Was the Golden State Killer’s Ex-Fiancé the Cause of His Hatred Against Women?

Liz Jin
4 min readMay 7

During his attacks, serial killer Joseph DeAngelo would cry out, “I hate you, Bonnie.”

Joseph DeAngelo was responsible for a series of rapes and murders across California in the 1970s and 1980s; image source.

Imagine living a perfectly normal life, only to wake up one day and see your name in the news connected to a deranged rapist and serial killer.

That’s what happened to Bonnie Colwell in 2018 when Joseph DeAngelo, the infamous Golden State Killer who raped and killed countless women, was arrested. Bonnie had been DeAngelo’s fiancé back in 1970.

As the public tried to make sense of this horrific crime spree that spanned from 1974 to 1986, they clung to the fact that maybe the answers lay in DeAngelo’s failed engagement.

Bonnie was a young nurse when she fell for Joseph.

Bonnie and Joseph met as students at Sierra College in Rocklin, California. Joseph was studying law enforcement, and Bonnie was in nursing. At the time, Bonnie was only 18 years old, while Joseph was five years her senior.

Joseph never formally proposed to Bonnie, but he gave her a ring and declared that they would get married one day.

As a self-proclaimed “good girl” and “rule follower,” perhaps Bonnie was attracted to her brash, outgoing boyfriend precisely because he was her polar opposite.

“The rules were never for him,” recalled Bonnie. “He took me hunting without a license, illegal spearfishing. We crossed into a no-trespassing territory at night. So many of the things we did together, he pushed me toward fear.”

So many of the things we did together, he pushed me toward fear.

It wasn’t just that Joseph liked to skirt on the edge of danger. Other serious red flags hinted at his sinister side.

DeAngelo would force Bonnie to have hours-long sex while only listening to psychedelic rock music.

Bonnie was a virgin when she met Joseph, with no experience with sex or intimacy. She shared that sex with him was unpleasant and often “painful.”

Liz Jin

“I wake up in the morning with a desire to both save the world and savor the world. That makes it hard to plan my day.”