Very little that happens in the special follow-up episode of I’ll Be Gone in the Dark comes as a surprise. After all, the first Six hours of HBO docuseries chronicled the reign of terror that Joseph DeAngelo, aka the Golden State Killer, visited his rape and murder victims for decades, as well as his eventual 2020 arrest and confession of guilt.
But the latest installment in the series shows DeAngelo’s victims speaking triumphantly in court ahead of his conviction in August 2020, and watching these women and men achieve some peace after such a long nightmare is truly something.
DeAngelo’s conviction takes place over four days, an extended period necessary to deal with the large number of crimes he has committed. We watch as he is taken into the proceedings in a wheelchair, wearing orange prison scrubs and looking like a very frail and very old man. When he checks his name for the file, he doesn’t seem to really know what’s going on. But this is all just a ruse, prosecutor Anne Marie Schubert told everyone who gathered, referring to security footage of DeAngelo in his cell. On these tapes, captured shortly before the conviction, he appears lively, moving fluidly around his room and climbing over the bed and counter to fix the lighting to his liking. Schubert points out that he dims fluorescent lights in the same way he would drape towels over televisions during his attacks. “He was and always will be a sociopath in action,” notes Schubert.
Next, Sacramento District Assistant Attorney Thien Ho notes that when questioned after his arrest DeAngelo feigned inconsistency and muttered about someone named “Jerry” living in his head. and made him do bad things. “He just pretended to act like a fool to avoid getting into trouble,” Ho adds.
Then the survivors of DeAngelo, many of whom we’ve met in previous episodes, go to court. Their statements detail how he took their youth, their innocence, their sense of security and well-being, and how it took decades of hard work to try to turn their lives around. Gay Hardwick starts to cry a little as she addresses the court; her husband, Bob, stands up beside her and kisses her on the head, and she continues. Jane Carson, a survivor of DeAngelo’s East Area Rapist years, points out that she has become good friends with Bonnie Colwell, her ex-fiancé (and the woman whose name he sometimes referred to in committing his heinous acts). Colwell is there with Carson, actually. “Even a gun pointed in her face couldn’t make her choose you,” mocks Carson DeAngelo.
In the final sentencing on August 21, 2020, DeAngelo goes to court. “I have listened to all of your statements, each of them. And I’m really sorry for everyone I’ve hurt, ”he said. “Thank you, your honor. He receives 11 consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole, plus an additional life sentence, plus eight years – the maximum sentence allowed by law. As DeAngelo exits, the spectators stand up and applaud.
Later, Gay and Bob Hardwick sit down with the docuseries to discuss how DeAngelo’s endless sentence is better than the death penalty, as there would have been years of appeals. “The case would always be at the forefront of my mind,” she notes. Still, “it’s something we’re stuck with for the rest of our lives,” Bob says. “It’s better, but it’s still there, you know?”
Survivor Kris Pedretti adds, “It turned out to be a really good ending to a really rotten story.”
The special episode also explored the murder case that whetted author Michelle McNamara’s detective appetite: the 1984 rape and murder of Kathleen Lombardo, McNamara’s neighbor in Oak Park, Ill. . The docuseries speak with Lombardo’s brother Chris, who was frustrated by the police department’s inattention to the case in the years that followed. The filmmakers also interview Grace Puccetti, whose attack and attempted rape in 1982 bear many similarities to Lombardo’s. In fact, there were several such incidents in the region during this time.
McNamara emailed Puccetti years ago, but at the time Puccetti wasn’t interested in rehashing her attack. “And then she died,” Puccetti said, explaining his reason for getting involved now: “Without someone like that pursuing this, this will never be resolved.”
A title card at the end of the episode informs us that after three rejected Freedom of Information Act requests, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark and Chris Lombardo filmmakers are suing the Oak Park Police Department for have access to medical-legal files and records. Oak Park Police said they would not provide access as the investigation is ongoing. The outcome of the trial “is pending”.
Now it’s your turn. What did you think of this extra episode of I’ll Be Gone in the Dark? Sound off in the comments!