph DeAngelo — who officials say is the monster behind 12 murders and more than 50 rapes — may have also killed 24-year-old waitress Rhonda Wicht and her 4-year-old son, authorities told CBS affiliate KCAL.
The young mother’s former boyfriend, Craig Coley, served 38 years in prison for the slayings before he was recently cleared through DNA evidence. Authorities now believe DeAngelo may have committed the brutal crime, according to the station.
“I’ve always had hope for [being cleared] even while I was in prison,” Coley, 70, told CBS. “I don’t care how they find out [who the killer is], as long as they find out and it’s a true conviction.”
Coley had recently broken up with Wicht when cops found her beaten, raped and strangled with a macramé rope in her apartment in the Los Angeles suburb of Simi Valley in November 1978. Her son, Donald, was suffocated to death in his bed.
Coley was arrested hours after police found the bodies and convicted of the double murder in 1980. While behind bars, he petitioned for clemency for decades with no luck — until last November when police found new DNA evidence that no longer placed him at the scene of the murder, according to the Washington Post
A judge then tossed his conviction, California Gov. Jerry Brown pardoned him, and he was set free.
Authorities now suspect that DNA in the case will match with DeAngelo, 72, the former cop and accused serial rapist and murderer, who police arrested at his home in Sacramento last week.
“It’s within the realm of possibility that he could be a suspect in our case,” Simi Valley Deputy Chief Joseph May told KCAL. “We’ve made a request for a DNA comparison to find out if the DNA they recovered from Mr. DeAngelo is consistent with the DNA that we have in our case.”