But Holy Shit- that man terrorized Northern California and the LA-area for years. I can’t imagine living through that time and the fear of living alone, being home alone or just being a woman when he was on his rape rampage with the span of a few years.
Everything I know about The Golden State Killer I learned since he was arrested, now just over a year ago. At first I just learned about the DNA methods they used to catch him. (If you’re not familiar, they basically used the genealogy mapping of 23 and Me to identify him.) I learned about the book written by Michelle McNamara, Patton Oswald’s late wife, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer. But my knowledge stopped there until I was desperate for a new podcast during one late night packing during a recent move. I browsed the True Crime section and stumbled across Man In The Window, an amazing podcast from The LA Times.
I love True Crime, and I’ve never really struggled with watching it or listening to it. I don’t know what it is about us as humans that sometimes we just want to know about the worst of the worst crimes out there. I think for me, somehow knowing that it exists makes me less afraid. The fear is often in the unknown.
However, I’ve never really thought about how this voyeuristic, true crime obsession we have could be damaging to victims. I can’t imagine being the family of Teresa Halbach, the woman murdered in Making a Murderer, and knowing that so many people were convinced of her convicted murderers’ innocence. I can’t imagine how the family and friends of Ted Bundy’s victims felt to see High School Musical Star portray the attractive man who savagely ended the lives of their loved ones. And because so many of The Golden State Killer’s rape victims are still alive, it could have felt especially icky to hear about their experiences and hear from their voices during Man In The Window Podcast.
Except this podcast was different. The narrator, Pulitzer Prize winner investigative reporter Paige St. John, does an incredible job at telling the stories of the women who participated while being so respectful to their pain, the deep buried shame they’ve carried for 40+ years and the fact that their wounds have been opened up in a public way since the arrest of their rapist.
St. John explains her process in the last episode of the podcast, but she intentionally let the women lead the story- this story of their attacker- in a way that felt okay to them. She and the victims share details, often extremely difficult to hear, in a way that isn’t gratuitous. It’s a feminist story. It’s told in a way to give the victims power over the Golden State Killer. And for someone whose crimes existed to take away the power of those he attacked, it’s the ultimate revenge.
Also it will be really awesome if California brought back the death penalty just for this asshole.