San Francisco PD Relaunch Search For 1970s ‘The Doodler,’ A Serial Killer Who Sketched Victims First

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He found his victims in gay bars and night clubs and 24-hour diners in San Francisco, slipping past their defenses with a flattering ploy: He told them he was a cartoonist, then passed along a piece of paper with a sketch of their face.

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Later, alone after they had sex, he pulled out a knife.

Police believe the serial killer known as “the Doodler” killed five people in 1974 and 1975 — all gay white men whose lacerated bodies were dumped at San Francisco’s Ocean Beach or in Golden Gate Park. In all, police say, the Doodler may be connected to as many as 14 killings.

Authorities have conceded the social stigma around being a gay man in the 1970s may have contributed to the homicide cases going cold for more than four decades.

Some of the people who escaped the Doodler — eyeball witnesses who could give information about his appearance, voice or other identifying features — were hesitant to come forward, worried their lives would be upended if word spread they had left a gay bar with a man.

One man who survived the Doodler was a “well-known entertainer.” Another was a diplomat. A man the Doodler is accused of killing was married with children. One of the men who police believe escaped the killer left town and simply never returned investigators’ phone calls.

“There is a likelihood of additional victims who may have survived attempted attacks but have not come forward to document the incidents,” police said in a crime bulletin released Wednesday.

“I understand their position,” Harvey Milk, a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and the first openly gay elected official in California’s history, told the Associated Press in 1977. “I respect the pressure society has put on them.”

Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett
Photographs are Courtesy:   AP
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