Family of convicted Orange County murderer believes Golden State Killer is real culprit
SANTA ANA — A Laguna Beach attorney representing a man convicted of the 1979 rape and murder of a mother in Fountain Valley says he was wrongly accused and a check of the suspected Golden State Killer will vindicate him posthumously.
William Lee Evins died in prison of a heart attack in 2013, but his family still wishes to clear his name, attorney Annee Della Donna said.
Della Donna said she believes the March 7, 1979, murder of 28-year-old Joan Virginia Anderson, a mother of three, has eerie similarities to the M.O. of the Golden State Killer, Joseph DeAngelo, who is jailed in Sacramento awaiting trial and is facing 12 murder charges in Sacramento, Santa Barbara, Orange and Ventura counties.
DeAngelo is also a suspect in more than 50 rapes and more than 100 burglaries across the state dating back to 1974.
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In Orange County, DeAngelo is charged with the 1980 killings of Keith and Patrice Harrington in Dana Point, the 1981 killing of Manuela Witthuhn in Irvine and the 1986 killing of Janelle Cruz, also in Irvine.
Prosecutors relied on a hypnotized witness’ testimony, but the state Supreme Court ruled in 1984 that was improper evidence, Della Donna said.
“He was going to be released, he had his bags packed to go home to his wife and two children and suddenly a jail informant was in his cell,” Della Donna said.
That prolific snitch, James Dean Cochrum, proved controversial as well as he had also testified in four other cases. Cochrum testified Evins confessed to him, so the defendant was ordered to stand trial, but he took a plea deal and was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison, Della Donna said.
Evins thought he would be released in five years, she said.
The District Attorney’s Office has agreed to review Evins’ case and check DeAngelo’s DNA to see if he is connected to Anderson’s murder, Della Donna said.
“The facts are just unbelievably similar” to the Golden State Killer’s M.O.,” Della Donna said. “It’s striking how similar they are to every other murder and rape he did.”
Evins was working on an addition to the Anderson home at the time, so Della Donna believes the actual killer believed a contractor would be a more likely suspect to draw attention from authorities.
“It was a perfect setup to blame one of the contractors,” Della Donna said.