242: Julia Cowley – Golden State Killer, BAU Profiler

Retired agent Julia Cowley served nearly 22 years in the FBI. Her first assignment was to the Boston Division, where she investigated white collar crime, public corruption, and civil rights matters. Julia was then selected to join the FBI’s elite Behavioral Analysis Unit in Quantico, VA.

In this episode of FBI Retired Case File Review, Julia reviews her detailed analysis of the then unknown subject, referred to as the Golden State Killer and East Area Rapist.

Between 1976 and 1986, this individual was responsible for approximately 45 rapes, 12 homicides, and multiple residential burglaries in California in communities from Sacramento to Orange County. As a member of the BAU, Julia joined the working group of local law enforcement agencies and FBI agents from the Sacramento Division, seeking to identify and apprehend this violent offender and create a behavioral profile to assist them in their investigation.

Thirty-two years after his last known brutal attack, Joseph James DeAngelo, a 74-year-old California man and former police officer, was identified as the serial rapist and killer and arrested.

On June 29, 2020, as part of a plea bargain that spared him from the death penalty, DeAngelo pleaded guilty to multiple counts of murder and kidnapping.

Julia’s time in the BAU was followed by her selection to the FBI Laboratory, Evidence Response Team Unit. She later returned to the Boston Division, Springfield Resident Agency, where she oversaw all federal criminal investigations in western Massachusetts, including public corruption, civil rights, white collar crime, organized crime, gangs and crimes against children until her retirement.

Currently, Julia is an investigator in the Equal Opportunity office at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is the host of The Consult, a true crime podcast where she and former BAU colleagues examine behavior exhibited before, during, and after the of a criminal act.

Special Agent (Retired)

Julia Cowley

June 1999 – May 2021







“I felt they were going to solve this case someday because they had his DNA. Being a former forensic scientist, I always knew it would be the technology that solved this case, not the behavior.”—Retired Agent Julia Cowly

The following are links to FBI and news articles about the multi-agency investigation that led to the identification and arrest of Joseph James DeAngelo as the Golden State Killer, also known as the East Area Rapist:

FBI Website – June 15, 2016: Cold Case Killer – Help Us Catch the East Area Rapist

Los Angeles Magazine – 2/272013: In the Footsteps of a Killer, By Michelle McNamara

ABC News – 10/30/2020: The ‘Golden State Killer’: Inside the timeline of crimes

Washington Post – 4/26/2018: ‘We found the needle in the haystack’: Golden State Killer suspect arrested after sudden DNA match

Here’s a list of more FBI Retired Case File Review episodes with former BAU profilers and retired agents reviewing serial murder investigations.

Joseph James DeAngelo’s mugshot.
Photo of DeAngelo taken when he served as an Exeter police officer.







FBI Wanted Flyer









FBI image of a room in one home ransacked by DeAngelo during a violent sexual assault.










Julia is the host of The Consult, a true crime podcast with former BAU colleagues. You can listen here.











Jerri Williams

View posts by Jerri Williams
Jerri Williams, a retired FBI agent, author and podcaster, jokes that she writes about the FBI to relive her glory days. After 26 years with the Bureau specializing in major economic fraud and corruption investigations, she calls on her professional encounters with scams and schemers to write police procedurals inspired by true crime FBI cases in her Philadelphia FBI Corruption Squad crime fiction series featuring flawed female FBI agent Kari Wheeler. Jerri’s FBI for Armchair Detectives nonfiction series enables readers to discover who the FBI is and what the FBI does by debunking misconceptions about the FBI in books, TV, and movies. Her books are available as ebooks, paperbacks, and audiobooks wherever books are sold. She’s also the host of FBI Retired Case File Review, a true crime podcast with more than 300 episodes available on all popular podcast apps and YouTube.


  1. […] Listen to Julia’s other FBI Retired Case File Review Episode – 242: Julia Cowley – Golden State Killer, BAU Profiler. […]

  2. […] 242: Julia Cowley – Golden State Killer, BAU Profiler […]

  3. […] 242: Julia Cowley – Golden State Killer, BAU Profiler […]

  4. […] Cowley (6/1999 – 5/2021) – Episode 242: Golden State Killer, BAU Profiler Retired agent Julia Cowley served nearly 22 years in the FBI. She was a profiler in the Behavioral […]

  5. Deanne HansenNovember 16, 2021

    Jerri – There was one thing that wasn’t asked and that was “Why do you think he stopped?” Was it age, infirm or ??? I would love to hear Julia’s thoughts on this.

    1. Jerri WilliamsNovember 16, 2021

      That’s an excellent question. I’ll ask her and get back to you.

    2. Jerri WilliamsNovember 21, 2021

      Here’s Julia response to your question:

      That’s a great question about DeAngelo. I think it was a combination of things – age, family, and science. Although he remained in pretty good shape, he was getting older and not as fast or nimble, so he probably knew he wouldn’t be able to continue to outrun everyone. He started a family and life was getting busier, so he couldn’t prowl as he did when they were childless (note: Dennis Rader said he stopped killing because his life got too busy with family). And finally, his last murder was 1986, which was around the time DNA was starting to be used to solve homicide cases. These are my theories, but we’ll never know for sure unless he decides to talk with law enforcement.—–Retired Agent Julia Cowley

      1. Deanne HansenDecember 3, 2021

        Thanks Jerri and Julia. I wondered about that.

  6. Rich SOctober 16, 2021

    Another fascinating interview on this case which consumed the public and law enforcement for decades. Julia was incredible in her insight and work on this case. I might suggest another podcast on this case which was so well done, link:
    Man In The Window: The Golden State Killer

    1. Jerri WilliamsOctober 17, 2021

      Thank you. I’ll check out Man In The Window.

  7. Gordon LeithOctober 12, 2021

    Just finished listening to Spec Agt (Ret) Julia Cowley and it went by so fast listening to her interesting story about her involvement in behavioral analysis at the FBI. Thanks, Jerri, for such an interesting episode!

    1. Jerri WilliamsOctober 12, 2021

      Julia did a great job. Don’t forget to check out her podcast.

  8. Margaret MackeyOctober 7, 2021

    I loved this episode with FBI profiler Julia Cowley. I noticed that sometimes you have a case agent back to discuss other cases and I would love to hear about the Oklahoma case she mentioned at the end where her profile was what alerted a detective to the fact that his suspect may the perpetrator of the murder of two girls. Can you do a follow up with her? I am a new listener to your podcast and I love it! You are doing a great service to the FBI!

    1. Jerri WilliamsOctober 8, 2021

      Thanks for listening! I would love to have Julia back on the show. But I’m sure she’ll cover that case first on her podcast, The Consult.


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