“The Doodler” case continues to baffle investigators about how he has evaded law enforcement for almost half a century. The notorious killer left behind a carnage of dead gay men during his reign of terror in San Francisco in the 1970s. Investigators tagged him with six murders carried out within two years.
This year, authorities identified Warren Andrews, 52, a U.S. Postal Service worker who was found in a pool of blood in April 1975, as The Doodle’s possible sixth victim. The move was due to the resilience of the San Francisco Police Department, which is determined to provide answers and closures for the victim’s families.
The bounty on this strange phenom has recently been raised to $200,000.
One of the first known qualities of The Doodler to law enforcement officials was his skill as an artist. As a frequent guest at various gay bars such as Castro and Cabaret, the perpetrator was known for sketching his targets before approaching them.
“He'd pick a guy somewhere at the bar, he'd sit at the table, he'd sketch them, he was a good artist, so then he would walk up to the guy and say 'like my doodle?'" said SF Chronicle Reporter Kevin Fagan, according to ABC 7 News.
On Jan. 27, 1974, officers responded to the water’s edge of San Francisco Ocean’s Beach, where the body of Gerald Cavanaugh, 49, was found. He had been stabbed repeatedly with defensive wounds on his left arm. The victim was last seen at Castros’ bar. He was believed to be the first victim of the Doodler. At first, investigators knew little about the Canadian-born mattress factory worker, who was only identified as John Doe No:7 by the county medical examiner at the time.
Five months later, a woman along Spreckels Lake found Texas-born Joseph Stevens, 27, who was known as a popular female impersonator. He had been stabbed to death three times. Also, the victim was last seen at the Cabaret Club the night before his demise. Authorities believed Stevens had driven to the park with the killer.
Soon, authorities started connecting the dots when Klaus Christmann, 31, a German immigrant, was found dead in the same manner by another lady walking her dog just a month after Stevens’ homicide. He was found with multiple stab wounds, and his throat slashed numerous times. Just like Cavanaugh, both men were found fully clothed and killed at San Francisco’s Ocean Beach. However, the killer unleashed 15 stab wounds on Christmann. In addition, investigators found make-up tubes in the victim’s pocket. Hence, they believed the victim had been a gay man.
Despite the connections, the killings went on for another year without any arrest, including the murders of Frederick Capin, 32, and Harald Gullberg. The 66-year-old Gullberg was believed to be The Doodler’s last victim after he was found on June 4, 1975, on a Lincoln Park golf course by a hiker. His neck has been slashed. However, unlike the others, his pants were unzipped and wearing no underwear, and he was older.
He Was Eloquent
According to investigators, witnesses described The Doodler as a young black man between the ages of 19 and 25. The perpetrator had a quiet, serious personality and was highly intelligent. In addition, some witnesses heard him say he was a student majoring in commercial arts. Investigators believe this was one of the alluring qualities the perpetrator used to gain the trust of his victims.
Other accounts not confirmed by authorities detailed three survivors who escaped The Doodler's grasp. According to The Awl, one was a popular entertainer that was nationally known but reportedly left the city after the encounter. Another was a European Diplomat who met the perpetrator at a restaurant during a midnight snack. They went to his residence, where the suspect stabbed him six times. To date, authorities never released his name.
As a result, a suspect was questioned by authorities, but the witnesses declined to testify to avoid being identified as gay. Hence, there were no charges filed.
DNA Technology To The Rescue
Today, prosecutors hope to utilize DNA genealogy to create DNA profiles via swabs from the various crime scenes. The technique involves comparing genetic materials with the suspect’s family members who might have voluntarily submitted their DNA directly to various databases and depositories. Authorities are hoping they will have the same success that led to the arrest of the Golden State Killer.
Time will tell.