It’s late, well past midnight. It begins with a thud, then the incessant bark of the neighbor’s dog. You sit up from your pseudo slumber in front of the television. You freeze. You’re on high alert. You’re not sure if you were dreaming, so you turn down the volume on the television. Moments pass. Nothing more, just silence. You get up to check that the front porch light is on. It is. You turn, then suddenly halt. There’s a crackling sound, someone’s walking on dried autumn leaves out front. You switch off the lamp on the side table, stepping quietly to the picture window and slowly part the sheers for a cautious peek outside. You see nothing, no movement. You’re scaring yourself. You shake it off, tell yourself it’s only your imagination and get ready for bed. You’re standing barefoot in your nightgown when you feel his presence. You’re not alone, and you’re about to be initiated as a new member of the Golden State Killer’s exclusive club.
For decades, this vicious predator tormented and terrorized the suburbs of northern and southern California, eluding and frustrating local, state, and federal authorities. It wasn’t until Michelle McNamara, an on-line true crime writer and enthusiast began an obsessive crusade that would help bring this maniac’s identity out of the dark and into light. Her relentless determination to flush out this savage predator would ultimately lead investigators to the killer’s door.
“I’ll Be Gone In the Dark” is a masterful timeline of Michelle’s journey to uncover the terrible acts committed by one man between 1973-1986 that involved over one hundred burglaries, left thirteen people dead and fifty women raped. Over the years, this monster was referred to as: the Visalia Ransacker, the East Area Rapist, the Original Night Stalker, but eventually would earn the name bestowed on him by Michelle herself, The Golden State Killer. Although Michelle did not live to see the capture of this madman, her dogged persistence would help obtain justice for his victims.
Each page of “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark” gives you a front row seat into Michelle’s on-line journey into a dark world in search of a prolific killer. This haunting story reveals Michelle’s uncanny ability to connect with others who were directly and indirectly involved in solving these crimes. Her meticulous gathering of evidence, the relationships she established with past and present law enforcement, as well as other true crime sleuths, is a testament to her remarkable spirit, earning her the respect and trust from those she reached out to.
Michelle’s fascination with true crime actually began with the gruesome murder of a young girl in her own neighborhood of Oak Park, IL. This unsolved murder would be the catalyst that drove Michelle to seek the identity of other unsolved murders, eventually leading her on the trail of The Golden State Killer. Unfortunately, Michelle went to sleep one night and never woke up. Her husband, well-known comedian Patton Oswalt, along with some of Michelle’s closest true crime comrades, honored Michelle by finishing what she started.
If you are as intrigued with true crime as I am, you will find “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark” fascinating. I encourage you to pick it up and read it with the lights on!