New Details About The Man Who Served Almost 40 Years Behind Bars For A Double Murder The Golden State Killer May Have Committed

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Crazy New Details About The Man Who May Have Served 38 Years For The Golden State Killer’s Crimes
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Authorities believe that an innocent man was sent to prison for 38 years for murders the Golden State Killer committed.

Craig Coley served nearly four decades behind bars for the 1978 murders of Rhonda Lynn Hamilton Wicht and her 4-year-old son, Donald Alan Wicht, The New York Post reports. He was the former boyfriend of the young mother, who was strangled to death in her apartment with a macramé rope.

Donald was suffocated in his bed.

Thanks to DNA technology, Coley was recently exonerated. Authorities believe the double murder was committed by the Golden State Killer, an infamous serial rapist and murderer in the 1970s and 1980s.

Joseph James DeAngelo Jr., 72, was arrested as the killer after DNA evidence linked him to 12 murders.

“I’ve always had hope for [being cleared] even while I was in prison,” Coley, now 70, told CBS. “I don’t care how they find out [who the killer is, as long as they find out and it’s a true conviction.”

The almost 40-year-old cold case may be solved in the near future.

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"It’s within the realm of possibility that he could be a suspect in our case,” Simi Valley Deputy Chief Joseph May told CBS affiliate KCAL9. “You had the same time period that he was committing crime throughout the state, you had our homicide here, also he is suspected of committing a homicide in Ventura County, we are part of Ventura County.”

Investigators are waiting on DNA tests to confirm that DeAngelo is responsible for the death of Wicht and her son.

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“We’ve made a request for a DNA comparison to find out if the DNA they recovered from Mr. DeAngelo is consistent with the DNA that we have in our case,” May said.

Coley was arrested hours after his ex-girlfriend and her son were found dead and convicted in 1980. He spent decades petitioning for clemency and was pardoned last November, according to The New York Post.

A former Simi Valley police detective spent 30 years trying to prove Coley’s innocence and his relentless efforts finally paid off.

Michael Bender was certain Coley was not guilty of killing Wicht and her 4-year-old son.

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“In dealing with a lot of bad guys over the years, there are mannerisms and body language you come to know. He didn’t have that,” Bender told the San Diego Union Tribune.

Coley called him his “savior.”

“I always believed in truth, integrity and honor,” Bender said. “I’m glad this story has a happy ending. If I was on my deathbed knowing he was still in prison, I would have had a hard time with that.”

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Coley had formerly dated Wicht and said it was difficult because he couldn’t grieve for his loved ones who he was accused of killing.

“It’s not something you can describe other than it’s painful,” he said. “I went four decades not being able to grieve the woman and child I loved.”

The innocent man spent close to 40 years behind bars for a crime he didn’t commit. When asked how he stayed positive, Coley said it was not easy.

“How did I keep my spirits up? Sometimes I didn’t,” Coley said. “I had good days and bad days. I always knew there was someone out there who did it and they’re not looking for him. That was really hard.”

When Coley was given the news he was to be freed from prison he was at a loss for words.

“You dream about it, you hope for it, but when it happens, it’s a shock,” he said. “To experience it was something I never thought would feel as good. It was joy, just pure joy. I got all tingly in my stomach and then I was bawling like a baby for a while.”

Coley is currently living with Bender and his wife, Cynthia, as he starts a new life after being released from prison.

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