What You Need To Know About Patton Oswalt's Family Tragedy

On April 21, 2016, true crime writer Michelle McNamara died in her sleep at the Los Angeles home she shared with her husband of more than ten years, comedian and actor Patton Oswalt, and their 7-year old daughter, Alice. McNamara was only 46. All it takes is a cursory glance at the social media platform of your choice to witness the tremendous outpouring of heartfelt condolences for the Oswalt family from fans and friends alike. Though questions abound, here's what we know so far about McNamara's life, her relationship with Oswalt, and the ramifications of her death.

McNamara founded True Crime Diary

McNamara earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Notre Dame and her master's in creative writing from the University of Minnesota. Couple that with her passion for investigating unsolved crimes, and True Crime Diary was born.

Launched in 2012, the site said it examines both breaking news and cold cases, "seeking angles other have overlooked—suspect's revealing online activities, for instance, or a similarity between cases that hasn't been made public yet. Additional information now comes from interviews with law enforcement, and victims' family members, friends and associates. True Crime Diary is not interested in looking back at notorious criminals and saying, wow. We're interested in looking at unfolding cases and asking, who?" I don't know about you, but we're hooked.

McNamara was writing a novel about the "Golden State Killer"

In 2013, McNamara wrote a Los Angeles Magazine article about the "Golden State Killer," a mystery man considered "one of the most violent serial criminals in American history." Between 1976 and 1986, this unidentified psychopath terrorized residents of California, committing a suspected 50 brutal rapes and ten sadistic murders. The predator often tied his victims up with his calling-card diamond knot before bludgeoning them to death. He stalked his victims, broke into their homes while they weren't there, then attacked under the cover of night wearing Adidas tennis shoes and a black ski mask. McNamara's investigation was meticulous. In her article, she recounts the time she traced a pair of cuff links, which the "Golden State Killer" stole during a home invasion, to a vintage store in Oregon. They were on sale for $8.

McNamara's magazine article caught the eye of publishing house Harper Collins, who hired her to write a novel on the subject. At the time of her death, she was still working on the book.

Patton Oswalt says it was "love pretty much immediately"

Oswalt first met McNamara on May 20, 2003, at the Largo comedy club in Los Angeles. He recalled their pivotal encounter in a 2016 interview with People. "During my routine, I admitted to my weakness for Irish women, how they were my Kryptonite," he said. "And after the show she was walking out with the crowd and she touched my left arm and said, 'Irish girls, nice!'...'I was so stunned by how beautiful she was that I let her walk away."

The comic's game wasn't very strong, but with a boost of confidence from a friend, he ran out to find that lass and asked for her number. "It was love pretty much immediately for me. I think it took a few months for her," he told People. "But it must've turned to love pretty solidly because by September she'd moved in with me. She took a leap on my behalf for which I'm forever grateful." The couple married two years later and became parents to Alice in 2009.

Oswalt wrote her obituary

Oswalt's obituary for his late wife in Time Magazine is a heartbreaking eulogy and a touching tribute that celebrates her life and their love. Oswalt wrote glowingly about his wife's teaching career at Montana State (creative writing, obviously), about her experience doing social work in California, and about her past job working for a young Michelle Obama in Chicago, but the grieving husband heaped the greatest praise on his wife's role as a mother. He concluded the obituary with a story about their daughter, Alice:

"Five days after Michelle was gone, Alice and I were half-awake at dawn, after a night of half-sleeping. Alice sat up in bed. Her face was silhouetted in the dawn light of the bedroom windows. I couldn't see her expression. I just heard her voice: 'When your mom dies you're the best memory of her. Everything you do and say is a memory of her.' That's the kind of person Michelle created and helped shape. That was Michelle. That is Michelle. I love her."

Her cause of death has yet to be determined

To a grieving public, McNamara's untimely passing while she was sleeping raises more questions than answers. In an interview with the The Hollywood Reporter, Los Angeles County coroner's office spokesman Ed Winter states that McNamara's cause of death may take months due to the backlog of cases at the medical examiner's office. THR said friends and family of McNamara claim she was "free of known medical conditions, with no prior warning signs her health might have been in danger." Dying in your sleep at such a young age have led some to speculate that a congenital heart defect or a hemorrhagic stroke could be the culprit. Sadly, we won't know what struck down such a brilliant and loving mind until all tests have been completed.