Michelle McNamara, the crime writer and wife of comedian Patton Oswalt, has died, Oswalt’s publicist confirms to PEOPLE. She was 46.
McNamara, founder of the website True Crime Diary, died in her sleep Thursday. No cause of death was given, but Oswalt’s publicist said her passing “was a complete shock to her family and friends, who loved her dearly.”
McNamara attended the University of Notre Dame and earned a master’s in creative writing from the University of Minnesota.
She founded her website, True Crime Diary, at the suggestion of her husband after becoming becoming interested in cold cases.
“So I kind of just did it almost as a lark at first not figuring it would become such a regular thing but that was sort of the impetus for it,” she said in a 2007 interview. “I wanted to get more involved in the cases than fueling my own curiosity.”
In addition to blogging and podcasting on the subject, she also appeared on the Investigation Discovery series A Crime to Remember. She was most interested in pursuing cases that weren’t necessarily getting big headlines.
“I’m drawn to cases that aren’t so high profile, that are maybe even a little neglected, but which have enough evidence and clues that anyone with a will and an Internet connection can try to piece together the puzzle,” she said in 2011. “That’s exciting to me. It feels like the difference between looking forward or looking back.”
In addition to Oswalt, whom she wed in 2005, McNamara is survived by their 7-year-old daughter, Alice.