HBO this weekend premieres a documentary series based on Michelle McNamara's acclaimed book "I'll Be Gone in the Dark," which details her obsession with the Golden State Killer, and also features another murder that captivated her.
Kathleen Lombardo, 24, was out for a run when she was sexually assaulted and stabbed to death on Aug. 1, 1984, near her Chicago-area apartment. McNamara was just a teenager, living in the same neighborhood, but the publicized murder deeply impacted her.
In her true crime book about a serial killer who terrorized California, McNamara said that unsolved murders became an obsession when, two days after Lombardo was killed, she went to the alley where she died and saw pieces of a Walkman she believed the young woman was wearing when she was attacked.
“She was a sweet person, quiet, a very good student, very honest. She was not someone who would ever lie or steal. She had a strong faith. She felt close to God,” Christopher Lombardo, one of her four brothers, told the Chicago Tribune.
It was McNamara's obsession with the darker parts of life that drove her to spend hundreds of hours pursuing the Golden State Killer, who roamed California raping and murdering in the 1970s and 1980s. Her book, which was finished by friends after she suddenly died in 2016, debuted in 2018.
A six-part docuseries is scheduled to premiere at 9 p.m. Sunday on HBO. The second episode, airing July 5, features Lombardo’s murder, which occupies a chapter of McNamara's book.
In it, the author writes of meeting someone who discovered Lombardo's body and theorizes she may have been killed by a neighbor.
Elizabeth Wolff, who produced the HBO series and directed episodes two and five, said the production team combed McNamara’s research of the Lombardo case and hoped they could uncover new information.
“We really went in thinking, how can we pick up the torch and help solve Michelle’s white whale?” Wolff told the paper.
Freedom of Information requests were filed for Oak Park police records of the murder investigation and the results of any DNA testing done.
Authorities turned down those requests, saying the investigation was still open.
Lombardo's brother said he hopes someone seeing the documentary series will remember something about her killing.
“If anyone has information about my sister’s murder, they (should) contact the Cook County state’s attorney’s office or the Oak Park police.”