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Late true crime author Michelle McNamara’s husband Patton Oswalt paid tribute to her on Twitter after the serial killer she hunted was sentenced to life behind bars.
McNamara introduced the nation to the Golden State Killer after she wrote a longform article in 2013 about an unsolved, and largely unknown, string of murders and rapes committed throughout the 1970s and '80. She devoted the rest of her life to trying to unmask the person responsible. She died prematurely in 2016, and her book on the case, “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark,” was published posthumously in 2018.
As HBO’s recent docuseries of the same title shows, McNamara didn’t just want to write about the case. She wanted to solve it, and her work on it has been credited with helping to do just that. Former police officer Joseph James DeAngelo was arrested just two months after her book was published.
DeAngelo, now 74, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in a Sacramento court Friday. The sentence was handed down after three days of victim impact statements from dozens of his victims and their relatives. McNamara was thanked in at least one victim impact statement for her work on the case.
Following the sentence, Oswalt, a successful comedian and writer, tweeted out two photos of McNamara, with the message: "The insect gets none of my headspace today. I’m thinking of the victims, and the survivors, and the witnesses and crusaders and investigators. And of course Michelle."
He added, “Go forward in peace, all of you.”
Not only did McNamara shine a light on the case, but she worked with investigators to brainstorm ways to catch the then-unknown killer. One such path she pushed for was genetic genealogy, which ultimately led to DeAngelo’s capture.
“Michelle was a mother, she was a wife, she was a sister, and a daughter, and that she has also become a superhero for many in terms of her commitment to solving unsolved crimes, I guess I wish she could have made that balance, of work, and life, and the pressures that she put on herself to solve the case," Liz Garbus, the director of "I’ll Be Gone in the Dark,” told People in July. "I wish that she would have had a smoother time with that. And I think a lot of women can relate to those competing pressures.”
McNamara died from an accidental drug overdose in 2016. The docuseries points out she was misusing substances, in part, to finish her book. She and Oswalt had a daughter Alice, who is now 11.
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