Police in San Francisco have released an updated artist’s impression of a serial homicide suspect.
The so-called ‘Doodler’ attacked gay men in the mid-1970s. Police wish to question him in connection with the slayings of five gay men. These occurred in the Ocean Beach area between 1974-1975.
Police believe the murderer could be the same person who attacked two gay men at the Fox Plaza Apartments, 1390 Market Street, in July 1975.
The suspect was dubbed ‘the doodler’ because one victim at Fox Plaza said he first encountered him, prior to being attacked, drawing caricatures at a former all-night diner on the block.
‘Both victims provided a suspect description of a black male, approximately 19-25 years old, 5’11-6’0, lanky in appearance, with a medium complexion and smooth skin. One of the surviving victims provided further information to police, which resulted in a composite sketch of the suspect.’
‘The investigation thus far had led Police to believe the suspect lived in the Bay Area, but outside of San Francisco and would come into the city at night-time on weekends,’ say police in a statement.
‘Information also indicates there is a likelihood of additional victims who may have survived attempted attacks but have not come forward to document the incidents.’
Suspect often drew sketches of his victims before stabbing them
Police commissioned an artist to do a new sketch, over 40 years later, to show what the suspect could look like today.
The Doodler sought out gay men in after-hours gay clubs and restaurants in San Francisco. He would often sketch drawings of them, before stabbing them.
Police detained a man in 1976 but never charged him. He remains a person of interest. Police have recently interviewed him again.
According to newspaper reports from 1977, one of the reasons police felt unable to charge him was because survivors did not want to ‘out’ themselves by testifying. Two survivors of stabbing attacks potentially linked to the suspect included a ‘well-known entertainer’ and a diplomat.
To help solve the case, police have announced a $100,000 reward for information that could help them secure an arrest. They’ve also released an audio file of a call to police on 27 January 1974. The caller had come across a body but didn’t wish to give their name.
‘I believe there might be a dead person,’ the caller said. ‘But I didn’t want to get too close to him because you never know what could happen’. Police turned up at the scene to find the body of 50-year-old Gerald Cavanaugh. He was the first of the Doodler’s known victims.
His other known victims were: Joseph “Jae” Stevens, Klaus Christmann, Frederick Capin and Harald Gullberg.
‘If you have any information, please contact Homicide Inspector Cunningham at (415) 553-9515, Inspector Dedet (415) 553-1450 or Sergeants McWilliams at (415) 553-9208. You may also contact the SFPD Anonymous tip line (415) 575-4444 or Text-A-Tip to TIP411 with SFPD at the beginning of the message.’