Actor Patton Oswalt paid tribute to his late wife Michelle McNamara on Instagram Thursday, marking the five year anniversary of her death. The true crime author died in 2016 from a combination of prescribed drugs and an undiagnosed heart condition.
Reflecting on what Michelle’s absence has meant to the widower and the couple’s 12-year-old daughter Alice, the United States of Tara lead wrote:
“Of course I thought of her today. And I also thought of Alice, and how the loss shaped her and continues to shape her. And how Meredith swooped into our lonely, broken lives and helped put the pieces back together, stronger and sleeker than they were before.”
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Along with two old photographs of the writer (above), the 52-year-old continued:
“This dark day gets a little less dark every year when I see how Alice — a living piece of Michelle safe in the hands of Meredith — keeps walking in light. I’m there to catch the shadows that try to creep in at the edges, or from behind. I’m good at spotting them, and then Alice helps me laugh them away. And what’s left is this beautiful, living memory.”
Wow… So beautiful. We cannot imagine the pain of losing a loved one and mother so suddenly, but it’s special the way Oswalt has been able to see the lasting spirit of his wife in his daughter.
After passing in her sleep, Michelle’s legacy remained as her years of research hunting the “Golden State Killer” was put to good use when I’ll Be Gone in the Dark was posthumously published in 2018. Investigative journalist Billy Jensen and lead researcher Paul Haynes finished the book on the stand-up comedian’s request, and its publication ultimately sparked a rebirth of investigations to track down the killer. Joseph James DeAngelo was arrested just two months later. The HarperCollins release was also turned into an HBO documentary series last June.
Sitting down on Late Night With Seth Meyers in 2018, Patton told the host that McNamara would have been overjoyed at the arrest, saying that holding the serial killer and rapist accountable for his actions was her “dream.” He added:
“She always said, ‘I don’t care about credit. I want to know that’s he in jail.’ And, now, he’s caught. The bracelets are on, and it feels like this thing that she wanted so badly is now done.”
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In August of 2020, the 74-year-old criminal was sentenced to 12 life sentences plus eight years. After hearing the news, the Ratatouille star uploaded two additional photos of his wife while thinking of all those impacted by the case, “and of course Michelle.”
The insect gets none of my headspace today. I’m thinking of the victims, and the survivors, and the witnesses and crusaders and investigators. And of course Michelle. Go forward in peace, all of you. pic.twitter.com/XoYqV2X3ut
— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) August 21, 2020
Thinking of Patton, Alice, and all of Michelle’s loved ones as they continue to mourn the late writer… No amount of time makes grieving any easier, but we are at least glad to see they have found comfort in knowing the hard work of the researcher paid off, even after her death.