Jump to content
Forums forums
PRIMETIMER
saoirse

S01.E03: Rat in a Maze

Recommended Posts

In 1979, law enforcement is thrilled when the East Area Rapist (EAR) attacks abruptly stop in Northern California, but in reality, EAR has moved south to commit a number of gruesome murders in the Santa Barbara area, known as the "Original Night Stalker" series. The hunt for the perpetrator stalls due to lack of cooperation between jurisdictions and concerns of tarnishing the area's pristine image, leaving the community unaware of the predator in their midst.

Airing Sunday, July 12, 2020.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post

Aw, Patton's words of encouragement to Michelle at the end there :'). So bittersweet. Also, Alice is absolutely adorable. I loved her reaction to seeing her dad on the screen. 

Again, I don't blame Michelle for the anxiousness and fear that she felt as she continued to study this case. Some of the things she read and heard (that phone call, good lord...). Yeah. I might want to up my security around my home, too, after that. And as someone who likes to write, I also sympathize with her insecurities and stresses over that part of things, too. I both admire and am unnerved by her intense dedication to this case. It's sad to see some of the negative effects it and the writing are having on her. 

These stories about these couples are so tragic. And then the story of David Witthuhn. That poor man. I noticed that there does seem to be some similarities in terms of looks among many of his victims. And the fact he seems to keep targeting people in middle or upper class neighborhoods is interesting, too. Really drives home the whole thing of how suburbia isn't always as safe as one likes to think. 

And on that note, it's not surprising, but also incredibly infuriating, to hear the reasons about why people wanted to keep all these crimes out of the media. Yes, god forbid we do something that could've helped potentially get this guy on people's radar much sooner. We've got tourism and property values to think about! Much better to just let people move here and potentially discover the nasty surprise of a serial rapist/killer on their own, I guess. *Shakes head*

(It's also really creepy seeing the time frame these crimes are happening because I have relatives who lived in California during that time, and my parents lived there for a couple years in the early '80s, before I was born. That's rather...eesh to think about.)

Thank goodness for the eventual use of DNA. Better late than never, huh? 

  • Like 7

Share this post


Link to post

What a beautifully constructed episode -- the detectives and police personnel (hello, Mary Hong!) begin to gather enough evidence to be able to come to some conclusions, and the walls start closing in on Michelle. Even knowing the story, watching this is so evocative. Really uses all the elements documentary filmmaking can bring to the table so effectively.

  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post

When Michelle warned that woman not to read what she had written at night by herself, I have never felt so seen!

It was so sweet to see how supportive Patton was. It was already noticeable in the first episode when he said EAR/ONS which showed that this research wasn't just some little hobby that she had where he absently nodded whenever she started talking about it. He was obviously well versed in the terminology because he was a sounding board and a supportive partner

Hearing how much the police suppressed because they didn't want to work with other cities/departments and because there was an agreement not to publicize crime because it would affect the real estate value just made my blood boil. If some of these people hadn't been so selfish, some of the victims might be alive today.

I really felt for the husband who wasn't home. The increasingly horrifying levels of loss:

Level 1 - your wife dies

Level 2 - your wife is murdered

Level 3 - your wife is brutally murdered in the home where you laughed and cried and built a life together

Level 4 - your wife is brutally murdered at home and you would have been there if not for an extenuating circumstance (and let's be real - if he had been home that night, he would have been murdered too)

Level 5 - your wife is brutally murdered at home when you normally would have been there and the police make you a person of interest

Level 6 - your wife is brutally murdered at home when you normally would have been there and the police make you a person of interest for TWENTY YEARS because they can't come up with any other suspects

  • Like 2
  • Sad 7

Share this post


Link to post
45 minutes ago, ElectricBoogaloo said:

Level 6 - your wife is brutally murdered at home when you normally would have been there and the police make you a person of interest for TWENTY YEARS because they can't come up with any other suspects

And to add to your point about how some of these victims might be alive had people not been so selfish, had these crimes been publicized more, maybe that poor guy wouldn't have had to spend twenty years under a cloud of suspicion, either. 

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
10 hours ago, Annber03 said:

. That poor man. I noticed that there does seem to be some similarities in terms of looks among many of his victims. And the fact he seems to keep targeting people in middle or upper class neighborhoods is interesting, too. Really drives home the whole thing of how suburbia isn't always as safe as one likes to think. 

...

(It's also really creepy seeing the time frame these crimes are happening because I have relatives who lived in California during that time, and my parents lived there for a couple years in the early '80s, before I was born. That's rather...eesh to think about.)

I also noticed when they did a montage of the victims that the women resembled each other to a certain extent. There wasn't much variety. Points to something personal for him possibly.

I was living in California during that time...well, I've lived here all my life...and I don't really remember much about these cases. I was carefree at that time for the most part. It is criminal to me how certain jurisdictions (I'm looking at you, Santa Barbara) wanted to keep it all hush hush. Despicable.

  • Like 7

Share this post


Link to post

17 hours ago, Annber03 said:

Aw, Patton's words of encouragement to Michelle at the end there :'). So bittersweet. Also, Alice is absolutely adorable. I loved her reaction to seeing her dad on the screen. 

Again, I don't blame Michelle for the anxiousness and fear that she felt as she continued to study this case. Some of the things she read and heard (that phone call, good lord...). Yeah. I might want to up my security around my home, too, after that. And as someone who likes to write, I also sympathize with her insecurities and stresses over that part of things, too. I both admire and am unnerved by her intense dedication to this case. It's sad to see some of the negative effects it and the writing are having on her. 

These stories about these couples are so tragic. And then the story of David Witthuhn. That poor man. I noticed that there does seem to be some similarities in terms of looks among many of his victims. And the fact he seems to keep targeting people in middle or upper class neighborhoods is interesting, too. Really drives home the whole thing of how suburbia isn't always as safe as one likes to think. 

And on that note, it's not surprising, but also incredibly infuriating, to hear the reasons about why people wanted to keep all these crimes out of the media. Yes, god forbid we do something that could've helped potentially get this guy on people's radar much sooner. We've got tourism and property values to think about! Much better to just let people move here and potentially discover the nasty surprise of a serial rapist/killer on their own, I guess. *Shakes head*

(It's also really creepy seeing the time frame these crimes are happening because I have relatives who lived in California during that time, and my parents lived there for a couple years in the early '80s, before I was born. That's rather...eesh to think about.)

Thank goodness for the eventual use of DNA. Better late than never, huh? 

Well said. 

The stories of those couples are really tragic and the show is doing great job in giving the victims a voice.  You look at the pictures of them smiling and looking happy then you realize that they all died under the most violent of circumstances.  One thing I appreciate in the narrative is that the show IMO is not being overly sensational.  Yes the details of the crimes are horrific but I don't find the show is being sensational or exploitive in presenting what happened.  In the first episode, it was mentioned that in other types of shows reporting on true crime, you would get a re-enactment of the crime featuring an attractive woman being attacked.  I'm happy this series didn't go that route.

About the recording.  Damn creepy. To be honest, at first it sounded to me like a child or teenage boy's voice so I wondered if someone was playing a practical joke on one of the victims. But then I remembered he did this to a lot of the victims. Hope that POS rots in jail then rots in hell. 

  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
8 minutes ago, Thomas Crown said:

One thing I appreciate in the narrative is that the show IMO is not being overly sensational.  Yes the details of the crimes are horrific but I don't find the show is being sensational or exploitive in presenting what happened.  In the first episode, it was mentioned that in other types of shows reporting on true crime, you would get a re-enactment of the crime featuring an attractive woman being attacked.  I'm happy this series didn't go that route.

Agreed. It's very matter-of-fact, and what's more, in the case of the rapes, they allowed the women to tell their stories in an honest, unflinching manner. Just the facts laid out in a stark manner, which really drives home just how horrific and creepy this guy was. Even the fact that he went under the radar for so long, they're not using that to give him some kind of romanticized mystique the way the media often does with other serial killers. In his case, the reason he got by with his crimes for so long was more due to the selfishness and incompetence of the investigators. And I really appreciate how they're highlighting that part of things, too. Given all the current discussion regarding the criticism of law enforcement, this story's rather timely in that regard, as a lot of those kinds of issues sadly still go on in investigations even now. 

Quote

About the recording.  Damn creepy. To be honest, at first it sounded to me like a child or teenage boy's voice so I wondered if someone was playing a practical joke on one of the victims. But then I remembered he did this to a lot of the victims. Hope that POS rots in jail then rots in hell. 

Sadly, it wouldn't surprise me if someone did make a cruel prank out of it at some point, because some people are shitty that way.

But yeah, hearing that reminded me of a show I saw once about another serial killer named James DeBardeleben. He kept his victims captive and tortured them, and he would record the torture sessions. They played snippets of his recordings in that episode, and there was a lot they had to cut out on the victim's end, out of respect to them and their loved ones, because it was so horrific. Which is saying something, 'cause the bits they did play, with the guy taunting his victims, was pretty damn disturbing as it was. The investigators who had to listen to those tapes looked pretty haunted just recalling what they had to listen to. 

There's some sick, sick people out there :/. 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post

I confess I felt some mild irritation with Michelle. I guess there are two kinds of writers. Those who get freaked out by deadlines, and those who get motivated by them. I'm very much the second kind. Nothing gives me more creative energy than knowing somebody out there actually wants my work. So it's very hard for me to understand feeling the opposite. But I realize she had her own brand of demons.

My irritation was probably accentuated by the fact that I read her book, and liked the part she actually finished. The whole book could have been that good, if she'd written all of it and not half of it. And the book could have been great, not just good, if she'd finished a first draft and then completed a second draft to get it into the shape it ought to have been. (It's a bit diffuse even within the portion she wrote. I had not the slightest doubt that she could have solved that.) The 18 months her publisher gave her should have been enough time.

I'm sure I sound awful.  

Edited by Milburn Stone
  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
1 hour ago, Milburn Stone said:

The 18 months her publisher gave her should have been enough time.

I'm sure I sound awful.  

As someone who does not write at all, you don't sound awful to me. 18 months sounds like plenty of time to me because she wasn't starting from scratch, she had already written the magazine article & done a ton of research. The book should have been an expansion of the work she had already done. I really don't understand what was holding her back. 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
3 hours ago, GaT said:

I really don't understand what was holding her back. 

For some people, creative pursuits are a complicated intertwining of enjoyment and abject terror. It sounded like she was a very self-critical person, and a perfectionist which can make consistent output difficult at times. I also can't help but wonder that the praise heaped upon her LA Magazine article may have placed an added layer of pressure on her. And then factor in the horrific subject matter she was dealing with and the psychological effects it would have on a person. She wasn't just banging out an extended re-tread of her article - it sounded like the investigation was a constantly changing series of new rabbit holes.

As someone who is a notorious procrastinator, I feel like I understand where she was coming from 100%. It's often when you're at about the half-way mark or just past it that you feel like you're losing your way, you second-guess everything and it seems like you will never get to the finish line. You just want it OVER, but completion feels a million miles away.

So much sad stuff in this episode, but it was so well done. I've been most impressed with this series so far.

 

  • Like 10

Share this post


Link to post
2 hours ago, Cheezwiz said:

For some people, creative pursuits are a complicated intertwining of enjoyment and abject terror. It sounded like she was a very self-critical person, and a perfectionist which can make consistent output difficult at times. I also can't help but wonder that the praise heaped upon her LA Magazine article may have placed an added layer of pressure on her. And then factor in the horrific subject matter she was dealing with and the psychological effects it would have on a person. She wasn't just banging out an extended re-tread of her article - it sounded like the investigation was a constantly changing series of new rabbit holes.

As someone who is a notorious procrastinator, I feel like I understand where she was coming from 100%. It's often when you're at about the half-way mark or just past it that you feel like you're losing your way, you second-guess everything and it seems like you will never get to the finish line. You just want it OVER, but completion feels a million miles away.

So much sad stuff in this episode, but it was so well done. I've been most impressed with this series so far.

On top of all that, it's one thing to have a blog (which just about everyone had back then) where you have no editor and you can write whatever you want, wander off on tangents, and not worry about if what you wrote was too long or not long enough. It's another thing to write an entire book which has to have a logical structure/flow, stay on topic, etc. I'm not saying that she wasn't capable of those things, just that it's another thing to be able to sit down and write whatever you want when you feel like it (for example, here on the forum) as opposed to putting together a book that has a beginning and an end, puts together the pieces of a very complicated puzzle, and has deadlines.

And since she was writing her book before the guy was actually arrested, she probably wasn't sure how to end the book. Ideally when you write a book about a serial killer, you want the end of the book to be "they caught him, he had a trial, and now he's in prison," but she died in April 2016. Two months later, the FBI officially released more information about the case and offered a reward. He still wasn't arrested until two years later. Given that she still didn't know his real identity at the time that she died, I'm guessing it was a struggle to find a way to end the book. I mean, you can't just stop the narrative where you found the last piece of evidence and write, "Welp, hope someone figures out who this fucker is eventually!"

Even though I never had an issue writing my papers for high school or college (content-wise, that is), I was ALWAYS a procrastinator. No matter how much research I did beforehand, I always ended up writing the actual paper the night before it was due. I remember when I was an undergrad, one of my friends asked if I would proof read his paper. He gave it to me like two weeks before it was due and I was like WHO DOES THAT?! Given that, I can understand any bit of procrastination from Michelle.

  • Like 12

Share this post


Link to post

I appreciate the posts that are more empathetic to Michelle, despite that I find my own empathy for her paralysis to be limited. I have an intellectual empathy for her, without really being able to put myself in her shoes. Mind you, I am not immune to procrastination in a creative project! But mine is the polar opposite of hers. I procrastinate when I get those deadly thoughts, "Oh, who really would be interested in this drivel, anyway?" Procrastination never rears its ugly head when I can feel the encouragement of people waiting for my work on the other side, eager to experience it. In those cases, thoughts about "is it good enough?" (which of course occur) just make me work harder and faster to make it good enough.

I wonder if her publisher moved the deadline sooner by a month, towards the end, because they were getting frustrated by not seeing anything from her, were getting tired of her excuses, and thought lighting a fire under her would get her off her ass. Maybe they didn't really expect her to make the new deadline. Maybe they just wanted to see something.

I also wonder if the drugs (Ambien and whatever else, if anything) were counter-productive.

As I say, I might not feel any of this investment in her problem if I hadn't read the book and been ticked off (worthy as the book was) by how good it could have been. I didn't care about me. I wanted her to be better for her. So I guess I do have empathy.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post

It seemed like the doc was implying that a lot of Michele’s problem related to imposter syndrome and self-doubt stemming from her relationship with her mother. Her mother’s criticisms scarred her deeply, and in some way made her believe she wasn’t necessarily worthy of the book deal or that it really was “too late”. Her procrastination seemed to be more about her struggle with whether the book could ever be good enough (and probably subconsciously whether her mother would think it was good enough). I think it’s very hard to understand if you haven’t had that kind of parental relationship. 

Coming back to what we know about Michele’s death and the stress of researching this monster and the paranoia it caused, on top of trying to write her book, I couldn’t help but think that in some ways, she was killed by the Golden State killer too. 

  • Like 4
  • Sad 4

Share this post


Link to post

I thought it was interesting that the show is laying the groundwork for Michelle's death by bringing up her prescriptions; I wasn't sure how it would handle that, particularly with Patton being an executive producer. Also, her dad's message about wanting to live another 12 months so he could see the book--and he died in 2014, I think. So Michelle was probably quite a bit behind her deadline.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
On ‎7‎/‎13‎/‎2020 at 8:55 AM, carrps said:

I was living in California during that time...well, I've lived here all my life...and I don't really remember much about these cases. I was carefree at that time for the most part. It is criminal to me how certain jurisdictions (I'm looking at you, Santa Barbara) wanted to keep it all hush hush. Despicable.

I lived in Santa Barbara/Goleta in the mid 80's and I never heard anything about the murders.  My brother still lives there, and for about 20 years in the 90' and into the 2000's his house bordered county land right on the San Jose Creek where the GSK accessed this neighborhood (the actual murder locations were just blocks from his house).  Although some time had passed since the murders, he also had never heard anything about it until I told him I saw his former house on another GSK documentary!

  • Surprise 6

Share this post


Link to post

This was easily the hardest episode for me to watch. First of all, that phone call has haunted me since I watched this maybe 2 days ago. So unbelievably creepy. 

But I think the introduction of evidence into how this case and this research ultimately killed Michelle really came through in this episode. And that was not made any easier by the copious footage of Alice. 😞 

 

  • Sad 3

Share this post


Link to post

The groundwork laid for the relationship between Michelle and her father was so well done that I immediately burst into tears when they showed his dates of birth and death. I'm glad we live in a digital age where things like photos, voicemails, and videos exist. What a tragedy for the McNamara family. Mother and father gone, which is natural but still difficult, but then the youngest sibling dies young. Horrible.

I follow both Patton and Meredith Salenger, his new wife, on Instagram, and it very much seems like she helped them heal and feel happy again. Alice is growing into a lovely young woman.

Edited by EarlGreyTea
  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...

Customize font-size