True crime writer credited for renewing interest in Golden State Killer case

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She did it. She got him.

Two years ago, true crime writer Michelle McNamara died in her sleep at the age of 46 while writing a book about the Golden State Killer, who terrorized California in a string of 51 rapes and at least a dozen murders in the 1970s and 1980s. 

McNamara spent nearly 10 years investigating and writing about the killer, also known as the East Area Rapist and the Original Night Stalker, on her blog and for the manuscript to the book, “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark.” 

But internal blockages, combined with the medications Adderall, Xanax and the pain medication Fentanyl took her life in April 2016 and her unfinished book was left in the hands of her husband, comedian Patton Oswalt, to complete. He did and the book instantly became a New York Times bestseller. 

As authorities on Wednesday announced that a DNA match tied former Sacramento area police officer Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, to some of the Golden State Killer’s crimes, McNamara was credited on social media and by Oswalt for helping re-energize interest in the decades-cold case. 

Although authorities have not credited McNamara for helping crack the case, she brought awareness to it on her TrueCrimeDiary blog and in newspaper and magazine stories. And the FBI and California officials in 2016 renewed their search for the suspect and announced a $50,000 reward for his arrest and conviction

Oswalt had this to say on Twitter about his late wife's role: 

McNamara coined the Golden State Killer name during her years of investigative work.

Police said the suspect was arrested overnight at his Citrus Heights home on a warrant from Ventura County and charged with two counts of first-degree murder in connection to the 1980 killings of a couple in Ventura County.   

McNamara seemingly foreshadowed the arrest in a chilling piece of writing, “letter to an old man” at the end of her book, which was released in February. 

"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. “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."

Oswalt, who took to social media to say he'd welcome the opportunity to visit and speak to the suspect to get answers to his late wife's many questions, called Wednesday “one of the more surreal days of my life.”