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S01.E04: The Motherlode

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Michelle and her editors agree to push her book deadline after being granted access to the Orange County Sheriff's Department's East Area Rapist / Original Night Stalker (EAR/ONS) room. Poring over 37 boxes of files now occupying her daughter's playroom, Michelle and her researcher Paul Haynes explore the case of the "Visalia Ransacker," the perpetrator of a string of burglaries in the early '70s bearing striking similarities to EAR.

Airing Sunday, July 19, 2020.

 

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They devoted a good amount of time to getting police files, montages of boxes of files.

If not for the fact that the perpetrator agreed to a plea deal as this series started to air, this would be tough to watch at times.

Internet detective work just doesn’t translate well to film or TV sometimes, though apparently McNamara documented a lot and kept old phone messages, some cell phone videos and the like.  Almost as if she was saving material for a documentary of her own.

So one more episode after this one?  Should be he payoff.

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A friend of mine played AAA baseball in Visalia and my brother actually went there to visit! He said it wasn’t very exciting.

I appreciate the recordings because we can get a general sense of Michelle’s empathy. The brother-in-law of the victim who ended up seeing his own father’s suicide photos as a part of his job training ... My God.

I am surprised, in a good way, by how they aren’t completely sugarcoating the way Michelle was self-medicating (Adderall to work, benzos to sleep). I feel for her that her nightmares were getting so bad that she was almost afraid to sleep like in a Freddy Krueger film. 

Spoiler

I believe they later found fentanyl in her system, and that wasn’t mentioned here.

 

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They dragged this out more than necessary, I feel like way too much time was spent on how Michelle couldn't finish the book & how it affected her life.

Spoiler

Judging from her texts it's not surprising she OD'd.

 

Edited by GaT
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3 hours ago, scrb said:

They devoted a good amount of time to getting police files, montages of boxes of files.

If not for the fact that the perpetrator agreed to a plea deal as this series started to air, this would be tough to watch at times.

Internet detective work just doesn’t translate well to film or TV sometimes, though apparently McNamara documented a lot and kept old phone messages, some cell phone videos and the like.  Almost as if she was saving material for a documentary of her own.

So one more episode after this one?  Should be he payoff.

Two more episodes.

I'm something of a perfectionist myself (but in a good way, lol), and I think I would have felt simultaneously excited and thrilled, and almost defeated before I could start, at getting all those boxes of evidence. (It seemed like she was going through it all herself, without any help from Paul?) Michelle also had the trait of feeling compelled to follow every lead. How could that not have been overwhelming?

Thought her editors came across as very compassionate, but I also felt like there was an undertone with them and the friend that they felt that by not doing more  (that they couldn't necessarily have known at the time),

Spoiler

they had not been able to prevent her death.

I wondered if/how this would handle Patton finding her. Very sensitively done. Still heartbreaking.

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While I knew what happened to Michelle, and have been waiting for it to play out, last night was a major gut punch. I never met her in person, but I was Facebook friends with Michelle through interactions in online political groups. It is horrific to see everything she was dealing with at the time. I think the documentary handled it well. 

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I was shocked that the police gave Michelle all of those files to take home and review at her leisure. As exciting as it was for her to have access to so much information, it must have also been really overwhelming to have so much paperwork to go through one page at a time.

I was not at all surprised when the victim from last week said that her husband's attitude was that they had to move forward and move on. Translation: let's not talk about your rape anymore.

And again, it's all about him. He admitted that what she went through was terrible but then he said the bad part was that he couldn't do anything about it. No, I think the bad part was that it happened. I already had enough of his guilt outweighing her trauma last week and I was not here for more of it.

OMG, I know it's a small world and all, but hearing Drew say that a cop inadvertently showed him a picture of his own father's suicide scene made me gasp. I can't imagine seeing that.

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1 hour ago, ElectricBoogaloo said:

I was shocked that the police gave Michelle all of those files to take home and review at her leisure. As exciting as it was for her to have access to so much information, it must have also been really overwhelming to have so much paperwork to go through one page at a time.

I was not at all surprised when the victim from last week said that her husband's attitude was that they had to move forward and move on. Translation: let's not talk about your rape anymore.

And again, it's all about him. He admitted that what she went through was terrible but then he said the bad part was that he couldn't do anything about it. No, I think the bad part was that it happened. I already had enough of his guilt outweighing her trauma last week and I was not here for more of it.

OMG, I know it's a small world and all, but hearing Drew say that a cop inadvertently showed him a picture of his own father's suicide scene made me gasp. I can't imagine seeing that.

My daughter and I faced an intruder into her house in the middle of the night a few years ago when she was living in Africa. The flashlight in the eyes, the screaming, and being unable to get to her to stop this intruder from struggling with her were terrifying.  Fortunately, he ran away, and we were not physically harmed. But I will say that for me, not being able stop him WAS HORRIBLE for ME, and also having no one acknowledge that I went through something, was also horrible. I said nothing to my daughter other than how proud I was of her for being so brave to fight him off, and she said my screaming helped, but I totally sympathized with the man in this episode. That feeling of absolute helplessness is godawful and there is no way to assuage it. Of course his wife's rape was awful. So was his experience. 

I didn't get the idea he was trying to minimize her pain and suffering.  I got the idea he was trying to help her have a full life in spite of the horror. Maybe, with the poor tools people had back then to face these kinds of traumas, he did the best he could. They had four children, she looked happy in some of those pictures. I don't know. I didn't think it was all about HIM, I think he was trying to make it about the marriage and how do WE survive this? Maybe he should have left her?

 

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16 hours ago, JakeyJokes said:

A friend of mine played AAA baseball in Visalia and my brother actually went there to visit! He said it wasn’t very exciting.

I appreciate the recordings because we can get a general sense of Michelle’s empathy. The brother-in-law of the victim who ended up seeing his own father’s suicide photos as a part of his job training ... My God.

My cousin married a girl from Visalia, and I went up for the wedding. It was definitely a farm town (and my new cousin-in-law's family owned a fruit tree farm). It felt very bucolic. I'm not sure of the timing, but it could have been around the time of the Visalia Whatever-They-Called-Him.

I felt for that guy who saw the police photos of his dad's suicide. He was a brother of the one "who was a suspect for 20 years." What a lot of tragedy in that family.

I'm glad they save Michelle's death for the very end of the episode. Even knowing it was coming, it was hard to deal with.

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When the brother said that there were no crime scene clean up companies back then and how it was left to family/friends to wipe blood off walls and scrub out of carpets, I just shook my head in disbelief. How he and his fiancee took on the task of spending hours cleaning off his sister-in-law's blood off the bed frame and such, that would be such a trauma by itself.  Even in the case of a murder, it appeared there were few resources for people to use to help them.  I was so relieved when the wife of the couple interviewed said she wasn't diagnosed with PTSD until she went to therapy, it was like finally! someone was mentioning THERAPY.  I also found it interesting that both seemed very career oriented and after the home invasion and rape, they were both so fundamentally changed by it that their course altered entirely. Yet it makes complete sense, as Michelle described it, it doesn't just hurt and traumatize YOU, it destroys your world because the attacks happened in the home.  So tragic, but also so interesting.

The last victim, Janelle Cruz, was just a haunting story. Not only what the GSK did to her, but how a few years earlier she had been raped at a sleepover by the other girl's father and how it had never been reported.  I wonder if anything ever came of that. Probably nothing.

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Michelle's death was incredibly sad, but sensitively handled in this episode. I can only imagine what kind of nightmares she must have been having  from reviewing all those boxes of police files. It must have been terribly difficult for Patton to relive all of this in order to produce the show. That sounded like a recording of his actual 911 call. Just gut-wrenching. Loved her "Letter to An Old Man".

So much trauma for the victims - the cop's story about cleaning up the murder scene and earlier in his career being inadvertently being shown his father's suicide scene photos. Unbelievable. That poor man and his family.

I found it uncomfortable to watch the interview with the surviving couple. They clearly loved each other, and managed to build a life together, but the husband was just so shut down, and still didn't seem to have any way of processing his trauma. 

And it was interesting that the haunting story of the last victim provided an entry point for both Melanie & Michelle to reveal that they had both been assaulted. I initially misunderstood the beginning of the episode, and thought Michelle had simply had a regrettable one night stand with her boss that caused her to return home. And I think what Melanie was getting at in their conversation had some truth - those who commit assault seem to have a sixth sense for particularly vulnerable people who have already been victimized.

Because I wanted to finish watching the series, I haven't delved into the details of the case yet. I'm curious to know if the GSK was the Visalia Ransacker, and am also curious to know why he seemed to stop for a few years before his final victim. Was he jailed? Operating elsewhere? I'm hoping the show will return to these questions again.

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The "Letter to an Old Man" is the only part of the episode I might call shenanigans on; it was made to look like the last thing Michelle wrote before going to bed that night, and I'm not sure that's the case. I'll give it a pass, though; it's certainly powerfully and beautifully crafted. Dramatic license and all that.

I too initially misread Michelle's encounter as a bad date with her boss 😟

Someday I will read the original magazine article Michelle wrote ("In the Footsteps of a Killer"), if only to read more of her work.

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17 hours ago, cardigirl said:

I didn't get the idea he was trying to minimize her pain and suffering.  I got the idea he was trying to help her have a full life in spite of the horror. Maybe, with the poor tools people had back then to face these kinds of traumas, he did the best he could. They had four children, she looked happy in some of those pictures. I don't know. I didn't think it was all about HIM, I think he was trying to make it about the marriage and how do WE survive this? Maybe he should have left her?

I explained last week why her husband's attitude bothered me so much. I don't think it would do much good to repeat it. To me it was obvious from their first apperance that she had gone to therapy and worked her way through the trauma but he had not.

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59 minutes ago, ElectricBoogaloo said:

I explained last week why her husband's attitude bothered me so much. I don't think it would do much good to repeat it. To me it was obvious from their first apperance that she had gone to therapy and worked her way through the trauma but he had not.

Quote

I had similar issues with the husband who said he had blocked out all the details. Look, I get that he feels guilty because he was unable to stop this from happening to his wife. That's normal and I don't judge him for that. But the fact that this is obviously all about HIS feelings (as evidenced by her trying to comfort him by saying that there was nothing he could have done and holding his hand) made me so sad that this poor woman not only has her own trauma to deal with but his as well. Like it's not enough that she was raped in her own home but she has to keep making HIM feel better about it. FFS.

I went back and found your post.  Which was from the second week, where they were showing all the videos from the authorities trying to suggest to women ways to protect themselves from being raped, because they misunderstood and thought rape was a crime about sex, rather than about control and power.

I agree with you, the attitudes about rape and how women were treated then are maddening to watch. Lives were destroyed by this one madman. This couple were able to move on, somehow, and build a life. Less career-oriented perhaps, but move forward they did. 

I think the attitudes about rape definitely hindered the capture of this maniac.  It wasn't until he started murdering people (men) that I think it got serious.

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I wish that instead of just asking for a deadline delay on her book that Michelle had just told her publisher that the book isn’t happening. It’s clear that her passion was solving the case and that the book was both a distraction from doing that and an added time pressure on her. Without the book looming over her, she could have gone through those boxes at her own pace instead of what she was doing because she obviously felt terribly pressured to get through it all thoroughly but quickly. Unfortunately, if she had backed out of the book deal, she probably would have felt like a failure since publishing a book was a longtime dream. But the reality is, she wasn’t an author. She was an investigator who had a talent for writing well about her findings. Her heart was in solving the case, not the book. 
 

I’ve had a hard time finding info about what Michelle McNamara did for a career before starting her true crime blog (and the documentary doesn’t really talk about this). Does anyone here happen to know? 

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10 hours ago, marny said:

I wish that instead of just asking for a deadline delay on her book that Michelle had just told her publisher that the book isn’t happening. It’s clear that her passion was solving the case and that the book was both a distraction from doing that and an added time pressure on her. Without the book looming over her, she could have gone through those boxes at her own pace instead of what she was doing because she obviously felt terribly pressured to get through it all thoroughly but quickly. Unfortunately, if she had backed out of the book deal, she probably would have felt like a failure since publishing a book was a longtime dream. But the reality is, she wasn’t an author. She was an investigator who had a talent for writing well about her findings. Her heart was in solving the case, not the book. 

You could be speaking for me when you write this. The episode intensified my ambivalence about Michelle. She had talent as a writer. But ultimately, she didn't want to finish the book because a finished book can be judged by people, and she was terrified of that judgment.

In that whole section when she flew to NY to beg her publisher for more time? I thought, "Yeah, that's what a writer says when she doesn't want to write the book." Deciding that poring through 39 banker boxes is a better use of your time than writing your book is also what a writer does when she doesn't want to write the book.

The editor for the publishing house who spoke on camera about how excited they all were for Michelle's new find, and how no-brainer their decision was to give her more time? I call bullshit. That's what someone says on camera in order to sell themselves as compassionate, especially when you're talking about a writer who self-destructed. What that editor and her colleagues were really thinking in that meeting, even if they didn't say so to Michelle? "We're never going to see this book, are we?" You know there was pushback to Michelle in that meeting, even if they ultimately acceded to her request. We're just not going to know about it, because it wouldn't be flattering.

There is another interpretation which I can sympathize with. Michelle wanted her book to be not just good, but sensational. She thought with a little more time and investigation, she could make it sensational. I see that possibility, which is why I say I'm ambivalent, as opposed to certain. But my gut is with the first interpretation.

Edited by Milburn Stone
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14 hours ago, Vella said:

When the brother said that there were no crime scene clean up companies back then and how it was left to family/friends to wipe blood off walls and scrub out of carpets, I just shook my head in disbelief. How he and his fiancee took on the task of spending hours cleaning off his sister-in-law's blood off the bed frame and such, that would be such a trauma by itself.  Even in the case of a murder, it appeared there were few resources for people to use to help them.  I was so relieved when the wife of the couple interviewed said she wasn't diagnosed with PTSD until she went to therapy, it was like finally! someone was mentioning THERAPY.  I also found it interesting that both seemed very career oriented and after the home invasion and rape, they were both so fundamentally changed by it that their course altered entirely. Yet it makes complete sense, as Michelle described it, it doesn't just hurt and traumatize YOU, it destroys your world because the attacks happened in the home.  So tragic, but also so interesting.

The last victim, Janelle Cruz, was just a haunting story. Not only what the GSK did to her, but how a few years earlier she had been raped at a sleepover by the other girl's father and how it had never been reported.  I wonder if anything ever came of that. Probably nothing.

I just kept thinking. Why clean? Throw it out. Is he going to actually live there still, let alone sleep in that bed?!

2 hours ago, marny said:

I wish that instead of just asking for a deadline delay on her book that Michelle had just told her publisher that the book isn’t happening. It’s clear that her passion was solving the case and that the book was both a distraction from doing that and an added time pressure on her. Without the book looming over her, she could have gone through those boxes at her own pace instead of what she was doing because she obviously felt terribly pressured to get through it all thoroughly but quickly. Unfortunately, if she had backed out of the book deal, she probably would have felt like a failure since publishing a book was a longtime dream. But the reality is, she wasn’t an author. She was an investigator who had a talent for writing well about her findings. Her heart was in solving the case, not the book. 
 

I’ve had a hard time finding info about what Michelle McNamara did for a career before starting her true crime blog (and the documentary doesn’t really talk about this). Does anyone here happen to know? 

And it's obvious she had  a drug problem. I wish we knew more about her life also. Something just feels off to me. Also seems like she had little regard or time for her husband and child. 

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17 minutes ago, chediavolo said:

Also seems like she had little regard or time for her husband and child. 

My husband and I were talking about this last night after the episode. I think one of the reasons Patton was so accepting of her spending all of her time on the case instead of with the family has to do with the fact that presumably Patton is gone for large chunks of time for his job. He is out on tour regularly, he's constantly shooting movies and TV shows where he works long hours away from his family (and sometimes away on location), but it's accepted because it's his job. For Michelle, especially once she had the book deal, spending all her time on the case became her job. And so it was harder for him to criticize her absence when he himself likely was absent a lot for his job. 

But also, I am sure she loved her family dearly, she just became consumed. 

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5 hours ago, chediavolo said:

And it's obvious she had  a drug problem. I wish we knew more about her life also. Something just feels off to me. Also seems like she had little regard or time for her husband and child. 

I think she was somewhat of a perfectionist and this project did consume her, but I have questions about the project, and indeed, all true crime writing and podcasting. I have a number of younger, female co-workers who are very enamored of true crime murder shows/podcasts/books/movies and they cannot seem to get enough of them. I don't understand it. Serial killers scare me.

 I'm not sure if Michelle falls in this category of semi-worshipping the serial killer or being entertained by the information, but she certainly enjoyed the process of researching and finding out as much detail as she could about this person. She took pride in her discoveries and in her ability to be able to put the puzzle together, to be more talented at this above all others. 

I think what set her apart, and this has been mentioned by others, is that she developed a good rapport with the survivors, making them feel safe in telling their stories to her. And she was sharing, towards the end, her discoveries with other investigators. But, in the end, when she felt like she could possible SOLVE the mystery, she became obsessed. 

It's very sad that she wasn't able to pull back and take better care of her health, especially with a young daughter to raise.

Spoiler
 
 
 
Spoiler

According to reports, Michelle had an undiagnosed heart condition and that, along with several prescription drugs including fentanyl (which also did in Prince and Tom Petty), were found in her system. Fentanyl is a dangerous opioid, and I give the docuseries credit that they left those texts in there about her asking for drugs. It certainly looks like she was not using them wisely. 

 

Edited by cardigirl
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11 hours ago, FoundTime said:

I too initially misread Michelle's encounter as a bad date with her boss

 

Me, too. But I think that was intentional. It was showing her working toward realizing it wasn't consensual.

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8 hours ago, chediavolo said:

 

And it's obvious she had  a drug problem. I wish we knew more about her life also. Something just feels off to me. Also seems like she had little regard or time for her husband and child. 

I wonder if Patton ever said anything to her about the drugs. (Not that I blame him in any way.) But in one text (either this week or last week’s episode), she asked him to get some of his mom’s Percocet. For me, that would be a red flag. 

~~~~~~

I never got the idea she didn’t want to finish the book. More like she couldn’t find an ending place because she kept finding all this new info. I do feel bad because I think she was very close, with the DNA & genealogy thing which is how they ultimately caught him.  

 

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Probably the worst thing that could have happened to Michelle was getting the article published in Los Angeles magazine. It was a good article! Because Michelle was a good writer with a story to tell. But she didn't necessarily have a book in her, and the idea to write one never occurred to her until the literary agent called her and said, "If you turn this into a book, I'll represent you." That was too tempting to turn down, and she started to think "If I could write an article, I could write a book," and she had something to prove to her mother; but it turned out to be a devil's bargain. @marny is right, I think, when she says Michelle could have been very happy devoting all her time to the investigation.

 

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On 7/20/2020 at 1:54 AM, scrb said:

They devoted a good amount of time to getting police files, montages of boxes of files.

If not for the fact that the perpetrator agreed to a plea deal as this series started to air, this would be tough to watch at times.

Internet detective work just doesn’t translate well to film or TV sometimes, though apparently McNamara documented a lot and kept old phone messages, some cell phone videos and the like.  Almost as if she was saving material for a documentary of her own.

So one more episode after this one?  Should be he payoff.

Orange County could have potentially jeopardized the case by giving those boxes to Michelle. The chain of custody for that evidence was totally destroyed when Michelle and whatshisface got those boxes. 

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Could it be that Patton overlooked the things Michelle was into because he was still the moonstruck schlub still awestruck that the greatest girl in the world chose him?

Did he try to confront her about the drug use?  If she was using heavily, she might have been slipping in taking care of the child and other things when he was on the road.

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7 hours ago, cardigirl said:

I think she was somewhat of a perfectionist and this project did consume her, but I have questions about the project, and indeed, all true crime writing and podcasting. I have a number of younger, female co-workers who are very enamored of true crime murder shows/podcasts/books/movies and they cannot seem to get enough of them. I don't understand it. Serial killers scare me.

I'm sure everybody has their own reasons for liking true crime or some true crime, but I assume one reason why it's usually so popular with women is it's a way of dealing with fear in a controlled way, same as horror movies. That's reflected in how omnipresent the threat of rape is throughout the show.

That's reductive, but since we're talking about a really popular phenomenon I feel like there's something simple that ties everyone's individual things together. Plus in her case she seemed to have been drawn to the unsolved case. There have been just a few true crime cases that I've really gotten into researching and they all just have some really mysterious mystery at the center.

But beyond that it's just impossible to explain why somebody likes something that somebody else doesn't like. It seems easy for me to understand why her research here would be really rewarding and addictive even while it was driving her crazy.

Confession: I knew she'd died before finishing the book, but I got it in my head that she'd been sick and knew she was dying. So the whole time they were mentioning her drug use I kept thinking it was leading up to her discovering that the real problem was cancer. Even after the 911 call it took me a few seconds to let go of the idea and accept she died this way.

1 hour ago, Tdoc72 said:

I never got the idea she didn’t want to finish the book. More like she couldn’t find an ending place because she kept finding all this new info. I do feel bad because I think she was very close, with the DNA & genealogy thing which is how they ultimately caught him.  

Yeah, that's what I assumed. If she felt like she was getting close it would be hard to let go of it feeling like the solution was right around the corner.

13 minutes ago, scrb said:

Did he try to confront her about the drug use?  If she was using heavily, she might have been slipping in taking care of the child and other things when he was on the road.

As a comic he might be very familiar with people using stuff like this at times. From the texts it seems like he saw her as operating within the normal range of obsessed creator deep into a project.

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1 hour ago, Veronica said:

Orange County could have potentially jeopardized the case by giving those boxes to Michelle. The chain of custody for that evidence was totally destroyed when Michelle and whatshisface got those boxes. 

If there was actual physical evidence in any of those boxes (which is doubtful) the chain of custody was broken a long time ago, where any random person working in that building could access it. 

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1 hour ago, sistermagpie said:

I'm sure everybody has their own reasons for liking true crime or some true crime, but I assume one reason why it's usually so popular with women is it's a way of dealing with fear in a controlled way, same as horror movies. That's reflected in how omnipresent the threat of rape is throughout the show.

That's reductive, but since we're talking about a really popular phenomenon I feel like there's something simple that ties everyone's individual things together. Plus in her case she seemed to have been drawn to the unsolved case. There have been just a few true crime cases that I've really gotten into researching and they all just have some really mysterious mystery at the center.

But beyond that it's just impossible to explain why somebody likes something that somebody else doesn't like. It seems easy for me to understand why her research here would be really rewarding and addictive even while it was driving her crazy.

Those are good points. It is just so prevalent among the mid-20 something's I work with, I wonder at the fascination and that it is almost universal.

I debated with myself for a long time about watching this show, as it is making it tough to sleep at night. 

Edited by cardigirl
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17 hours ago, sistermagpie said:

As a comic he might be very familiar with people using stuff like this at times. From the texts it seems like he saw her as operating within the normal range of obsessed creator deep into a project.

That was my assumption too. As an actor who works in Hollywood AND who has been a standup comic since the 80s, he has probably seen a lot of rampant drug use so in comparison, what Michelle was doing probably seemed mild, reasonable, and under control.

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17 hours ago, SimonSeymour said:

If there was actual physical evidence in any of those boxes (which is doubtful) the chain of custody was broken a long time ago, where any random person working in that building could access it. 

It looked like each box contained the “murder books” which are basically binders full of reports and notes. I do find it weird that they let her take them instead of just allowing her to come every day and read them and take notes. 

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9 minutes ago, CountryGirl said:

It struck me, watching this, and not for the first time, that Michelle was the GSK's final victim. 

Why would you say that? Michelle was voluntarily researching the crimes long after they were committed. Drug addicts kill themselves.

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1 hour ago, Tdoc72 said:

It looked like each box contained the “murder books” which are basically binders full of reports and notes. I do find it weird that they let her take them instead of just allowing her to come every day and read them and take notes. 

Or let her make copies. But, yeah, letting her just take them is unusual. 

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18 minutes ago, UnknownK said:

Why would you say that? Michelle was voluntarily researching the crimes long after they were committed. Drug addicts kill themselves.

It's just a feeling I had as I read the book and while watching the show. It became all-consuming and she was self-medicating to cope with the stress of not just finishing the book, but also her drive to see a killer caught. 

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8 minutes ago, CountryGirl said:

It's just a feeling I had as I read the book and while watching the show. It became all-consuming and she was self-medicating to cope with the stress of not just finishing the book, but also her drive to see a killer caught. 

Just multiple addictions one feeding the other.

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19 hours ago, scrb said:

Could it be that Patton overlooked the things Michelle was into because he was still the moonstruck schlub still awestruck that the greatest girl in the world chose him?

Did he try to confront her about the drug use?  If she was using heavily, she might have been slipping in taking care of the child and other things when he was on the road.

He really did seem to put her too high on a pedestal and overlooked things that were probably clear. Like asking for her mothers prescription. 

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21 hours ago, Tdoc72 said:

I wonder if Patton ever said anything to her about the drugs. (Not that I blame him in any way.) But in one text (either this week or last week’s episode), she asked him to get some of his mom’s Percocet. For me, that would be a red flag. 

 

 

You would think so!  I am also wondering how she got a hold of the fentanyl.

 

19 hours ago, scrb said:

 

Did he try to confront her about the drug use?  If she was using heavily, she might have been slipping in taking care of the child and other things when he was on the road.

You would be amazed at how well most "functioning" drug addicts can function.  Most alcoholics/drug addicts I know are able to work, take care of the kids, etc. until it sometimes comes crashing down.  So many women I know take an insane amount of Xanax.

 

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My understanding about the fentanyl is that Michelle was prescribed it for chronic pain. But since it sounds like she was also taking additional meds that might not have been prescribed to her, it’s probably the combination as wells as the quantities of unprescribed meds (which a doctor probably would have warned against) that caused her death. 
 

 

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48 minutes ago, marny said:

My understanding about the fentanyl is that Michelle was prescribed it for chronic pain. But since it sounds like she was also taking additional meds that might not have been prescribed to her, it’s probably the combination as wells as the quantities of unprescribed meds (which a doctor probably would have warned against) that caused her death. 
 

 

Fentanyl is for people dying from cancer where nothing else works. If she used it it was from illegal drugs.

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4 hours ago, ElectricBoogaloo said:

That was my assumption too. As an actor who works in Hollywood AND who has been a standup comic since the 80s, he has probably seen a lot of rampant drug use so in comparison, what Michelle was doing probably seemed mild, reasonable, and under control.

Yeah, I can believe that in his experience asking somebody to bring back some of their mom's meds isn't a red flag at all. It doesn't seem like she was hiding at like a secret addiction.

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On 7/20/2020 at 1:18 AM, JakeyJokes said:

The brother-in-law of the victim who ended up seeing his own father’s suicide photos as a part of his job training ... My God.

That was horrifying. That poor man. 

On 7/20/2020 at 7:33 AM, rlc said:

While I knew what happened to Michelle, and have been waiting for it to play out, last night was a major gut punch. 

Agreed. I got emotional hearing that 911 call. Patton's voice...:(. 

And then the fact she said she felt like she was dying the night before. So sad, too, that she died not long after her birthday. 

The bit about her and Patton discussing the possibility of having another child was rather bittersweet, too. And yes, the fact she's asking for other people's medication was deeply troubling. Giving other people your pills is a pretty big no-no, isn't it? 

On 7/20/2020 at 8:08 PM, Vella said:

I also found it interesting that both seemed very career oriented and after the home invasion and rape, they were both so fundamentally changed by it that their course altered entirely. Yet it makes complete sense, as Michelle described it, it doesn't just hurt and traumatize YOU, it destroys your world because the attacks happened in the home.  So tragic, but also so interesting.

I liked the part where Michelle was talking about the meaning behind this creep spending time in people's homes, that it was proof this wasn't just about sexual sadism for him, that there had to be a much deeper psychological issue driving him. It's just another level to the violation, knowing someone like him is sitting on your furniture, eating your food, going through your things. That's a level of torment that's just...ugh. It fits with his sadistic mindset, definitely. 

Quote

The last victim, Janelle Cruz, was just a haunting story. Not only what the GSK did to her, but how a few years earlier she had been raped at a sleepover by the other girl's father and how it had never been reported.  I wonder if anything ever came of that. Probably nothing.

That was such a heartbreaking story. That poor girl. The friend who stayed at her place for a time only to leave shortly before her death...I can just imagine all the "what ifs?" that must've gone through their mind over the years. 

The couple who's being interviewed is interesting, too. I'm glad they've managed to make such a good life for themselves-you can tell they wanted to show that this guy was not going to destroy them and their life together. But yeah, it's tough to see how raw the pain and the memories still are. This traumatic incident is part of what's bonded them, and there's something both powerful and sad about that all at the same time. 

And it was sad to hear Michelle and her friend talk about their own experiences with rape, and the fact they had to work through the idea that there might've been "something about them" that drew their rapists to them, the struggle to move past feeling like it was something they'd done to lure the guy in. It's just so depressing to know how many women out there have a story like that in their past. 

21 hours ago, sistermagpie said:

I'm sure everybody has their own reasons for liking true crime or some true crime, but I assume one reason why it's usually so popular with women is it's a way of dealing with fear in a controlled way, same as horror movies. That's reflected in how omnipresent the threat of rape is throughout the show.

This. It's the "why" of it all. Why do people do awful things? 

I do agree there are some people that do get obsessed with these kinds of stories to perhaps an unhealthy degree, though, yes. But I do think your explanation is pretty well spot on.

On 7/21/2020 at 10:31 AM, chediavolo said:

I just kept thinking. Why clean? Throw it out. Is he going to actually live there still, let alone sleep in that bed?!

I thought the exact same thing! No way would I want to sleep in that bed again. No. Way. Hell, I wouldn't stay in the house. 

On 7/21/2020 at 1:03 PM, cardigirl said:

I think what set her apart, and this has been mentioned by others, is that she developed a good rapport with the survivors, making them feel safe in telling their stories to her. And she was sharing, towards the end, her discoveries with other investigators. But, in the end, when she felt like she could possible SOLVE the mystery, she became obsessed. 

This. And since she developed such a good rapport with the survivors, since she'd spent so much time hearing their stories, she may have been afraid that if she eased up on investigating this case, she'd feel like she was letting them, as well as all the loved ones of both those who survived and those who didn't, down. I definitely think they were a big part of what was driving her, and that worry was just another part of the intense pressure she was feeling and putting on herself. 

It's just so sad that she wasn't able to find a better way to handle it all in the end. 

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1 hour ago, UnknownK said:

Fentanyl is for people dying from cancer where nothing else works. If she used it it was from illegal drugs.

I don’t know whether she obtained it legally or not, but fentanyl is absolutely prescribed for people with chronic pain and not just cancer patients. I have personal knowledge of this.  

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On 7/22/2020 at 7:47 PM, marny said:

I don’t know whether she obtained it legally or not, but fentanyl is absolutely prescribed for people with chronic pain and not just cancer patients. I have personal knowledge of this.  

I don't have personal knowledge, but I do know it's an opioid and dangerous and not to be mishandled.

 

Edited by cardigirl · Reason: duplication of post
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I find Michelle to be classic ADHD.   She obviously got overwhelmed with the book deadline and was far more interested in the investigation and interviews.  People with ADHD lack executive function and time/deadlines are very difficult for them to meet.  Yet they desire perfection (or the appearance of).  So instead of standing up saying this book was a mistake and walk away she just asked to move the deadline as it wasn't ready yet.  Because admitting it wouldn't be finished would be a massive failure to her (even though deep down she probably wanted to quit it).

Some ADHD types hyperfocus on every little detail and cannot rest to the point of exhaustion.  Those massive amount of boxes I think led to Michelle's undoing as she probably couldn't stop herself from examining each and every piece in the box with little to no rest.  ADHD also have horrible insomnia as they cant get their brains to slow down to rest.  (Count me as one who was also shocked she was allowed to take those boxes to her home much less 2 SUV's full of them.)

Medication like Adderall is only supposed to help with some of the focus/functioning but it is not a cure.  I think some believe taking enough of it will be one.  And when some find out it is not the answer, they go looking for that stronger stimulant elsewhere.   Throw in some insecurities and anxiety the need to self-medicate with anything is pretty strong.

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That’s a really good point about ADHD! I wasn’t diagnosed with it until I was an adult, and I would assume the same for Michelle, as she is of the generation where it was something only hyper boys had. 
 

She also had the trait of laser focus on what you DO know. I listened to a podcast with her a a guest once, and the host would bring up any random true crime story, and Michelle immediately shared every detail she knew, rat-a-tat style. 

On 7/21/2020 at 7:11 PM, Milburn Stone said:

Probably the worst thing that could have happened to Michelle was getting the article published in Los Angeles magazine. It was a good article! Because Michelle was a good writer with a story to tell. But she didn't necessarily have a book in her, and the idea to write one never occurred to her until the literary agent called her and said, "If you turn this into a book, I'll represent you." That was too tempting to turn down, and she started to think "If I could write an article, I could write a book," and she had something to prove to her mother; but it turned out to be a devil's bargain. @marny is right, I think, when she says Michelle could have been very happy devoting all her time to the investigation.

 

The book itself doesn’t go into much detail about how close she was with her father and how detached she was from her mother. I do think that comment from her mother, on her freaking wedding day, after a lifetime of feeling dismissed by her, was irreparable.

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On 7/21/2020 at 4:44 AM, FoundTime said:

I too initially misread Michelle's encounter as a bad date with her boss 😟

I don't think we were misreading that initial portrayal of it--that's how the show made it look. It's only later, with Michelle reflecting on it and getting to the point herself of asking whether she was raped, that we get a clearer understanding of what happened. It's not an uncommon occurrence; I know a few women who only years later, looking back, realize that they were raped. When it happens, they tell themselves something else to be able to continue on.

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It's surprising to me that the goal of the book was to solve the case rather than report on it. She had a great rapport with everyone involved (law enforcement and the victims) and in the end those relationships and her descriptions of the scenes and time period was compelling enough to make the book.

I was recently reading about the dangers of autodidacticism and how the wealth of knowledge on the internet has really fed into people's beliefs that they can be self taught in pretty much any arena. There's a reason that homicide detectives have to spend years training, take tests, be extensively interviewed before they can attempt to solve cases. They also have a community around them of co-workers and a hierarchy of bosses to protect not only the public but the detectives themselves from getting overly involved and self destructing. Being a citizen detective, Michelle had none of this support and protection that's built into the system. Looking at all the terrible crime scene photos deeply effected her psychologically. She was in denial of the risks she was taking with her mental and physical health. 

I had to laugh when the New York literary people were being interviewed and they were like "We were fine with her missing deadlines. We were just interested in what came next." Sure, Jan. However, there's no way she would have cancelled the book deal with them. She had a lot to prove to her family and that she was more than a famous person's spouse and to the victims.

I'll bet Patton Oswalt has a lot of regrets and I'm sure it wasn't easy to talk about this part of the story. Hopefully it can help others from suffering the same fate.

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2 hours ago, Soobs said:

Being a citizen detective, Michelle had none of this support and protection that's built into the system. Looking at all the terrible crime scene photos deeply effected her psychologically. She was in denial of the risks she was taking with her mental and physical health. 

I was watching the HBO movie they did about the serial killer in the Soviet Union and the guy investigating that had something of a breakdown. Then later he learns that a guy at the FBI considers him the master of how to investigate these things, teaches his methods, etc. But he also learns that this guy has learned that people on this cases have to take breaks--or be forced to take them--because breakdowns are inevitable.

However, there they were talking about ongoing cases where new murders were piling up and that's a bit part of where the stress was coming from.

The thing with Michelle is it does seem like her death was a bit of a fluke, right? Like  many other people would have taken what she did and been fine and we'd never have heard about the drug use. So it's not like she was driven completely to destruction, it was a combination of her getting to this obsessive place and using drugs without even knowing they could kill her.

 

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13 minutes ago, sistermagpie said:

I was watching the HBO movie they did about the serial killer in the Soviet Union and the guy investigating that had something of a breakdown. Then later he learns that a guy at the FBI considers him the master of how to investigate these things, teaches his methods, etc. But he also learns that this guy has learned that people on this cases have to take breaks--or be forced to take them--because breakdowns are inevitable.

Shikatila (sp)? He was one very creepy guy.

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22 hours ago, JakeyJokes said:

That’s a really good point about ADHD! I wasn’t diagnosed with it until I was an adult, and I would assume the same for Michelle, as she is of the generation where it was something only hyper boys had. 
 

She also had the trait of laser focus on what you DO know. I listened to a podcast with her a a guest once, and the host would bring up any random true crime story, and Michelle immediately shared every detail she knew, rat-a-tat style. 

The book itself doesn’t go into much detail about how close she was with her father and how detached she was from her mother. I do think that comment from her mother, on her freaking wedding day, after a lifetime of feeling dismissed by her, was irreparable.

Some friend who repeated the story at all, let alone on a wedding day. 

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On 7/23/2020 at 5:55 PM, sistermagpie said:

The thing with Michelle is it does seem like her death was a bit of a fluke, right? Like  many other people would have taken what she did and been fine and we'd never have heard about the drug use. So it's not like she was driven completely to destruction, it was a combination of her getting to this obsessive place and using drugs without even knowing they could kill her.

 

I believe she also had an undiagnosed heart condition that it turned out did not play nicely with all the various drugs. 

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