I started writing about the case of the Doodler in 2015. It is a fascinating case, but one that didn’t at that time motivate one to proceed with it too quickly. There really wasn’t much mystery. The suspect’s name was long known. He had been repeatedly questioned by police back in 1975. I planned to hit the crime scenes and do some photo essays, but I knew there were very few details public on this serial’s MO and his attacks. They were only recited in general. It would be difficult to even do the serial spree justice in terms of historical chronicling.
But the Doodler’s MO was unique. You don’t get jacket jobs like this anymore. He entered gay bars in the Castro, ingratiated himself by drawing a caricature of patrons on a napkin or on his drawing pad, and then they left together. The bar patron was not seen again until found as a lifeless body slashed to pieces in some remote spot around Golden Gate Park or Ocean Beach.
Apparently there was some indoor action as well, and a few survived but didn’t want to get involved in a public scandal. We’ve all heard they were a prominent SF businessman who promptly fled the city instead of being questioned. There was a European diplomat, who also left, and a “nationally known entertainer,” who also refused to return to SF. (My discussions with some in-the-know have centered on identifying the last person, obviously the most interesting of the three.) No trial ever came because none wanted to be involved in a public scandal.
. . .So how to proceed?
As I saw it, my purpose to the old crime case was thus to highlight the crimes, document the scenes, bring the case from the relative obscurity it had. . .but there was no real mystery to solve because the guy’s name was known and there was no admissible evidence.
This must have been the fly in the buttermilk for SFPD as well. The question was how after 40 years to get some admissible evidence?
SFPD is now trying to do so, hoping, I suppose, that there is DNA somewhere on a couple of the victims that can link to the man they repeatedly grilled back when.
The news sensations over identifying EAR-ONS via DNA have started a fad whereby we hear of all these re-examinations of old cases. The current fad, however, is a news fad, not a police fad. They were always re-examining cases. The news are reporting on cases that had some vague notoriety at one point. But there are many cases being re-examined that aren’t getting news because they really never had national news to begin with.
Another case that desperately needs public revision is the Colonial Parkway Murders. Like the Doodler case, there is too little information out there. This serial was very careful to the extent that his height, weight, or any part of his features is completely unknown. There is also some question on how many crimes he committed and if all those attributed to him are all done by the same perpetrator.
The first step with this old case is probably underway. This is to find DNA to begin with. The FBI would have to find it on two different cars. Then comparing touch DNA (if they get it) from these cars is necessary to confirm a link between very different murders (the first victims were a female pair; those thereafter were male and female pairs). Confirming there was one killer is a huge advance in the case. A phenotype would also greatly help.
For more details, the reader can go to my site The Quester Files and read about the Colonial Parkway Murders.
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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.