What happened after the Dark

With Golden State Killer suspect facing a death-penalty trial, paperback edition of Michelle McNamara’s book includes what happened after her final page—with an assist from SN&R

Michelle McNamara didn’t live long enough to see her deep dive into the dark mythos of the Golden State Killer, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, become a global publishing hit or foreshadow the arrest of a suspect in the 40-year cold case shortly after its release.

The nonfiction author’s accidental overdose in 2016 turned the hardback edition’s ending, where McNamara imagines the serial killer’s arrest as an old man, into a bittersweet and prescient coda. The book’s publishing house, HarperCollins, has made what happened after those final words explicit with the paperback edition, which includes SN&R’s cover story about the aftermath in its appendix (Read “To catch a serial killer,” Feature, May 24, 2018).

Written by former SN&R editor Rachel Leibrock, the 2,400-word feature blends Leibrock’s own intersection with McNamara’s reporting process and original interviews with investigators who worked the case, including retired Contra Costa County detective Paul Holes, who followed a decades-old DNA trail to the Citrus Heights door of a former police officer and mechanic named Joseph DeAngelo.

Holes spent a great deal of time with McNamara and called her his “investigative partner” in Leibrock’s story, though he was careful to say the book did not directly lead to the April 2018 arrest of DeAngelo, now 73 and awaiting trial in Sacramento County jail on 13 counts of murder and 13 counts related to sexual assault.

Because the grisly crimes spanned 11 counties during the late 1970s and into the mid-‘80s, the legal bill is expected to be in the tens of millions of dollars. Sacramento County Democratic Assemblyman Jim Cooper’s Assembly Bill 141, which would allow the counties to recoup their legal costs from the state, was due for an Assembly Appropriations hearing on May 16.

The suspected Golden State Killer learned he would officially face the death penalty on April 10, nearly three years after McNamara’s April 21, 2016 death and almost one year after the knock on the door that she foretold.