San Francisco police are hoping that upping a reward this week will lead them to the “Doodler,” a serial killer who preyed on gay men at bars and nightclubs and sketched his victims before assaulting and stabbing them to death.
A person investigators considered a strong suspect, who was interviewed by homicide investigators in January 1976, is still the focus of their investigation to this day, police said. But they have not revealed a name.
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Police are asking for other victims who survived attacks to come forward and are hoping that by increasing the reward from $200,000 to $250,000 they will catch the killer.
Police believe that six men were killed by the Doodler between 1974 and 1975. Gerald Cavanaugh, 50, was killed on Jan. 27, 1974, in Ocean Beach. Joseph “Jae” Stevens, 27, was killed on June 25, 1974. Klaus Christmann, 31, was found at Ocean Beach on July 7, 1974. Warren Andrews, 52, was found at Land’s End on April 27, 1975. He was found unconscious and died seven weeks later. Frederick Capin, 32, was found on May 12, 1975. Harald Gullberg, 66, was found at Lincoln Park on June 4, 1975.
Steven’s sister, Melissa Honrath, told Fox San Francisco affiliate KTVU on Wednesday that she’s thankful that police are continuing to investigate the cases.
“It feels good that somebody cares,” she said. “It felt like nobody cared. Lots of sorrow. A lot of heartache, pain. It’s just horrible.”
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Kevin Fagan, a San Francisco Chronicle reporter who hosts The Doodler Podcast, told NewsNation in February that there are potentially as many as 17 victims. The recorded number is lower, he said, because at the time several high-profile headline-grabbing cases included the Zodiac killer and the Patty Hearst kidnapping.
“It was a violent time and gay men particularly took the brunt of that,” he said. “It was a time of oppression. So the Doodler found pretty good hunting grounds, actually.”
At the time of the reported crimes, police described the Doodler as Black, with an age range of 19-to-25, between 5 foot 11 and 6 feet tall, and lanky.
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The information for the sketch came from a victim of an attack at an apartment complex at the time, police said. The victim told police he had met the Doodler at a diner after the bars closed in July 1975.
He told police the man had been drawing animal figures on a napkin, officials said.
“The suspect commented to the victim that he was attending art school and was studying to be a cartoonist,” police said in a crime bulletin. “The victim believed the suspect to be skillful in drawing as he himself had a background in art.”
Police were led to a possible suspect shortly after the Doodler sketch was released. They received an anonymous call from a female who provided police with a name and a license plate, officials said.
Police said they are trying to identify the caller and at least two others who also contacted the San Francisco Police Department providing the name of a suspect, officials said.
Anyone with information is asked to call the SFPD 24-hour tip line at (415) 575-4444 or Text a Tip to TIP411 and begin the message with SFPD. You may also contact Cold Case Investigators Tom Newland (415-553-1144), Dominic Celaya (415-553-9856) Daniel Dedet (415-553-1450), or Daniel Cunningham (415-553-9515). You may remain anonymous.
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]