A 72-year-old ex-cop has been arrested in Sacramento in a decades-long search for the Golden State Killer who terrorized California communities in the 1970s and 1980s with a series of murders and rapes, according to media reports.

The elusive, masked killer, also known as the East Area Rapist and the Original Night Stalker, is believed to have killed 12 people, raped 45 people and ransacked more than 100 area homes.

Sacramento County jail records show that a man identified as Joseph James DeAngelo, was arrested and charged early Wednesday with two counts of murder. He was arrested under a warrant from the Ventura County sheriff’s department, according to the jail records.

A person familiar with the issue confirmed to The New York Times that DeAngelo had been arrested in connection with the case. Unidentified law enforcement sources also told NBC News that DeAngelo is the suspect arrested in the Golden States Killer investigation.

The Sacramento District Attorney’s office said only that Sheriff Scott Jones would make a major announcement in the notorious cases at noon local time.

FBI and California officials last year renewed their search for a suspect in the cases and announced a $50,000 reward for an arrest and conviction.

Armed with a gun, the masked rapist would break into homes while single women or couples were sleeping. He would tie up the man and pile dishes on his back, then rape the woman while threatening to kill them both if the dishes tumbled.

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He often took souvenirs, notably coins and jewelry, from his victims, who ranged in age from 13 to 41.

The Sacramento Bee reports DeAngelo lived there for at least two decades. The newspaper also reports that he was fired from the Auburn Police Department in California in 1979 after being charged with shoplifting.

A woman, now living in South Carolina, who was sexually assaulted by a man believed to be the East Area Rapist in 1976 told The Island Packet newspaper Wednesday that two detectives had informed her about the arrest.

Jane Carson-Sandler, of Sun City, was the fifth victim of the serial rapist in her Citrus Heights, Calif. home. She said two detectives she has kept in touch with over the years emailed her with news of the arrest.

“I just found out this morning,” she told the paper. “I’m overwhelmed with joy. I’ve been crying, sobbing.”

“I just can’t tell you how I feel,” she said. “After 42 years — wow!”

Contributing: Eric Woomer, [email protected]; Associated Press

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