Michelle reflects on the 1984 murder of her childhood neighbor Kathy Lombardo, which she credits with planting the seed for her lifelong fascination with unsolved crimes.
Local detectives who worked the EAR case in the ‘70s – and citizen detectives who picked up where they left off – discuss a proliferation of serial rape cases in Northern California at the time, discussing an era when victims were often too ashamed to speak out and sexual crime was minimized in the press and the courtroom.
Following a rush of media coverage in 1977, EAR’s boldness escalates, as he shifts his focus from single women and teenagers, to include couples as well. Today, several survivors describe these attacks and their aftermath in chilling detail.
Writer Michelle McNamara, author of True Crime Diary, her blog about unsolved crimes, finds a new obsession in the “East Area Rapist” (EAR), who terrorized California in the 1970s and ‘80s and was, ultimately, responsible for 50 home-invasion rapes and 12 murders.
The EAR, whose true identity is still unknown, would also come to be known as the “Original Night Stalker” and, as Michelle dubs him, the “Golden State Killer.” Delving into the world of online chat rooms and crime blogs, she becomes immersed in the graphic details of the Golden State Killer case, connecting with like-minded sleuths, trading facts, photos, and leads.
After pitching a story to Los Angeles Magazine, she hits the ground running, interviewing several EAR survivors and retired detectives who worked the case. Today, Michelle’s husband, actor Patton Oswalt, friends, and fellow citizen detectives reflect on her intoxicating talent – which McNamara calls an “addiction” – for piecing together clues and bringing unsolved true crime stories to life.