Two years ago, Patton Oswalt lost his wife of ten years, true crime writer Michelle McNamara. Michelle had been working on a book about an uncaught serial rapist and killer from the mid-70s/80s she nicknamed “The Golden State Killer.” Patton finished the book after her death, and I’ll Be Gone In The Dark was finally released at the end of February 2018.
Yesterday, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department arrested 72-year-old Joseph James DeAngelo, a man they believe is The Golden State Killer. The police were quick to pat themselves on the back, saying: “We found the needle in the haystack.” Patton Oswalt, on the other hand, is like “Excuse me, but that ‘we’ better also include Michelle.”
DeAngelo was an ex-police officer who allegedly committed at least 45 rapes in Northern California in the late 70s, and allegedly murdered at least 12 people in Southern California between the years of 1979 and 1986. Authorities say he was finally caught through DNA evidence obtained recently.
Patton appeared on Late Night With Seth Meyers last night to promote his TV show A.P. Bio. but that’s not what he and Seth Meyers ended up talking about. Patton said he’d been awake since 3am because he was following the news of the arrest. He didn’t want to discredit the work done by police and detectives assigned to find DeAngelo, but he thought it was important that everyone knows Michelle’s work about The Golden State Killer “amped up” interest in the case. Patton added that it was never Michelle’s motive to get credit for the arrest, but all she really wanted was to know The Golden State Killer was finally in prison.
However, not everyone thinks Michelle’s involvement in the case is the reason why The Golden State Killer is in jail. When asked by reporters at a press conference yesterday about Michelle McNamara’s assistance, Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones said she had nothing to do with it.
“That’s a question we’ve gotten from all over the world in the last 24 hours, and the answer is no. It kept interest and tips coming in, but other than that, there was no information extracted from that book that directly led to the apprehension.”
Many of Michelle’s friends and family are a little pissed with the Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones, with one saying, “I’m going to try not to be angry, but they’re taking all the credit.” Patton isn’t convinced the police will ever give Michelle the credit she’s due, but that hasn’t stopped him from congratulating her on social media.
It did, but #MichelleMcNamaradidn’t care about getting any shine on herself. She cared about the #GoldenStateKiller being behind bars and the victims getting some relief. She was Marge Gunderson in FARGO, not Chilton in SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. https://t.co/krMOWaWh9m
— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) April 25, 2018
He’s also quick to point out how coincidental the timing of it all is, with an arrest taking more than 30 years, and yet happening less than two months after the release of Michelle’s book.
Let’s say the police never caught a whiff of Michelle’s book, and they really did catch The Golden State Killer all on their own. Well congratulations on the needle finding, and I hope the hay didn’t trigger any allergies. But at the very least, they should throw Michelle a bone for coming up with “The Golden State Killer.” Because it’s going to get awkward every time someone refers to the Golden State Killer and police have to respond back with, “Oh, actually, around here he’s known as J.J. DeMurder Guy.”