It appears Michelle McNamara’s final case helped bring a murderer to justice. MacNamara, known to us comedy fans as Patton Oswalt’s late wife, was a true crime author. During her sudden and unexpected death in 2016, she was about nearing completion of her book about a serial killer who had alluded capture for 4 decades – the Golden State Killer – a name McNamara coined. Oswalt vowed to help finish his wife’s book with the help of McNamara’s publisher and true crime author friends, and they did. I’ll Be Gone In The Dark which documented the Golden State Killer, was posthumously released this past February and it instantly became a NY Times Best Seller.
Today, news broke that police have arrested the man they believe to be the Golden State Killer, the Sacramento County Sherrif’s Department announced that a suspect, Joseph James DeAngelo, a 72 year old former cop had been apprehended in connection with the decades-old cold case that claimed 12 lives in California from the mid-1970s to 1986. They stated a “renewed interest” in the case prompted them to form a task force that was able to collect DNA evidence from DeAngelo and compare it to some left at the crime scenes. Many are claiming the renewed interest came directly from McNamara’s dogged pressure and asking questions interviewing everyone possible that was involved and an article she posted about The Golden State Killer in the New Yorker.
Oswalt was in the process of boarding a plane to NYC for an appearance on Late Night w/Seth Meyers tonight when he posted a video on Instagram stating, “This is insane,” adding “Looks like they’ve caught the East Area Rapist, and if that’s true they’ve caught the Golden State Killer. So, I think you’ve got him Michelle… Full tilt freak out in effect.”
Once Oswalt landed in NY he posted another update stating that he planned to watch the 3pm press conference, stating that Michelle put a big spotlight on him.
While it’s not the police’s M.O. to credit writers or journalists in the solving of such cases, pretty much every outlet you can imagine is reporting and aware of the amount of assistance McNamara’s book lent to the case. At the end of the book, McNamara wrote a letter to the killer stating how she felt he’d be caught and telling him that when he has no other recourse, will be urged to “walk into the light.”
Also, the cops will NEVER and HAVE NEVER credited a writer or journalist for helping them solve a case. But every time they said #GoldenStateKiller they credited the work of #MichelleMcNamara and #IllBeGoneInTheDark.
— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) April 25, 2018
If they’ve really caught the #GoldenStateKiller I hope I get to visit him. 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. pic.twitter.com/32EHSzBct5
— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) April 25, 2018
Some of Patton’s friends praised the work of McNamara as well.
— Rob Lowe (@RobLowe) April 25, 2018
It appears police have caught the Golden State Killer. Go get Michelle McNamara's excellent book about the case, I'LL BE GONE IN THE DARK.
— Stephen King (@StephenKing) April 25, 2018
— John Mulaney (@mulaney) April 25, 2018
Patton’s new wife Meredith Salinger was also incredibly proud of Michelle’s work.
The legacy #MichelleMcNamara has left for her daughter of determination and finding justice for so many is incredible! I will everyday make make sure her daughter knows how spectacular her mother was, not just for her but for society. #GoldenStateKiller #IllBeGoneInTheDark
— Meredith Salenger (@MeredthSalenger) April 25, 2018
Patton had a planned appearance on Late Night w/Seth Meyers to discuss his sitcom A.P. Bio, but obviously the events of the day took a front seat.
UPDATE: The wildly popular true crime podcast, My Favorite Murder just released an episode about the breaking news as they are friendly with all parties involved. They’re able to offer some more details about the time between the rumors breaking that police caught DeAngelo and the press conference. They discussed entire Reddit threads of people that were out there mining data and hunting down minute clues on this case. Then, about halfway through the podcast, true crime journalist Billy Jensen (friend of McNamara and one of the people that stepped in to help finish the book after her passing) called into the show and revealed some serendipitous moments – like TGSK was also linked to another series of unsolved break-ins. Jensen also stated that he, Patton Oswalt, and Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl author who wrote the foreward to I’ll Be Gone In The Dark) were on a book tour stop in Chicago the night before. McNamara’s family is from Chicago so many of them were present on the event and later discussed the likelihood of the case being solved, not knowing anything about what was about to transpire hours later. The podcast also gives out some other places you can go to read/hear more about this super-fascinating case.