In Honor of the Persistence Of Michelle McNamara
Content Warning: This post will address the Golden State Killer Case, rape, murder and violence. Please take care of yourself after reading.
I was glued to my phone yesterday. Every time I tried to put it down to stay on target with my blogging goals, my body was yanked back. It was all due to the news that the Golden State Killer had been apprehended. It was a moniker unfamiliar to me, unlike BTK or the Night Stalker, however I will never forget what I learned about this particular monster. From 1979 to 1986, a man terrorized the lives of Californians, raking up over 40 rapes, 120 burglaries, and 12 murders. He walked free until Tuesday evening. Now, as a relative of two victims aptly remarked, his reign of terror has come to an end.
I started this blog as a sanctuary from the storm for not only myself, but for anyone who might stumble upon it. The posts are lighthearted in nature and informative when possible. I’m prone to melancholia, so I really push myself to find the beauty in life and share it as often as I can. This topic is difficult, to say the least, but sometimes we can learn good things in the face of the worst of humanity. Today, I want to tell you what I learned from Michelle McNamara.
Michelle McNamara didn’t arrest Joseph James DeAngelo. She didn’t deliver his name to the authorities, or turn over his DNA, but what she did do was persist where others might not. For years, McNamara amassed thousands of files on the various cases spanning multiple counties in California in hopes she could reveal a missing piece, a new angle, anything she could to bring justice to the doorstep of a monster. Her tireless investigative work reignited interest in the case on a national level with her posthumous book “I’ll Be Gone In The Dark”. The victims and survivors would never forget, but now we had no reason to either. Michelle McNamara died in 2016, never knowing the name of the specter she chased.
Since yesterday I have been imagining what it must have been like for a person like Michelle McNamara; feeling so close yet so far from a resolution. Reviewing everything ten thousand times just to be sure you gleaned the right information. Wondering if you can make a difference at all with so much time and space separating you from the target. I know what it feels like to be a survivor, so, from that perspective, I honor and appreciate her. It means so much to know that the pain of a stranger is enough to motivate another to action; that some people will endure the race when you have lost the will or the resources to fight on is a lesson I’ll not soon abandon.
Whoever or whatever you fight for, know that even if you never know what your actions mean for others, your time is well spent. Michelle McNamara didn’t get to see Joseph James DeAngelo walk into a courthouse in chains, but the survivors of his crimes will. I’ll never know Michelle as a friend, but I’ll never forget her as an ally.
Fight on, dream big, and, above all else, stay strong.