The Doodler

The Doodler is a name given to an unidentified serial killer who was active in San Fransisco between January 1974 and September 1975. He mainly targeted the gay community of San Fransisco, and would often meet his victims at gay nightclubs, bars, and restaurants. The Doodler is suspected to have killed up to 16 people and assaulted 3. His nickname was given to him because he would sketch the victims before killing them.

Gerald Earl Cavanagh is believed to be the doodler’s first victim. He was found lying face-up, fully clothed, on Ocean Beach, San Fransisco, on January 24th 1974. Gerald was 49 years old at the time of his death. Police determined that Gerald was conscious at the time he was killed and had tried to fight off his killer because he had self-defence wounds. Gerald was a single man, and not much is known about his personal life.

Joseph Stevens, better known as “Jae”, was discovered in Spreckles Lake, San Fransisco, on the 25th of June 1974. He was 27 years old and had only died a short time before his body was found. Jae had been seen at a club the day before he died and was employed as a female impersonator and comedian. Investigators believed that Jae was alive at Spreckles Lake, possibly coming here with the killer.

Klaus Christmann, a German immigrant, was discovered on the 7th of July, 1974, in Ocean Beach. His death was a lot more violent than the other murders because he had been stabbed several more times and had been slashed in the throat multiple times. His body was fully clothed, and unlike the previous victims, Klaus was married and had children. However, as police found a “make-up tube” on him when he died, police believe he was a closeted gay man. Klaus was buried in Germany.

Very recently, in January 2022, police linked another murder to the Doodler. Warren Andrews, who was a lawyer for the US Postal Service, was discovered unconscious and assaulted in Lands End park in April 1975. Sadly, Warren never regained consciousness and died around 7 weeks later. He was 52 years old.

Frederick Elmer Capin was 32 years old when his body was discovered on May 12th, 1975, in San Fransisco. His body had been stabbed brutally, just like the other victims. It is believed, due to disturbances in the nearby sand, that his body had been moved around 20 feet after he had died. Through fingerprint identification, police were able to find out that he was a nurse. He had also been in the United States Navy and earned medals whilst serving in the Vietnam War.

Harald Gullberg, who was 66 years old, was discovered on June the 4th, 1975, in Lincoln Park. Due to the decomposition that had taken place, police believe he was killed 2 weeks before his body was found. Harald’s murder is slightly different to the others, as he was far older than the other victims, his underwear had been taken, and his trousers were left unzipped. Harald is believed to be the final victim of the Doodler.

At the time, police described the Doodler as a black man, between the ages of 19 and 25 years old. He was around 6 feet tall with a slender build. They released this sketch to help identify him:

1975 sketch of the suspect. Credit: The San Fransisco Chronicle

Police did question a young man in connection with the murders, but unfortunately, they were not able to press criminal charges against him as the surviving victims did not want to “out themselves” by testifying against him in court. A well-known comedian and a diplomat were among the survivors of the Doodler.

The suspect was cooperative with the police, but he never admitted to the murders or attacks. Police strongly believe that the suspect is responsible for the murders and attacks, but because none of the surviving victims was willing to appear in court, they could never charge the suspect for the crimes.

Not much is publicly known about the suspect, and he has never been publicly named.

In 2018, San Fransisco Police said that the case is still ongoing, and is actively being investigated.

In February 2019, police issued a $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the killer and released a new sketch of the suspect with what he would look like in the present day. They also announced that they would consider using forensic genetic genealogy, which had success in identifying the Golden State Killer.

The Doodler age-progressed sketch, he would be between 63-69 years old. Credit: Wikipedia

As of 2022, the investigation into the Doodler is still active and ongoing, and police are still linking crimes to him.

Hopefully, with the advancements of DNA technology and science, they are able to discover the true identity of this individual and put him behind bars where he belongs.


The Doodler, San Fransisco, California, 1974, 1975, the 1970s, Unsolved Homicides, Unsolved Murders, Unidentified Killer, Serial Killer, Murders, Homicides, Unsolved Case, Unsolved Mystery, Ongoing Investigation, True Crime, Real Crime

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