I'll Be Gone in the Dark

I'll Be Gone in the Dark

One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer

Book - 2018
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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. 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.
Publisher: New York, NY : Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, [2018]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2018
ISBN: 9780062319784
Characteristics: xvi, 328 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (chiefly color), maps, portraits, facsimiles ; 24 cm
Additional Contributors: Flynn, Gillian 1971-
Oswalt, Patton 1969-


From Library Staff

This is a shockingly good and bittersweet true crime novel. The author, who spent years trying to find and expose the Golden State Killer - died before she was able to finish the book or her investigation. Her husband and research partners vowed to get the unfinished book published and the resul... Read More »

This is both a tale about the hunt for the Golden State Killer and a tragic memoir of the author's sudden death and obsession to catch said murderer.

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Oct 13, 2018

This is not just about unsolved cold cases or the man who eluded police and terrified several communities. This is not about getting into the mind of a killer and trying to understand his motivations. This is about a woman piercing together the past with what she can find in the present. This is about connecting with people, investigators, victims, families, and the internet. The Golden State Killer remains a character at a distance, and rather than diving into the mind of a killer, McNamara opens up her mind for the reader to understand her obsession, her analysis, her Hope's and her frustrations. McNamara does not glorify or romanticize the killer to help the reader connect, but uses herself as that connection so that the killer remains exactly what he is, a killer. Although her unexpected death kept her from finishing the work, I think that makes the readers connection to McNamara stronger. At times we are offered fragments from past works, rather than a polished chapter. Anecdotes from those in her life and what they saw in her. This is about the author, and just as she didn't have all the pieces neither do we.

OLATHEAllisonB Oct 12, 2018

Michelle McNamara was a skilled writer, rare in her ability to write about horrific crimes without indulging in the details and glorifying the sins of the perpetrator. This was a fast paced read until the final third of the book. At that point, there's a very long chapter following Michelle and a former detective on the case as they tour various neighborhoods that the Golden State Killer targeted; I found this chapter extremely dull and skimmed a lot of it to get to the conclusion of the book. I find it extremely satisfying that Michelle's intensive and laborious work on this book helped locate a suspect; I look forward to seeing if we have finally found him, and can put him behind bars for good.

Aug 14, 2018

Cannot put this book down until I finish it. It is compelling and interesting in its subject catching a rapist and killer that comitted over 50 crimes in California. One woman's obsession with the crimes and the goal of piecing together police files to find clues to this man's identity.
The fight to bring him to justice and making him pay for all the lives he destroyed in his rampage across the state of California. Great book!

VaughanPLRachelP Aug 05, 2018

Michelle McNamara writes compassionately and intelligently about her independent search for the Golden State Killer. The subject matter is really, really difficult - as well it should be. I've read true crime accounts before, but McNamara manages to include details that drives home the brutality of this man's acts in just a few short words. Michelle passed away during the writing of this book, so her fellow researcher and a journalist colleague helped to assemble the finished product, and included other details about what Michelle would have liked to have completed before publishing her work. Everything not written by Michelle is indicated at the beginning of the chapter, and Michelle is such a gifted writer that the difference is apparent, but still well worth reading.

Jul 29, 2018

Bittersweet reading this and knowing that Michelle never got to see this book published and more importantly, the Golden State Killer caught. Completed 7/9/18.

ArapahoeCassidy Jul 25, 2018

A riveting and addictive true crime read about Michelle McNamara's obsessive search for clues pertaining to the Golden State Killer. I really enjoyed her writing style which is both immersive and detailed. This is definitely one of my favorite true crime reads of all time. I found myself googling apartment complexes, locations, and people she mentioned in the book- roping me right in to her own investigation. I am sad that she passed away before the books completion and just months before the Golden State Killer was identified and caught.

Jul 23, 2018

However much I looked forward to reading McNamara’s posthumously published account of her search for the man she named the Golden State Killer, I was not expecting to struggle with this book as much as I did. To be very clear: my struggles did not arise at all from McNamara’s writing. In fact, as I came to understand in reflection, this book might be too well written given its subject matter. Take a first-class true crime writer (McNamara) who is obsessed with a serial rapist and murderer of such depravity as the GS Killer, and what is created is a deeply disturbing story. Almost 50 women victimized brutally, with some in their early teens. At least ten people murdered. Over 55 crime scenes. And countless lives destroyed.

To her credit, McNamara is careful not to detail each and every one of the cases she investigates; to do so would be overwhelming even to the most jaded reader of true crime. But even the ones she chooses to delve into in detail begin, over time, to bludgeon a reader’s sensibilities. The brutality of the attacks, and the level of planning that went into almost each one, is a masterclass in human degradation. It is exhausting to read, and definitely will have every house creak and night noise resonate in new ways.

As disturbing, at least to readers who grew up (as I did) in the 1970s, is McNamara’s ability to capture the ethos of the decade that Tom Wolfe famously labeled the “Me” decade. The continued expansion of suburbia, with its focus on what has been called an “atomized individualism” and in combination with a hyper-sexualized hangover from the already-romanticized sixties, were key components of the GS Killer’s reign of terror. How dramatically the familiar accoutrements of suburban life are transformed in this book.

Given that charges were laid in this case in the year following McNamara’s death from accidental overdose, it is possible to “assess” many of her key deductions about the background and identity of the GS Killer. Suffice to say, she was accurate on far more of her assumptions than not, and her work (which was obsessive and driven) was clearly instrumental in his capture.

A disturbing but very worthwhile read.

Jul 15, 2018

Saying she was obsessed was an understatement. She covered not only the Golden State killer but other crimes as well, every red herring, tons of detail. Sometimes it got confusing. I admire her tenacity. It's sad that she died before she knew how the story ended. She was on the right track. (Joseph James D'Angelo was arrested 4-26-2018).

Jul 15, 2018

Amazing book. Amazing writer and researcher Michelle McNamara. I love her style. I can't believe that someone so gifted and tenacious died so young, leaving a young daughter behind. But she was on the right track re DNA eventually identifying the killer. And she left behind an amazing legacy.

Unlike other commentators, I love the way this book is written. I didn't find it disorganized because of her untimely death and others having to complete and organize the book. I found it all spell binding. The book is as much about Michelle's obsession of finding the killer, as it is about the trail of clues the killer left behind.

Thank you Michelle! I have so much respect for you.

Jul 14, 2018

I'd wanted to read this book since April, when I heard that DNA test results had helped to find this evil man. I had also just sent in my DNA sample to 23 and me and was awaiting my results, so the subject was fascinating to me and I hope that DNA can help bring many more criminals to justice. As to the book, I think after all the hype I was expecting something more. Several reviewers have stated that the book seems disjointed and the timeline hard to follow because of the authors untimely death. I felt this way as well. The stories jump around through different decades which makes the writing seem choppy. Why didn't the editors make it read more smoothly? There were parts of the book that were kind of "memoirish" and the author talks about a personal experience she had that drew her to this quest. I would have liked to have learned more about that. I wonder if this topic is simply too much information for one book. Now that he has been caught I expect there will be lots more written about this in the future.

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Apr 26, 2018

Citrus Heights where DeAngelo, 72, has been arrested on Apr 25, 2018:

(EAST AREA RAPIST . . . FEAR GRIPS SERENE NEIGHBORHOODS), a man in a leather hood entered the window of a house in Citrus Heights and sneaked up on a sixteen-year-old girl watching television alone in the den. He pointed a knife at her and issued a chilling warning:
“Make one move and you’ll be silent forever and I’ll be gone in the dark.”
What is the lasting damage when you believe the warm spot you were just sleeping in will be your grave? Time sands the edges of the injuries, but they never lose their hold. A nameless syndrome circulates permanently through the body, sometimes long dormant, other times radiating powerful waves of pain and fear. A hand gripped her neck. A blunt-tipped weapon dug into the side of her throat. At least a dozen investigators in Northern California could have correctly predicted the first words whispered in the dark.
“Don’t move.”
“Don’t scream.”

Apr 26, 2018

In another notepad, she wrote: “Don’t underestimate the fantasy: not raping in front of men—afraid of male; functional; privacy, writhing male not part of his fantasy. Mommy and crying. No remorse. Probably part of fantasy.” There were even notes on her own psychology:
-He was a compulsive prowler and searcher. We, who hunt him, suffer from the same affliction. He peered through windows. I tap “return.” Return. Return. Click Mouse click, mouse click.
-Rats search for their own food.
-The hunt is the adrenaline rush, not the catch. He’s the fake shark in Jaws, barely seen so doubly feared.
AFTER PROCESSING THE HOUSE, THE POLICE SAID TO DREW WITTHUHN, “It’s yours.” The yellow tape came down; the front door closed. The impassive precision of badges at work had helped divert attention from the stain. There was no avoiding it now. His brother and sister-in-law’s bedroom was just inside the front door, directly across from the kitchen. Standing at the sink,

Apr 26, 2018

California Proposition 69, approved in 2004, which mandated DNA collection from all felons, and from adults and juveniles charged with certain crimes (e.g., sex offenses, murder, arson). Keith Harrington’s (1980 victim in Dana Point) brother Bruce sponsored the campaign, pledging nearly $2 million to fund it.
DNA was the thread Michelle felt was the best way to get out of the maze of the Golden State Killer. California was one of only nine states in America that allowed testing of familial DNA within the state’s database. If the GSK’s brother was arrested for a felony tomorrow, we would see a hit. But that database contains only people who have been convicted of a crime. Michelle thought she might have found the killer when she had uploaded his DNA profile to a Y-STR database available online from Ancestry.com.
EAR/ONS == East Area Rapist / Original Night Stalker

Apr 25, 2018


Scrolling through the rest of the 3,500 documents in Michelle’s hard drive, one comes upon a file titled “RecentDNAresults,” which features the EAR’s (East Area Rapist) Y-STR markers (short tandem repeats on the Y chromosome that establish male-line ancestry), including the elusive rare PGM marker. Having the Golden State Killer’s DNA was always the one ace up this investigation’s sleeve. But a killer’s DNA is only as good as the databases we can compare it to. There was no match in CODIS. And there was no match in the California penal system’s Y-STR database. If the killer’s father, brothers, or uncles had been convicted of a felony in the past sixteen years, an alert would have gone to Paul Holes or Erika Hutchcraft (the current lead investigator in Orange County). They would have looked into the man’s family, zeroed in on a member who was in the area of the crimes, and launched an investigation. But they had nothing.


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Jun 25, 2018

I have an occasional thing for True Crime, and this case has definitely caught my interest, but of course not at the same level as it captured the author's. She pursued this killer and rapist with the same level of dedication as the hardened detectives and criminalists that she profiles along with the killer. A good read, although sobering.

Apr 25, 2018

Cast of Characters

Sheila (Sacramento, 1976)
Jane Carson (Sacramento, 1976)
Fiona Williams (South Sacramento, 1977)
Kathy (San Ramon, 1978)
Esther McDonald (Danville, 1978)

MURDER VICTIMS (***DNA link tied to 4 cases --- announced Apr 25. 2018)
Claude Snelling (Visalia, 1978)
Katie and Brian Maggiore (Sacramento, 1978)
Debra Alexandria Manning and Robert Offerman (Goleta, 1979)
Charlene and Lyman Smith (Ventura, 1980) ***(DNA link)
Patrice and Keith Harrington (Dana Point, 1980)
Manuela Witthuhn (Irvine, 1981) ***(DNA link)
Cheri Domingo and Gregory Sanchez (Goleta, 1981) ***(DNA link)
Janelle Cruz (Irvine, 1986) ***(DNA link)
Note: per wiki: The Golden State Killer is a serial killer, serial rapist and serial burglar who committed 50 rapes in Northern California during the mid-1970s and murdered twelve people in Southern California from 1979 through 1986 ...
Author's February 27, 2013 article for LA magazine:



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