CITRUS HEIGHTS — Before Joseph DeAngelo became known as the suspected East Area Rapist he was Gary Griffin’s longtime coworker and friend.
Now, DeAngelo is accused of being the East Area Rapist, also known as the Golden State Killer or Original Night Stalker — a notorious criminal linked to a dozen murders and 50 rapes in California.
“I can’t look at him in court because I picture the guy that I was standing next to at work,” Griffin told FOX40.
They had lunch together every day for years and went waterskiing together. Now DeAngelo is accused of being a vicious serial killer and rapist.
Griffin says as a mechanic he was “meticulous” while working at a Save Mart distribution center in Roseville.
“He was very afraid of being in trouble,” Griffin said. “He never called in sick. He was proud of that.”
Griffin also says DeAngelo was missing part of a finger.
“He said that happened in the Navy,” Griffin said.
If DeAngelo is, in fact, the East Area Rapist, he would have had to hide that defining feature from his victims. The elusive criminal always wore gloves and masked his face. A face Griffin says was not suspicious.
“I never seen it in his eyes, like Manson. If you see an interview with Manson you see it in his eyes, the blankness and no emotion,” Griffin said.
Griffin says he thinks DeAngelo started working as a truck mechanic at the facility in Roseville back in 1988. That’s two years after the East Area Rapist’s last known crime.
Neighbor Remembers DeAngelo as Helpful, Hardworking
Less than a week after DeAngelo was taken into custody outside his home along Canyon Oak Drive in Citrus Heights, his neighborhood has returned to its usual calm.
Neighbor Jim Chappell says he never saw it coming.
“He hid it well,” he said. “He hid it really well.”
Chappell lives two doors down from where DeAngelo lived. He remembers DeAngelo as a loud, 72-year-old grandfather and a former police officer, who often helped his neighbors.
“He borrowed a cup of milk from him one day and brought him a gallon the next day,” Chappell said. “So he was always friendly to all the neighbors and stuff. We called him a yeller but come to find out he was a little hard of hearing.”
DeAngelo was wheeled into court on Friday and appeared weak, but Chappell remembers him as strong enough to constantly be outside, working in his yard, or on his boat or cars.
“That’s not the guy we saw around the neighborhood working on his boat. Those rocks in his front yard he would move those and weed eat under them,” Chappell said. “That yard was meticulously kept up. He kept it nice.”
Chappell says DeAngelo lived with one of his daughters and his teenage granddaughter. He feels for them and says until he hears a confession or sees a conviction, it won’t feel real.
“If they prove it’s him I hope he gets whats coming,” he said. “I hope he spends the rest of his life in jail, honestly.”