Northern Ireland news

Acclaimed US author Michelle McNamara 'sexually assaulted' while working in Belfast claims HBO documentary

Michelle McNamara wrote `I'll be Gone in the Dark' about the rapist and killer she dubbed the Golden State Killer

THE author of an acclaimed true crime book credited with helping catch a notorious US serial killer was sexually assaulted during a brief period living in Belfast, a HBO documentary has revealed.

Michelle McNamara wrote I'll be Gone in the Dark about the rapist and killer she dubbed the Golden State Killer who was responsible for at least 50 rapes and 13 murders in California.

She died in 2016 and the book was completed posthumously using the detailed notes from her investigation.

On April 24 2018 HBO began filming a documentary based on the book - the same day Californian authorities arrested Joseph James DeAngelo at his home.

Her widower comedian Patton Oswalt claimed that authorities' use of the name Golden State Killer, coined by McNamara, was "proof of the impact of her work".

The documentary is now screening on Sky TV and a recent episode suggested that her interest in the case was linked to the author's own `long-standing personal trauma', opening with her recollection of a confusing and unwanted sexual encounter she had with a man in Northern Ireland in 1992.

Her diary entry records her distress saying "I let myself get drunk and fall into a trap. But with a married man with children? I did not want that to happen" and later on reassessing what happens as "Did he? Did he rape me?".

The avowedly Irish American writer later said the incident in "Belfast has driven itself within my bones" and that this connected her to the survivors in the GSK case because she to understood what it was like to live with such trauma.

In conversations with victims she tells them of her ordeal when, for one year after college, she worked in Northern Ireland.

She discusses it with Melanie (`The Social Worker') in one of the scenes, described by one critic as a "the kind of `what a shame' tone reserved for the unfortunate but unavoidable".

The book has been compared to Truman Capote's seminal work `In Cold Blood' and the documentary as `a high-water mark for a new kind of true-crime TV'.

Joseph James DeAngelo pleaded guilty to the murders and admitted dozens of sexual assaults on June 29 and last month was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

The same day Oswalt posted a picture of McNamara on Instagram saying: "TFW (that feeling when) the serial killer you helped catch is going to die in prison."

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