Michelle McNamara's 'I'll Be Gone In The Dark' Was Mentioned By The Cops — But Not To Thank Her
but At a press conference Wednesday, law enforcement officials announced that they've arrested a man believed to be the Golden State Killer, a rapist and murderer who terrorized California in the 1970s and '80s. The decades-old case received a burst of new attention recently thanks to a bestselling book by the late Michelle McNamara. On Wednesday, police said McNamara's Golden State Killer book didn't lead to the identification of the suspect, but Twitter made sure to give her work recognition anyway.
McNamara's spent years researching and writing I'll Be Gone In The Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer. She died abruptly in 2016 before finishing it, but her widower Patton Oswalt and others helped finish. The book was released in February to rave reviews, quickly hit number one on the New York Times bestseller list, and is widely credited with reinvigorating the public's interest in the cold case.
As beloved as I'll Be Gone In The Dark is, however, law enforcement said Wednesday that it didn't play any role in the ultimate apprehension of the suspect, a 72-year-old former cop who's since been booked in the Sacramento County Main Jail. Rather, it was DNA evidence that led to the suspect's arrest, officials said.
Nevertheless, many fans of the book were irritated that McNamara didn't receive some type of credit for the arrest, and some — including Oswalt himself — disputed the claim that I'll Be Gone In The Dark didn't play some role in the suspect's ultimate identification and arrest. So, they took it upon themselves to praise the late author for keeping the case alive in the public mind.
According to Deadline, HBO has acquired the rights to McNamara's book and is developing a documentary series based on it. True crime has experienced a resurgence in popularity in recent years, thanks largely to the podcast Serial, the HBO special The Jinx and Netflix's Making a Murderer.
Oswalt tweeted that, although he believes McNamara deserves some credit for the arrest, she didn't care about receiving public recognition, and simply wanted the Golden State Killer — a term she coined — to be apprehended.
Nevertheless, those who followed McNamara's work expressed frustration that law enforcement officials — who thanked each other and themselves effusively — didn't give some kind of credit to the true crime author during their press conference.
The Golden State Killer — also known as the East Area Killer, the Original Night Stalker, and the Diamond Knot Killer — is believed to have committed his first rape in 1976 in northern California. Since then, over 12 murders, 45 rapes and 120 home burglaries in the state have been attributed to him, according to ABC 7 News. His crimes appear to have abruptly stopped in 1986, and the case has been cold sine then.
Although authorities didn't have any leads in the case for decades, law enforcement said Wednesday that newly-discovered DNA evidence was key to identifying the suspect.
"The answer is, and always was going to be, in the DNA," Sacramento County District Attorney Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert said at a press conference. "We all knew as part of this team that we were looking for a needle in a haystack. But we also all knew that the needle was there." Over the last six days, Schubert said, the city's DNA analysts "found the needle in the haystack, and it was right here in Sacramento."
Police didn't release many details of the circumstances leading to the suspect's arrest, but Ventura County District Attorney Greg Totten said that police were able to match discarded DNA evidence from the suspect's home to genetic evidence from the crime scenes.