Late crime writers' influence lives on

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By Michael Romain

Staff Reporter

The posthumous recognition for Oak Park and River Forest High School graduate Michelle McNamara continues. The now-famous author and crime blogger was among three nominees selected to receive OPRF's Tradition of Excellence Award. 

The award, established by the Class of 1982, is given each year to alumni "who have made outstanding contributions to society through their personal and professional pursuits," according to the award's web page. 

McNamara, who died in 2016, started writing articles about a serial killer, rapist and burglar who was active in California from 1974 to 1986. McNamara coined the term, Golden State Killer, to refer to the suspect, and wrote a true crime book, I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer, which was published in February and is currently being adapted into a documentary series by HBO.

In April, authorities captured Joseph James DeAngelo, whom they suspect is the Golden State Killer. McNamara's widower, Patton Oswalt, said his late wife's work helped lead to DeAngelo's arrest. 

  According to OPRF officials, McNamara worked on the school newspaper, Trapeze, when she attended OPRF. She said she became interested in true crime stories because of the case of an Oak Park woman who was murdered when the author was 14. 

The other two Tradition of Excellence nominees, whom the D200 school board approved at a regular meeting on May 24, are influential architect Alvin Holm and Paul Roach, a board-certified surgeon. 

Michael Romain 


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