True crime aficionados will be familiar with the Internet's number one hotspot for evidence and theories connected to unsolved cases, True Crime Diary. As such, it is with great sadness that I tell you that the brilliant Southern Californian woman behind the website, Michelle McNamara, died in her sleep in her home in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 21, at the age of 46. No cause was given. Kevin McLaughlin of Main Stage Public relations said that her passing "was a complete shock to her family and friends, who loved her dearly." McNamara is survived by a 7-year-old daughter, Alice, and her husband, comedian and Veep star Patton Oswalt.
McNamara graduated from the University of Notre Dame and had a master's degree in creative writing from the University of Minnesota. Her passion for writing led to an interest in amateur investigative work, which she eventually decided to share with the world. On the "About" section of the True Crime Diary, it states "True Crime Diary began when Michelle McNamara, a writer, decided the investigating she was doing on unsolved crimes to satisfy her own curiosity might be better shared...True Crime Diary is not interested in looking back at notorious criminals and saying, wow. We're interested in looking at unfolding cases and asking, who?"
According to The Hollywood Reporter, McNamara avoided large celebrity crime cases and tried to focus on smaller cases that were given less attention by the police and public alike:
It's the ones that really don't get that much attention that interest me because I think what's interesting about them is there's more stuff to be unearthed that hasn't been in the public yet and you can do it.
The website has proved useful in the past in attempts to bring criminals like suspected serial killer Joseph Henry Burgess to justice, with the Los Angeles Times reporting that True Crime Diary "cataloged half a dozen additional cases that bore similarities, a string of unsolved couple murders in woodsy settings spread across the Pacific Northwest and down into Arizona. Some predated the Cutshall-Allen killings. Others came later."
Hopefully True Crime Diary remains online as a tribute to this remarkable, public-spirited woman and her work over the years. My thoughts are with McNamara's family during this difficult time.