It is often shown in movies and books and Netflix original Marvel series that the simplest but most prevalent battle is the one of Good versus Evil. The Good consists of the heroes - the protagonists, who at least appear to be brave and virtuous. Comprising the Bad, meanwhile, are the villains - the antagonists, who are evil, cruel, unjust and unrelenting. They are heartless and merciless. They cackle maniacally. But usually it is suggested - revealed, really - that behind the villain, in the pit that once housed a heart, cower the remains of a troubled and damaged soul. There was a time in every fictional bad guy's past when he or she was at least some semblance of a good person, and then something terrible happened - the trigger, the catalyst... the supervillain origin. That's how it is with the big-baddie in almost every Hollywood blockbuster, and although it's a simple way of explaining evil, it can sometimes be grounded in reality.
Bearing that in mind, it's interesting - and revealing - to examine the childhood of Joseph James DeAngelo - decades before he would become the East Area Rapist.
The DeAngelo family moved around quite a bit in the 1950s, as Joseph DeAngelo Sr. served in the United States Air Force. At one point, the family had been residing around an Air Force base in Germany. It was here that a ten-year-old Joseph James DeAngelo and his seven-year-old sister Constance were playing in an abandoned warehouse, when the unthinkable happened.
According to Constance's son, Jesse Ryland, while DeAngelo and his sister were in that abandoned Air Force warehouse, two airmen wandered in and raped Constance right in front of her brother.
"That's pretty crazy for a kid to see his sister be violated," Jesse Ryland told BuzzFeed News. "Maybe that was the start of Joe going wacko." When DeAngelo and his sister informed their parents of what had transpired, they were told, bafflingly, to keep it to themselves.
It's not uncommon for a comic book supervillain to have something of a bastard for a father, and Joseph DeAngelo Sr. certainly fit the bill, as he was allegedly prone to physically abusing his wife and children. And his villainy didn't end there. The father of the Golden State Killer ended up leaving his family after retiring in South Korea, at which point he started a new family with three children, two of whom he had named Constance and Joseph James, Jr. - the same names once given to his daughter and son back in America.
It's easy to assume that the sum of the tragic events plaguing Joseph James DeAngelo's childhood had a severe impact on his psyche, potentially sparking a sick fascination with rape and a tragic detachment from compassion and humanity.
Tragedy and trauma, of course, do not excuse heinous behavior. Make no mistake: this new information is nothing more than a plausible explanation for DeAngelo's crimes, not an excuse. This should be evident from the fact that Constance DeAngelo suffered as well - far worse even than her brother - yet she managed to remain resilient and carry out a normal life.
It should also be noted that a sea of speculation surrounds the case of the East Area Rapist, and this recent discovery is no exception: whether or not the aforementioned tragic events contributed to DeAngelo's violent crime spree is at this time pure speculation, yet to be confirmed, if it ever will be.
But Lord knows that once the inevitable Golden State Killer movie gets greenlit, Hollywood will have a field day with this.