Comedian and actor Patton Oswalt is carrying on his late wife's hunt for the truth. As rumors swirled Wednesday that police in California may have arrested a suspect believed to be a notorious serial killer and rapist from a decades-old cold case, Oswalt's Golden State Killer tweets made it clear he wanted to question the suspect on behalf of his wife, true-crime writer Michelle McNamara. The Golden State Killer is alleged to have carried out at least 12 homicides, 45 rapes, and more than a hundred burglaries in California between 1976 and 1986. Uncovering the Golden State Killer's true identity had become McNamara's life work up until her death.
Although McNamara passed away unexpectedly in 2016 while in the midst of researching and writing a book about the Golden State Killer, Oswalt pushed to have her book completed after her death. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer was published earlier this year thanks largely to Oswalt's commitment and engagement with his wife's work. Now, amid news that police may have arrested a suspect in the case, Oswalt is once again looking to close another chapter on his wife's work.
"If they've really caught the #GoldenStateKiller I hope I get to visit him," Oswalt tweeted Wednesday. "Not to gloat or gawk — to ask him the questions that [McNamara] wanted answered in her 'Letter To An Old Man' at the end of #IllBeGoneInTheDark."
What Oswalt is referring to is a letter McNamara had written to the killer, and which was published in her book, warning him that one day he'd be caught and forced to face the same level of fear he'd subjected his victims to. "One day soon, you'll hear a car pull up to your curb, an engine cut out. "You'll hear footsteps coming up your front walk," McNamara wrote in her letter, which was published as an excerpt by the New Yorker. "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," McNamara went on to write. "'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."
While McNamara wasn't able to identify the Golden State Killer before her death, Oswalt once told Robin Young of Here & Now that his wife believed other savvy so-called "armchair detectives" and true crime investigators would continue her work on the case as technology continued to advance. "'There's more electronic windows opening up around you than windows you ever peeped in, and I'm just trying to open as many of those as I can.'" Oswalt said his wife had written in her letter to the killer.
The Sacramento County Sheriff's Department is expected to announce the arrest of a man suspected of being the Golden State Killer in a press conference held sometime Wednesday, the Sacramento Bee has reported. According to the paper, McNamara's book generated renewed public interest in the cold case, which in turn helped reinvigorate authorities' investigation.
Oswalt has previously said that completing and publishing McNamara's book didn't necessarily mean his wife's work was complete. "I was the guy who called on help to make sure that [the book] came out," he told Here & Now last month. "But, you know, her work is not complete until he's caught." On Wednesday, however, Oswalt noted how "bittersweet" news the notorious serial killer may have finally been caught was. "She would be beyond excited about this," he tweeted. "I think this is the definition of 'bittersweet.'"
"I hope you got him, Michelle," the comedian wrote Wednesday in a separate tweet. "I hope THEY got him."