Bad Readers Reviews: "I'll Be Gone in the Dark" and Who Is the Golden State Killer?

Bad Readers Reviews: "I'll Be Gone in the Dark" and Who Is the Golden State Killer?

"I wonder if he's read this book"


In this month's edition of Bad Readers Book Club, Leigh (of my "Reputation" album review fame) and I read Michelle McNamara's true-crime thriller "I'll Be Gone in the Dark" and discussed the Golden State Killer now that we have a face to put to the name. We tackled the book, Michelle McNamara herself, and the most frustrating aspects of the GSK's 13-year rampage and the 30 years it took after to catch him.

Michelle and her husband, Patton Oswalt

For some background, Michelle McNamara was a true-crime author who ran the website True Crime Diary and was obsessed with finding the serial predator and killer she dubbed the Golden State Killer. The moniker encompasses all three suspected stages of his rampage: the Visalia Ransacker from approx 1973-76, the East Area rapist from 1976-79, and the Original Night Stalker from 1979-86. She conducted a lot of research on and alongside an incredibly active Reddit community, as well as many detectives both retired and present.

Timeline of the Golden State Killer's activity and life

Michelle died in 2016 but left behind an incredible, almost finished thriller. Her investigative team, Paul Haynes and Billy Jenkins, completed the book with Michelle's widower Patton Oswalt and it was released in February 2018. On April 24, 2018, the Golden State Killer was caught. 72-year-old Joseph James DeAngelo was arrested by the Sacremento County Police after his fourth cousin submitted DNA to GEDmatch. (The Reddit community Michelle was, and Paul and Billy are currently a part of, can be found here.

With this in mind, I present to you this month's Bad Reader Review!

Emily: "First of all…. Did you like the book?"
Leigh: "Yes, oh my god! It was so good!!"
E: "Me too. I had to be asked by my family to stop talking about it."
L: "Her narrative was just so compelling."

We talked at length about Michelle's narrative style and the way in which she turned such a gruesome history into something gripping and, in a very odd and dark way, inviting to a reader.

E: "Well, that was the whole thing… The thing about true crime is that you're so focused on the crime that you don't realize these are people's lives."
L: "Yeah that's so true she really focuses on the lives."
E: "Michelle focuses on the lives that were [involved] rather than just on the crime itself."
L: "That one victim and the wife writes the detective a letter and then they moved across the country…. I think that captures it well like you're so focused on the crime scene that you don't necessarily think about what comes after."

In the letter Leigh mentions, one of the victims wrote to the detectives on the case at the time with every piece of information she thought would be valuable. At this stage in the GSK's career, he was targetting couples. While Michelle focused a handful of cases in great detail, she incorporated as much information from as many other cases as possible.

At the end of the letter in question, the wife closed with an ambiguous line which prompted Michelle to investigate. What she found was that the couple could not live in the house they were attacked in anymore and moved across the country.

Leigh: "I also loved the moments when Michelle talks about Michelle... Like the portrait her life and how she compares the journey for her to find the killer to his journey to becoming a killer… She's trying to point out the irony that not everyone's the good guy."
E: "Within the book itself, she almost made herself a character."
E: "No one could have written this book but her. Her team says that the end like no one could have written this but Michelle so we'll try to do her name justice because she was so passionate about this but we will never succeed at replicating what she's done".
L: "And they really didn't… Part 3 was a snooze fest."

The book opens up with a foreword by thriller writer Gillian Flynn and Leigh and I disagreed completely on its role: while I liked that Flynn opens up by highlighting how a lot of the book is just as much Michelle's story to find the killer as it is the story of the then-unnamed killer himself. While I agreed with this, I believe Leigh believed that

If you want to know about Gillian Flynn's life, read her foreword about Michelle McNamara's life.

The Golden State Killers mugshot.

L: "It seems like such an ambitious project…. To research a cold case without the resources of a police department. Michelle talks about the fine line that she walks like I have the cockiness of thinking I'm going to see something no one else saw but also I don't care who catches him… the best way to find him is to crowdsource."
E: "I've only been doing topical research because his face scares me."
L: "The thing about him though… is that he looks different in every stage of his life he's like a chameleon. It's so scary he looks like a different person like he just has one of those non-descript faces."

Leigh and I spent a lot of time talking about the Golden State Killer himself because... well, a prolific serial killer was caught after 32 years of evading the cops; how can you not talk about that??? Joseph James DeAngelo was a former member of the Navy, a cop in Auburn and Exter counties, and an employee at a Save Mart.

"The judge is allowing the police officers and prosecution to take further DNA samples and pictures of his body to match against old evidence…. His penis….. If he's not well endowed."

He physical description sometimes varied, but what was known for sure was that he was blond, athletically built, and, as his rape survivors told detectives, not well endowed. While somewhat rooted in countless reports, the focus on the GSK's penis is likely to publicly shame someone who demoralized and degraded countless other individuals.

L: "The thing about him now is that he's so old he has no idea what the fuck is going on."
E: "No I think he has a very clear idea what the fuck is going on."
L: "He walked into court and he can't even keep his head up like it's embarrassing."
E: "You don't think its a play?"
L: "No I think it's a play but I just wish he was found sooner. This isn't even satisfactory to me anymore."
E: "Once you read the parts about Mary Hong in 1998 and Paul Holes started finding things 10 years later… Why wasn't this solved sooner? I think they got overwhelmed because it's been so long trying to find this guy. Like I didn't realize why this would be such a big deal but there's one chapter when Michelle calls people who are listed as witnesses in police reports… There were like 4 other serial killers and serial rapists active all over California in the 70's, but when Michelle said she was calling about one everyone knew without asking that she was talking about the EAR."

Mary Hong worked in the Orange County's Crime Lab and in 1998, found that the suspect DNA in three different cases were all 100% matches. It took 20 years after that to catch JJD... Why? Leigh argued that there was evidence the police blundered so much while going after the GSK.

Paul Holes, GSK investigator and newfound love of everyone's life.

E: "Who that I graduated high school with could become a serial killer? Like he spent so much time not caught! It's a bit harder to get away with serial crimes now… because you know DNA… did you think he ever thought he would get caught?"
L: "No! Clearly not! He was living in Sacramento!"
E: "Then he was laughing everyone for most of his life! Who do I know- like is there anyone I know that could have gotten away with it?"
L: "No one thought it was him."
E: "I think thats the scariest part of it."

EAR-ONS detective Paul Holes mentioned there was a list of 10,000 potential suspects. JJD was not on it. Now that he has been caught and is on trial, the history and trail of this case are so infuriating and baffling. So many people were waiting for so long for a potential DNA match to catch the killer that he was just existing right under everyone's nose. The exasperated plea in response to this is just.... how?

E: "Do you think this book help catch the GSK"
L: "In June 2016 there was a task force created to analyze DNA in cold cases with a specific focus on the EAR-ONS. Michelle had done a lot of press work for this case leading up to it. So maybe her publicity on the case allowed them to focus on it and devote resources to it. But they didn't catch him by using research. They caught him with DNA."
E: "I feel like that's a very simplified way to catch someone who's evaded law enforcement for so long."
L: "Michelle is the most famous person who's investigated this case like she gave him the moniker of GSK. Every time they say it they're crediting Michelle. I think she created interest in the case. There's no doubt that she played a part."
Cover Image Credit:

Emily Sharp

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9 Reasons Crocs Are The Only Shoes You Need

Crocs have holes so your swag can breathe.

Do you have fond childhood objects that make you nostalgic just thinking about your favorite Barbie or sequenced purse? Well for me, its my navy Crocs. Those shoes put me through elementary school. I eventually wore them out so much that I had to say goodbye. I tried Airwalks and sandals, but nothing compared. Then on my senior trip in New York City, a four story Crocs store gleamed at me from across the street and I bought another pair of Navy Blue Crocs. The rest is history. I wear them every morning to the lake for practice and then throughout the day to help air out my soaking feet. I love my Crocs so much, that I was in shock when it became apparent to me that people don't feel the same. Here are nine reasons why you should just throw out all of your other shoes and settle on Crocs.

1. They are waterproof.

These bad boys can take on the wettest of water. Nobody is sure what they are made of, though. The debate is still out there on foam vs. rubber. You can wear these bad boys any place water may or may not be: to the lake for practice or to the club where all the thirsty boys are. But honestly who cares because they're buoyant and water proof. Raise the roof.

2. Your most reliable support system

There is a reason nurses and swimming instructors alike swear by Crocs. Comfort. Croc's clogs will make you feel like your are walking on a cloud of Laffy Taffy. They are wide enough that your toes are not squished, and the rubbery material forms perfectly around your foot. Added bonus: The holes let in a nice breeze while riding around on your Razor Scooter.

3. Insane durability

Have you ever been so angry you could throw a Croc 'cause same? Have you ever had a Croc bitten while wrestling a great white shark? Me too. Have you ever had your entire foot rolled like a fruit roll up but had your Crocs still intact? Also me. All I know is that Seal Team 6 may or may not have worn these shoes to find and kill Osama Bin Laden. Just sayin'.

4. Bling, bling, bling

Jibbitz, am I right?! These are basically they're own money in the industry of comfortable footwear. From Spongebob to Christmas to your favorite fossil, Jibbitz has it all. There's nothing more swag-tastic than pimped out crocs. Lady. Killer.

5. So many options

From the classic clog to fashionable sneakers, Crocs offer so many options that are just too good to pass up on. They have fur lined boots, wedges, sandals, loafers, Maryjane's, glow in the dark, Minion themed, and best of all, CAMO! Where did your feet go?!

6. Affordable

Crocs: $30

Feeling like a boss: Priceless

7. Two words: Adventure Straps

Because you know that when you move the strap from casual mode chillin' in the front to behind the heal, it's like using a shell on Mario Cart.

8. Crocs cares

Okay, but for real, Crocs is a great company because they have donated over 3 million pairs of crocs to people in need around the world. Move over Toms, the Croc is in the house.

9. Stylish AF

The boys will be coming for you like Steve Irwin.

Who cares what the haters say, right? Wear with pride, and go forth in style.

Cover Image Credit: Chicago Tribune

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From One Nerd To Another

My contemplation of the complexities between different forms of art.


Aside from reading Guy Harrison's guide to eliminating scientific ignorance called, "At Least Know This: Essential Science to Enhance Your Life" and, "The Breakthrough: Immunotherapy and the Race to Cure Cancer" by Charles Graeber, an informative and emotional historical account explaining the potential use of our own immune systems to cure cancer, I read articles and worked on my own writing in order to keep learning while enjoying my winter break back in December. I also took a trip to the Guggenheim Museum.

I wish I was artistic. Generally, I walk through museums in awe of what artists can do. The colors and dainty details simultaneously inspire me and remind me of what little talent I posses holding a paintbrush. Walking through the Guggenheim was no exception. Most of the pieces are done by Hilma af Klint, a 20th-century Swedish artist expressing her beliefs and curiosity about the universe through her abstract painting. I was mostly at the exhibit to appease my mom (a K - 8th-grade art teacher), but as we continued to look at each piece and read their descriptions, I slowly began to appreciate them and their underlying meanings.

I like writing that integrates symbols, double meanings, and metaphors into its message because I think that the best works of art are the ones that have to be sought after. If the writer simply tells you exactly what they were thinking and how their words should be interpreted, there's no room for imagination. An unpopular opinion in high school was that reading "The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne was fun. Well, I thought it was. At the beginning of the book, there's a scene where Hawthorne describes a wild rosebush that sits just outside of the community prison. As you read, you are free to decide whether it's an image of morality, the last taste of freedom and natural beauty for criminals walking toward their doom, or a symbol of the relationship between the Puritans with their prison-like expectations and Hester, the main character, who blossoms into herself throughout the novel. Whichever one you think it is doesn't matter, the point is that the rosebush can symbolize whatever you want it to. It's the same with paintings - they can be interpreted however you want them to be.

As we walked through the building, its spiral design leading us further and further upwards, we were able to catch glimpses of af Klint's life through the strokes of her brush. My favorite of her collections was one titled, "Evolution." As a science nerd myself, the idea that the story of our existence was being incorporated into art intrigued me. One piece represented the eras of geological time through her use of spirals and snails colored abstractly. She clued you into the story she was telling by using different colors and tones to represent different periods. It felt like reading "The Scarlet Letter" and my biology textbook at the same time. Maybe that sounds like the worst thing ever, but to me it was heaven. Art isn't just art and science isn't just science. Aspects of different studies coexist and join together to form something amazing that will speak to even the most untalented patron walking through the museum halls.

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