How ‘I’ll Be Gone in the Dark’ Docuseries Could Help Solve Another Unsolved Murder

Diving deeper. That’s exactly what Liz Garbus did when adapting Michelle McNamara‘s book, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer, into a six-part docuseries for HBO.

The book, published in February 2018, focuses on McNamara’s search for the Golden State Killer, a man responsible for 50 home-invasion rapes and 12 murders in the ’70s and ’80s, and giving voices to the survivors. The series chronicles her journey and ultimately, the obsession that became too much for her. She became increasingly reliant upon prescription drugs to manage her anxieties and nightmares and tragically died of an accidental overdose in her sleep in 2016. Her then-husband, Patton Oswalt, enlisted Paul Haynes and Billy Jensen, two other sleuths that were working with McNamara, to help finish and publish her book.

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McNamara pushed for them all to look into DNA testing, something that wasn’t doable when the case first began 30 years ago. That move ultimately led to the arrest of retired police officer Joseph James DeAngelo Jr. in April 2018. He was charged with 13 felony counts of murder with special circumstances and 13 counts of kidnapping to commit robbery; his next hearing is June 29.

Patton Oswalt Liz Garbus Ill Be Gone in the Dark
Patton Oswalt and director Liz Garbus. Courtesy HBO

So, could the docuseries lead to another unsolved case being cracked?

In the beginning of her book, McNamara reveals that her obsession with crime came from a murder that happened in her neighborhood when she was only 14. Kathleen Lombardo was sexually assaulted and murdered in Oak Park, Illinois, in August 1984 when she was 24. The case has never been solved.

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“There was one thing I wish we had been able to do. Michelle’s kind of origin story was that, as a teenager, a neighbor was murdered in her suburban Chicago neighborhood, Kathy Lombardo. She always wanted to know what happened with that case, and she always felt like it was within reach,” Garbus, 50, says on the latest episode of the “Watch With Us” podcast. “And so we were like, maybe we can crack that case. Maybe we can do for the Lombardo murder case, what Michelle did for the Golden State Killer! I mean, of course, there were many, many people working on the GSK. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get much headway with the Park police. I certainly wish we had been able to explore that more.”

Michelle McNamara Ill Be Gone in the Dark
Michelle McNamara Robyn Von Swank/HBO

However, Garbus notes, “Maybe there will be other citizen detectives like Michelle and her circles who will take that one.”

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For more from Garbus on I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, working with Oswalt after his wife’s death and how the arrest changed her series, listen to the full podcast above. Subscribe on iTunes for more exclusive TV news and interviews.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark premieres on HBO Sunday, June 28, at 10 p.m. ET. Additionally, HBO will release a companion podcast, debuting after the docuseries premieres.

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