Paul Haynes never wanted to be an amateur sleuth. He didn’t want to write a book, star in a true-crime documentary series or play a part in bringing one of America’s most prolific rapists and murderers to justice after almost 50 years. He just fell down an Internet rabbit hole and couldn’t get out again.

Haynes was 24 when he first heard about the Golden State Killer. He was studying film at university when he watched a documentary about a series of rapes in northern California. He hadn’t heard of the attacks and looked them up online. He was stunned; the same suspect was linked to at least 50 rapes and 12 murders across a decade, making him the biggest serial offender in modern history. And he was still at large. “It staggered me that this case had received so little public attention,” he says on the phone from Los Angeles. He forgot about it until a few years later, when he was working as a legal assistant.

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