Did Michelle MacNamara’s book ‘I’ll Be Gone in the Dark’ help catch the Golden State killer?

The first episode of HBO I’ll be gone in the dark
It was released on June 28. The true crime documentary series revolves around the book of the same name by Michelle McNamara. Before her death, McNamara was heavily involved in the investigation of the Golden State Killer, a serial rapist and murderer who terrorized California citizens between 1974 and 1986 before falling asleep. In April 2018, Joseph DeAngelo was arrested for the crimes, just two months after the posthumous publication of McNamara’s book. He is charged with at least 13 murders, 50 rapes and 100 robberies and is expected to plead guilty on June 29.

Who Is Michelle McNamara?

McNamara, the author of I’ll be gone in the dark, was a television writer before starting her blog, Diary of the true crime. On the blog, McNamara wrote about unsolved cases, but paid specific attention to a series of crimes committed in California between 1974 and 1986. His attention to detail and his desire to discover who was behind the chain of heinous crimes became a obsession.

McNamara, who married Patton Oswalt in 2005, is often credited with giving the killer the nickname he is best known for. Before McNamara called him The Golden State Killer, the author was known by multiple names, including The Visalia Ransacker, The Original Nightstalker, and The East Area Rapist.

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McNamara died in April 2016, two years before DeAngelo was charged with the crimes that took up much of her time. Following the announcement of his arrest, Oswalt paid tribute to his late wife on social media.

Did Michelle McNamara help capture the Golden State Killer?

The announcement of DeAngelo’s arrest shocked the world. It was only two months after McNamara’s book was published. Oswalt was still working on promoting the non-fiction offering, and readers were still working on the 352 pages of information. One might suppose, given the moment, that something within the book led to the capture. According to Marie Claire, that is not the case. While the sheriff’s department noted that McNamara’s blog and book may have renewed interest in the case, they insist there was nothing within the pages that led directly to DeAngelo. Instead, a DNA match through a genealogy database helped identify the suspect.

Joseph James DeAngelo, the suspect
Joseph James DeAngelo, the alleged “Assassin of the Golden State” | Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

McNamara may not have found DeAngelo, but the profile he developed from countless hours of investigation was incredibly close to the man who would eventually be charged with the crimes. McNamara theorized that the author had a background in the military or the police, for example. DeAngelo is a Navy veteran who went on to work as a police officer for a short time.

Popular blogs and podcasts have led to the closure of high-profile cases before

While the sheriff’s department has not accredited McNamara for helping solve the case, they have at least admitted that McNamara did help generate renewed interest and increased tips. She is not the first nor will she be the last citizen detective who has worked tirelessly to raise awareness of forgotten cases. Occasionally, that conscience initiates investigations on the fly and helps bring killers to justice.

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Payne Lindsey’s podcast, Up and gone, renewed interest in the disappearance of Tara Grinstead. Grinstead, a beauty queen, and teacher mysteriously disappeared in 2005. As Lindsey recorded her podcast, a council brought two friends accused of Grinstead’s disappearance and murder to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Investigators credited Lindsey’s podcast for refocusing the case on the premises.

Filmmakers Lance Reenstierna and Tim Pilleri expect a similar result with their podcast,
Miss Maura Murray. The duo has spent years reviewing evidence of Murray’s 2004 disappearance from a lonely road in New Hampshire. The nursing student hasn’t been seen since, but Pilleri and Reenstierna hope their podcast will help refresh memories of locals who have been reluctant to speak.