We’ve got The Doodler! Investigator says he’s identified serial killer who killed five in mid-70s

Police in California believe they have found the serial killer who terrorized San Francisco’s gay community in the mid-1970s – brutally stabbing men he met at bars.

Investigators said the killer, known as ‘The Doodler’, would sketch strangers he met at a bar, leave with them and then stab them to death. 

Police have connected five murders to The Doodler, but believe he killed as many as 14 during late 1974 an early 1975. 

San Francisco police released a sketch of the suspect in the summer of 1975, weeks after his fifth victim was found dead on Ocean Beach. Police described The Doodler as an African-American male between 19 and 22 with a slender build.

After 40 years, police believe they have the serial killer, known as The Doodler, who killed five people in San Francisco in the mid-1970s. The suspected killer is pictured in a 1975 police sketch 

The Doodler's first victim was Gerald Cavanagh, a 50-year-old mattress factory worker. Cavanagh's body was discovered in January 1974 on Ocean Beach

The Doodler’s first victim was Gerald Cavanagh, a 50-year-old mattress factory worker. Cavanagh’s body was discovered in January 1974 on Ocean Beach

Investigators said he was just under six-feet and frequently wore a ‘Navy-type watch cap’. 

Inspector Dan Cunningham told CNN that police zeroed in on a suspect in the 1970s but the man was never arrested or charged with the murders. Cunningham believes that same man, who would now be in his early 60s, is responsible for the serial killings.

‘We have a suspect in the assault that spawned the sketch,’ he told the outlet.

Cunningham said a police artist drew an updated sketch of The Doodler showing what he would look like now, but they are not yet releasing it.  

The inspector said he is working on five murders connected to The Doodler but he’d ‘be a fool to say he didn’t do more’. Police believe The Doodler killed as many as 14 people. 

Because the crimes happened more than 40 years ago, tying them all to the suspect is going to be a challenge. Cunningham said he’s working the San Francisco Police Department’s crime lab hoping that modern technology might manage to extract a usable DNA sample from evidence gathered at two of the crime scenes. 

‘We made a lot of effort to collect a lot of blood samples at that time,’ Inspector Kenneth Moses, who worked at the lab in the 1970s, told CNN.

‘If there’s no moisture, there will be no decomposition. And it was standard procedure then to dry samples thoroughly.’

Police said The Doodler would gain the trust of his victims by asking them if could sketch them. Investigators said he was often seen sitting at the bar drawing caricatures and cartoons on napkins. 

Joseph Stevens

Klaus Christmann

The Doodler’s second victim was 27-year-old drag queen named Joseph Stevens (left). The third victim was 31-year-old Klaus Christmann. Both were found dead in the summer of 1974

His first victim was identified as Gerald Cavanagh, a 50-year-old mattress factory worker. Cavanagh’s body was discovered in January 1974 on Ocean Beach. The coroner at the time said Cavanagh had been stabbed 16 times and ‘there was an apparent defense wound on his left little finger’. 

The second victim, a 27-year-old drag queen named Joseph Stevens, was found dead by a dog walker in Golden State Park in June 1974. Police said he had been stabbed five times. 

Less than two weeks later, Klaus Christmann, 31, was found stabbed to death on Ocean Beach. The coroner said the victim’s pants were unzipped and open. Christmann had been stabbed so many times in his neck and shoulders it ‘seemed as though the assailant had attempted to decapitate the deceased’, the coroner’s report stated, according to CNN. 

Police said all three victims had ‘homosexual propensities’. 

The fourth and fifth victims, Frederick Capin and Herald Gullberg, were found dead during the summer of 1975. Capin, a registered nurse in his 30s, and Gullberg, a 67-year-old sailor, had both been stabbed to death and left near Ocean Beach.

Three other men were allegedly attacked by The Doodler managed to escape. At the time, all three gave descriptions of their attacker but said they would not testify in court.

Cunningham told CNN that he is trying to track down one of the three men to see if he is still alive.

‘I’m still connecting the dots. I’m working to see if that assault is actually connected to the murders,’ he said.



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