Doodled to Death: The Victims

To Jack the Ripper, his victims were a means to an end.  Modern profiling has tried to claim he was only a sex killer. None of this was based on any of the inquest testimony or the circumstances. It was based on the ghastly folklore that dominates “Ripperology.” He was not a prostitute killer. Even by prostitutes’ standards, his victims were dregs. They were a part of the river of traffic that entered London’s impoverished East End 1888. They were easy prey.

Such an era was not repeated again until the 1930s depression in America. Kingsbury Run in Cleveland was a hobo village. Here a stalking predator killed hobos after torturing them. Then he returned their headless bodies to the Run to dump them. Like with the Ripper, too many indications pointed to a doctor or postmortem man. Elliot Ness, in charge of the case, suspected a congressman’s cousin, the mad Dr. Sweeney.

Such an era of regress and egress in public places was not seen again until the antiestablishment movement brought a river of hippies to San Francisco. Then gays starting making The Castro their center. They came from all over the world. By 1974, one or more predators was butchering gays in public with a knife. One was known as The Doodler.

The Doodler was a young black man, so it is said. But he wasn’t from the wrong side of the tracks. He had what was believed an upper middle class education and was possibly an art student.


The one police sketch of The Doodler. It says it was done on 10/24, but no year. I cannot read the case number, but many of the Doodler’s victims are not known. None are reported in any October over the 1974-75 period he was active.

Gays were being stabbed more than the police probably wanted to admit. That they were specific targets was an easy denial. A dead body, stabbed several times, laying in the park– how do you know what the victim is? Those victims that could be traced to the nightlife of The Castro were suspected to be gay.

Such was the stalking territory of The Doodler. As Whitechapel was to The Ripper, so was The Castro to The Doodler. He frequented bars and eventually left with another man. That man was never seen alive again.

January 27, 1974

The first victim attributed to The Doodler was a very unattractive Canadian named Gerald Cavanaugh. He was 50, stodgy at 5 foot 8 and 220 pounds.  His body was found by the surf at Ocean Beach. Whoever led him there left no definite footprints in sand, as expected. Cavanaugh had injuries to his left hand indicating he defended himself. Then he had been stabbed many times. He was found face up, rigor mortis setting in.  He was fully dressed. He had a Timex watch on his wrist and in one pocket $21.12 . His identity had been removed.

It had been a cold January night. I have no specifics. Few do. But I doubt there was anything of an “intimate nature.” He had strolled a cold Frisco beach with someone and put up a futile defense when taken by surprise.

June 24/25, 1974

There was little initial reason to make a connection between Cavanaugh and the next victim. Quite a dearth of time had elapsed since late January to the cool summer of 74.  There was another reason. The victim in this case was Jae Stevens, a well known female impersonator at Finnochio’s, far from The Castro in North Beach. He was last seen that night leaving a bar at Montgomery Street. However, his body had been found in the bushes off the walking path at Spreckels Lake in Golden Gate Park (another account has Stow Lake). He had been stabbed a number of times. Blood in his mouth and nose, so we know he got stabbed in the stomach and lungs.


Spreckels Lake, Golden Gate Park. Somewhere off the trail, Jae Stevens stabbed body was found.  He was found stabbed front and back, so some kind of resistance took place.

The police, it is said, believed he had driven his killer to the secluded area in the park, off Fulton Street (unless it was Stow Lake). As with all the cases, little is clarified, but I take it Stevens’ car was found parked nearby. This will become a peculiar clue. The body had been found in the morning by a woman who then called to a couple walking their dog. They called the police.

Where had the amorous pick-up occurred? We do not know. We only know Stevens was last seen about as far away in North Beach as possible from where his body was found.

July 7, 1974

The attacks were obviously becoming more frequent. The next victim was Klaus Christmann.  Married, he was from Germany. He had left house and wife and kids and answered the inner call to live in San Francisco.  He was 31 years old. Christmann was also found fully dressed and his throat cut. He had been stabbed about 15 times. He was found at the end of Lincoln Way, so I take this to mean by the sand dunes at Ocean Beach. Dave Toschi, of ZODIAC fame, investigated this case. He considered it the most brutal stabbing he had seen.


Christmann’s dress had been itemized as: “black side zipper ankle boots with brown cuban-heels, a white Italian (Sela) shirt, orange bikini briefs, one blue moonstone ring and one brown cameo ring along with a gold wedding band.” A tube of makeup was in his pocket. I take it there was no ID, but there may have been. His body was shipped back to Germany.

Notice the pattern?

May 12, 1975

Quite a dearth of time again, but we must remember that we do not know all of the victims of The Doodler. Three near misses are reported, one a diplomat, the other a “nationally known entertainer” and the other a respected local citizen. Their attacks may have occurred in the dearth here or one or more between January (Cavanaugh) and June (Stevens)  1974. The composite above was done in October, so it could be October 1974 that another stabbing occurred.

In any case, all point to the same pattern: The Doodler picked foreigners and out-of-towners. Our man covered his turf. The local prominent citizen may have given a lie when picked up at the bar. He may have said he was from out-of-town. The Doodler didn’t want notoriety. He didn’t want anybody local who had family and friends and would want to push the police about investigating a case. He seemed to have understood The Casto’s mentality. “Fly under radar.”


The Castro in relation to where those victims mentioned here were found. Golden Gate Pak is bordered by Lincoln Way (on the south side) and Fulton Street (on the north side).

The pattern continues with Fred Capin. He was from Port Angeles, Washington State. His body, fully dressed, was found on Ocean Beach, between Ulloa and Vincente streets, May 12, 1975. He had been drug over the sand for about 20 feet and dumped behind a sand dune. I take this to mean he was stabbed somewhere by the road. A skinny, 6 foot tall guy, he must have planned on a good night out. He was wearing a blue corduroy jacket, “Picasso” shirt (many colors), blue jeans, blue undees, brown socks, brown shoes. Quite coordinated, except for the blood that drenched his shirt and jacket. A maniac had gone at him and ruined his night out.

There is a pattern here at the beach. Sand is hard to run on in order to escape. At 50 years of age, Cavanaugh could not have outrun a youthful attacker. He was found at water’s edge, so it is reported. He may have run toward the hard sand by the surf but still was hopelessly outclassed by his attacker.  Capin may have run toward the road and almost made it, there to be cut down or injured and then drug back behind a dune to be butchered.

I do not think the Beach was idly chosen by The Doodler simply because it was remote. Golden Gate Park, remote at night, was closer. Indeed, so was Buena Vista. I don’t know how many bums I’ve seen in Buena Vista Park I thought were bodies. By contrast, Ocean Beach is fairly far.

June 4, 1975

The pattern continues. A Swedish sailor. Harald Gullberg. He must have been dead for a couple of weeks. He was found off the trail at Lincoln Park Golf Course. I take this to mean off the area on the other side of  The Palace of the Legion of Honor. He was rotting away; maggots covered his face. His zipper was down. If he was a Doodler victim, he must have unzipped himself in preparation for, for, something, but received what The Doodler gave all his victims. He was not a well man, at 66 years of age. But his liver, which was ailing him, didn’t kill him. His throat had been cut.

The pattern The Doodler laid down is fairly clear. All out-of-towners except that one prominent citizen. Our man covered his bases locally. But the pattern helps us to uncover more. And I suspect there are more victims. The newspapers at the time said The Doodler had 14 victims in addition to the 3 near misses. So 17 is quite a number.  The next best step? Check the stats for stabbed homicide victims for 1973-1975 who were out-of-towners or foreigners. They were The Doodler’s type of victim.

Someone with The Doodler’s MO would need to be careful. He was black, 6 foot, wore casual clothes, a Navy watch cap, and carried with him his sketch pad.  That’s not a common sight. He flattered intended victims in the gay bars of The Castro with his cartoons or caricatures of them. I would suspect that The Doodler sketched a number of patrons. He struck up conversations and found the right one– foreign, out-of-town, no local friends. Someone who wouldn’t be missed and someone hard to trace.  Someone who wouldn’t have family locally badgering the press and police to do something about the killing.  I can almost hear the tongue-in-cheek invite at last to come and “view my etchings.” They then left. Someone like this will not go unnoticed for long.

This requires the question– just how local was he?

From Jae Stevens’ murder, we know that The Doodler could walk from the park to his domicile. I suspect he was local. Richmond or Outer Richmond District. Perhaps college at City College. Perhaps High School  at George Washington High. He must have had a car. The reports do not say that the victims had a car parked nearby, and indeed some may not have had a car at all.


George Washington High and the crowded dwellings typical of Outer Richmond. I had to be there a couple of years ago for another case and snapped some shots.

This makes Jae Stevens’ murder quite curious. Clearly, the killer walked away to some place and that some place must have been nearby, especially if they connected in North Beach or The Castro. Stevens and Harald Gullberg are the only victims  found on the north side of Golden Gate Park at the Outer and Central Richmond District.


The Richmond District and the probable locations of Gullberg and Stevens’ bodies.

I have been the recipient of a little brainstorming between those who knew the gay community at the time. Aside from learning what “Dinge Queen” means, I have encountered the same suspicions about who the “nationally known entertainer” might have been. They settled on Sal Mineo. He had been performing in P.S. Your Cat is Dead in San Fran and received good reviews. He would have known The Castro.  I have conflicting reports, however, as to how demonstrative he’d be in a bar as regards being famous. Everybody knew he was gay, but that is not the issue. The Doodler would avoid someone famous. There is also disagreement if he was a “Dinge Queen,” as the expression is within the gay community. But that may not have mattered in this case since a handsome, young artistic guy might have been an exception.


The trails off the golf course near the Palace of the Legion of Honor.

The diplomat was from Europe. He took The Doodler back to his flat (after having met in a dark hole for a late night dinner in Upper Market) and for his gesture got stabbed 6 times.

The prominent San Francisco person probably used an alias the night of the attack and said he was an out-of-towner. This made him the perfect target.

None of them wished to admit they were involved in something like this. The prominent citizen fled San Fran and refused to talk to police. The diplomat went back to Europe. The entertainer back to LA.

It sounds like a creepy MO– to draw a caricature of a person and then stab them, but that is not how it seemed to work. This implies that the doodle was found with the victim. That is not the case as that would identify their killer rather easily. Rather he sketched them in the bars as an intro. I doubt there is any doodle extant of the victims, unless The Doodler kept them.

And he might still be alive. The sketch pad may still exist. Even if he died, if it is still in existence it alone might preserve who all of his victims were. The police were sure they knew who he was, but I doubt they saw the sketch pad. They spoke off and on with him for over a year. But he never admitted to any guilt. Yet he never struck again after the questioning began in late 1975.

As to why he was never charged– It was reported that the police could not get the 3 survivors to testify. But I wonder if there was no arrest and trial because The Doodler could then have started talking about victims. This would be very embarrassing for the survivors, though he doubtless did not know their names.

No point second guessing it right now.

The Doodler has left us a stark MO– and very well may still be alive. He was thought to be around 22 at the time and must have been old enough to go into the bars. In addition to identifying all of his victims, it would seem it is equally paramount to identify The Doodler. The gay paper Sentinel said he was a heterosex. I would think so from the circumstances. But he knew The Castro, the gay village. I said he moved across a broad spectrum of society, but if the out-of-towner and foreigner MO holds up, those prominent citizens he attacked may have led him to believe they were quite obscure, average people.

In any case, we should no longer doodle about this serial killer. At the very least, all his victims must be identified.










8 thoughts on “Doodled to Death: The Victims

  1. Here’s a curious footnote to the case. I recently read a true crime book called Closing Time by Lacy Fosburgh. It’s long out of print but I found a cheap copy on Amazon. The book tells the story of the famous “Mr. Goodbar” murder, the brutal slaying of a young schoolteacher named Roseann Quinn by a guy she’d picked up at the local bar.

    One of the key witnesses in the case turned out to be a man Fosburgh calls Rafe (she uses pseudonyms throughout). Rafe is described a black man who was a regular at the bar in question, who always carried a sketch pad and was known for drawing pictures of people. He was in the bar on the night of the murder, and drew pictures of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck for a customer there. Those sketches were found in Quinn’s apartment, and Rafe gave the cops a good description of the man who bought them from him. That description was the basis of a sketch which led to a break in the case and the eventual arrest of Quinn’s killer.

    The obvious question this left me with is, was “Rafe” the Doodler? I’m not suggesting he was Roseann’s killer or anything; it’s clear that the man who was arrested was indeed guilty (he confessed to the murder and committed suicide in prison, while awaiting trial). But it would be extremely creepy if a man who later became a notorious serial killer had such an important, albeit innocent, connection to another notorious case.

    Of course, it’s quite possible that Rafe and the Doodler were two different people. The Quinn murder was in New York City and the Doodler murders were in San Francisco. But the timing would work–the Quinn murder took place in early 1973 and the Doodler murders started a year later. And in that era, how many black guys made it a habit of hanging around bars and sketching people? I dunno, maybe such sketches were a common bar trick back in the day. But I’ve never heard of it.

    Finally, it’s interesting to note that Roseann’s killer, John Wayne Wilson, was bisexual. He visited the bar with his male lover. After the lover left, Wilson talked to Rafe, bought him a few drinks, and bought his sketches. I wonder if the connection there was sexual. The Doodler seems to have been a self-hating gay man and the Rafe/Wilson connection seems to have had an erotic component.


    1. Interesting. Thank you. I assume Doodler was local, but he could have come with so many others from other parts of the country. The streets round Golden Gate park are main streets, so nothing indicates he knew much of SF well.


  2. I don’t believe Jae was a Doodler victim. Two hours before his body was found his car was involved in a high-speed chase through Hayward before crashing into a house. The driver, who got away on foot, was described as having shoulder-length blonde hair. Jae’s family was questioned by SFPD but the Doodler was never mentioned. They believe Jae’s sister, who was hospitalized for killing their mother, killed Jae.


    1. It fits, since the MO was different. I doubt the Doodler, however, would have been mentioned by name until much later, since this was only the beginning of his crime spree. Do you have a little more to substantiate these views? Thank you.


      1. I am still in contact with Jae’s family and they stand firm that his sister Alma killed him but who knows. Still, Jae doesn’t fit the M.O., The Sentinel were known liars and the inspectors lump summed all the homosexual murders from over two years and pinned them on The Doodler. Jae’s murder will forever be a mystery but I’m pretty sure some assume he is a Doodler Victim from the Aug. 1st 1974 issue of the Sentinel.


      2. Thank you for responding. Do you have a copy of those news articles? In all the cases I have investigated, the families are invariably wrong in their assumptions and deductions.


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