Patton Oswalt won’t speculate on Michelle McNamara’s response to killer arrest

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Last week, authorities arrested a man who is likely the most prolific serial killer and rapist California has ever had. At the time of the announcement, by sheer coincidence, Michelle McNamara’s widower, Patton Oswalt, was in Michelle’s hometown, Naperville, IL, with her co-researchers, Billy Jenkins and Paul Haynes, and author Gillian Flynn, who wrote the forward to Michelle’s book, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark:

They were there for a panel discussion on the book, which details Michelle’s research on the person she dubbed the Golden State Killer. Michelle’s family attended the talk as well. The timing of the announcement could not have been more perfect.

As you can imagine, Patton was flooded with emotions over the arrest. He described it as, “Spin a wheel of emotions and pick eight of them, and they all apply.” But many people wanted to know how Michelle would have handled that moment and Patton’s answer surprised me – in a good way. He said he honestly had no idea.

On the day news broke that the primary Golden State Killer suspect was arrested after more than 40 years, Patton Oswalt sat down with EW and opened up about the complex emotions he’s feeling.

“My mind is going in a million directions right now, but on top of all the exhaustion and surrealism, I just feel very, very happy that her work wasn’t in vain,” he says when asked what he’s feeling. “Weirdly enough, I had been with her family the night before, doing a talk for her book, so that was very strange.”

At a press conference earlier Wednesday, authorities suggested that no new leads came from McNamara’s work. Oswalt tells Couch Surfing this is slightly misleading, and doesn’t give McNamara the proper credit she deserves. “A cop is never going to credit a writer or a journalist in helping them solve a case,” he says. “But they kept saying ‘Golden State Killer,’ so just by that act alone, her work affected the case…The new name is what helped get interest in this thing.”

As for what McNamara might have made of this moment? “She’s too complex a person to speak for in that way,” Oswalt says. “I can’t say what she would make of today. I wouldn’t insult her by putting words into her mouth. I honestly don’t know. She would have way too many emotions, and they would be very complicated. You couldn’t reduce them to a soundbite, so I’m not going to try.”

[From EW]

Patton probably knew Michelle better than anyone and I think this is the most honest answer. We never know how we are going to react to something huge like this until it happens. Also, this interview took place after the official press conference in which the authorities denied Michelle’s book led to the arrest and as I said before, I think that hurt Patton. I understand both sides. Patton has maintained that Michelle never wanted recognition, just an arrest. I, also, will not speak for Michelle but I know if I had, “7,000 pages of police reports on a thumb drive, and more than 40 boxes worth of documents,” of research on this killer, as Patton said Michelle had, I would be down-hearted about being excluded from the official conversation as well.

Police are saying the arrest was made on DNA evidence. But they are also building their case against Joseph D’Angelo and cannot give the full details yet. When they present their case, who knows who they will end up giving credit to. Right now, all they have said is the book did not lead to the arrest, that may be a much broader answer when the trial happens. Also, the fact that DNA led to a 32-year-old cold case is being used to support Assembly Bill 41 which aims to end the backlog of untested rape kits in the state. I think there are a lot more politics at play than egos. I trust Michelle will be recognized officially. In the meantime, we all know how much Michelle contributed and will be sure to get the word out there.

Photo credit: WENN Photos, Getty Images and Twitter

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Photo credit: Twitter, Getty Images and WENN Photos

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6 Responses to “Patton Oswalt won’t speculate on Michelle McNamara’s response to killer arrest”

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  1. Tulip Garden says:

    I am so pleaded for the victims, living and passed on, and their families that this monster was co arrested. I truly did not think he would ever be caught.

    • Lilly says:

      That’s so true and thank you for bringing that up. The families and victims likely had no thoughts of any justice.

      Patton also gets my thanks for being so eloquent and truthful.

  2. SJF says:

    This story is a positive all around – the validation for Ms.McNamara’s work, justice being served by the arrest, Patton Oswalt’s fight for his first wife’s legacy and the class and respect his current wife shows for Ms. McNamara and her step-daughter.

    What a refreshing, positive change in these dark, cruel bitchy times.

    • Dizzy says:

      Well said! I’ve been following this story all week, and I think what you’ve said is a big part of that. So much of the news is so awful and depressing, and this story wasn’t that.

  3. Lorelei says:

    This was such happy news when we really needed some!

    I was annoyed at first too, that they didn’t even MENTION Michelle at the press conference…in addition to putting the case back into the public eye, she also digitized many of the files (and then gave them back to the investigators), she was a conduit between all of the different jurisdictions because she didn’t have any political motivations w/r/to sharing information and taking credit, she coined the name “Golden State Killer (and let’s be honest — if law enforcement still referred to him as “EAR/ONS” it might not have taken off in quite the same way!) and lots of other little things over the years that I’m forgetting. But my hope is that she will be acknowledged at some point, and that right now the DA is being incredibly cautious about what she says. There are already some concerns about the constitutionality of the way they tracked him down, through a distant family member whose DNA was already online, so hopefully they are just keeping a tight lid on *everything* until the trial. I hope!

    And even if they don’t ever publicly give her any credit, most people absolutely know that she contributed to his capture. It’s a wonderful legacy for her daughter.

  4. Shelly says:

    I remember when Michelle’s book was first released. Meredith got a few comments calling her out for not publicising it even though she was with Patton on his mini book talk tour. She was talking about being in Boston and being super excited to show Patton her alma mater but nothing about the book. I think she realized that it made her look bad and the next day she livestreamed a talk and started praising the book.

    Id love to know her true feelings on having to talk about Michelle in such glowing terms. She knows she will get so much praise for being supportive but it took her a while to do it.