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Golden State Killer: 5 can’t-miss deep dives into the famous serial killer cold case

Here are five podcasts and other looks into the case for the true crime junkie.

Reddit/Sacramento Police Dept
Aja Romano writes about pop culture, media, and ethics. Before joining Vox in 2016, they were a staff reporter at the Daily Dot. A 2019 fellow of the National Critics Institute, they’re considered an authority on fandom, the internet, and the culture wars.

The dedicated sleuths and forensic enthusiasts who make up the true crime community collectively rejoiced on Wednesday with the news of an arrest in the ice-cold case of the Golden State Killer, the terrifying serial rapist turned murderer who evaded police for decades.

GSK — also known as EARONS, short for two of his many nicknames, the East Area Rapist and the Original Night Stalker — conducted hundreds of attacks, including as many as 50 rapes and 12 murders, between 1974 and 1986, all while eluding authorities across 10 California counties.

He had a meticulous, wide-ranging, and deeply scary MO that included making incredibly detailed maps of the areas he prowled, scoping out his prey for weeks and months in advance, and taunting them with terrifying phone calls.

Joseph James DeAngelo Jr., the man whose DNA was matched to that of EARONS, was confirmed in a Wednesday press conference to have been employed as an officer with two local California police departments during the most active years of EARONS’s attacks.

Several of the calls EARONS made to his targets, including one where he seethes, “I’m going to kill you,” have been preserved. Along with an extraordinary amount of documentation and evidence, they’ve received renewed attention in the age of the internet’s true crime renaissance. One of the hubs of that renaissance was True Crime Diary, the website formerly run by beloved true crime writer Michelle McNamara, whose recent posthumous bestseller I’ll Be Gone in the Dark chronicles her obsession with the case as she reviewed the mountain of evidence in the search for the killer.

It’s a terrific, taut, and terrifying book. But if you don’t have time to read it, and you still want to explore the ins and outs of this fascinating case, you’re in luck — as new details emerge about the suspect, there are a number of excellent places to learn more about this serial killer, his victims and survivors, and the long search to capture him. Here are five places to start.

1) Before Michelle McNamara’s book came her watershed 2013 article about the case

Just over five years ago, McNamara published a meticulous overview of the EARONS case in Los Angeles magazine, in which she publicly renamed him “the Golden State Killer.” This longread, written with her typical gripping style, serves as a mesmerizing introduction to the case; she covers the horrifying details of his intricate and systematic pattern of attacks, as well as the obsessive efforts by law enforcement and online web sleuths to track him down.

2) Casefile’s five-part series on EARONS takes a gripping narrative approach to the case

I admit to a ready bias when it comes to true crime podcasts; out of the hundred or so that I consume (yes, really), Casefile is the peerless favorite. This is because of the attention, detail, respect, and gripping narrative approach to stories evidenced in episodes like Casefile’s five-part series on EARONS.

The series divides the story naturally, in an easily digestible order, progressing through EARONS’s escalation from burglary to rape to homicide, all while focusing on the victims and their stories and chronicling the massive jurisdictional nightmare EARONS presented to police.

You can stream all five parts on your favorite podcatcher, or online:

3) A local news podcast drills down the evidence and revisits the survivors’ stories

Fox40, a local Sacramento media outlet, did a three-part series on the case earlier this year. Exposed: The East Area Rapist focuses on interviews with survivors and law enforcement and examines new breakthroughs in the case. The helpful thing about this podcast is that it’s geared toward the local police work being done on the case — which looks much different on the ground than it does to internet aficionados combing through old details.

For anyone confused about law enforcement’s assertion that no new leads were generated by McNamara’s book, despite the overwhelming publicity it achieved for the case, this podcast provides much-needed perspective. It makes it clear that as of February, authorities felt sure they were gaining on EARONS.

You can stream the series at the Fox40 link above or on your podcatcher of choice.

4) Criminology takes a season-long look at the case

After a successful, widely praised first season in which it delved into the minutiae of the Zodiac killer case, the podcast Criminology chose EARONS as the subject of its second season. Hosts Mike Ferguson and Mike Morford made it through a full nine episodes deep-diving into the case before the news of the arrest broke; the podcast has promised to continue digging into the case as new evidence and information surfaces.

You can stream the podcast on your favorite podcatcher or online via Libsyn.

5) Bonus: view the FBI’s promo video on the killer

While authorities moved on, the FBI maintained an active profile page on the killer, complete with this video, published in 2016, 40 years after EARONS’s first known attack.

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