Let us go back to San Francisco 1974. It is a different world. It is a world that sees the ZEBRA Killings. It saw the kidnapping of Patty Hearst and urban guerillas. It is an anxious world in the wake of The ZODIAC. Such crime sprees upset the mainstream. They caused the mayor to screech at the police to do something; civic groups to screech at the mayor.
But for tenderloin killings there was little press. The Doodler was satiating his appetite for carnage by concentrating on the gay underground of the Castro. Newspapers didn’t even want to devote filler space to the crime spree. To this day, the body count is uncertain. Had it not been for The Doodler’s unique MO, he probably wouldn’t have rated any mention.
Of the three survivors, the European diplomat’s statement is the only one known even in part. He insisted there had been no connubial bliss. I content he is telling the truth. I do not suspect this because of this snippet but because I have pieced together some of the crime scenes and the greater context of them to appreciate how nothing really could have happened. Rather I suspect The Doodler surprised them by whipping out his butcher’s knife and having at it. In one case, he drug a victim 20 feet back behind a sand dune at Ocean Beach to finish the killing without fear of witnesses.
There is also the narrative that SFPD could never get anything on their suspect because the three survivors wouldn’t talk and then galloped away from the city by the bay. Coupled with what their detectives had put together, SFPD may also have believed there was no physical evidence to ever resurrect. Thus they were dependent on the survivors.
On the odd chance that there was interaction between The Doodler and his victims before they were murdered, SFPD must examine all the clothes (hopefully still in evidence) and examine them to see if they can get a DNA match up with The Doodler suspect. This would relieve the necessity of putting any burden on the celebrity who wishes to remain nameless, or on the local “prominent citizen” and his reputation. Survivor accounts are not necessary. DNA will link the crimes. Even if it exists in only one case, it is enough to prove contact between The Doodler and a victim.
Over 40 years later is this enough for the SF Co. DA to get a conviction or to declare the case solved? Within the context of what must be in the reports, it probably is. The Doodler’s MO was so unique it is impossible not to identify him with having left with the victims after he charmed them with his caricatures or portraits.
I wonder where that sketch pad is today?
Was there a political factor (high school friendship) back then between a prominent citizen’s son and the Doodler? There may have been, but 40 years later it is of no import anymore.
If SFPD does this and it turns out that there is no viable DNA, another route must be undertaken to out the strange Doodler serial killer of long ago and late night Castro. But we have at least advanced on the case, and that is the purpose of investigation: to move forward and test hypotheses. There is no onus in the process of elimination. You must be wrong every time but the last time. It is always a win/win situation.
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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. “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.