Though she was a lawyer, Sharon Huddle remained married to Joseph DeAngelo, the Golden State Killer, until his arrest in 2018. The heartless criminal took the lives of over a dozen people before his wife knew she had married a monster. The experience, she admits, has changed her forever.
Today, she struggles with PTSD, and mundane tasks like grocery shopping can make her suffer from panic attacks. For years, the Golden State Killer raped and murdered several women in California.
Sharon only learned of her husband's criminal life after he was put under arrest in April 2018. However, the two had already broken up after splitting up in the 90s, although they were technically married until the arrest for his horrifying crimes.
A Criminal By Many Names
Joseph DeAngelo got the name Golden State Killer in 2013 from crime writer Michelle McNamara. Previously, he had nicknames like the Visalia Ransacker, East Area Rapist, East Side Rapist, East Bay Rapist, Diamond Knot Killer, Night Stalker, Original Night Stalker, and EARONS (East Area Rapist, Original Night Stalker) for his various crime sprees.
After his arrest, he ended up pleading guilty to 13 counts of murder and 13 counts of kidnapping and robbery. In the end, he got 12 life sentences in August 2020.
His childhood might offer clues as to why he turned into a killer and a rapist.
For instance, DeAngelo watched as his seven-year-old sister was raped by two airmen in a German warehouse when he was still a boy. Also, his father abused one of his sisters as they were growing up.
In his teen years, investigators discovered that DeAngelo liked to commit burglaries. He was also fond of torturing and killing animals.
Ironically, as an adult, DeAngelo seemed like a reliable and trustworthy cop. He had won several medals for his service in the army, and the police force and the community respected him. However, he was far from what he seemed.
A Killer With A Badge
A year after DeAngelo and Sharon tied the knot in 1973, burglaries started in Visalia, a town about 11 miles from Exeter. The criminal, who earned the name "Visalia Ransacker," robbed around 100 homes between 1974 and 1975. DeAngelo turned out to be that burglar, and he stood out for the fact that he would steal low-value possessions and ignore more expensive items and banknotes left in plain sight.
For instance, he took $50 from a piggy bank in the first ransacking he was linked to. He would also scatter women's underclothes and vandalize possessions.
A year later, "another" criminal, the East Area Rapist, broke into homes and raped 50 women over a 3-year period. The crimes turned into murders, which baffled the authorities. The criminal got the name the Original Night Stalker, and he would target couples, tie them up, and sometimes rape the women before he shot or burgeoned the victims. Once again, investigators learned that this was still DeAngelo's work.
Typically, he would break through sliding glass doors and awaken the couple using a flashlight while threatening them with a gun. He would force the female victim to tie up her partner. After that, he would stack up dishes on the man's back and threaten to kill everyone if he heard the dishes rattle. Then he would take the woman to a different room and rape her repeatedly. He could spend several hours in a single home, and while there, he would eat, drink beer and make threats before going discreetly, leaving the occupants to wonder if he was still around or not.
Initially, the police thought many people were responsible for his crimes since they covered such a huge geographical area. However, Joseph DeAngelo was responsible for all of them. It's just that he kept changing his MO.
DeAngelo Called The Authorities To Mock Them And Inform Them Of Future Crimes
At the peak of his criminal behavior, he would often taunt the authorities. In 1977, he made three calls to the Sacramento County Sheriff's Office and even laughed in one of the calls. In the final call, he warned:
"I'm the East Side Rapist, and I have my next victim already stalked, and you guys can't catch me."
In the same year, he made several other calls to the authorities, including a call in December in which he gloated:
"You're never gonna catch me, East Area Rapist, you dumb fuckers; I'm gonna fuck again tonight. Be careful!"
On that night, another victim was attacked.
In 1979, he was arrested after being caught stealing a hammer and dog repellent. Eventually, he was put on probation for six months before he was fired. As he was getting fired, he made threats to the police chief and even stalked his house.
From 1990 to 2017, DeAngelo worked as a mechanic.
In 2016, the FBI announced that it was renewing its effort to track the Golden State Killer and even offered a $50,000 reward for information leading to his capture. Eventually, DeAngelo was arrested after DNA from his car door handle was matched, with the help of a genealogy database, to the crimes he committed.
Before he was caught, experts had started to suspect that the criminal either had law enforcement or military experience or both. DeAngelo was 72 during his final arrest when they were finally able to connect him to crimes committed by the Visalia Ransacker.
According to his sister, DeAngelo was a kind and gentle man when around his children. She was shocked when she heard of the allegations against him and hoped that they were all wrong. However, some of the neighbors called him a freak because he would often have outbursts.
Married To A Rapist And A Killer
Sharon was still a student at California State Sacramento when she met DeAngelo, a Vietnam veteran studying criminal justice. The two got married at Auburn First Congregational Church, and in that same year, he joined the Exeter Police Department.
Before meeting and marrying Sharon Marie, he was engaged to a Sierra College classmate, Bonnie Jean Colwell. However, she broke up with him after he threatened her with a gun in an attempt to force her to marry him.
DeAngelo and Sharon's marriage got strained over time, and by the 70s, they slept in separate bedrooms before separating in 1991. However, Sharon and DeAngelo remained legally married for several years and shared parenting responsibilities.
When Sharon had her first daughter in 1981, her husband had already raped her 50 times. The trail of bodies he left behind was getting longer.
After his arrest, Sharon divorced DeAngelo, which the DA saw as an opportunity to subpoena her as that meant she could speak against him in court. Although she might not have talked about the communications they had as husband and wife, she could still state some of the observations she made while married to him, such as his behavior on the days he committed the crimes.
"I Will Never Be The Same Person"
Sharon remained quiet about him until he pleaded guilty in June 2020:
"I will never be the same person. 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."
One of the most notable things about her speech was her inability to mention his name even once. Obviously, she is still trying to reconcile herself because she was married to a violent killer and rapist.
DeAngelo pleaded guilty to the charges leveled against him as a plea deal. That saved him from getting the death penalty. He was put in jail without the possibility of parole.
Today, Sharon Huddle has turned into a very private person. In a statement, she had this to say:
"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."
Clearly, living with a killer and a rapist can have quite an impact on anyone.