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For more than 40 years Joseph James DeAngelo – better known as the Golden State Killer – evaded justice for his terrifying rape and murder spree.

As a police officer, the twisted killer terrorised the very people he had sworn to protect, leaving a trail of bodies and ruined lives in his wake.

Now, the 74-year-old has been sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty to 13 murders earlier this year.

The court today heard: “He will never walk this earth again as a free man.”

The day before he was sentenced, DeAngelo sat through the victim impact statements of some of those who had survived his brutal attacks.

They described in harrowing detail the horrors he had unleashed and the devastating effect his actions had had on their lives.

The rapist and killer also came face to face with ex-fiancee Bonnie Ueltzen whose name he shouted during at least one rape after she dumped him as a teen.

DeAngelo s also suspected of being responsible for a further 51 rapes and 150 burglaries throughout California during the 1970s and 1980s.

The serial killer has been described as a “real life Hannibal Lectur”.

In June, the 74-year-old pleaded guilty to 13 counts of murder, 13 counts of kidnapping, and confessed to 161 uncharged crimes – many of which were rapes – which go back beyond America’s statute of limitations.

He admitted attacking 87 victims at 53 separate crime scenes spanning 11 California counties in a plea deal that spared him the death penalty.

DeAngelo, who is believed to have started his reign of terror in 1975, forced his victims to endure hours of torture, where they were bound, gagged and beaten before he raped them.

His horrifying crimes left his victims scarred for life and tore families apart.

Rape survivor Patricia Murphy’s daughter told how her mother’s attack forever changed her and, ultimately, tore apart her family.

“He and his knife had complete control over me for the next two hours,” she said in a statement, which was read in court by her daughter, Patti Cosper.

“Did his little penis drive him to be so angry all the time? He truly is an evil monster with no soul.”

Police had been investigating the harrowing rapes and murders for 40 years when DeAngelo was finally arrested in 2018.

His crimes had spanned a huge area of California and for years officers didn’t connect them all and believed they were the work of separate criminals.

The murders, rapes and burglaries led to nicknames the Visalia Ransacker, the Diamond Knot Killer, the Original Night Stalker and the East Area Rapist.

It was decades before detectives connected the harrowing crimes and realised they were all the work of one man.

DeAngelo was a former police officer who had also served in the Vietnam War and then worked as a car mechanic.

He was finally tracked down and arrested when his DNA was matched with a genealogy website.

It was painstaking work and investigators had to build a family tree dating back to the 1800s to find their suspect.

Police them trailled him and picked up a piece of rubbish he had put in a litter bin. They used this to match his DNA from several of the crime scenes.

When he was arrested, DeAngelo is said to have officers that he had been forced to commit the horrific rapes and murders because of an uncontrollable force inside him.

Sacramento County prosecutor Thien Ho told the court that when the killer was alone in a police interview room he said “I did all that”.

He is then said to have added: “I didn’t have the strength to push him out. He made me. He went with me. It was like in my head, I mean, he’s a part of me.

“I didn’t want to do those things. I pushed Jerry out and had a happy life. I did all those things. I destroyed all their lives. So now I’ve got to pay the price.”

Since his arrest DeAngelo has been kept in isolation in a Sacramento jail.