Michelle McNamara | Srivideo
Born Name: Michelle Eileen McNamara
Date of Birth: April 14, 1970
Place of Birth: Oak Park, Illinois, United States
Died: April 21, 2016 (aged 46), Los Angeles, California, United States
Resting place: Forest Lawn Memorial Park
Hollywood Hills, California, U.S.
Alma mater: University of Notre Dame
University of Minnesota
Occupation: True Crime Author
Years active: 2006–2016
Spouse(s): Patton Oswalt (m. 2005-2016)
Children: Alice Rigney Oswalt
Siblings: Margo Chadwick, Kathleen Conroy, Maureen Stratton, Mary Rita Skrine, Robert McNamara
Official website: truecrimediary.com
Michelle Eileen McNamara (April 14, 1970 – April 21, 2016) was an American true crime author. She was the author of I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer, a true crime book based on the Golden State Killer, and helped coin the name "Golden State Killer". The book was released posthumously in February 2018 and has been adapted as an HBO documentary series, debuting on the cable channel on June 28, 2020.
Early life and education
McNamara grew up in Oak Park, Illinois, the daughter of Thomas W. McNamara, a trial lawyer, and Rita McNamara (née Rigney), a stay-at-home mother. Her parents were Irish American. McNamara was the youngest of the couple's five daughters and one son. They grew up Irish Catholic.
In 1988, she graduated from Oak Park and River Forest High School in Oak Park, Illinois, where her senior year she was editor-in-chief of the student newspaper, the Trapeze.
In 1992, McNamara graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a bachelor's degree in English. She earned an MFA in creative writing from the University of Minnesota.
After graduate school, in 1997 McNamara moved to Los Angeles to write in the film and TV industry.
In 2006, McNamara launched her website TrueCrimeDiary. McNamara had a long-standing fascination with true crime originating from the unsolved murder of Kathleen Lombardo that happened two blocks from where she lived when she was young. In 2014, McNamara and true crime investigative journalist Billy Jensen were on a SXSW Interactive panel called "Citizen Dicks: Solving Murders With Social Media." McNamara and Jensen had a long-term friendship based on their shared passion for researching and writing about true crime.
McNamara became interested in the crimes of the unidentified rapist and murderer known as the "East Area Rapist", "Original Night Stalker" and the "Visalia Ransacker", among other epithets. Due in large part to McNamara's efforts in tying these crime clusters together in public consciousness after the EAR and ONS crimes were linked by DNA, the murder was later to be known exclusively as the Golden State Killer (GSK). She penned articles for Los Angeles magazine about the serial killer in 2013 and 2014. Paul Holes, an investigator for the Contra Costa County district attorney's office, stated that McNamara's dogged persistence and trustworthiness with sensitive information about GSK cases earned her an unusual level of cooperation from law enforcement officials. She then signed a book deal with HarperCollins and began to work on a book about the case.
Her book, titled I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer, was posthumously updated and finalized by true crime writers Paul Haynes, Billy Jensen and her widower Patton Oswalt following her death. The book, released posthumously on February 27, 2018 (almost two years after her death), reached number 2 of The New York Times Best Seller list for non-fiction and number 1 of combined print and e-book, nonfiction. As of April 29, 2018, the book had been on the list for eight weeks.
In April 2018, HBO announced that they had purchased the rights for I'll Be Gone in the Dark and were developing it into a documentary series. Filming for the series began on April 24, 2018. The documentary is being directed by Liz Garbus (What Happened, Miss Simone?).
On April 25, 2018, Californian authorities arrested Joseph James DeAngelo as the alleged Golden State Killer. Oswalt stated that authorities' use of the killer's name that McNamara coined was "proof of the impact of her work."
McNamara married comedian Patton Oswalt on September 24, 2005. The couple's daughter Alice was born on April 15, 2009.
McNamara died in her sleep on April 21, 2016, in her family's Los Angeles, California, home. According to the autopsy report released online by Radar, her death was attributed to the effects of multiple drugs, including Adderall, alprazolam (Xanax) and fentanyl. Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease was a contributing factor. The coroner ruled it an accidental overdose. She is interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Los Angeles.
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