“I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer”
One of California’s most notorious serial rapists and a serial killer as well – dubbed “The Golden State Killer” – is the subject of a fascinating story about obsession, from the late writer Michelle Mcnamara.
“I was married to a crime fighter for a decade,” writes Patton Oswalt in describing his wife, Michelle McNamara. “She was born with a true cop’s heart and mind… She made everything about me and everyone around her better. And she did it by being quietly, effortlessly original.”
Michelle died in the spring of 2016, still hard at work on her debut book – later finished by colleagues and her husband.
This “Wednesday Bookmobile” looks at this disturbing case, which Patton Oswalt’s late wife was obsessed with – writing the fascinating look at this crime spree, and the decades spent trying to find the killer.
I’ll also share the latest on the case: a plea deal by the killer – and a look at HBO’s new documentary about Michelle and the book!
The book was written by Michelle McNamara, who worked with investigators who refused to give up on finding this madman – spending decades trying to solve the Golden State Killer case.
The book is a fascinating story of obsession, not only Michelle’s, but also the Detectives trying to solve the crimes as well.
In the 70’s, a horrific serial Rapist terrorized Sacramento and surrounding areas, committing 49 rapes. Based on years of police work, he was also found to be responsible for a dozen murders in Central and Southern California, the last in 1986. Now more than thirty years later, an incredible book about the attempts to find this killer.
When released, the book received universal acclaim, as McNamara tells the horrifying story about the crime spree with compassion for the victims, and a terrific look at what it took to track him down.
McNamera was married to Actor/Comedian Patton Oswalt, who has written new material for the book.
McNamara died unexpectedly on April 21, 2016. Following her unexpected death, her husband explained that the book would be finished with the help of her colleagues.
Oswalt posted this on Facebook:
“She left behind an amazing unfinished book, about a horrific series of murders that everyone — including the retired homicide detectives she worked with — was sure she’d solve. The Golden State Killer. She gave him that name, in an article for Los Angeles Magazine. She was going to figure out the real name behind it…”
The Origin Of “The Golden State Killer”…
Yes, Mcnamara herself came up with the moniker, since prior to that he was known by police as the “East Area Rapist” – EAR. Police admit the lack of a catchy nickname made it more difficult to get the public’s awareness as they struggled to solve the crimes.
Oswalt worked with McNamera’s colleagues to finish the book and he promoted it heavily when released as well – I saw a fascinating conversation with him where he discussed the case and his wife’s obsession with it.
Here is the video from a portion of the conversation from this appearance at a “Live Talks Los Angeles” event in March:
The book is riveting, and McNamera’s death was a shock to the fans of her “True Crime Diary” website, which is still active.
The Golden State Killer Will Go To Jail For Life!
The latest news – just reported yesterday – is that the man finally arrested for the crimes has agreed to a plea deal. As Newser reports:
“Joseph James DeAngelo Jr. has agreed to plead guilty to 13 murder and rape charges this month, avoiding any chance of receiving the death penalty or a trial. The 74-year-old is accused of being the Golden State Killer, who committed 12 slayings and at least 45 rapes throughout California in the 1970s and ’80s. DeAngelo, a former police officer who was arrested in 2018, is scheduled to enter the pleas June 29 in Sacramento County, the Los Angeles Times reports. DeAngelo also has agreed to admit committing crimes for which he isn’t charged and in cases where the statute of limitations has run out; a Times investigation found that more that 106 victims were bound, tortured, raped, or killed. California has placed a moratorium on carrying out the death penalty.”
DNA breakthroughs helped police finally nail DeAngelo…
On June 28th, a six part documentary series about the case – and Michelle’s obsession with it – will premiere in HBO.
As their website states:
“The series is a detective story told in McNamara’s own words, through exclusive original recordings and excerpts from her book read by actor Amy Ryan. Drawing on extensive archival footage and police files as well as exclusive new interviews with detectives, survivors and family members of the killer, the series weaves together a picture of a complex and flawed investigation that challenged police for decades.”
I encourage you to read the book but this series sounds terrific as well!
If you enjoy true crime books, you might also have an interest in “Department Q”:
Writer Jussie Adler-Olsen has written a series of “Department Q” books – crime thrillers about a small group that solves cold cases like The Golden State Killer…terrific books – you can find out more here:
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Let me know if you’ve read the terrific book “I’ll Be Gone In The Dark!”