Next Episode of I'll Be Gone in the Dark is
Season 1 / Episode 4 and airs on 20 July 2020 02:00
Journalist Michelle McNamara was determined to find the violent offender she dubbed "The Golden State Killer," who terrorized California in the late 1970s and early 1980s, committing 50 home-invasion sexual assaults and ten murders. I'll Be Gone in the Dark is a comprehensive exploration of the case of an elusive, violent predator, as well as a haunting personal memoir and self-examination of McNamara's obsessive quest for justice on behalf of the victims and survivors of the crimes.
Writer Michelle McNamara, author of True Crime Diary, her blog about unsolved crimes, finds a new obsession in the "East Area Rapist" (EAR), who terrorized California in the 1970s and '80s, responsible for 50 home-invasion rapes and 12 murders. The EAR, whose true identity is still unknown, would also come to be known as the "Original Night Stalker" and, as Michelle dubs him, the "Golden State Killer." Delving into the world of online chat rooms and crime blogs, she becomes immersed in the graphic details of the Golden State Killer case, connecting with like-minded sleuths, trading facts, photos and leads. After pitching a story to Los Angeles Magazine, she hits the ground running, interviewing several EAR survivors and retired detectives who worked the case. Today, Michelle's husband, actor Patton Oswalt, friends, and fellow citizen detectives reflect on her intoxicating talent - which McNamara calls an "addiction" - for piecing together clues and bringing unsolved true crime stories to life.
Michelle McNamara reflects on the 1984 murder of her childhood neighbor Kathy Lombardo, which she credits with planting the seed for her lifelong fascination with unsolved crimes. Local detectives who worked the East Area Rapist (EAR) case in the '70s - and citizen detectives who picked up where they left off - discuss a proliferation of serial rape cases in Northern California at the time, discussing an era when victims were often too ashamed to speak out and sexual crime was minimized in the press and the courtroom. Following a rush of media coverage in 1977, EAR's boldness escalates, as he shifts his focus from single women and teenagers, to include couples as well. Today, several survivors describe these attacks and their aftermath in chilling detail.
In 1979, law enforcement is thrilled when the East Area Rapist (EAR) attacks abruptly stop in Northern California, but in reality, EAR has moved south to commit a number of gruesome murders in the Santa Barbara area, known as the "Original Night Stalker" series. The hunt for the perpetrator stalls due to lack of cooperation between jurisdictions and concerns of tarnishing the area's pristine image, leaving the community unaware of the predator in their midst. David Witthuhn, the husband of murder victim Manuela Witthuhn, is questioned as the sole person of interest, but his name isn't cleared until 20 years later, when DNA evidence links his wife's murder not only to others in the Santa Barbara area, but also to EAR assaults in Sacramento. Michelle's article chronicling her investigation of the case, "In the Footsteps of a Killer," causes a splash when it's published 2013. After signing a major book deal, she works around the clock to find the killer and struggles with another aspect of the book - writing about herself.
Michelle and her editors agree to push her book deadline after being granted access to the Orange County Sheriff's Department's East Area Rapist / Original Night Stalker (EAR/ONS) room. Poring over 37 boxes of files now occupying her daughter's playroom, Michelle and her researcher Paul Haynes explore the case of the "Visalia Ransacker," the perpetrator of a string of burglaries in the early '70s bearing striking similarities to EAR. Overwhelmed by the amount of material and the graphic nature of the crimes she is investigating, Michelle struggles to balance the demands of her self-described addiction to her work with her family life. Painful personal memories, combined with her pressure to solve the case and finish the book leads to a string of sleepless nights and harrowing nightmares, as she becomes increasingly reliant upon prescription drugs to manage her mounting anxieties.
As Michelle's loved ones cope with her sudden death, her work to unmask the Golden State Killer lives on. Inspired by McNamara's interest in genealogy and online DNA testing services, Paul Holes, Chief of Forensics in Contra Costa County, reconstructs the killer's family tree with the help of genetic genealogist Barbara-Rae Venter. After inheriting Michelle's 37 boxes of case files, researcher Paul Haynes and true crime writer Billy Jensen work alongside Michelle's husband, Patton Oswalt, to finish her book, which becomes an instant bestseller. Meanwhile, the release of Michelle's autopsy report rocks her inner circle. Michelle's writing - in which she wrestles with depression and her own mother's sudden death - sheds light on her pain but leaves many questions unanswered.
As 72-year-old former police officer Joe DeAngelo's arrest unfolds in real time, chilling facts materialize that illuminate Michelle's prescience in her book's epilogue, "Letter to an Old Man." Researcher Paul Haynes and true crime writer Billy Jensen try to learn everything they can about DeAngelo. Exclusive interviews with DeAngelo's relatives reveal early family trauma, and his double life as a suburban dad and serial predator. His ex-fiancé also details the behavior and warning signs that lead her to end their engagement. Having finally faced their attacker in court, several survivors meet for the first time and gain strength in their shared desire to confront their pain, move forward, and advocate for all sexual assault survivors. When Patton Oswalt, Jensen, and Haynes connect with survivors and McNamara's fellow citizen detective Melanie Barbeau, Michelle's absence is deeply felt.
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