‘I’ll Be Gone in the Dark’: What to Know About the Golden State Killer & Michelle McNamara

Michelle McNamara, I'll Be Gone in the Dark

In an eerie confluence of events, HBO’s I’ll Be Gone in the Dark premieres on Sunday, June 28, the eve of a hearing in which the subject of the docuseries will reportedly plead guilty to charges of rape and murder.

If that suspect really is the Golden State Killer, his arrest marks a posthumous victory for Michelle McNamara, the woman who spent years of her life doggedly investigating the decades-old case.

Before the HBO series premieres, scroll down to bone up on the details of the case and McNamara’s investigation.

Who is the Golden State Killer?

The Golden State Killer, also known as the East Area Rapist or the Original Night Stalker, is suspected of murdering at least 10 people and raping at least 50 in California in the 1970s and 1980s. After plugging crime scene DNA into genealogical websites, investigators arrested Joseph James DeAngelo Jr., a former police officer, in April 2018. The Sacramento Bee reported on June 15 of this year that DeAngelo, now 74, will plead guilty to 88 charges — including charges of murder and rape — at a June 29 hearing.

Who was Michelle McNamara?

Michelle McNamara was a writer who had a long-standing fascination with true crime stories, launching the blog True Crime Diary in 2006. She penned articles about the Golden State Killer for Los Angeles Magazine in 2013 and 2014 — even coming up with that moniker for the killer — and soon landed a book deal with HarperCollins. She died of an accidental drug overdose on April 21, 2016, at the age of 46, with an autopsy revealing an undiagnosed heart condition.

After her death, her husband, King of Queens actor Patton Oswalt, recruited two of her colleagues to organize her unfinished work on the book, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer, which came out in February 2018 and became a #1 New York Times bestseller. HarperCollins deems it “an atmospheric snapshot of a moment in American history and a chilling account of a criminal mastermind and the wreckage he left behind” and “a portrait of a woman’s obsession and her unflagging pursuit of the truth.”

What is I’ll Be Gone in the Dark?

The six-part documentary brings the book to life with exclusive original recordings, details from police files, new interviews with investigators and survivors, and book excerpts read by The Wire alum Amy Ryan, according to HBO. Helming the series is Liz Garbus — the Emmy-winning director of documentaries The Farm: Angola, USA and What Happened, Miss Simone? — with Oswalt on board as executive producer.

“A meditation on obsession and loss, I’ll Be Gone In The Dark chronicles the unrelenting path of a mysterious killer and the fierce determination of one woman to bring the case to light,” HBO says.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, Premiere, Sunday, June 28, 10/9c, HBO