Monday, January 07, 2019

Michelle McNamara's Investigation

Had to read Michelle McNamara's 'I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer' (2018). The 46-year-old author died unexpectedly in her sleep (sadly, from an accidental overdose) in 2016, leaving her book unfinished. She was only mid-way through her investigation and hunt for the Golden State Killer. The methodical serial rapist and killer terrorized California from 1974 to 1986, and went scot-free for four decades, until April 2018.

I don't think the author needs more introduction. Her husband, stand-up comedian and actor Patton Oswalt has spoken at length in a moving tribute to her. Part One and Two of the book were completed by Michelle McNamara, but Part Three was posthumously written, and the book was completed and finalized by crime writer Paul Haynes, investigative journalist Billy Jensen and her widower Patton Oswalt, and released two years after her death in February 2018.

As a reader, along with many others, I'm sure that we felt a sense of satisfaction knowing that in April 2018, two years after Michelle McNamara's death and unfinished investigation, and two months after her book was published, US Navy veteran and former police officer 72-year-old Joseph James DeAngelo has been arrested and charged with as many counts of murder as the statutes of limitations allow in Sacramento, Orange, Santa Barbara and Ventura.

Yeah, I think so too.

It's a sobering read to begin the year with, and why not. The world is not a safe place. The book detailed locations, victims, and gave their stories dignity and respect. Their deaths won't be forgotten.

Michelle McNamara writes well. Her words drew me in within five pages. She wrote the epilogue. Clearly, she felt that she's drawing closer to finding the killer, buoyed by the cooperation of the community of online sleuths who eagerly and warmly share information. It's titled 'Epilogue: Letter to an Old Man'.

And then, after May 4, 1986, you disappear. Some think you died. Or went to prison. Not me. 
I think you bailed when the world began to change. It's true, age must have slowed you. The testosterone, once a gush, was now a trickle. But the truth is memories fade. Paper decays. But technology improves. 
You cut out when you looked over your shoulder and saw your opponents gaining on you. 
You excelled at the stealth sidle. But your heyday prowess has no value anymore. Your skill set has been phased out. The tables have been turned. Virtual windows are opening all around you. You, the master watcher, are an aging, lumbering target in their crosshairs. 
One day soon, you'll hear a car pull up to your curb, an engine cut out. You'll hear footsteps coming up your front walk. Like they did for Edward Wayne Edwards, twenty-nine years after he killed Timothy Hack and Kelly Drew in Sullivan, Wisconsin. Like they did for Kenneth Lee Hicks, thirty years after he killed Lori Billingsley in Aloha, Oregon. 
The doorbell rings. 
No side gates are left open. You're long past leaping over a fence. Take one of your hyper, gulping breaths. Clench your teeth. Inch timidly toward the insistent bell. 
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. 

No comments: