I’ve just finished the fascinating I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara.
What an amazing coincidence that California police finally nabbed a suspect for the Golden State Killer crimes so soon after its publication. Finding the perpetrator is the subject of McNamara’s book.
Or was it a coincidence?
It looks as if McNamara’s investigation may have inspired the capture of suspect Joseph James DeAngelo. The cops somehow surreptitiously got his DNA from something he threw away and came up with a match.
Joseph James DeAngelo
What is not clear at the moment is how they latched onto DeAngelo, a former cop. However, the book contains a couple of ideas about he could be caught one day.
It has some geographic profiling of where his murders and rapes, carried out between 1976 and 1986, were committed. He was linked to 50 rapes, 12 murders and many burglaries.
The purpose of this kind of profiling is to indicate where a predator may live or work. The geo-research by a detective McNamara was talking to and by Kim Rossmo, the leading geographic profiler (whom I interviewed for The Hunt for the 60s’ Ripper), both pinpoint the area around Citrus Heights. This is precisely where DeAngelo lived and was arrested last week.
Using DNA to catch DeAngelo
The use of ancestral DNA to unmask the serial killer was another feature of McNamara’s theories for trapping the GSK. McNamara died in 2016 before finishing the book. However, her researcher, Paul Haynes, and journalist Billy Jensen pieced her notes together to finish it.
I’m just reading I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara. It’s a very readable account of her interest, or perhaps obsession, with a serial rapist and murderer call variously the Golden State Killer, the East Area Rapist or the Original Night Stalker.
He committed 12 murders, 45 rapes and 120 burglaries, particularly in a swathe of Sacramento county. Reading McNamara’s account, I have been wondering how the police failed to catch him. The crimes were perpetrated in fairly concentrated areas, suggesting that the homicidal prowler lived locally and knew the area well.
Has the Golden State Killer been caught?
Someone just contacted me with the hot news that California police are about to make an announcement of an arrest. Incredible. The man has been free all this time, apparently living in the Sacramento area.
It would be fascinating to discover who he is, how he evaded law enforcement for so long and what motive he had for his horrible crimes.
I only devote a page or so to the theory that British light-heavyweight boxer Freddie Mills was the Nude Killer in The Hunt for the 60s’ Ripper. The reasons for my scepticism? Mills never appeared in any police reports as a suspect and there are simply no facts connecting him to the crimes.
But there have always been rumours. In the past week newspaper reports have brought these back with a vengeance. A former Sun reporter, Michael Litchfield, has written a book called The Secret Life of Freddie Mills. He claims Mills admitted his guilt to Detective Chief Superintendent John du Rose.
Du Rose was running the biggest manhunt in British criminal history. But this new book suggests du Rose let a potential self-confessed serial killer go free to get his affairs in order because he and Mills were Freemasons and trusted each other.
Apparently, the two men agreed that Mills would hand himself in and du Rose would somehow assist in his plea to have charges dropped from murder to manslaughter. That’s manslaughter six or seven times…
This book will leave you wondering at the injustice dished out to a detective trying to bring a vile killer to justice.
You may remember Stephen Fulcher’s story from recent headlines. He was the detective superintendent who breached Police and Criminal Evidence rules in an effort to find abducted Sian O’Callaghan. Sian, 22, disappeared after a night out in Swindon in 2011.
When Fulcher’s investigators closed the net on taxi driver Christopher Halliwell, the detective ignored the requirement to make the familiar ‘You do not have to say anything’ speech. Instead, he acted in the hope that Sian was still alive somewhere and he could appeal to Halliwell to confess where. The alternative was to arrest Halliwell, in which case the suspect might clam up and Sian could perish.
Meeting Christopher Halliwell
It was a career-risking move. Fulcher’s reasoning? Sian’s life took priority over rules designed to protect the rights of a suspect.
His encounter with Halliwell is the extraordinary fulcrum of the book. In the countryside, overlooked by a posse of police cars, he shared cigarettes with Halliwell and got him talking.
Sadly, he had murdered Sian. Halliwell took the police to the place he left her. However, Fulcher had another shock in store – Halliwell revealed the whereabouts of a second victim.
Welcome to the new home of this blog, covering true-crime writing, books and other subjects.
I moved it on Guy Fawkes day in the hope that it would arrive with a small bang at least – which is this trailer. It highlights a new series I took part in call Voice of a Killer Special on CBSReality.
It is a fascinating look at killers under the pressure of police interrogation. I have a cameo at the end of the trailer, and did a little filming with the production team in Wales during the summer.
The first killer covered, on Tuesday November 27 at 10pm, is Colonel William Russell of the Royal Canadian Air Force. The series is presented by Britain’s leading criminologist Professor David Wilson, looking pretty stern here but he’s friendly and approachable in real life.