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True story behind I'll be Gone in the Dark - Michelle McNamara's chilling crime story

How one ordinary woman helped solve one of the most chilling rape and murder cases of the 70s and 80s.

Published: Thursday, 27th August 2020 at 4:47 pm

HBO's true crime documentary, I'll Be Gone in the Dark, is coming to NOW TV.


The six part series, which first aired on HBO on June 28th, follows one ordinary woman’s quest to identify one of the most horrific serial rapists in decades, The Golden State Killer.

From 1974 to 1986 The Golden State Killer, also known as the East Area Rapist and the Visalia Ransacker, was responsible for a shocking amount of crimes throughout the state of California. He committed at least 13 murders and over 50 rapes.

However, it wasn't actually a detective who ultimately brought him to justice, but rather Michelle McNamara, an author who broke his case in her book.

Here's everything you need to know about the haunting story, and how you can watch it on Now.

When is I'll Be Gone in the Dark released?

The series, which is directed by Liz Garbus, will air on Sky Crime and NOW TV on August 30th.

NOW TV members will need an entertainment pass, costing £9.99 to watch the documentary. The pass will be valid for a month and gives access to multiple entertainment, comedy and true-crime box sets.

You can find out more about subscriptions here.

I'll Be Gone in the Dark first premiered on HBO on Sunday, June 28th and wrapped on the network on August 2nd.

What is I'll Be Gone in the Dark about?

i'll be gone in the dark
I'll Be Gone in the Dark (HBO)

I'll Be Gone in the Dark is based on McNamara's book of the same title, which was released in 2018.

It's believed that McNamara's tireless work led to the arrest of the actual Golden State Killer.

While researching material for the book, McNamara worked closely with several detectives, highlighting details and connections they overlooked in this cold case.

The chilling title of the book and the docuseries were taken from the killer and rapist himself. The Golden State Killer reportedly said to one of his victims: “You’ll be silent forever, and I’ll be gone in the dark.”

Is I'll Be Gone in the Dark a true story?

It most certainly is.

Between 1974 to 1986, one man, who went by the name of The Golden State Killer, haunted the state of California. Targeting areas within the US state, the killer committed several murders and rapes, and went years without being caught.

That is until, Michelle McNamara began investigating the case herself for her novel - which you can read here.

Although he was already being looked into, it's believed McNamara's book is what finally led to his arrest.

The book was released posthumously on February 27, 2018, nearly two years after McNamara's death and just two months before an arrest was finally made.

Who Was Michelle McNamara?

i'll be gone in the darl
Michelle McNamara and her husband Patton Oswalt in 2011 (Getty Images)

McNamara lived a quiet life as a writer, mother and wife, preferring to stay on the periphery of the Hollywood world of her comedian husband Patton Oswalt.

However, every night, as her family slept, she indulged her obsession with unsolved cases, beginning her investigation into The Golden State Killer.

According to HBO, the series is a journey into the soul of McNamara, whose True Crime Diaries blog and years of relentless determination for justice for the victims helped keep the case alive and in the public eye, and who tragically died of an accidental overdose while writing her book.

A synopsis on the site reads: "A meditation on obsession and loss, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark chronicles the unrelenting path of a mysterious killer and the fierce determination of one woman to bring the case to light."

Who Was The Golden State Killer, aka the East Area Rapist?

i'll be gone in the dark
Joseph James DeAngelo (Getty Images)

The killer actually went by three names. He was first the Visalia Ransacker back when his crime spree was limited to burglaries. He then progressed to the East Area Rapist or the Original Night Stalker once his heinous appetite increased. He was finally known as The Golden State Killer.

He would often spend days scoping out his targeted house, always focusing on the quiet and peaceful suburbs. Initially when he began raping his victims he avoided houses with large dogs or husbands, however, this changed after media reports tried to summarise his behaviour.

Almost as though he was listening and wanted to let everyone know, he started to target couples. He would often bind and blind these couples before stacking dishes on top of the man. Before he assaulted the women he would warn that if he heard a single dish rattle he would murder them both, which he eventually did do.

Was the Golden State Killer ever found?

Thanks to the police and McNamara's hard work, the GSK was eventually found. Roughly two months after the release of McNamara’s book, a 73-year-old man, named Joseph James DeAngelo, was arrested.

A U.S. navy veteran and former police officer, DeAngelo’s life and moves throughout California almost perfectly match the Golden State Killer's crime spree.

He was charged with eight counts of first-degree murder based on DNA evidence as well as 13 kidnapping counts. The police were able to find him due to the recent surge of DNA ancestry testing, something that McNamara long suspected would eventually bring him down.

i'll be gone in the dark
I'll Be Gone in the Dark (HBO)

Why did it take so long to solve the case?

The GSK was far from a prolific criminal, often leaving shoe prints behind and taking trinkets from his victims, which poses the question: Why then did the case take so long to solve?

It was actually alway solvable, but one of the biggest tragedies of The Golden State Killer case was that because it spanned so many different police precincts during a time when law enforcement didn’t regularly share information with other officers in many ways, unfortunately, he fell through the cracks.

Is there a trailer?

There is, and it contains scenes that some viewers might find disturbing.

As the clip flashes across different crime scenes, a voice says: "We were awakened by a voice and a bright light. It was a real sense of evil in the house."

You can watch the full trailer below.


I'll Be Gone in the Dark will be available to stream on NOW TV from August 30th. If you’re looking for more to watch, check out our TV Guide. If you want to read I'll Be Gone in the Dark, head over to Amazon now.


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