7 Disturbing Revelations About The Golden State Killer From The True Crime Book About Him

by Melissa Ragsdale

Early Wednesday morning, 72-year-old Joseph James DeAngelo was arrested and charged on two counts of murder, and it is reported that he is suspected to be the Golden State Killer, the subject of Michelle McNamara's bestselling true crime book I'll Be Gone In The Dark. As anyone who has read McNamara's book already realizes, this is a big freakin' deal.

The Golden State Killer — a name coined by McNamara — is a serial murderer and rapist who terrorized California in the '70s and '80s. Formerly known as the East Area Rapist, he is believed to have committed 12 homicides, 45 rapes, and 120 home burglaries. Law enforcement did not initially suspect that all the crimes had been carried out by the same person, but McNamara's thorough and unyielding research made a convincing case that it was one perpetrator. But while McNamara was unendingly passionate and made some huge discoveries, she didn't find an answer to the identity of the Golden State Killer before her death in April 2016.

Although McNamara isn't around to see the Golden State Killer put behind bars, her husband, comedian Patton Oswalt, honored her in an Instagram video. “Think you got him, Michelle," he said.

I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara, $18.29, Amazon

The details of the Golden State Killer's crimes are incredibly disturbing, but here are a few of the things I learned about the Golden State Killer from Michelle McNamara's book. Hopefully, her relentless search for truth will lead to justice for the victims and their loved ones:

In the middle of the night, victims would wake with a flashlight in their eyes and the Golden State Killer standing above them.

McNamara writes that he would use the flashlight to blind them and say, "I'll kill you if you don't do what I say." He would then tie them up, blindfold, and gag them.

He would make victims think he had left the scene, and then reappear suddenly.

McNamara writes: "One victim felt [him] staring at the scar on her back. After a long while of hearing nothing she thought, He’s gone. She exhaled, just as the knife tip came down and began tracing the end of the scar."

He would stalk, call, and break into his victims homes in the weeks leading up to their murder.

Evidence showed that the Golden State Killer would lurk around victims' homes and even break in far before attacking them. Victims would receive hang-up phone calls and many reported finding things moved around their homes in strange ways.

Sightings indicated that he would break in without pants.

From one victim's recollection, as detailed in I'll Be Gone In the Dark: "Another detail, so unnatural it must have strayed in from her subconscious—a pair of pale legs with dark hair. The parts flew together and formed a whole. The man wasn’t wearing pants. He was erect."

He would eat his victims' food.

Sometimes he would say things to them like: "All we want is food and money and then we'll get the hell out of here."

He would contact victims years after he attacked them.

McNamara writes, in a letter to the Golden State Killer: "One victim’s phone rang twenty-four years after her rape. 'You want to play?' a man whispered. It was you. She was certain. You played nostalgic, like an arthritic former football star running game tape on a VCR. 'Remember when we played?'"

He would whisper things to women as he attacked them.

One of these phrases inspired the book's title: “You’ll be silent forever, and I’ll be gone in the dark,”