Anna Sheffer
April 30, 2018 10:37 am
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

It has been more than 30 years since the state of California was tormented by a serial rapist and murderer known as the Golden State Killer but, on April 24th, a suspect was finally arrested in connection to the case. Since 72-year-old Joseph James DeAngelo was arraigned as the potential Golden State Killer, many, including the media and law enforcement, have wondered about his motive. Now, one news outlet has blamed DeAngelo’s crimes on a breakup, unfairly focusing on his ex-fiancée.

Several news websites, including NBC, have reported that the suspected Golden State Killer had been engaged to a woman named Bonnie Colwell in the ’70s, but that she later broke off the engagement Due to one victim’s reports that DeAngelo muttered “I hate you, Bonnie” when he was attacking her, the breakup has been pegged as part of the criminal’s motive, although DeAngelo eventually married another woman.

But British tabloid the Daily Mail took its coverage of DeAngelo’s former relationship a step farther by appearing to pin the blame on the ex herself, rather than on DeAngelo for acting on his rage in a violent manner. The headline of the paper’s article on the relationship, referred to the “ex-fiancée who broke suspected Golden State Killer’s heart,” and the same article stated that the breakup “may have spurred him on his rape and murder spree.” In addition, the Mail provided extensive details about the woman’s married name, place of residence, and current career.

After the article was published, Twitter users were quick to condemn the tabloid for its depiction of DeAngelo’s ex.

Too often, when men claim that their violent crimes are motivated by romantic rejections, the women are blamed. This happened in the case of gunman Elliot Rodger, who killed women at the University of California, Santa Barbara for refusing to have sex with him, and the Mail‘s Golden State Killer coverage is a clear example of this same phenomenon.

Rejection may anger men like Rodger and DeAngelo, but in the end, they are responsible for their own crimes; the women who “wronged” them owe them nothing. Moreover, DeAngelo’s ex is not directly related to the Golden State Killer case, so her personal information should never have been printed. When a violent crime is committed, the criminal should be the focus of the blame, and no one else. We need papers like the Mail to do better,

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