For anyone who read I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, Michelle McNamara‘s meticulous accounting of the crimes committed by a serial killer and rapist who terrorized California for at least 13 years, the arrest of Joseph James DeAngelo Jr. felt like the righteous culmination of the work that consumed the final years of the author’s life.
When DeAngelo was arrested in 2018, the police showing up at his house more than three decades after he’d killed his last victim, McNamara had been gone for two years. The 46-year-old true crime blogger, podcast host and wife of Patton Oswalt died suddenly on April 21, 2016, from an accidental overdose. An autopsy found traces of multiple prescription drugs and a previously undiagnosed condition that caused artery blockage.
She left behind a husband, a daughter and an obsession that her widower and a devoted team of collaborators were determined to see through to the finish line.
“‘Please assemble this and try to make it into a book,’” Oswalt, talking to the Los Angeles Times recently, recalled what he told McNamara’s lead researcher Paul Haynes and her friend and investigative journalist Billy Jensen.
And that’s exactly what they did.
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer was released on Feb. 27, 2018, proving instant fodder for the world’s ever-churning true crime obsession as well as much needed catharsis for Oswalt and everyone who had loved Michelle and supported her massive undertaking.
The title was taken from a rape victim’s recall of what her attacker had told her while brandishing a knife: “Make one move and you’ll be silent forever,