In 1979, law enforcement is thrilled when the East Area Rapist (EAR) attacks abruptly stop in Northern California, but in reality, EAR has moved south to commit a number of gruesome murders in the Santa Barbara area, known as the "Original Night Stalker" series. The hunt for the perpetrator stalls due to lack of cooperation between jurisdictions and concerns of tarnishing the area's pristine image, leaving the community unaware of the predator in their midst. David Witthuhn, the husband of murder victim Manuela Witthuhn, is questioned as the sole person of interest, but his name isn't cleared until 20 years later, when DNA evidence links his wife's murder not only to others in the Santa Barbara area, but also to EAR assaults in Sacramento. Michelle's article chronicling her investigation of the case, "In the Footsteps of a Killer," causes a splash when it's published 2013. After signing a major book deal, she works around the clock to find the killer and struggles with another aspect of the book - writing about herself.

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