I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, a six-part documentary series debuting Sunday, June 28 (10:00-11:00 p.m. ET/PT), on HBO is based on the book of the same name and explores writer Michelle McNamara’s investigation into the dark world of a violent predator she dubbed the Golden State Killer.
The series is directed by Academy Award nominee and Emmy(R) winning director Liz Garbus (HBO’s “Who Killed Garrett Phillips,” “Nothing Left Unsaid: Gloria Vanderbilt & Anderson Cooper”) and produced by Story Syndicate. Additional directors on the series include Elizabeth Wolff, Myles Kane and Josh Koury.
New episodes will air subsequent Sundays at the same time. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark will also be available on HBO On Demand, HBO NOW, HBO GO and partners’ streaming platforms.
Terrorizing California in the 1970s and ’80s, the Golden State Killer is responsible for 50 home-invasion rapes and 12 murders. This series gives voice to the survivors and their families, documenting an era when sex crimes were often dismissed or hidden in shame. A timely inquiry into our macabre preoccupation with true crime and a cautionary tale of the dangerous lure of addiction, the series is a riveting meditation on obsession and loss, chronicling the unrelenting path of a mysterious killer and the fierce determination of one woman to bring the case to light.
Michelle 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. But every night, as her family slept, she indulged her obsession with unsolved cases. Delving into the world of online chat rooms and crime blogs, she became immersed in the graphic details of the Golden State Killer case, along the way connecting with like-minded sleuths, trading facts, photos and leads.
McNamara’s blog about unsolved crimes, True Crime Diaries, chronicled her obsession and led to a lengthy article about the case for Los Angeles Magazine, which resulted in her landing a major book deal. Committed to solving the case, the investigative research consumed her, and she became more and more plagued by dark thoughts and a growing sense of angst. The demands of balancing her self-described addiction to her work with her family life pulled McNamara in competing directions and she became increasingly reliant upon prescription drugs to manage her mounting anxieties. After a string of sleepless nights and harrowing nightmares, McNamara tragically died of an accidental overdose in her sleep with her manuscript unfinished. After her death, Oswalt enlisted his wife’s fellow sleuths, Paul Haynes and Billy Jensen to help finish and publish her book, which received rave reviews and went on to become a 2018 New York Times bestseller.
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is a detective story told in McNamara’s own words, through exclusive original recordings and excerpts from her book read by actor Amy Ryan. The series draws from extensive archival footage and police files as well as exclusive new interviews with detectives, survivors and family members of the killer to weave together a picture of a complex and flawed investigation. It is a frightening document of an era when victims were often too ashamed to speak out and sexual crime was minimized in the press and the courtroom. Echoing McNamara’s writing, the series gives voice to the victims, and their experiences speak to the far-reaching, human cost of the decades-old case.
The series is also a journey into the soul of McNamara, a tenacious journalist and citizen detective whose unrelenting commitment to investigating crimes earned her the respect of law enforcement and whose articles and book earned high praise from critics. Her evocative writing reflects deep themes of loss, anxiety, the lure of addiction, the love that binds us and the dangerous secrets of our daily lives.
McNamara’s years of relentless determination for justice for the victims helped keep the case alive and in the public eye. Ten years after she began working on the case, and just two months after her book was published posthumously in 2018, Oswalt and several of McNamara’s fellow sleuths were gathered for a reading from McNamara’s book in her hometown of Chicago. Just hours later, the Sacramento Sheriff’s Office arrested 72-year-old former police officer Joseph James DeAngelo, identifying him through DNA evidence as the notorious Golden State Killer.
McNamara’s unwavering resolve, the survivors’ fortitude to tell their stories and the decades-long dedication of local investigators result in a shattering portrait of a fear-gripped community and the eventual path to justice. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is a thoughtful and haunting meditation on survival, the reverberations that violent crimes have on our society and those who pursue their resolution.