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Patton Oswalt Opens Up About Late Wife’s Quest to Find Serial Killer: ‘She Had a Mind for the Details’

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It has been nearly one year since Patton Oswalt‘s wife, Michelle McNamara, died unexpectedly in her sleep. Her death devastated her loved ones and ended the crime reporter’s famed search for a California serial killer.

Now, Oswalt, 48, is opening up about his late wife’s quest to track down the murderer, who committed 50 rapes and 12 murders in California between 1976 and 1986 before disappearing.

McNamara dubbed the killer “The Golden State Killer,” but he has also been called “The Original Night Stalker” and “The East Area Rapist.”

“She had a mind for the details of true crime the way other people have for baseball or me for films,” Oswalt tells CBS News’ Tracy Smith in a sneak peek at the upcoming 48 Hours: The Golden State Killer, which airs Saturday, April 22, at 10 p.m. ET.

“She could recall the details of pretty much every late 20th and 21st century crime. It was just in her head,” Oswalt adds.

Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic

McNamara died on April 21, 2016, at age 46. In February, Oswalt revealed that McNamara died due to prescription medications and an undiagnosed heart condition.

She and Oswalt had an 8-year-old daughter, Alice Rigney.

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McNamara poured herself into her search for the killer, traveling extensively to retrace his steps. On April 20, 2016, she was driving herself so hard with the search — on which she had promising leads — that Oswalt told her to sleep in the next day.

He recalls her snoring the next morning, but when he checked on her early that afternoon, she had died.

Michelle McNamara, Writer and Wife of Patton Oswalt, Dies At 46

“I’d go back into the back office and Michelle would just be there … in tears because some road she had gone down had not panned out, and then — it’s, ‘I now have to start back again from zero,’ ” Oswalt says.

“She started looking at the devastation that this guy wrought,” he adds. “You’re taunting the police, you’re taunting the population and you’re never caught?”

CBS’ 48 Hours: “The Golden State Killer” will air Saturday, April 22, at 10 p.m. ET.