Pictured: Young lab assistant who dumped the ‘Golden State Killer’

Is this the woman who broke the Golden State Killer’s heart and ‘sparked’ his murderous rampage? Young lab assistant called Bonnie who was engaged to serial killer and whose name he shouted during rapes

  • Bonnie Jean Colwell was a young lab assistant at Sierra College in California when she met Joseph James DeAngelo in the late 1960s
  • The two had gotten engaged, but the marriage never happened 
  • DeAngelo, 72, was arrested after DNA linked him to the murders and rapes attributed to the Golden State Killer from the 1970s to 80s
  • Investigators say she may have been motivated due to hatred of his ex-fiancee
  • One of his alleged rape victims told police that he yelled out: ‘I hate you Bonnie’
  • Golden State Killer is suspected of 12 murders and 50 rapes across California   
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A photograph of the woman who dumped a former California cop before they were supposed to marry which supposedly fueled his alleged spree of murders and rapes decades ago has emerged.

Bonnie Jean Colwell was reportedly engaged to Joseph James DeAngelo, the 72-year-old resident of a Sacramento suburb who was arrested on Tuesday for allegedly being the Golden State Killer.

DeAngelo was arraigned Friday on murder charges relating to the slaying of a couple in 1978.

Investigators say he may have been motivated to kill 12 people, rape up to 51 women, and burglarize over 150 homes during the 1970s and 80s due to his hatred of his ex-fiancee.

Bonnie Jean Colwell (right) was reportedly engaged to be married to Joseph James DeAngelo (seen left Friday at his arraignment in Sacramento), the 72-year-old resident of a Sacramento suburb who was arrested on Tuesday for allegedly being the Golden State Killer

DeAngelo first met Colwell when they both attended Sierra College just north of Sacramento in the late 1960s, according to The Daily Beast. 

A newspaper article published in the Auburn Journal announced their engagement sometime in either the late 60s or early 70s. 

In the announcement, Colwell was described as a young lab assistant at the college. 

But the couple never married. Instead. DeAngelo would marry Sharon Huddle in 1973.

They eventually had three children, but the couple would separate sometime in the 1990s.

The neighbors who lived near DeAngelo and Huddle reported they would hear screaming and shouting from their home.

Investigators said that the Golden State Killer would attack couples as they were lying in bed at home.

Police say he would make the men listen as their wives or girlfriends would scream while they were being raped.

In July 1978, the Golden State Killer broke into a woman’s home in Davis, California at around 3:00am.

He went to the woman’s bedroom and woke her up by shining a flashlight into her face. 

‘Don’t move or I’ll blow your f***in’ head off,’ the man, who was wearing a ski mask, told her.

‘I’m going to blow your f***in’ head off, do you see this gun?’ 

Paul Holes, an investigator who has been working the case since 1994, said one of the critical clues linking DeAngelo to the crimes was that he yelled out ‘I hate you Bonnie’ during one of his first alleged rape attacks. Holes is pictured above on Megyn Kelly’s show

The man also threatened to kill the woman’s two young sons who were asleep in a nearby bedroom.

He forced the woman to roll over and tied her hands and ankles together. He then tied a blindfold over her eyes.

Afterward, he stole a number of items from the house and then raped her. 

After he was finished, he put his head down on a pillow and lied down next to his victim and began sobbing.

‘I hate you. I hate you. I hate you, Bonnie,’ he cried. 

Soon afterward, he left. The woman then untied herself and ran to a neighbor’s house and called police.

At the time, at least 30 other women from the Sacramento area reported being raped in a similar manner – earning him the moniker ‘the East Area Rapist.’ 

Authorities are now trying to track down Colwell, who has not made herself available to the press. 

Paul Holes, an investigator who has been looking into the case for years, said the ‘I hate you Bonnie’ statement was one of the critical clues linking DeAngelo to the crimes, The Mercury News reports. 

‘Most certainly if he’s making the statement, “I hate you, Bonnie,” while he’s attacking another female, he is what we call an anger retaliatory rapist. Instead of directing his anger at what’s making him angry, he’s directing it sideways onto someone else to be able to satisfy that anger,’ Holes said.

‘I do believe that’s what happened here. I don’t know what made him that way, but you’ve got to think Bonnie dumped him, he’s not happy about that, he still had feeling for her, who knows? But something along those lines must have happened.’

Investigators searched DeAngelo’s home in Citrus Heights on Thursday looking for evidence that may have been taken from the various crime scenes 40 years ago

Holes, who has been a key investigator in the case since 1994, said he helped test DNA from the various crime scenes and tie them all together.

Joseph DeAngelo, 72, is now the prime suspect in the 1975 killing of teacher Claude Snelling after he was linked to the Golden State Killer slayings in California 40 years ago

‘We always thought there was a Bonnie significant in his life, it could be a mother, a wife, a girlfriend, a childhood crush,’ Holes said.

He said that they closed in on him after the DNA match and realizing he had an ex-fiancee named Bonnie.  

Investigators searched DeAngelo’s home on Thursday looking for class rings, earrings, dishes and other items that were taken from crime scenes 40 years ago.

Sacramento County Sheriff’s Lt. Paul Belli said authorities were seeking weapons and other items that could link the suspect to the crimes. He declined to say what, if anything, investigators had found.

Investigators backed two vehicles, a motorcycle and fishing boat out of the home’s three-car garage and installed tarps to block prying eyes and news cameras.

It emerged on Thursday that DeAngelo was caught by using online genealogical sites to find a DNA match.

Sheriff deputy John Lopes from CSI takes ammo cans and guns into evidence with neighbors looking on

Sheriff Deputy Lopes puts evidence into the back of his vehicle at the home of Joseph DeAngelo

Sheriff deputys Jeremy Smith (foreground) and John Lopes from CSI (behind) take ammo cans and other evidence into a van

Neighbors walk their dog in front of the home of Joseph DeAngelo, in Citrus Heights, California

Investigators compared the DNA collected from a crime scene of the Golden State Killer to online genetic profiles and found a match to a relative of DeAngelo. 

Despite an outpouring of thousands of tips over the years, DeAngelo’s name had not been on the radar of law enforcement before last week.  

A break in the case and the arrest came together in ‘light speed’ during the past six days but authorities refused to reveal what led to DeAngelo.

After watching DeAngelo for several days, deputies took him by surprise Tuesday. Police said DeAngelo was shocked to see officers at his home and that when they went to arrest him he told them he had a roast in the oven.  

He was taken into custody by the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department on Tuesday night on two murder charges for the 1978 deaths of Brian Maggiore and his wife Katie, who are believed to be the Golden State Killer’s first victims.

DNA testing linked Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, to some of the 12 murders carried out in California in the 1970s and 80s

DeAngelo was arrested at his home in Citrus Heights (above) on Tuesday after DNA linked him to crimes attributed to the Golden State Killer from the 1970s and 80s

Detectives will look to see if items taken during the Visalia burglaries are uncovered during the investigation of DeAngelo

He was later also charged with the murders of Lyman and Charlene Smith who were found dead in their home by their 12-year-old son in 1980.

Police are now working to link the 72-year-old unequivocally to the rest of the crimes that profilers have attributed to the Golden State Killer through his modus operandi.

Investigators revealed on Thursday that DeAngelo is now also the prime suspect in a 13th murder and that he was also the ‘Visalia Ransacker’ who terrorized the California town with a series of robberies in the 1970s.   

DeAngelo is suspected of shooting to death journalism teacher Claude Snelling in 1975 after Snelling caught him trying to kidnap his 16-year-old daughter.  

Detectives are trying to link Joseph DeAngelo to the 1975 slaying and about 100 burglaries committed in the region while DeAngelo was a police officer in nearby Exeter. 

The identity of the Golden State Killer has finally been revealed. Pictured are combination images the FBI released of sketches of the East Area Rapist/Golden State Killer before his capture 

DeAngelo Jr was arrested on Tuesday night on two murder charges. Pictured on the left is an undated photo of DeAngelo when he was in the Navy, and on the right is a picture of DeAngelo during his sophomore year at Folsom High School

Visalia Police Chief Jason Salazar believes DeAngelo is the so-called Visalia Ransacker who terrorized the farming community in 1974 and 1975.

Salazar added that the Ransackers’ crimes have not yet been added to the tally announced Tuesday in Sacramento because there is no DNA evidence connecting DeAngelo to the Visalia crimes.


Joseph James DeAngelo is a 72-year-old Vietnam War veteran, former police officer and grandfather living in Citrus Heights, California.

He was described by neighbors as odd but decent. He was quick to anger and could often be heard loudly cussing.

DeAngelo graduated from nearby Folsom High School in 1964 and joined the US Navy.

After returning home he enrolled in a community college and transferred to California State University, Sacramento, where he graduated in 1972 with a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice.

He landed a job as a police officer in Exeter where he served from 1973 to 1976.

He married a local woman in 1973.

In 1976, DeAngelo took a job with Auburn Police but was fired in 1979 when he was caught shoplifting.

He spent 27 years working at a distribution center for Save Mart grocery stores before he retired last year.

DeAngelo has three adult daughters and grandchildren.

The 72-year-old matches the description of Snelling’s killer, and the serial burglar operated the same way DeAngelo is alleged to have operated in the other crimes, according to authorities.

The Visalia suspect used sophisticated ‘pry tools’ to gain entrance to locked homes, just as DeAngelo is alleged to have used in the other crimes, Salazar said.

The Visalia suspect was seen wearing a ski mask and eluded capture because of an apparent deep-knowledge of police work.

‘He was very elusive and always had a good escape route,’ Salazar said.

Visalia police also have fingerprints and shoe tracks that will be investigated for matches to DeAngelo. 

Detectives will look to see if items taken during the Visalia burglaries are uncovered during the investigation of DeAngelo. 

According to the FBI, the Golden State Killer terrorized southern California between 1976 and 1986. His crimes began in the summer of 1976 with burglaries and rapes.

Armed with a gun, the masked attacker would break into homes while single women or couples were sleeping. He sometimes tied up the man and piled dishes on his back, then raped the woman while threatening to kill them both if the dishes tumbled.

He often took souvenirs – like coins, cash, ID cards and jewelry – from his victims, who ranged in age from 13 to 41.

DeAngelo is currently being held at the Sacramento County Main jail and is ineligible for bail, according to jail records. 

The killer is also suspected of committing 120 home burglaries across Sacramento County. Police believe they found ski masks worn by the Golden State Killer in this undated photo 

The serial killer and rapist is also suspected of committing nearly 50 rapes in southern California over the span of a decade. The above photo shows a home that was ransacked by the Golden State Killer 

The Golden State Killer is suspected of committing dozens and dozens of crimes in Sacramento County in the late 1970s. Pictured is crime scene evidence from one of the attacks 


Brian and Katie Maggiore

February 2, 1978

Brian Maggiore, 21, and his wife Katie, 20, were walking their dog in their Rancho Cordova neighborhood, just outside Sacramento, on February 2, 1978. 

The FBI said the couple were chased down before being shot and killed by the Golden State Killer.

Brian and Katie Maggiore: February 2, 1978

Dr Robert Offerman and Alexandria Manning: December 30, 1979

Dr Robert Offerman and Alexandria Manning

December 30, 1979

Dr Robert Offerman, 44, and Alexandria Manning, 35, were killed at a home in Goleta near Santa Barbara. 

Offerman, an osteopathic surgeon, and Manning, a clinical psychologist, had their hands bound with twine. 

Lyman and Charlene Smith

March 13, 1980

Lyman Smith, 43, and his wife Charlene, 33, were bludgeoned to death with a fireplace log in their Ventura County home. 

Smith was an attorney who was just days from being appointed a judge. His wife worked as a court clerk. 

Lyman and Charlene Smith (left) and Patrice and Keith Harrington (right)  

Patrice and Keith Harrington

August 19, 1980

Patrice Harrington, 28, and her husband Keith, 25, were killed in their home at Dana Point. Police said they were beaten with a blunt instrument.   

Patrice was a pediatric nurse and her husband was a medical student at UC Irvine.  

Manuela Witthuhn

February 5, 1981

Manuela Witthuhn, 28, was raped and beaten to death in her home in Irvine. 

She was home alone at the time because her husband was in the hospital recovering from an illness. 

Cheri Domingo and Gregory Sanchez 

Manuela Witthuhn (left) and Janelle Lisa Cruz (right)

Cheri Domingo and Gregory Sanchez

July 27, 1981

Cheri Domingo, 35, and Gregory Sanchez, 27, were house sitting in Goleta when they were murdered in bed. 

Domingo was found with her hands tied and suffering massive head injuries. Sanchez was shot and bludgeoned.

Janelle Lisa Cruz

May 4, 1986

Janelle Cruz, 18, was bludgeoned to death in her family’s home in Irvine. She was home alone at the time and police found her lying across her bed. 

A real estate agent who was selling the family’s home was the first to discover the teen’s body. Blood was found spattered throughout the home and police believe she was beaten with a pipe wrench.  

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