In the News
In the News

The Golden State Killer Comes into the Light

June 23, 2020
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“You’ll be silent forever, and I’ll be gone in the dark.”

Time Magazine wrote a piece about I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, HBO’s newest true crime show based on Michelle McNamara’s book of the same title.

The book is a masterful true crime account of the Golden State Killer—the elusive serial rapist turned murderer who terrorized California for over a decade—from Michelle McNamara, the gifted journalist who died tragically while investigating the case, leaving behind husband comedian Patton Oswalt and their young daughter Alice.

For more than ten years, a mysterious and violent predator committed fifty sexual assaults in Northern California before moving south, where he perpetrated ten sadistic murders. Then he disappeared, eluding capture by multiple police forces and some of the best detectives in the area.

Three decades later, Michelle McNamara, a true crime journalist who created the popular website TrueCrimeDiary.com, was determined to find the violent psychopath she called “the Golden State Killer.” Michelle pored over police reports, interviewed victims, and embedded herself in the online communities that were as obsessed with the case as she was.

At the time of the crimes, the Golden State Killer was between the ages of eighteen and thirty, Caucasian, and athletic—capable of vaulting tall fences. He always wore a mask. After choosing a victim—he favored suburban couples—he often entered their home when no one was there, studying family pictures, mastering the layout. He attacked while they slept, using a flashlight to awaken and blind them. Though they could not recognize him, his victims recalled his voice: a guttural whisper through clenched teeth, abrupt and threatening.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark—the masterpiece McNamara was writing at the time of her sudden death—offers an atmospheric snapshot of a moment in American history and a chilling account of a criminal mastermind and the wreckage he left behind. It is also a portrait of a woman’s obsession and her unflagging pursuit of the truth. Framed by an introduction by Gillian Flynn and an afterword by her husband, Patton Oswalt, the book was completed by Michelle’s lead researcher and a close colleague. Utterly original and compelling, it is destined to become a true crime classic—and may at last unmask the Golden State Killer.

Director Liz Garbus captures the magic of McNamara’s book using typical true-crime interviews and re-enactments. But that’s not the heart of it all. “Viewers get to know several of the women beyond one harrowing night, through decades of undiagnosed PTSD, marriages that faltered, secrets kept even from family in a culture that stigmatized survivors. This core of respect for shared humanity differentiates Garbus’ as well as McNamara’s tellings from so much true crime storytelling, and justifies weaving the personal into the procedural. “

In McNamara’s words, “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.”

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is not a typical, gruesome true crime tale. This is the story of justice, resilience, and survival.

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