FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – The San Joaquin Valley has its fair share of links to state and nationally-known multiple murderers.
Joseph James DeAngelo (Golden State Killer/Visalia Ransacker)
Joseph James DeAngelo is a convicted serial killer responsible for 13 murders and dozens of rapes throughout the state. DeAngelo preyed on the people of Visalia while being an Exeter Police Officer from 1973 to 1976. During his early rampage, local media named him the Visalia Ransacker for his sexually motivated break-ins into the homes of Visalia residents.
DeAngelo committed his first murder in Visalia on September 11, 1975. DeAngelo had tried to break into the house of journalism college professor Claude Snelling. DeAngelo was confronted by Snelling in the front yard where DeAngelo shot and killed Snelling.
In 1976 DeAngelo left the Exeter Police Department to take a job as a police officer in Auberry.
DeAngelo pleaded guilty in 2018 and was sentenced to 11 consecutive life terms without the possibility of parole, plus another 15 life terms with the possibility of parole and eight years for other enhancements.
He eluded capture for four decades until investigators used a new form of DNA tracking to unmask and arrest him in 2018.
Randall Woodfield (The I-5 Killer)
From former Greenbay Packer to one of the deadliest serial killers, according to CBS. Randall Woodfield was drafted by the Greenbay Packers in the 7th round of the 1974 NFL Draft. After he was released by the packers and his football days were at an end Woodfield spent years on the road between California, Washington, and Oregon up and down the I-5 freeway from 1979-1981.
One former Visalia resident who went on a date with him described him as “the perfect gentleman.” Woodfield visited her at her family home in Visalia driving his VW Beattle. After their date, her parents offered for him to spend the night because it was late. She says Woodfield declined and said, “he was used to driving at night.” Before his arrest, Woodfield reportedly asked the Visalia woman to marry him.
Woodfield has been connected to 18 murders and that number may be as high as 44 victims. Woodfield is now serving a life sentence in an Oregon prison.
Jeffery Dahmer (Milwaukee Cannibal/Milwaukee Monster)
Jeffrey Dahmer admitted to killing and eating 17 boys and men in Milwaukee from 1978 to 1991. According to the FBI, law enforcement found the remains of 11 victims in Dahmer’s apartment after a man had escaped from the apartment and told police Dahmer had threatened him with a knife.
In July 1978, Dahmer’s parents finalized their divorce. His mother, Joyce, moved to Fresno, with Jeffrey’s younger brother David in the late 1980s.
Dahmer was sentenced to 15 life sentences in prison in February of 1992. While in prison Dahmer was killed by another prisoner who was in prison for murder.
After Jeffrey was murdered in prison, Joyce petitioned for her son’s brain to be studied by experts to see if there were any physical signs that could explain why Jeffreys committed these acts. Scientists at Fresno State hoped to study Dahmer’s brain – but a judge ultimately declared his body to be cremated.
Joyce died in Fresno from breast cancer in 2007.