True Crime The State of Serial Killers California

True Crime: The State of Serial Killers, California

Liberty Hardy | October 15, 2019

If you ask someone what California is famous for... might get responses like Hollywood, earthquakes, Silicon Valley, wildfires, and traffic. Here are two fun facts: California is the most populous state in the United States, and its agriculture industry has the highest output of any state in the country. Here is one un-fun fact: California has the most serial killers of any US state. Whether you’re a fan of diving deep into true crime or you’re just getting your toes wet, these are the California killers you absolutely need to know!

01. I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer

Take the most famous American serial killer of the moment: the Golden State Killer. For 30 years, his identity was unknown. But thanks to one writer’s dogged determination, his story was thrust into the spotlight in 2018. I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara is the culmination of a decade’s worth of research into the Golden State Killer, a name McNamara coined for the prolific monster behind dozens of crimes in California. Just a few months after its release, California law enforcement announced that, thanks to the use of an online genealogy database, DNA evidence had finally led to an arrest in the case..

02. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders

You won’t find Charles Manson on a list of famous serial killers, since he only orchestrated the Tate-LaBianca murders. But he is California’s most notorious criminal—and certainly warrants a mention if you want to know about historic American criminals. For a definitive look at his crimes, check out Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi, the prosecuting attorney in the case. The audiobook features an updated afterword by Bugliosi (who originally wrote his account of a case that affected him personally in 1974) and the voice of acclaimed narrator Scott Brick. Hearing the story read with Brick’s modulated expressiveness lends Bugliosi’s words the perfect amount of gravitas.

03. Zodiac: The Shocking True Story of the Nation's Most Bizarre Mass Murderer

At the same time the Golden State Killer was operating in Northern California, another famous murderer was at work in the Bay Area. The Zodiac Killer not only carried out sadistic crimes, he also sent taunting letters to the police. But as you’ll hear in Zodiac: The Shocking True Story of the Nation’s Most Bizarre Mass Murderer by Robert Graysmith, this killer has never been identified. Audie Award-winning narrator Stefan Rudnicki has the perfect strong voice to read the important case information featured in the audiobook, including the killer’s letters and the police reports.

Liberty Hardy is a Book Riot senior contributing editor,
co-host of All the Books, and a Book of the Month judge.

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