Books

She wrote the book on the Golden State Killer before dying. Did she just help catch him?

Cast member Patton Oswalt, right, and Michelle Eileen McNamara arrive at the premiere of "Young Adult" in Beverly Hills, Calif., Thursday, Dec. 15, 2011. "Young Adult" opens wide in theaters Dec. 16, 2011.
Cast member Patton Oswalt, right, and Michelle Eileen McNamara arrive at the premiere of "Young Adult" in Beverly Hills, Calif., Thursday, Dec. 15, 2011. "Young Adult" opens wide in theaters Dec. 16, 2011. AP

The book “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark" by writer Michelle McNamara helped re-energize interest in the decades-cold case of the Golden State Killer, who terrorized California in a string of at least 45 rapes and at least a dozen murders.

In fact, McNamara coined the name "Golden State Killer" for the serial killer and rapist, also variously known as the East Area Rapist, Original Night Stalker and Diamond Knot Killer. Now Sacramento authorities have announced the arrest of a man suspected in at least some of those crimes.

But McNamara, also the wife of comedian Patton Oswalt, didn’t live to see it — or to see her book published.

Here is a quick look at the timeframe of the East Area Rapist case. Crimes occurred in the Sacramento area and in Southern California. He was also known as the Golden State Killer and Original Night Stalker.

McNamara, 46, founder of the True Crime Diary website, died in her sleep in April 2016, reported People. She and Oswalt had one daughter.

Her book on the Golden State Killer case became a New York Times best-seller after Oswalt spent the months following McNamara's death fighting to get "I'll Be Gone in the Dark" published, reported The Wrap. A docuseries based on the book also is in the works at HBO, reported Deadline.

Authorities at a Wednesday press conference credited McNamara's book with rekindling public interest in the crimes, but denied it had any direct role in the arrest of Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, of Citrus Heights, Calif., in connection with the case.

"It kept interest and tips coming in," Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones said about the book. He credited DeAngelo's arrest instead to years of effort by investigators and to a multi-agency task force organized to share information and leads on the various crimes.

Responding on Twitter, Oswalt took issue with that position but said McNamara's ultimate goal in pursuing the case wasn't publicity or credit anyway.

Oswalt had posted on Instagram earlier Wednesday about the arrest in the case, calling it “one of the more surreal days of my life.”

Oswalt also posted to Twitter to say that he'd like to interview the suspect, "not to gloat or gawk — to ask him the questions that @TrueCrimeDiary wanted answered in her “Letter To An Old Man” at the end of #IllBeGoneInTheDark."

Predicting the Golden State Killer's eventual arrest, her letter closed with the words, "The doorbell rings. No side gates are left open. You’re long past leaping over a fence. Take one of your hyper, gulping breaths. Clench your teeth. Inch timidly toward the insistent bell. This is how it ends for you. “You’ll be silent forever, and I’ll be gone in the dark,” you threatened a victim once. Open the door. Show us your face. Walk into the light."

Her co-writers and fans also thought of McNamara as news of the arrest spread. Many of those posts also credited McNamara and "I'll Be Gone in the Dark" with the apparent resolution to the decades-old case.

Among the posts lauding McNamara was one by actor James Woods.

Authorities announced a $50,000 reward Wednesday, June 15, 2016, as they renewed their search for an elusive serial killer they say committed at least 12 homicides, 45 rapes and dozens of burglaries across California in the 1970s and 1980s.

Follow more of our reporting on East Area Rapist Case

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