SACRAMENTO — Jennifer Carole was 18 when her father and stepmother, Lyman and Charlene Smith, were murdered in their Ventura home in 1980.
Carole spent years living in fear, knowing a serial rapist and killer was responsible for the attack. But with an arrest, she’s finally comfortable enough to look at a suspect in court and share her story.
“You know, it’s one thing to say that they were murdered but they were really savaged before they were murdered and the rape victims were savaged as well,” Carole said. “So mostly I just had disgust for this human.”
Carole came to court in Sacramento because she wanted to look at Joseph DeAngelo, the man accused of murdering her loved ones and 10 others. During the short hearing, she sat, holding hands with other victims.
“I was thinking of the hatred my stepmother would have had for him,” Carole said.
Charlene Smith was raped before the murders and DNA found on her body later linked the murders in Southern California to the East Area Rapist crimes in Northern California. DNA is ultimately what led investigators to their suspect decades later.
“As much hell as she went through, I really think that it’s amazing that her body could provide the evidence to see him arrested,” Carole said.
Carole says her father, who was a prominent attorney, would have wanted “justice.” But for her, seeing a man behind bars hasn’t brought closure, it has brought up old pain.
“It’s opened up a lot of wounds,” Carole said. “I know I’m having a really hard time sleeping and a lot of nightmares.”
Carole says she never thought the Golden State Killer would be caught. She just figured he had already died. For her, that was almost easier than seeing the face of a suspect and imagining all of the horrible crimes he’s accused of.
A victim’s anger
In 1976, Jane Carson-Sandler was the fifth victim of the East Area Rapist.
She says she thought she worked through her emotions and trauma that stem from her rape. But she says she immediately got angry seeing DeAngelo in court.
In the 42 years since she was raped by the East Area Rapist in her Citrus Heights home, Carson-Sandler has had faith a suspect would be caught.
“I never ever thought he was dead,” Carson-Sandler said. “He could have been behind bars. But I knew that one day he would be in jail, I’ve always believed that.”
Carson-Sandler said she was “angry” seeing DeAngelo standing in court Monday when he first appeared looking so feeble.
“It looks as though he’s faking and if he’s not faking then he’s sedated in some form. I just want to punch him in the face,” she said.
FOX40 sat down with Carson-Sandler last week at Crime Con in Nashville, Tennessee. She was processing a flood of new emotions days after the arrest.
“I used to carry a backpack of anger and hate, and feelings of revenge and guilt, shame, the whole backpack. And when I was finally able to forgive him quite a few years ago… ” Carson-Sandler said. “I thought I’d gotten rid of all those emotions. Now, seeing him sitting in that wheelchair, now I’m dealing with the emotion of anger.”
Carson-Sandler lives in South Carolina but she’s determined to be in the courtroom. She has some words for the man accused of attacking her when she was a young mother.
“Oh my, I wonder if they’ll give me the opportunity to grab him by the neck and say, ‘You’re no longer in control, buddy. You lost that a long time ago,'” she said.
DeAngelo will be back in court on May 29 at 8:30 a.m.