By EMILY SHAPIRO, ABC News
(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) — Survivors of rapes committed by Joseph DeAngelo, the man now known as the “Golden State Killer,” made their voices heard in victim impact statements in court Wednesday.
One survivor, who was raped in 1978 at the age of 23, addressed DeAngelo directly, telling him, “You will not defeat me, you will not break me.”
She said she had loved to waterski since she was 3 years old. But “the night that you violently attacked me you mentioned seeing me at the lake and that I looked good. I’ve never waterskied again.”
“You destroyed the life that I had,” she told him.
But, she said, “I am free to leave this courtroom and lead the life I choose. You are going to spend the rest of your miserable life in a cage.”
‘Remember what I have to say’
“I want you to look at me, DeAngelo … I want you to remember what I have to say,” Jane Carson-Sandler loudly said in court Wednesday as DeAngelo sat silently in a white face mask.
In October 1976, Carson-Sandler was home with her 3-year-old son when a knife-wielding DeAngelo broke in. DeAngelo bound her, blindfolded her and gagged her, and did the same to her son.
“Then you repeatedly threatened to kill us,” Carson-Sandler said. “The fear escalated when you started tearing sheets and clothes. I had no idea what you were planning to do with all that cloth. Strangle us, maybe?”
“Yes, I was frozen in fear beyond description,” she continued. “My attention was not on the rape, but fully on where did you put my son when you removed him from the bed? Where did you put him and what were you going to do to him?”
“If it wasn’t for the trauma I endured, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. And I am proud of what I have accomplished. I am blessed beyond words,” she said, pausing her prepared marks to say to DeAngelo, “I see your eyes are closing.”
Carson-Sandler said that now, decades later, scars from her attack remain. Seeing a ski mask or hearing someone yell “shut up” will “forever cause me anxiety,” she said.
“My comfort at those times is remembering that you are finally going to prison and will remain there until you die,” she said.
Carson-Sandler and the other victims were joined in court by DeAngelo’s former fiancée, a woman named Bonnie, whose breakup with DeAngelo may have sparked some of DeAngelo’s violence, according to an investigator.
During one rape in 1978, DeAngelo sobbed and appeared to call out the name of his former girlfriend, saying, “‘I hate you, Bonnie,’ over and over,” investigator Paul Holes told ABC News in 2018.
In June, DeAngelo, 74, pleaded guilty to 13 counts of first-degree murder as part of a plea deal, which also required him to admit to multiple uncharged acts, including rapes.
The death penalty was taken off the table in exchange for the guilty pleas.
Three days of victim and family impact statements began Tuesday. DeAngelo, who was a police officer from 1973 to 1979, will be formally sentenced on Friday to life without parole.
‘Our lives were never the same’
On March 18, 1978, Gay Hardwick was home asleep with her now-husband, Robert Hardwick, when DeAngelo broke in.
“He kidnapped me from my bed. He raped me repeatedly, he sodomized me, he forced oral copulation. He stole the few precious pieces of jewelry that I owned,” Gay Hardwick told the court Wednesday. “He ate from my refrigerator and he drank two beers while I lay bound and blindfolded … he ransacked our home and in between he tormented me with threats of death.”
“I survived those repeated attacks. The hours of terror,” she said. “However our lives were never the same.”
Gay Hardwick said she’s suffered decades of PTSD, nightmares, sleeplessness, social anxiety, flashbacks and inability to be alone.
“I became the Black Hawk helicopter of all parents,” she said.
She recounted for the court an incident two decades after the attack at a time “I thought I was fully recovered.” Her husband and four children were out of town and she was looking forward to some alone time, but pieces of duct tape left on a counter sent her fleeing in fear to her father’s home where she spent the night in her childhood bed.
‘He stole my innocence’
Mary Berwert was 13 years old, enjoying the summer before eighth grade, when she was raped in June 1979 in her childhood bedroom.
“He stole my innocence, my security, threatened my life, threatened the lives of my family,” Bertwert said in court.
“I had to break the ties on my legs … I had to open my bedroom door with my hands tied behind my back,” she said, and then she ran to her father’s room, telling him, “Daddy, I’ve been raped.”
“He flew out of his bed. He started crying. I had never seen him cry before,” she said.
The rape shattered her childhood, she said, from undergoing a rape kit to seeing the pain on her parents’ faces.
This June, when prosecutors told Berwert that DeAngelo was going to admit to his crime against her, she said “a weight was lifted off my shoulders.”
“I had no idea how heavy this weight was — I had been carrying it for so long,” she said.
“Thirteen-year-old Mary needed justice. If only back then someone could have said to me with confidence that one day he’d be caught,” she said. “I can’t help but think what of a difference that would’ve made for my future.”
DeAngelo committed 13 murders and multiple rapes and burglaries in the 1970s and 80s, terrorizing families from Northern to Southern California.
The crimes went unsolved until April 2018, when DeAngelo, a father and grandfather, was arrested in Sacramento County.
DeAngelo was the first public arrest obtained through genetic genealogy, a new technique that takes the DNA of an unknown suspect left behind at a crime scene and identifies him or her by tracing a family tree through his or her family members, who voluntarily submit their DNA to public genealogy databases.
To identify DeAngelo, investigators narrowed the family tree search based on age, location and other characteristics. Authorities conducted surveillance on DeAngelo and collected his DNA from a tissue left in a trash. Investigators plugged his discarded DNA back into the genealogy database and found a match, linking DeAngelo’s DNA to the DNA found at multiple crime scenes, prosecutors said.
Since DeAngelo’s arrest, over 150 other crime suspects have been identified through genetic genealogy.
ABC News’ Jenna Harrison contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.