An Update in Murder

Needless to say, the “The Gay Murders of San Francisco” are not the most popular subject in True Crime. There are a variety of reasons. One, I feel, is because there is no cynosure upon which to focus eyes and mind. I have yet to pull JACK THE KNIFE from the amorphous mass of potential villains, and the DOODLER more and more is seeming a false construct.

The attacks at Fox Plaza don’t seem key to unraveling the crime spree of The DOODLER, if he truly was a serial killer. And if he was, he has only been accorded a minute share of the 60 victims of Gay murder over the 1970s. The rendezvous and then resulting attacks at Fox Plaza may have been inspired more by a drug contact. The statements circulating about “The DOODLER” fleeing to New Orleans seem an attempt to involve (or invent) a connection to an Oakland political family which had come from New Orleans.

In other words, a lot of inference is out there, all of which only leads to inference, and completely disconnected inference at that unless you are from around the Bay Area (like me) and can put some dots together.

I still proceed with documenting the cases and placing them in context. It’s an expensive pursuit in this case since most details are not public knowledge. At last order request, San Francisco charged $47 dollars per Coroner Report. It’s slow, but my investigation will continue. The results will go on Q-Files, laid out in many ways like the format I used for The East Area Rapist.

Murder most definitely occurred, some very ingenious, most very gruesome. But was a serial really involved? It is just as hard (if not harder) to prove a serial existed than to identify one that has already been established.

In this ghastly age of narrowcasting, the concept of “The DOODLER” has an audience in True Crime and local color. Doubtlessly there will be stories and updates of him in various media outlets, all cleansed of the controversy he might not have existed at all. Little mention made of how a couple of the 5 victims assigned to him were killed by different M.O.s, and there will be no or little mention of the many other Gay victims of similar or more frightening M.O.s. Such is the evil of narrowcasting.

We will see what comes of this– but the clues extend far beyond San Francisco to the glut of Gay murders in other major metropolises.

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Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester or Q Man. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.


I’ve been quiet for a while on here, so I owe some apologies. Those who follow me know that preliminary results, so to speak, get thrashed out on my blog here before being transferred in much more refined detail to Quester Files.

Before I began my minor foray into artless blogging, I presented only the refinements of some of my quests on The Quester Files or in book form. Such was the case of the Zodiac Killer. Some ten years ago my section on my hunt for his identity went up on my website. At an opposite, I used this blog to give updates on my pursuit of the case. So I owe an update here on HorrorScope, my exposé of the ZODIAC. Covid has caused only minor delays. The book will still be coming out this year. It’s been a long wait, I know, and thanks for your patience. I’ve been invited to participate on a couple of podcasts dealing with The Zodiac Killer crime spree and suspects. I am grateful for the offers, but I had to decline. With the book coming out this year, there is no point anymore discussing my investigation. I must wait until the book’s release. Then there is focus for both me and the interviewer.

It has been a long quest trailing Steve. But once again hardest of all was getting contemporary hand printing samples. This alone is the first step in tangible, admissible evidence. There are those who say it isn’t. Well, anybody can write anything they want on the web. Blogs and social media are free. But the fact is that printing samples were the prime bit of evidence, and they remain so. The handbill put out by S.F.P.D. still rings true today– Slugs, Casings, Latents, Handwriting. Of these, hand printing is the open sesame to the others.

It is a big enough hurdle to uncover vintage printing from an individual. But it is an even greater hurdle to get printing that contains matching words and phrases. When SFPD got tired of the ongoing debate over whether ZODIAC had written the confession letter and, especially, the 3 nasty notes of April 1967 concerning the murder of Cheri Jo Bates, they went to FBI printing experts. The results that came back were the most frustrating. On May 2, 1974, the FBI wrote back that the results were inconclusive because there weren’t enough word similarities to make a valid comparison.

This has been the second hurdle that has delayed me so long.

As I have told you all before, it is not enough for me to write a book on The Zodiac Killer and finger another suspect. This has been done too often, and the reading and news audience are desensitized to it all. The evidence must be there. Printing must identify ZODIAC. In doing so, the door is opened to follow the hallway that leads to the guns. There is therefore IDENTIFY (done by me) and then CONVICTION (done by law enforcement).

Thank you all for your forbearance all these years as I have updated you as best as I could on my progress. I didn’t want this to go to the carnival. So aside from speaking on a few friends’ podcasts, I have not spoken about the pursuit that coalesces into HorrorScope and its finale. That is an ordeal still to come.

When HorrorScope comes out, all things ZODIAC will be purged from this blog, and my book and website remain the final product.

This introduces the next update: The Gay Murders of San Francisco. I’m still working on them, but I’ll save this for my next blog post. It deserves its own update.

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Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester or Q Man. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.

Murder By Forgotten Category: The Gay Murders of San Francisco 1968-1982

What follows is a list of murder victims. They are the victims of a new age– the swingin’ lifestyle of the Age of Aquarius. The age was initiated by the counterculture. But after the Nehru collar philosophies collapsed in 1970, the age entered the mainstream as a new liberated lifestyle. Many “mainstream” murder sprees, both solved and unsolved, are known from this period. But the list posted here is of the lost category: the Gay Murders of San Francisco.

The Swingin’ Seventies lifestyle extended beyond the strange promiscuous fashions of the mainstream. It liberated the Gay community, but it did not play out in a similar fashion. Added to Gay nightlife was the biker crowd and their predilection for sado masochism and even the occult, the very trendy fashion of the 1970s. Nightlife became a game for some, an unknown game for most others: it was a game of the hunter and the unsuspecting hunted.

Murder had many motives: thrill, sado gone bad, vengeance, ritual, drugs, easy victims for robbery. Most often it was by knife, strangling, or bludgeon. Seldom reported, except as names on a list of unsolved murders of the year before (such as in the S.F. Examiner yearly roundup), and seldom qualified as a “gay” murder, the details and cases remain largely unknown to the public.

Although the murders mount upward in 1967, they began in December 1966. Lydal Amerson was tagged with the murder of 47 year old Irving Schuett at his Jackson Street flat. He was accused of strangling him with the phone cord. Examples where the suspect was known or even apprehended would soon become a rarity. For as the nightlife culture expanded in the 1970s there were too many murders for the police to keep up with. Always suspicious of the “establishment,” the Gay community in particular wouldn’t always cooperate. This created a Dodge City environment to the nightlife– especially in Tenderloin, South of Market (SOMA) and eventually The Castro– that opened up many more of its habitués to murder.

After much initial research, the list is as follows. It is not complete. Some is compiled from official sources, some from newspapers, some from academic repositories like the Criminal Justice Center at the Ohio State University. The formal list in bold will be contrasted by my own bare notes under in italics. Often my initial research had to correct the ages given on the list maintained at Ohio State University. Sometimes the addresses. My notes meant something to me, and they do not reflect my level of knowledge on the cases. For details on some cases you can read some of the posts on this blog. Those posts still constitute only a scratch on the surface of the cases.

Unsolved murder by gun is not included here. Nor are those where there was a suspect, whether that suspect was cleared or not. Only cases where no suspect was known.

5-10-1967– 66 Montezuma, “Fleming, Donald”, no suspect, sex gay, butcher knife.
Most likely murdered at 68 Montezuma. Actual age=33. Chronicle says murdered at 3255 Folsom. This is actually the funeral home. Ohio State lists 66 Montezuma. Funeral records say 68 Montezuma.

9-21-1967– 890 Bush, “Gilleran, John”, no suspects, sex gay, scissors 15 times.
An impromptu weapon. Age = 24. Scissors come up more often in cases where suspects are known. The defense is “homosexual panic.” It is considered an impromptu weapon. The victim in such cases is often middle aged. Gilleran was young, and it looks like a maniac went at him.


10-3-1968– 207 Chattanooga, “Evans, Dave”, no suspect, gay sex, strangled with towel.
Age 39.

10-22-1968–788 O’Farrell, “Ramirez, Joey”, no suspect, gay, tied up, choked.
World War II enlistee—AAF. Buried at Fort Logan. Never married. Age = 41. Second of middle age men dead by asphyxiation. But the “gay” category could be assumed/incidental. Some robbery victims, tied and gagged, choked to death.


2-16-1969– Fairmont Hotel, “Blachinger, Franc”, no suspect, gay, cut and strangle.
Actual name Francis X. Blechinger. Again, a middle age man at 52 or 54 (varies). The location suggests the killer was a pick up. Same perp as above two cases?

6-24-1969– 477 Burnett, “Hedberg, Charles”, no suspect, gay sex, knifed.
Age = 44. Again, a middle aged man killed at his address (in this case Twin Peaks.)


2-25-1970– 945 Holyhoke, “Drinkmann, Louis”, no suspect, gay sex, knifed.
Age = 49. Circumstances may not indicate a sex killing.

5-9-1970– 245 Leavenworth, “Pace, Effin”, no suspect, gay sex. Bladed.
(alias names, real age=29)

11-6-1970– 1231 Market, “Trudeau, Alfred”, no suspect, gay sex, bladed.
Age = 38. SPC 3 US Army.


1-6-1971– 1035 Bush, “Miller, Lyle”, no suspect, gay sex, bludgeoned by lamp.
Age = 52.

2-8-1971– 195 Chanel, “Ward, George”, no suspect, gay sex, drowned.
(public) George Sid Ward, age = 21. Vietnam soldier. Circumstances must be checked further to verify category.


4-19-1972– 475 Brannan, “Whaley, James”, no suspect, gay sex, bladed.
Age = 45.

10-26-1972– 144 Eddy, “Ladd, Edward”, no suspect, gay sex, blunt force.
Age = 43


7-9-1973– 20 Franklin, “Pryer, Carl”, no suspect, gay sex. bladed.
(middle name David or Deforest) Age – 53.

9-7-1973– 402 Broadway, “Snyder, Paul”, no suspect, gay robbery, bladed.
(Telegraph Hill; Age = 34).

10-11-1973– 149 Bronte, “Pindell, Arthur”, no suspect, gay robbery residence, bladed. (Actual age 46)


1-27-1974– Ocean Beach/Ulloa, “Cavanagh, Gerald”, no suspect, gay sex. bladed.
For whatever reason cataloged as the “first” DOODLER victim. Lived in the Haight on Belvedere Street. Land’s End and Ocean Beach to the south were popular public trysting locations. May have encountered his killer there or in a bar and went not to his apartment (more common), but to a public place. Land’s End regularly swept by SFPD since 1971 due to complaints of public promiscuity. Age = 50.

1-29-1974– 250 Taylor, “Jankowski, Paul”, no suspect, gay sex, bludgeoned with feet or fists. Age =50

2-19-1974– 725 Hyde, “Berlin, Stig”, no suspect, gay sex, gay. bladed.
Age 37. Apartment was a bloody mess. Born in Europe, immigrated to America.

6-25-1974– Spreckles Lake Golden Gate Park, “Stevens, Joseph”, no suspect, gay sex, knife.
(Jae Stevens) Also haphazardly slapped onto the victim list of The DOODLER. Stevens was a high end drag performer. Several nuances exist in his case, including a car chase that night.

7-7-1974– Ocean Beach/Lincoln Way, “Christman, Claus”, no suspect, gay sex. bladed.
Also classified as a DOODLER victim. A gruesome scene, he was knifed at a popular trysting location.

9-14-1974– 2150 Jackson, “Shepard, Dan”, no suspect, gay sex, bladed.

2-2-1975– 375 Eddy, “Gonzales, Richard,” gay sex. bladed.
First a witness, then POI, Philip Molno was tagged for it. First of a series of Tenderloin gay murders.

3-16-1975– 344 Ellis, “Vasquez, Joe”, no suspect, gay sex. bladed.
Transvestite killed in apartment. Born Mexico 1951, known by many aliases in S.F., primarily “Barbella.” Age = 23. Second Tenderloin gay murder.

3-20-1975– 727 Golden Gate, “Almli, Thomas August”, no suspect, gay sex. Bladed.
Age 53– Third Tenderloin gay murder.

4-1-1975– 370 Ellis, “Rodriquez, Jose”, no suspect, gay sex, $50K reward. Bladed.
Fourth tenderloin gay murder– knifed in apartment in building next to Vasquez’s apartment. Also a transvestite known under an alias name “Yancy”. From Texas. Age = 30. Meetings convened in Tenderloin to deal with the rash of murders. Reward offered.

4-27-1975– Land’s End, “Andrews, Warren”, no suspect, Robbery gay sex, died 6/22/75.
Land’s End was a popular trysting location. Andrews, 52, was knocked on the head by a rock. Went into coma; died at hospital a couple of months later. Circumstances indicate a young trick.

5-12-1975– Upper Great Highway/Ulloa, “Capin, Frederick”, no suspect, gay sex. Bladed. Age =32– Found near where Cavanaugh’s body had been found. Could have been murdered by the same perp. Also classified as a DOODLER murder. Occurred almost 1.5 years after Cavanaugh’s murder.

6-4-1975–Lincoln Golf Course/Land’s End, “Gullberg, Harold”, no suspect, gay sex?
Dead a few days when found, Gullberg age 66 was scratched apparently by a twig or branches. Probably same perp who killed Warren Andrews with a rock. Coroner was unsure whether homicide. Strangely listed as a DOODLER victim when it seems Gullberg, even if murdered, was killed by the same perp who used a rock on Andrews. Gullberg had $2.43 in pocket.

7-21-1975– 55 Sherman, “Dickenson, Dennis”, no suspect, gay sex.
Beaten or knifed, accounts differ as to where he dragged himself afterward and died. Suspected to be drug revenge. Age = 28.

8-19-1975– Hahn/Visitacion, “Alfano, Jeffery”, no suspect, gay robbery. Blunt force.
Far gone as a location from the heart of Gay nightlife, but with time this area does form a nucleus for outlying gay murders. Age = 18

8-29-1975– 51 Dore Alley, “Reel, David”, no suspect, gay sex.
Strangled and mutilated in a parking area. Had recently left The Brig— a major leather bar in SOMA. Age = 31.

9-27-1975– 1390 Market, “Gilbert, George”, no suspect, gay sex. Bladed.
Fox Plaza. Two attacks (one victim knifed, survived; the other bound) occurred there in July on the lower floor, attributed later to the DOODLER. This murder was stated to be unrelated. Age = 32

12-8-1975– 64 Turk, “Demott, Claude”, no suspect, gay sex. Blunt force, knife, castrated. A gruesome scene. DeMott was former Army, now sometimes a Transvestite. This is yet another Tenderloin murder. The Gay community was getting angry. Soon the Gay newspapers would report vigilantes knew who the Tenderloin killer was, and they were going to get revenge. Age = 36.


1- 8-1976– 1476 Valencia, “Steeples, George”, no suspect, Prostitution gay bi sex. Knifed.
(Actual age– 54) Confused scene of, apparent, wanton murder in Mission District.

1-24-1976– 242 Turk, “DeJon, Bruce”, no suspect, gay sex. Bludgeoned lamp.
Yet another Tenderloin murder. Published warnings convey vigilantes were now going to get the perp. Age =51

4-25-1976– 169 Brompton,”Marsalla, John”, no suspect, gay sex. Bladed.
Far afield from the others, but of particular interest here. Marsalla was strangled and stabbed. This murder and that of Grant Dailey were similar, and they indicate a butchering sado maniac. Certain surface similarities to Fleming’s murder in 1967. Age = 52.

5-2-1976– 4th/Howard, “Bauman, Nick”, no suspect, robbery witness. Beaten.
For some reason known as “Granny Goose.” Full name Nicholas Parker Baumann. Actual age =29. He had been drug into a basement and bludgeoned. His testicles were pulverized, according to one public report. The area is now the Moscone Center area and bears no resemblance to what it was in 1976. Often considered one of the Gay murders, but the list at Ohio State does not list the circumstances as “gay” related.

9-19-1976– 745 Pine, “Silva, Daniel”, no suspect, gay sex. Bladed.
Age = 50.

10-12-1976– 700 Steiner, “Dailey, Grant”, no suspect, gay sex. Bladed.
Of particular interest here for its gruesome similarities to Marsalla’s murder. The “future” CLONE MURDERS would be similar but less gruesome. In those instances the victims were dumped off Tunitas Creek Road, but actual location of death unknown yet possibly in a Mission District/thereabouts apartment.

12-24-1976– 154 Nueva, “Webb, Donald”, no suspect, gay sex. Asphyxiate.
Canadian like Gerald Cavanaugh and of a similar age. His small bungalow was far afield of the concentration of Tenderloin, Castro, and Market gay murders. Age = 50.


Between January and May a rash of murders by knife and, more commonly, blunt force, takes 5 victims. No suspect. Not listed as “gay” or sex related, but as robbery. Still checking on any connection.

9-27-1977– 2030 Mission, “Harding, Edwin”, no suspect, gay sex. Ash tray.
Actual age was 33. Bludgeoned by someone who came home with him.

10-23-1977– 268 Carl, “O’Shields, Barry”, no suspect, gay sex. Bladed.
Murdered by someone who came home with him. From Florida. Actual age = 26


2-6-1978– 90 Parkridge, “Kenny, Thomas”, no suspect, gay, medieval. Knight’s Mace.
Murdered by someone who came home with him. Age = 39. Twin Peaks.

2-8-1978– 244 9th St, “Smoot, Richard”, no suspect, gay. Gun. Rare example on my list of murder by gun. Picked-up at bar. Killed opposite 51 Dore Alley— going to parking lot with someone as had David Reel? Did he get suspicious of his trick? Intended CLONE victim? Or the same “Jack the Knife” of Reel’s murder? Pursue. It is at this time that Gay men are being murdered by someone they go home with.

4-2-1978– 240 Jones, “Johnson, Dennis”, no suspect, gay narcotics. Bladed.
(Actual age = 24)

7-31-1978– 450 Powell, “Delepeleere, Robert”, no suspect??, robbery. Gagged.
(Checking) Address is Sir Francis Drake Hotel—he was born in another country. Not listed as “gay,” but the scenario is suggested by some circumstances. Some robbery victims died by choking after being gagged by assailant. Age = 44. Murder occurred three days after birthday.

8-14-1978– 1300 26th Ave, “Knorr, George”, no suspect, gay robbery. Bladed.
Age = 42. Murdered in his apartment by someone who came home with him.

9-19-1978– 240 Dolores, “Leboe, Robert”, no suspect, robbery. Bladed.
Checking. Not listed as “gay.” May have been a mistaken victim. Had two children. Born in Utah, grew up in San Francisco. Adress is nice 1970s townhomes or apartments. Couple blocks from Market Street and popular “Truck Stop” pick up restaurant, and other pick up locations. Age = 51. Obit in Chronicle. Since the solicitation for many victims may have been “cocaine” rather than sex, examining the details of some murders of apparent non Gay men may be of value. Several Market Street establishments, though often labeled as “gay”, were patronized by non Gays. Truck Stop in particular was noted for good food.

Daniel Joseph Oller found dumped San Mateo Co. 17 March 1978.
Ronald Young – found dumped San Mateo Co. 17 March 1978.
2 John Does found dumped San Mateo Co. June 7, 1978.
Jerry Haberle found dumped Marin Co. September 16, 1978.
Arthur Tomlin Goodman III found dumped San Mateo Co. October 6, 1978.
Rick Smoot connected somehow?

Popular David Likens, the “Robert Redford” of the Gay community in San Francisco, was arrested for these murders. He hung himself in January 1979 in a San Mateo Co. jail. Apparently from the stigma of his relationship with Likens, his former roommate Archie Daniel Hepburn killed himself a few months later.


1-4-1979– 240 Jones, “Prince, William”, no suspect, robbery. Bladed.
Gay? Age could be wrong = 45 or 55. BD could be 05 Feb 1933 as opposed to 1923. In reports of the Quirinio Paolazzi murder in May 1979, references are made to a similar murder earlier in the year, possibly perpetrated by same young trick. This appears to be that case– similar murder time in late afternoon.

5-17-1979– 1676 York, “Paolazzi, Quirino”, no suspect, gay robbery. Fire Poker.
Paolazzi was 72. Jersey of young man left behind at scene. Perp dumped Paolazzi car at Buena Vista Park .

6-10-1979– 790 Ellis, “Wright, George”, no suspect, gay. Strangled.
Appears to be transvestite reported in B.A.R. as strangled at the motel at Ellis and Polk. Age = 47

6-19-1979– Noriega/Beach, “Doe, John”, no suspect. Gun.
Later identified as Drath. Trick revenge murder? Tricks were being blamed for a large portion of the murders. Young Drath, a runaway, was shot several times. His body was found somewhat buried at Ocean Beach.

7-19-1979– 155 Turk, “Lawrence, Henry”, no suspect, gay robbery. Bladed.
Age =44. Possibly the Trap employee reported in the B.A.R. as murdered. The Trap was a nasty place. Tricks were for hire.

9-22-1979– 280 Eddy, “Frozetting, Billy”, no suspect. Bladed.
(Checking) Tenderloin, in the heart of the gay murders. Park now. No such name in phone book or death records. Age given in list as 48. May not be gay.  


4-26-1980– 998 Howard, “Smith, Peter”, no suspect, robbery. Bladed.
(Checking) Never married—no kids. US Army. Age = 59.

7-7-1980– 1315 Polk, “Miller, Hamilton”, no suspect, Robbery. Gagged, etc.
Scotsman. Not listed as gay, but happened at the Leland at Polk & Bush. Nice looking today. Center of prostitution back then on Polk Street.

7-25-1980– 445 O’Farrell, “Haefer, Robert”, no suspect, gay. Asphyxiate.
Age =39

9-7-1980– 825 Lincoln Way, “Probert, Howard”, no suspect, gay robbery. Strangled.
Nice 1970s apartments at 9th and Lincoln. Not married, no children. Age = 62.

11-10-1980– 1651 Market, “Brannigan, Wm”, no suspect, gay. Asphyxiate
This was now the 4th who died of strangling or asphyxiation since the beginning of the year. Age = 33

11-24-1980– Buena Vista Park, “Meder, Donald”, no suspect, gay. Bladed.
Age = 42 (4 days short of his 43rd BD). Stabbed to neck. Pants found around ankle. Knifing similar to so-called DOODLER Ocean Beach murders of 1974-1975. Buena Vista Park was becoming a real problem for crime and especially for robbery of Gay men. However, in this case it seems murder was the object. Lived nearby on Fillmore. Must have walked to the park to make a connection.


3-27-1981– 646 Douglas, “Cushway, Rich”, no suspect, gay robbery. Bladed.
Age = 33.

4-29-1981– 4126 18th St, “Duncan, David”, no suspect, gay. Blunt force.
Australian, age 44. Killer robbed the place and apparently even tried to move a safe. It wasn’t sado gone bad, but that may have been the killer’s guise.

8-24-1981– Roosevelt/Museum, “Singleterry, Wm”, no suspect, gay robbery. Strangle.
According to newspapers this was far more involved. Tire iron was used. Singleterry mysteriously disappeared from bar, leaving behind full drink and jacket/cigarettes. Location is at entrance to Corona Heights Park.

12-15-1981– 630 Franklin, “Valine, Larry”, no suspect, gay. Bladed.
Age given as 22; actual age was 32. Married in Jan 70-divorced in June 1971. Possible. Maybe from Hamilton, CA.

8-21-1981– 298 6th St, “Kleinschmidt, Ric”, no suspect, argument. Bladed.
Address is school where drug deals also known. Never married. Not listed as gay. Age = 34. Buried back in home state.


5-18-1982– 217 Eddy, “Marquez, Adolfo”, no suspect, gay robbery. Strangled.
Born in Mexico. Mexican death certificate–“afixia pulmonar, estrangulacion manual.” Age given as 50.

7-22-1982– 855 Burnett, “Clark, Leroy”, no suspect, gay. Bladed.
Twin Peaks. Leroy Joseph Clark—B 12 March 1927-22 July 1982— From Colorado. Murdered by someone who came home with him. Age = 55.

The above list does not include unsolved gay murders by gun. Nor, for the most part, does it include murders not specifically listed as gay but whose circumstances strongly suggest this was a factor. These are still being researched, and possibly 10 names can be added.

Murder by strangulation is not common among men except among Gay men at this time. As the reader will note, there were waves where quite a few men were strangled over a year or two years. Knifing is far more common.

Like anybody else in the city scene back then, Gay men were into drugs. Some of the public murders might have been revenge murders for bad drug deals– Dickinson, Kleinschmidt, Bauman. The last, however, was murdered in a particularly gruesome way.

As also noted in other articles, tricks murdered older men just to rob them and then have no witnesses. Some feigned homosexuality just to lure Gay men into a compromising position.

However, due to waves and locations and particularly brutal ways of murder– such as in Marsalla’s, Reel’s, and Dailey’s deaths– one must consider a serial was also afoot. More than one killer was certainly coming home with his pick up. Some were murdering without robbing.

Close to 70 names are here. These represent only those in San Franciso. Others were being murdered in San Jose and around the Bay Area. Still others were being killed in similar fashion in the Gay centers– New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, perhaps also Chicago. Killer or killers may have worked more than one city. Comparisions should be made with other city murder lists. Unfortunately, these are not as easily available.

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Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester or Q Man. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.

Links and False Links– The Gay Murders of San Francisco

When it finally comes time to present the fruits of my labors in trying to unravel the Gay Murders of San Francisco, I will present cases between 1968 and 1982. There are some 60 cases that need sewing together or tearing apart in order to reveal or to bury JACK THE KNIFE, the DOODLER, or any other serial that might have been afoot during this period.

As an example of both the difficulties and the prospects, I want to touch on two cases here. These two cases are just after the cutoff– they occurred in 1983, but they accentuate a truth that applies to the time period in which occurs the glut of Gay Murders. The truth is easier to see here because the environment for murder had changed. The stats show that Gay Murders suddenly drop this year. Casual or public sex had become very dangerous due to the rise of AIDs. Pickups by tricks and strangers wasn’t happening as much anymore, and it is within that world that DOODLER and potentially any other serial had stalked. But it is also within this world that almost all of the unsolved killings had occurred since 1968.

Free of the sheer excess of the 1970s’ boomtown Swingin’ Seventies’ nightlife/sex life, the cloud that confuses evidence had lifted. What this means is that potential perps were far fewer in number. The police were able to gather more evidence, refine more evidence, investigations could be more focused.

Though few murders go unsolved, these show how easy it is for more than one killer to stealthily move by night and leave no real trail. . .if . . .if he confined himself to the world of tricks and pick-ups. Two murders in particular link, blur, unlink and blur yet again. They embody the danger of taking things on surface appearance. Both happened after a pick-up. They occurred in public. The tryst was in a car at a park, near a major cross street. The victim was middle-age. This in itself argues for a young trick as the perp . . . but–

The first victim was on April 10, 1983, Nicholas Rubicam, age 53. He grew up in Washington State, born Nicholas Gregg Rubicoma (family name listed interchangeably with Rubican/Rubicam). At present, he lived on Belgrave Avenue, San Francisco. He was the manager for Western Community Mortgage and a Vice President for its financial parent company. April 10 was a Sunday. He had encountered his killer somewhere Saturday night.

Rubicam, as seen in high school in 1946.

They were at the rest area near where Arguello Blvd and Conservatory Drive meet, at the edge of Golden Gate Park. The murder was by a very personal method, one seen usually in those murders which occurred in apartments during the spate of killings in the mid-to late 1970s. This was the slow, agonizing death of strangulation.

Rubicam was found by police early Sunday morning. They saw him laying by a swank new gray Mercedes 300 station wagon. They thought he was drunk and shouted at him. Then they realized he was dead. He was spread-eagle. His shirt was unbuttoned. His jacket was near his right foot. Abrasions and cuts about his neck proved he had been strangled.

Motive wasn’t robbery. His wallet was there and intact. According to the police, the murder must have happened between 1:10 a.m. (parking area last checked) and 3:30 a.m. (when found). According to his boyfriend, young 20-year-old Kurt Pokorny, Rubicam left home at midnight, in Pokorny’s estimate too drunk to drive. They had been at Sausalito’s star restaurant Valhalla. We don’t need to dissect the public claims. But the circumstances, as presented, suggest Rubicam went out and met a trick.

There had been public strangulations of Gay men before in public– always in a park– but that was the exception to the Gay Murder M.O. One would have to say it was a young trick’s safe way of murder– safe because he need not carry an identifiable weapon. The only advantage was to murder during the tryst. This was the only way to get a man off guard and incapable of defending himself.

(Rubicam was short, but he was athletic, lean and strong.)

The circumstances or, perhaps, staging of Rubicam’s murder underscore that the M.O. of trick murder in public isn’t one easily solved. A year later the S.F. Examiner reports there were no suspects.

Suspect remains publicly unpresented in Rubicam’s murder. But on November 16, 1983, a Wednesday, a similar scene presented itself to SFPD. The body was in John McLaren Park, by a rest area, near the corner of Mansell and John Shelley Drive. This is in the southwest of South Francisco, coming close to the border with South San Francisco.

Nickolaus Crumbley, 41, was visiting San Francisco from Texas. He had met his trick and they went to this unlikely location. Here with pants and underwear down, Crumbley was murdered by strangulation, apparently in his rental car. Then the body was thrown out and the killer escaped with his car. I don’t go into salacious details, but to be as anodyne as possible– anal smears proved DNA was present from another man.

Nick Crumbley

The general circumstances are very similar to Rubicam’s murder, though both body locations are relatively far from each other. Rubicam’s murder has the stench of a set-up around. But Crumbley’s was more in line with the M.O. of Polk Street hustlers, those who had once hung out at The Trap on Eddy, waiting for gullible out-of-towners.

Crumbley’s case went unsolved for over 20 years until 2009. Then a DNA hit matched a local– William Payne, BMA. He had been 19 years old at the time. In 2012 he was arrested. He denied it all, and was carted off by the police. This got a lot of attention, and so did his trial. But there were problems. Payne now admitted to having had sex with Crumbley. When first questioned by police back in 1983, he didn’t admit to it because he didn’t want his religious family to know about his bisexual trysts. The defense attorney was able to introduce that swabs from the victim’s underwear proved that DNA from two unknown men was present. The fingerprints on Crumbley’s rental car, found later (pushed) in Lake Merritt, also didn’t match Payne’s. The jury hung at 9-3 in favor of acquittal. Judge Andrew Cheng declared mistrial. Another trial was arranged, of course, but elaborating on that is not the purpose here. Safe to say the court of public opinion remains divided.

Essentially, on the surface, Crumbley’s murder fit a trick M.O. The location may suggest it was more random, and the goal ultimately was robbery. (Crumbley’s pants pockets were inside out.).

Here on the surface we have two very similar M.O.s– park corners, the evidence (in part or toto) of a tryst, murder by strangulation of a middle-age man. But it very well could be that two different perps were involved.

The two victims were very different. Crumbley was a bit frumpy; Rubicam was dapper, short, athletic. He was a local, far more affluent. His car wasn’t stolen. Nor was his money.

Prior to this, some S&M tricks had stolen their victim’s car from their own driveway after having killed them in the house. In a notable murder in 1979, septuagenarian victim Quirinio Paolazzi was murdered in his York Street home and the killer drove the car back to Buena Vista Park area. In Crumbley’s case, Lake Merritt is in Oakland across the Bay.

That very night Rubicam was murdered, the S&M era came to a dramatic end. Harry Diethelm, the owner of the main SOMA leather bar, The Brig, was strangled in his own basement (on Bemis Street) in sado. The place had been set up for a sado laboratory. There was a chair, described like a dentist’s chair, in which Diethelm was bound by the wrists, then choked to death. Then one of the perps, Jeff Van Tongeren, lit him afire. Van Tongeren then took Diethelm’s car with some valuables in it. The house didn’t burn sufficiently to cover the clues and Van Tongeren was arrested.

Hank Diethelm with members of the The Brig’s leather contest men.

There was no connection to Nick Rubicam’s murder. Maybe there is no connection between Rubicam’s murder and the murder of Nick Crumbley.

Muddled, blurred edges like these exist throughout the massive murder wave of Gay Murders of San Francisco between 1968 and 1982. It takes much information to be able to divide bone and marrow to determine any links or break any apparent links that tempt us on the surface.

These two cases from 1983 have more public evidence than many of the others, and together they reveal a still-lurking complexity in those older cases during the boomtown days of Swingin’ Seventies nightlife.

After this point, the edges become clearer. Young tricks– the Polk Street hustlers– were killing older, gay men. If caught they’d claim “homosexual panic,” and in a couple of cases even get acquitted. Drugs and money would come to dominate and make for very clear motives for the murders hereafter.

*         *        *

Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester or Q Man. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.

Happy New Year and COLD CASE Updates

Sorry about the lack of posts on here. As most of you know who follow me, The Q Files is reserved for more of a final product. This coming year I hope to present a detailed account of the Gay Murders of San Francisco thereon. I’m still getting Coroner Reports– they cost a whopping 47 bucks per report, so things come in in increments. Altogether the final presentation will shed light on THE DOODLER and, I think more importantly, shed light on more than one serial killer afoot. I am coming to the belief that “JACK THE KNIFE” struck in more than one city during this period.

Several news reports in the 1970s included the assessment of a popular “Gay haberdashers” on Polk Street, San Francisco, talking about how Gay men spent more, traveled more, lived to the fullest the 1970s concept of “Swingin’ Seventies.” Without children, they simply had more money to spend on themselves and sample the nationwide party offerings from coast to coast. Although the murders of over 60 Gay men between 1968-1982 in S.F. alone are quite similar, Gay murders on the whole were quite similar over Seattle, Los Angeles, and New York. Identifying JACK THE KNIFE, the handle I give this COMPOSITE, could be quite difficult. But it is time to finally introduce the crime spree and the potential for such a traveling high-end “John” predator. This is what I will be doing on The Quester Files this coming year.

I am slowed by another significant case. I intend to beat a dead horse in HorrorScope. More vintage handwriting samples for Steve have been identified in order to be presented in my expose of The Zodiac Killer. Matching Steve’s printing to Z’s is no longer my goal, since I have achieved enough. What I am after is corresponding words or phrases.

Those who follow the ZODIAC case and its history know the F.B.I. balked at trying to draw a connection with the 3 nasty notes of April 1967 and ZODIAC’s penmanship. In attempting to reconcile them with ZODIAC’s lettering, they declared it was inconclusive because there wasn’t enough similarity (overlap) in words used. It was perhaps the worst conclusion for those attempting to make a link to the Bates murder or the poison pen letters of Riverside 1966 and 1967. But it was an honest answer.

I don’t want to fall victim to the same thing Paul Avery and Sherwood Morrill fell victim to when they declared a definite Z link to Riverside. Morrill, of course, resorted to a strange psychology in order to divine a link, one far outside of his purview. He should have remained fixed on the evidence before him rather than trying to explain differences by psychological changes and evolution in ZODIAC’s mentality.

I have been able to identify documents that contain handwritten addresses, especially for addresses in San Francisco. This will give me the overlap on Steve’s printing and ZODIAC’s. It is not to forge a link to Steve or ZODIAC and Riverside. It is to cement the link between Steve and ZODIAC. Riverside is quite problematic, as the readers of HorrorScope will come to understand.

I thought I had pinned Steve’s whereabouts down pretty good while he was in the Air Force. But I have achieved more than his publicly accessible postings. I discovered that he underwent training and briefing in Office of Special Investigation at Bolling AFB in Washington D.C. At the present time, I assume it was because he wanted to be a Personnel Officer, and AFOSI would obviously like trained contacts in that duty. But there are just some things that don’t fit with that theory.

Steve was 4 months in mental observation after he had been declared unfit to remain in the Air Force. What that was about is still shrouded in mystery.

I’m still cutting down HorrorScope, as it is too long. Late spring or early summer is still the projected publishing date. I will, of course, keep you updated.

As for The I-70 Killer, I have been contacted a couple of times by commenters claiming to be sisters of the late Mick McCown. One invited me to email her in response, which I did. I never got a response.

*         *        *

Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester or Q Man. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.

Complexities of Gay Murder–Mike Singleterry August 24,1981

I have implied throughout my preliminary presentations of the Gay Murders of San Francisco that there was most likely more than one serial killer involved over the years 1968-1982. The blog posts began as a means of placing in context the DOODLER crimes of 1974-1975. Doing so we uncovered more details questioning whether the DOODLER was really anything beyond a hasty tagline. The potential of JACK THE KNIFE remains foremost in my pursuit now. In this post let’s look at the details of one particular murder. I don’t believe this is a JACK THE KNIFE case, but it does reveal the puzzling circumstances before some of the murders, indicating a very careful stalker the likes of which the theoretical KNIFE appeared to be.

Michael Singleterry had grown up in Salinas, a small town south of the Bay Area. By 1981, the 30-Something had lived in San Francisco for 5 years. He worked at Pacific Telephone Company, and his parttime gig was at old CHOP’s on Market Street. He was the DJ. He had a boyfriend. He was the guy next door type of fellow, and he lived a fairly quiet life other than being the voice at CHOP’s. Although his lifestyle was not the kind to put him within the promiscuous nightlife, his job made him well known to the bar hopping crowd. We may assume, at the very least, this incited a stalker.

It was Sunday night, August 23, 1981. Michael was at Bear Hollow in Castro with some friends. They had popped over here after having had a drink at one of his favorite bars, Patsy’s. It was about 11:30 p.m. Friends looked about for him in the bar. His fresh drink was sitting on the bar. Next to it was his pack of cigarettes. His jacket was on the peg. His friends couldn’t figure where he had gone. Checking, they realized he wasn’t in the bar. This was very unlike him.

His body was found early the next morning in Corona Heights Park. The B.A.R. reports it was at 15th and Roosevelt, but the Sentinel reports it was found near the entrance to the park. In a summation of murders that year, the B.A.R. writer Ron Wickliffe implies Singleterry was first strangled. But the Sentinel says he was beaten to death by something approximating a tire iron.

The rub is that the Coroner said Singleterry had died around 2 a.m. The obvious question is: where had Singleterry been for 3 hours or so after inexplicably vanishing at Bear Hollow?

The Sentinel (September 4, 1981) wrote that Singleterry wasn’t the kind who lived a lifestyle that would put him in a park at night– for anybody who knew the swinging nightlife of the Gay community in San Francisco back then, this meant Singleterry wasn’t into trysts at all. His boyfriend Mike Ziolkowski and his friends were at a loss. “If he was expecting to leave the bar, he would have said something,” said one of them. Another declared: “He was a very reliable person. He would have told us if he was going out or going home.”

The upshot is that someone approached him in the bar and led him away for some reason. It was done quietly, smoothly. SFPD asked witnesses to come forward if they saw him leave with someone, get in a car with anybody, or have an altercation . . .someplace. No one came forward. No suspect composite has ever been released.

Trysting at nearby Buena Vista Park was commonplace, and to an extent at Corona Heights Park, but that simply wasn’t Mike’s way. So how did he get out of the bar? Where was he for 2.5 hours before being murdered in the hillside park that overlooks the Castro?

Although this was not a knifing, in a recital of the other knifing or strangling murders we have seen a similar phenomenon. Somehow completely unseen by others in the bar, some gent walks up and leaves with the victim. The victim is later found dead in his apartment or in an alley, park, whatever. In this case, Singleterry’s personal effects were left behind and his lifestyle would not have led him where he died.

He was a victim, quite obviously an intended victim, one who left behind some very perplexing clues.

*         *        *

Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester or Q Man. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.

“Satan Saves ZOIDAC”

When last we left off the Gay Murders of San Francisco, we showed how the general M.O. remained the same both before and after the years attributed to the DOODLER (1974-1975). We could easily see that another wave occurred in the early 1980s. The purpose, of course, was to underscore that DOODLER may not be the primary serial killer that should be of interest today. Here let’s look at an earlier murder.

It was April 19, 1970. San Francisco was just entering the threshold of the darkest era of the counterculture’s aftermath. Late night Robert Salem (40) brought a man home with him to his upscale pad on Stevenson Street, right South of Market. It was an old warehouse building that had survived the great earthquake. Salem had turned it into a posh apartment and workshop. He was famous as a designer of lamps, and some of his work was considered art.

Now, days later there were reasons for friends to break into the apartment. No one had seen him, and he wasn’t answering calls. After they forced the door they were confronted by a grisly scene. Slathered in blood on the wall was “Satan Saves ZOIDAC.” Also in blood was some kind of dagger and hilt.

Blood was in every room. It was a savage murder, the victim lured into it by the promise of a sexual tryst or by intoxication. Robert Salem’s body was on a Japanese tatami matt, covered in a psychedelic print. He had been stabbed many times, then his jugular had been slit. His left ear was missing, cut off by his assailant. On his stomach was etched the same dagger symbol.

Police investigation proved the blood on the wall was Salem’s. Apparently nude or in oriental lounging clothes, the murderer killed or sacrificed Salem, then wandered the house looking for something. He took enough blood to liberally write on the walls, then took a shower. He must had dressed again and then left . . .with Salem’s left ear.

Salem’s wallet had been found open, so it was thought there was some form of robbery, but nothing else seemed to be missing.

So what to make of this? A man named Stanley Baker would be tagged for it. It was thought to be part sacrifice and part decoy. At first, the police thought it was to make them believe it had been done by the Zodiac Killer. (The writing on the wall misspelled ZODIAC.) But the circumstances showed it was a gay murder. If all this was done to merely conceal the fact a tryst had been intended, it wasn’t done very well.

On the other hand, this was not the way a trick would get rid of a customer. It was just too elaborate.

The viciousness of such attacks had been seen before, starting in 1967 when what can be called the murder spree began. Strangling, knifings, horrid S&M. Within the span of 1967 to 1982, one must pick out more details to try and figure if there was one or more serial killers hunting gay men in San Francisco. The general M.O.s are so similar, though in Salem’s case there was a unique twist to it, one that would not be repeated until the murder of John Doe 60 in 1985, in which he too had been sacrificed by Maurice Bork and Clifford St. Joseph. They had carved an upside-down pentagram on his chest.

Salem’s is only one example where there was a suspect named. This adds him to about 20 gay murders where there was a suspect or conviction. Nevertheless, there remain about 60 gay murders over the same span of time for which there was no suspect. Those now being popularly blamed on the so-called DOODLER occurred only over 1974-1975. But the same M.O. found within those two years can be found both before and after.

*         *        *

Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester or Q Man. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.

The I-70 Killer: A Long Path to Facts– The Mick McCown Murder

Ever since my name got associated with a POI in the case of the I-70 Killer, traffic has been coming to some old posts of mine– in particular those relating to the Terre Haute murder of Michael “Mick” McCown. Believe me, I have analytics. My website The Quester Files, as those who follow me know, has the finalized, details results of any of my investigations. My blog here is for preliminary thrashing out and introduction. Years ago no one was investigating and presenting the case of the I-70 Killer. No one apparently ever sought actual facts. I was the first to try and get the Coroner Reports, discovering in the process only one jurisdiction (St. Charles) even knows where their report is.

In fact, if recent assertions are true, the case presentation may have been on the level of folklore– an uncritical rehash of information released in the first month of the murders (April-May 1992).

From the very beginning of the crime spree (April/May 1992) statements have been made and cycled . . . unto this very day. One of those most frequently cycled statements revolves around Mick McCown. Because he was the only man murdered, his case seemed key to any insights on the I-70 Killer’s stalking and selecting pattern. It was always said that he had long hair and wore it in a ponytail. For this reason it was theorized that the I-70 Killer murdered him by mistake, thinking he was a woman. Analysis cannot deny this is an obvious induction . . . However, all that was reported may be false.

St. Louis Post Dispatch photo, May 1992, Sylvia’s Ceramics, Terre Haute, Indiana.

Two sisters of Mike McCown have sent me messages. Through email in return, I have invited one of them to make her own statements and told her I will publish them on here. She has asserted that her brother did not have long hair anymore and that there were bells on all doors of “Sylvia’s Ceramics Shop.” The implication, of course, is that there could be no mistake that the I-70 Killer murdered her brother fully knowing he was a man.

So that we might all appreciate the facts and, hopefully, far more details, when and if reported here, I list below only a fraction of source material repeating that Mike McCown had long hair and a ponytail. The reader should note: when both Teresa McCown Lee and her mother Sylvia are quoted, disagreeing that he was a mistaken victim, the reporter gives no reason why they disagree. It is merely presented as a personal opinion. Short of uncovering the Coroner Report, only the family are in a position to set the record straight.

May 12, 1992:

On April 27, the only male victim was killed in a Terre Haute ceramics store. Authorities said Michael McCown, 40, may initially have been mistaken for a woman because he wore his long hair in a ponytail and had an earring.

Mark Potok
USA Today
May 26, 1994

“Our life is ruined, it has devastated our family,” says Sylvia McCown, mother of Michael “Mick” McCown, who was killed in his Terre Haute, Ind., ceramics shop. Police think the killer may have mistaken McCown – who had longish hair and wore earrings – for a woman.

Diana Penner
Indianapolis Star
Sunday, April 9, 2000

• April 27, 1992, Michael McCown, 40, was found shot to death in his ceramics
store in Terre Haute. He was the only man killed in the series, but police
think the shooter might have mistaken McCown for a woman because of his
ponytail. Also, his store was called Sylvia’s Ceramics, which could have
suggested it was run by a woman.

Valerie Schremp-Hahn
May 2, 2012
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

The first victim was slain April 8 inside a Payless Shoe store in Indianapolis. Kitzmiller was the fifth victim. On May 7, in Raytown, Mo., near Kansas City, a woman was killed in a health food store. All the victims but one were young women with long brown hair. The only male victim wore his hair in a pony tail and might have been mistaken for a woman. The killer fired point-blank at the head or behind the ear, or both.

Amy Renee Leiker
May 22, 2014

Michael McCown – the only male – was killed at his ceramics shop in Terre Haute, Ind., on April 27, 1992. Police think that because of his long hair, the shooter may have mistaken him for a woman.

May 4, 2016
Christian Fellwock
(Vox Magazine)

Only a few pieces of evidence connected the murders between April 8 and May 7. Five victims were brunette women working at small stores just off I-70. The exception was Michael McCown, whom police believe the killer mistook for a woman because he wore his long hair in a ponytail. Each victim was shot in the head with the same .22-caliber rifle.

Haley Bull
May 22, 2017
Fox 59

April 27, 1992 Terre Haute, Indiana – Michael McCown, 40, was killed in his shop, Sylvia’s Ceramics, 2615 S. 3rd Street.  His body was discovered by a customer at about 4:15 p.m.  Michael was the only male victim in this series.  Because of all the circumstances – including the fact that he wore his hair very long – we assess that the killer, watching from outside, mistook Michael for a woman until he entered the store.

Steve Huff
April 18, 2018
Inside Hook

In Sylvia’s Ceramics Shop it was probably quiet. As the Post-Dispatch reported, owner Michael McCown—”Mick” to his friends—was “reaching for a small, white ceramic house” on a shelf when he was shot at close range in the back of his head. McCown, who wore his hair long and had an earring, died immediately. Theories of the crime in the years since have suggested the killer mistook McCown for a woman.

Jon Webb
Courier & Press
8:00 a.m. CT May 11, 2018

40-year-old Michael “Mick” McCown seemed like a good guy. I found one blogger who claimed to work with a couple bands Mick played bass in. Mick had a big grin and helped his mother at the store she owned: Sylvia’s Ceramics near I-70 in Terre Haute.He also wore his long brown hair in a ponytail. And police believe that might be what got him killed.

Lily Pesavento
May 26, 2019

In the shop, police found the body of 40 year old Michael ‘Mick’ McCown, the only male victim.

He was shot in the back of the head while stocking shelves.

For years police have believed the killer mistakenly thought McCown was a woman, but those who knew him disagree.

“I don’t think it’s true. And neither do his friends or the rest of the family. I think he went into the ceramics shop because it’s named ‘Sylvia’s,’” said McCown’s sister Teresa Lee. “My mom’s name, expecting a woman.”

Lee doesn’t want him to be remembered as the “mistaken” victim in a string of unsolved murders.

Mick McCown still remembered fondly by family, friends and fellow musicians.

*         *        *

Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester or Q Man. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.

Let’s Doodle. . . THE DOODLER

I have taken an hiatus on posting about the Gay Murders of San Francisco 1968-1982 due to 2 manuscripts I must prepare; also I am in the last mile of preparing HorrorScope for publication. Within the glut of gay murders there is categorized the DOODLER MURDERS over 1974-1975. Those who follow these blog posts know that I have increasingly been skeptical as to why the DOODLER got his own category. I have the cases of 60 gay murders over 1968-1982 before me, and they are remarkably similar, though obviously not committed by the same perpetrator. Why then were 5 victims sorted out over the brief span of January 1974 to September 1975 and attributed to this young black guy who supposedly doodled?

That is an involved question that I have addressed somewhat over the posts. It’s sometimes buried within them, but I have obviously cast doubt that the DOODLER actually existed as a bona fide serial killer. This more or less explains why I have not focused on developing the supposed identity of the, once again, supposed perp. Supposedly again, his identity is known. Supposedly, again, again, even his travel plans upon leaving San Francisco in 1976 are known. Why does all this nebulousness remain?

Let me give some personal opinions.

1, The DOODLER remains a very nebulous case, I feel, because it is probably not a real case.

2, The case remains nebulous and not developed because of the belief that Joseph Houghteling was the prominent citizen who survived the attack at Fox Plaza and didn’t want to come forward to identify the miscreant. Joe was a great guy; owned newspapers (including my hometown newspaper), was politically active Democrat. To assert he was attacked because of a homosexual tryst is quite reckless, and quite unlikely.

3, The identity of the DOODLER is talked around, I opine, because of the fear it would lead to and involve an East Bay political family that will chop people off at the ankles for making the claim.

For me, neither 2 nor 3 mean much because I am after a much broader target than the identity of the murderer(s) over 1974-1975. There, I think that captures the spirit of it.

*         *        *

Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester or Q Man. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.

I-70 KILLER- Coming News

Sorry for the lack of updates on the DOODLER/JACK the KNIFE murders of San Francisco in the 1970s. But I have been slammed with getting two manuscripts finished and then edits on a third, HorrorScope. There is nothing more mentally fatiguing than working on these many MSs at once.

In addition, lots of information has been coming in on a POI who could be associated with the I-70 KILLER crime spree. Although I have not mentioned the case for a while, the POI’s name in association with my research has apparently been made recently on a podcast. Surfers have come to my blog in large numbers over the crime case, including a couple claiming to have details on one of the cases. Since I am still waiting for the coroner’s report on this case, I cannot contradict the claims being made, but the claims also contradict the police theories and every news report, including those dated to 1992, regarding the Terre Haute murder of Mick McCown.

I know that the POI is being triaged by St. Charles PD. He is also being triaged by an Ohio jurisdiction over an unrelated murder.

So little has been written on the subject of the I-70 Killer recently that my blog has become the focus, and the focus curiously is on some older posts from years ago. All news reports dating from the beginning speculated that McCown’s murder was a mistake. This was based on the assertion that he had his hair in a ponytail and was mistaken for a woman from behind. My detailed and most recent post on the case contradicted this, noting how it was impossible given the evidence that the killer did not know McCown was a man. However, some old overview of mine, based on the police assertions and news reports, presents the case as originally and ubiquitously presented since 1992.

In all fairness to the subject, until the coroner’s report is uncovered, such presentations must stand. The reader can balance between the assertions and the evidence and clues I present in the most recent article:

At least on one occasion, a news report quoted two relatives of McCown. One strongly contested that he was a mistaken victim. Rather her opinion was that the killer saw the woman’s name on the shop “Sylvia’s” and entered expecting to take a female victim. Then finding Mick McCown shot him instead. I would tend to agree. But I base my beliefs on details. Whatever the family members conveyed to the reporter, the reporter never conveyed any reason why the family held their beliefs. Now it is being asserted that McCown was 6 feet 4 inches tall, had cut his pony tail, and there were bells on all the doors of the shop. Again, this may be true, but the news was skeptical enough not to support these claims if family members had, in fact, made them to the reporters.

*         *        *

Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester or Q Man. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.