Retired Investigator and Author Speaks out About the East Area Rapist

SACRAMENTO – A Sacramento County Sheriff’s detective, now retired, was first to notice a common trend in the East Area Rapist’s crime spree.

When a stack of rape reports landed on Richard Shelby’s desk in 1976 it did not take long for him to connect them.

“Same one. No questions about it,” said retired detective Shelby. “When [the East Area Rapist] gets in and does the rape, it’s the same stuff,” he said.

The victims usually had “hang up calls” in common, according to Shelby. Those calls would later become “obscene [and] typically the victim he’d assault would stop getting those calls a week before they were assaulted,” said Shelby.

Shelby was invested in this case from day one. Even writing a book about the notorious criminal titled, “Hunting a Psychopath.”

Shelby says there is no doubt investigators got the right guy with the arrest of Joseph DeAngelo.

That confidence comes from intimate details he has gathered over the years.

“In one if the assaults he said, ‘I hate you Bonnie’ or ‘mommy,’ the report says [the victim] was not sure which it was,” said Shelby.

DeAngelo was engaged to Bonnie Jean Colwell in 1970.

As Shelby compared notes from old police reports he recalled that “sometimes the [East Area Rapist] would cry and I think that most of the time he was acting.”

Shelby says that acting may have continued Friday when the seemingly feeble and elderly DeAngelo rolled into court in a wheelchair.

“He’s out there riding bicycles and walking around,” said Shelby. “He’s pretty active so it’s phony,” he said.

While Shelby says he never doubted he would see an arrest in this case, he is glad he can finally put it behind him.

“Kind of feel like I had a bath and got rid of 40 years of slime,” said Shelby.