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."--Amazon.com.
Publisher: New York, NY :, Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers,, [2018]
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2018
ISBN: 9780062319784
Branch Call Number: 364.1532097 MC
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

An account of the Golden State Killer

Recommended by Julie: True crime that reads like elegantly composed and plotted literature.

From the critics

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Jan 13, 2020

This is not my genre of choice, but a compelling and well written account. A pity McNamara did not live to see the day the killer was arrested.

Jan 12, 2020

This was a good read about the golden state killer. I like the detail on the victims and the authors way of phrasing. It wasn’t so filled with details which are hard to keep track of in some true crime novels. The prejudices of detectives at that time and how information wasn’t shared with other cities is something unbelievable in today’s information overload

STPL_Tammy Sep 17, 2019

A fantastic true crime read.

Hiking_Librarian Aug 22, 2019

A dark insight into the timeline of the Golden State Killer. Looking into the past, Author Michelle McNamara predicts how the future of trendy genetic testing ultimately led to his capture. As a native to the the area he first got started, the Visalia ransacker is still talked about today. It is quite haunting to read about a serial killer who once prowled the streets I grew up on. Although the timeline seems jumbled in the book, it is a definite must read If you are interested in the serial killer phenomena that plagued the 1970’s-1980’s.

Jun 18, 2019

2018; Harper/HarperCollins Canada

I remember watching true crime episodes on the East Area Rapist (EAR) and the Original Night Stalker (ONS) as I grew up on shows like Dateline, 48 Hours and 20/20. The thought that these killers were still not caught, and could be preying on people even now was just so terrifying. As I started to see more about these serial killers, there was also this urban legend component to them. I mean, these crimes happened awhile ago, nothing else had been tied to them, and seemed to be the past. These cold cases were famous for being unsolved and the brutality seemed so savage that it seemed unreal to everyone not touched by this. At the time though, people were terrified as this wasn’t just women being preyed upon but couples. Being home with someone else did not protect you.

To this day I still faithfully PVR Dateline Mysteries and 48 Hours Mysteries. It was on an episode of 48 Hours, that I first saw Patton Oswalt speak of his wife, Michelle McNamara’s work on the Golden State Killer. Michelle, a writer, wrote some articles on true crime, and had her own true crime blog. With her interest in EAR and ONS she started to do her own investigation into the crimes and the killers. As she started digging she theorized that EAR and ONS were the same person. If that was true the evidence found in the two groups could be connected to one suspect. From there she would try to put together a profile of the killer that could lead to suspects that could be tested against DNA. Patton’s love, respect and awe for Michelle on the show, and in the book’s Afterword further drew me into Michelle’s journey as well as the case and her writing. He and Michelle call her investigation her obsession and it is that passion that real brings Michelle to life in the book.
Anyone that knows me, knows that I have always been interested in true crime shows and mysteries. Yet, I can be picky about what I will invest my time in. It is not that a case is not “juicy” enough, but it is what resonates with me. I am curious about psychology behind what causes someone to act in such a brutal way. Something about Michelle's passion and her writing style really sucked me right in. Even if I wasn’t interested in the case I would have read this. She was able to present the facts and be compassionate to the victims and their surviving families. I find often that writers try to scandalize or be too graphic when there is no need to. These were real people that horrifically lost their life and deserve justice. Unsolved murders and missing persons are two things that terrify and sadden me.

After finishing this book, it was announced that they may have found the Golden State Killer (GSK) based on DNA evidence. They were able to find him through a genealogy site. They have been testing the evidence to their suspect. Michelle passed away before she was able to finish the book so it was finished through editors, and they did well with keeping with Michelle's vision. I highly recommend this book as it is a good read as well as informative.

***I received an eARC from EDELWEISS*

Jun 06, 2019

My first true crime book, and I am hooked! I didn't know anything about GSK until he was caught. After following what I could of the story on reddit and other sources, I finally got the book everyone was talking about. It's nearly impossible to put this book down until its finished.

May 16, 2019

Fantastic read! A+

Apr 30, 2019

I listened to the ebook on a road trip and air trip and found the story fascinating and terrifying. Being in the Bay Area it was unreal to imagine the terror the GSK in his many alleged personas inflicted on Sacramento and later other parts of the Bay Area and California. This terror, woven in with the great investigative efforts of the author, her story, and the past and future of criminal investigations was a real treat. I thought the book was too exhaustive in parts, but that's where tuning out an ebook is easy. That said, I'm still happy I listened and keen to find out the outcome of the GSK's trial in real time.

Mar 30, 2019

The determination to find the Golden State Killer by an amateur detective shows what doggedly following leads can do. Interesting and amazing how much one woman was able to accomplish

Feb 26, 2019

Fantastic book. Page turner by the end. Especially relevant if you live between Contra Costa and Sacramento. McNamara is a master writer in this genre, and it’s a shame there will be no more from her.

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Feb 01, 2019

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.”

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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