Saturday, September 12, 2020


I’LL BE GONE IN THE DARK - Michelle McNamara launched a podcast entitled ‘True Crime Diary’ in 2006. She published an article, entitled ‘In the Footsteps of a Killer’, in Los Angeles magazine in 2013. A burglar turned rapist turned killer terrorized California communities up and down the state, escaping capture for decades. Victims found they had been spied on from their yards outside their home, once footprints and evidence of entry attempts--successful or otherwise--had been left behind. She had become obsessed by the East Area Rapist, renaming him the Golden State Killer. Those efforts took the form of a book manuscript she worked on. Over the preceding decades the media referred to him as: the Visalia Ransacker, the East Area Rapist, the Night Stalker, and the Original Night Stalker. When DNA evidence confirmed the East Area Rapist and the Original Night Stalker were the same person, ‘EARONS’ came to be used. Along the way, California's DNA database began to fill up with samples from accused and convicted felons. The case came to haunt Michelle, which oftentimes disrupted her sleep, obsessing late into the night writing or researching. Michelle McNamara died unexpectedly in 2016, at the age of 46, survived by her husband Patton Oswalt, a professional comedian. The book had only been partially completed. She had taken a dangerous mix of narcotics, anxiety meds and sleeping pills. She died in her sleep.  Her husband released I'll Be Gone in the Dark posthumously in 2018, nearly 2 years after her death, and 2 months before an arrest would be made in the case. Media pressure intensified as a result of her book, which had become a bestseller. Detectives used commercially available genealogy searches, investigators identified family members directly related to the killer, identifying 25 different family trees from the roots up. They used age, gender, and place of residence, to rule out suspects populating those family trees.  Suspects were eliminated one by one, until a final one remained. DNA samples were secretly collected from Joseph James DeAngelo, which he’d left in publicly accessible locations. Those matched the DNA profile of the Golden State Killer. With absolute certainty, the serial attacker had finally been brought to justice. Joseph James DeAngelo has already admitted responsibility as of this writing. He committed 13 murders, 50 rapes, and over 120 burglaries between 1973 and 1986.  HBO purchased the rights and filmed a series of the same name, which premiered this year. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, the book's title, references a direct quote by the killer to one of his victims: "You'll be silent forever, and I'll be gone in the dark.”.

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