Patton Oswalt has one 'last task' to honor Michelle McNamara after suspected Golden State Killer's arrest

Taryn Ryder
Writer, Yahoo Entertainment
Michelle McNamara and Patton Oswalt attend the Young Adult Los Angeles premiere in December 2011. (Photo: Getty Images)

Patton Oswalt called Wednesday “one of the most exhausting, exhilarating days” of his life. Michelle McNamara would have probably agreed.

That day, California police announced the arrest of 72-year-old Joseph James DeAngelo, a man believed to be the “Golden State Killer,” suspected of 12 murders, 45 rapes, and dozens of home burglaries between 1976 and 1986.

McNamara was a true-crime journalist and investigative reporter who also happened to be married to the actor. She died unexpectedly in her sleep in April 2016 when she was three-quarters of the way through writing her book on the Golden State Killer, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark. Oswalt made it his mission to complete her work — one she had been researching for nearly their entire 12-year marriage — after her death.

“There’s exhilaration, and I don’t feel it now, but I can sense that tomorrow or the next day there’s going to be a huge drop in serotonin and happiness when I realize she really isn’t here,” Oswalt, 49, told the New York Times.

McNamara was 46 when she died from an undiagnosed heart condition and a toxic combination of prescription medications. The second anniversary of her death was last week, just three days before DeAngelo’s arrest. But there’s one more thing Oswalt wants to do in her memory.

The A.P. Bio star says he hopes to visit DeAngelo and ask questions that McNamara planned to pose whenever the killer was caught. “It feels like the last task for Michelle, to bring him her questions at the end of her book — just to go, ‘My wife had some questions for you,’” he told the Times.

McNamara had questions because she knew the Golden State Killer’s freedom would eventually come to an end. On Late Night With Seth Meyers, Oswalt read the chilling final words his wife wrote before her death. They appear in the afterword, “A Letter to an Old Man.”

Oswalt read: “One day soon, you’ll hear a car pull up to your curb, an engine cut out. You’ll hear footsteps coming up your front walk, like they did for Edward Wayne Edwards 29 years after he killed Timothy Hack and Kelly Drew in Sullivan, Wisconsin, like they did for Kenneth Lee Hicks 30 years after he killed Laura Billingsley in Aloha, Oregon. The doorbell rings. No side gates are left open. You’re long past leaping over a fence. Take one of your hyper-gulping breaths, clench your teeth, inch timidly toward the insistent bell. This is how it ends for you. ‘You’ll be silent forever and I’ll be gone in the dark,’ you threatened a victim once. Open the door, show us your face, walk into the light.”

Oswalt added, “And that’s what he did today.”

Despite the fact that the case was cold for decades, investigators maintain there is no correlation between DeAngelo’s arrest coming two months after the publication of McNamara’s book — which debuted in the No. 1 spot on the New York Times bestseller list. Instead, they credited her for helping to keep public interest up and “tips coming in.” That has many people who were close to her calling BS.

“It was pretty amazing,” Sarah Stanard, a longtime friend of McNamara’s, told the Washington Post. “I’m going to try not to be angry, but they’re taking all the credit.”

Oswalt also eye-rolls at the lack of appreciation, but says McNamara didn’t care about getting any glory.

McNamara and Oswalt had one daughter, Alice, now 9. He remarried to Meredith Salenger, who is sharing in the excitement.

Oswalt appreciates his wife’s support.

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