Did an innocent man serve 38 years in prison for a double murder committed by the Golden State Killer? Suspect in 12 deaths is now also linked to the 1978 slaying of a mother, 24, and her son, 4
- Rhonda Wicht, 24, and her son, Donald, four, were found murdered in 1978
- Wicht had been raped and beaten while Donald was smothered in his sleep
- Police say DNA evidence could link Golden State Killer suspect Joseph James DeAngelo Jr to the murders
- Authorities say there are similarities between the Wicht murders and the crimes committed by the Golden State Killer or East Area Rapist
- Craig Coley, Wicht’s ex-boyfriend, was arrested after he called police for news on the case
- Coley was convicted of two counts of first-degree murders and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole
- He was released in November after detectives re-analyzed DNA found at the scene with modern technology and found that it did not belong to Coley, now 70
- DeAngelo, 72, was arrested last week on suspicion of killing at least 12 people , and raping dozens in California in the 1970s and ’80s
The Golden State Killer suspect is being linked to the murder of a mother and her young son.
Rhonda Wicht, 24, a waitress and cosmetology student, and her four-year-old son Donald were found dead in their Simi Valley, California, apartment in 1978.
Investigators are waiting to see if the DNA that helped identify Joseph James DeAngelo Jr as the prime suspect in the Golden State Killer case will also tie him to the murders, reported CBS Los Angeles.
The development in the case comes six months after Wicht’s ex-boyfriend Craig Coley was released from prison, 38 years after he was wrongly convicted in the brutal double slaying.
‘We’ve made a request for a DNA comparison to find out if the DNA they recovered from Mr. DeAngelo is consistent with the DNA that we have in our case,’ Simi Valley Deputy Chief Joseph May told the TV station.
DeAngelo, 72, was arrested last week on suspicion of being the serial killer and rapist who terrorized California in the 1970s and ’80s. He has so far been linked to 12 deaths.
The Golden State Killer suspect is being investigated for the murder of Rhonda Wicht,24 (left) and her four-year-old son (right) Donald in their Simi Valley apartment in 1978
Investigators are waiting to see if the DNA that helped identify Joseph James DeAngelo Jr, 72 (pictured, Friday), as the Golden State Killer will also tie him to the murders
Craig Coley, then 31 (left in 1978), Wicht’s ex-boyfriend, was convicted of the murders and spent nearly four decades in prison. Coley was released from state prison in November after detectives re-analyzed DNA found at the scene with modern technology and found that it did not belong to Coley, now 70 (right)
According to the San Diego Tribune, Coley, then 31, called police to learn more details about the murders after he heard of the news. By the end of the day, he was arrested.
The first trial ended in April 1979 in a hung jury favoring conviction 10-2. The second trial ended in January 1980 with his conviction on two counts of first-degree murder where he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Former Simi Valley PD Detective Michael Bender came upon Coley’s file in 1989 and felt that a lot didn’t add up.
Coley had an alibi for the night the murders were committed, aside from 20 minutes, much longer than the crimes would have taken. Other suspects were never pursued and fingerprints were not analysed.
Following a meeting with Coley in prison, Bender would spend the next 30 years fighting for his innocence.
DNA evidence, which was believed to have been destroyed, was found and tested. Tests showed another man’s sperm, blood and skin cells on sheets and clothing in the apartment.
Coley was released from state prison in November after detectives re-analyzed DNA found at the scene with modern technology and found that it did not belong to Coley, now 70.
Coley’s first trial ended in April 1979 in a hung jury favoring conviction 10-2. The second trial ended in January 1980 with his conviction on two counts of first-degree murder where he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole (Pictured, Coley as a boy with his parents)
Former Simi Valley PD Detective Michael Bender (far right) came upon Coley’s (second from right) file in 1989 and felt that a lot didn’t add up
Coley (front right) is now living with Bender (front left). His own parents died while he was serving time
‘I’ve always had hope for [being cleared], even while I was in prison.’ Coley told CBS Los Angeles.
‘I don’t care how they find out as long as they find out and it’s a true conviction,’
Coley is now living with Bender, his own parents dying while he was in prison.
According to NBC San Diego, a family member went to go check on Wicht and her son after the two had failed to appear at a family gathering in Ventura County.
Wicht had been beaten, raped and strangled with a macrame rope while Donald had been smothered in his sleep.
Authorities say there are similarities between the Wicht murders and the crimes committed by the Golden State Killer or East Area Rapist. The Golden State Killer was known for attacking young single women in their homes, tying them up and raping them (DeAngelo seen left in 2018 and right in 1967)
Authorities are waiting for DNA tests to return before DeAngelo (pictured, Friday) is charged with the crime. He has been linked to 12 deaths so far
Simi Valley Police Chief David Livingstone told NBC San Diego that there are many similarities between the murder of the Wichts and the crimes committed by the Golden State Killer or East Area Rapist.
Livingstone said that the Golden State Killer was known for attacking young single women in their homes.
He would also tie up his victims before raping them for sexual gratification and then would beat them.
‘Not that a lot of murders don’t have some similarities, in terms of violence, but this one is close enough and with the timeframe it’s close enough to where we want to take a look at it and see if we can include or eliminate [DeAngelo] as a possible suspect in that case,’ Livingstone said.
THE EX-FIANCEE WHO BROKE THE SUSPECTED GOLDEN STATE KILLER’S HEART
The killer’s heartbreaker: Bonnie Ueltzen (pictured) broke Golden State Killer Joe DeAngelo’s heart
The woman who broke suspected Golden State Killer Joe DeAngelo’s heart and may have spurred him on his decade-long murder and rape spree is a blogger who spent years documenting her Italian travels online, DailyMail.com can reveal.
And instead of settling down with a suspected mass murderer, she married a successful accountant who went on to be a partner in a multi-million-dollar firm.
But while Bonnie Ueltzen went into great detail for all to read on her blog OldBroadAbroad.com now she has gone to ground and is hiding out.
Ueltzen – then Bonnie Jean Colwell – was engaged to DeAngelo in the early 1970s but she broke it off and both went on to marry other people.
But she clearly preyed on his mind. During at least one of his series of attacks, the killer lay down next to his victim after raping her and sobbed: ‘I hate you. I hate you. I hate you, Bonnie.’
DeAngelo, 72, an ex-cop who went on to work in a grocery warehouse for nearly three decades, was arraigned in court in Sacramento, California, on Friday. He was brought into court in a wheelchair.
Bonnie Ueltzen is pictured when she was Bonnie Colwell and engaged to the suspected killer
He is believed to be responsible for at least 12 murders and more than 50 rapes in California between 1975 and 1986.
Now divorced and recently retired, he was quietly living in a single-story home in the Sacramento suburb of Citrus Heights until Tuesday’s arrest.
Police have now finished combing through the beige-colored house, removing boxes of evidence, guns, cars a motorcycle and a boat, among other items.
Years before DeAngelo is suspected of starting his reign of terror, he met Bonnie Colwell when they were both students at Sierra College in Rocklin, California, 20 miles from Sacramento.
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