Gay Snuff– The Atmospherics of Swingin’ Seventies Gay Murders

In these synopses, anticipatory to presenting the detailed results of my own investigation of the “Gay Murders” or “Queer Killings” of 1967 to 1982, I have hopes of doing more than introducing more cases and their details. There is a dire need, I feel, to establish atmosphere– mood, if you will. It is within context that one finds the truth.

I have equated San Francisco’s districts of Tenderloin, South of Market, and eventually Castro to London’s Whitechapel, Spitalfields, and essentially East London of 1888. I do not make a comparison with the times and seasons of Jack the Ripper to give these series of Gay murders dramatic association. A picture is worth a thousands words, and the entire ambiance of London and 1888 speaks hundreds of thousands of applicable words relevant to what happened in 1970s San Francisco. The politics and social upheavals in London in 1888 were an inexorable component of the Ripper crimes. Equally the politics and social developments in counterculture and San Francisco in the 1970s are more than backdrop to “Murder Most Queer.” Available here were men, sometimes desperate men from all over the world, and as we know with them came a rash of sadistic murders. Motives not always known, but context gives us some alarming clues.

A major clue is that no leather man was ever a victim. The leather or biker gang scene was a strange subculture unto itself and it congealed in South of Market, just south of Tenderloin where most of the popular Gay bars were located in the early 1970s. They dressed in a way that made them a billboard– leather pants, jacket, metal studs, boots, chains, old style leather caps, with deadheads and tassels. This indicated they liked to give it rough– Sado-masochism. Others dressed this way and hung out in these leather bars– they were the S&M guys, as Dan Seitler put it. Stand & Model. They liked the cultural fetishes and liked it rough, but they didn’t have choppers. Not all by half of those into S&M dressed the way. There were high end businessmen and raggedy-Andy waiters into it. No one could know who was proficient at it or just wanted to experiment. Leather and its fetishes spilled over into Tenderloin and the more average Gay bars. Pickups could occur anywhere within this exuberant ’70 nightlife.

Interior of The Ramrod, a SOMA leather bar on Folsom Street, as seen in the movie The Laughing Policeman, 1973. (The owner was influential in getting the film made.)

This subculture has been pointed out in these posts enough, but an integral component of biker culture must be introduced now. With counterculture in the 1960s, biker gangs developed an affinity for the concept of “devil worship.” Within a culture that sported swastikas, deadheads, chains– all the tokens of brutality– it is hardly surprising that the tenets of Satan Service were inviting. A principle tenet is “The strong tread on the weak.” Taking it beyond this to the ritual level, and there were those who were sure enlightenment and power would come from the devil at the moment they ritualistically shed blood or committed murder.

Dummies Guide to Devil Worship, granted. But people are motivated by their own convictions. If they believe they will get power and enlightenment from murder, this is what they will do, with or without a minimal of “satanic” props we associate with the dramatic incarnation in films. There doesn’t have to be a real devil to make it dangerous.

The Gay biker gangs were no different than the mainstream biker gangs except in Swingin’ Seventies San Francisco they had a fertile field in which to select victims. The idea of the strong treading the weak saturated this subculture in the Gay community. When they cruised the bars or Polk Street, they were looking for the average to weaker gay man to pick up and essentially consensually abuse. Murder and death were seldom intended. More often than not, S&M did not lead to that. But on occasion it did, probably by accident.

However, it is my contention that over the period of 1967-1982 more than one predator stalked San Francisco’s Gay community with the intent to murder. From a collation of Gay Murders from 1967-1982 there is a steady subset where the victim was strangled and then mutilated, usually by knife. This was his prime signature. Thus, I believe, the JACK The KNIFE I have sought is beginning to take form.

First, let’s get back to the atmosphere of this San Francisco, as it was at the glut of murders in the mid-1970s.

Gay (in the original sense) neon lights pulsed on foggy nights in the raucous Tenderloin and along Polk Gulch. Crisp, cold nights reverberated with ship’s horns and the tinny sounds of burlesque music along Broadway enticing patrons into the sleaze pits and gin joints. Tar and brine still wafted over Jack London’s Barbary Coast. Uptown grandees went out to the finest restaurants, men in tuxedos and women in mink coats. But toward Tenderloin it became quite proletariat. As the streets glowed more with neon signs– Jesus Saves and porno house glitz– streets would exude the bright pageantry of Gay nightlife– cross dressers, leather macho men, the “gays next door” walking hand-in-hand, the effeminate mincing along and speaking with their “lisps and sibilant dialect.” This was San Francisco’s view of the Gay community. If they remained in their somewhat skid row district, it was entertaining to sample it– i.e. drive by.

San Francisco tolerated Gays, you see. It did not accept them. San Francisco was and is Queen of the Pacific. The goods and riches of the Orient travel through her. Millions come to visit what is arguably North America’s most beautiful city. If it had a seedy district where this sort of nightlife was ongoing, it was an isolated pocket of eccentricity that could be tolerated. It was something for a tourist to put as a footnote on their trip. “Mom! Look at the fags walking hand-in-hand!” A kid might call out as the family drove past Polk Street. Curtly, the mother would tell her kid not to point.

The Castro in the 1970s. This part of Castro Street seen here is just south of Market Street, San Francisco’s main street.

Among the yearly tourists about 50,000 gays came to visit San Francisco each year. Some would stay and, of course, gravitate to the rather fluid community. It continued to swell. The Tenderloin and South of Market was for nighttime partying. Polk Street for cruising. But a mixed Irish/Spanish community known as The Castro was for living. More and more gays were moving here and it was becoming increasingly a segregated district.

Nightlife was more indulgent in the Gay community. Gay men spent a lot on clothes. The explanation, asserted at the time by the No 1 gay haberdashers on Polk Street: without kids gay men simply have more money. Transvestites were done up in the best gowns and wigs and makeup money could buy. It was carnivale! Inside gay bars, the life was what a local Channel 7 report called it: “the smug display of unabashed hedonism.”

A photo of men hanging out near Toad Hall, a well known gay bar in Castro.

In the Swingin’ Seventies when morality was generally in the bouiboui, when the mainstream wife-swapped, the Gay nightlife was essentially keeping in step. But in daytime on the public streets it was not so welcomed. It was becoming a promiscuous display of daytime groping. Straights equated this with normal Gay life, and this was getting aggravating to the average Gay man. By 1976, this kind of behavior was funneling into The Castro; and as these Polk Street manners came to this old community, there were more problems. Gay residents were beginning to object. In May 1981, one resident, Kurt Saxon, complained in the Sentinel:

CASTRO DECLINE

Editor:

Has anyone taken the time to see what the Castro area has turned into in the last five years?

When I moved here it was a fun “neighborhood” place to go. Yes, it was gay, but not a place where one would be ashamed to bring family or straight friends as is now the case.

It has grown into a seedy Broadway. Genitals hanging out of shorts, seats of pants missing, bars knocking out walls and doubling in size and noise.

Even S.F. gays are refusing to go down to Castro. These are the ones who refuse to be brainwashed into thinking sex is the only thing homosexuals know about.

Often out-of-towners so proud to be GAY, GAY, GAY go wild and forget that the neighborhood basically is mixed, with a lot of old time straights who walk hurriedly with eyes downcast to avoid the cock-grabbing and tit-sucking.

Even the nice gift shops have cock shaped objects, and card shops are mere pornography.

Gays often talk about being “accepted,” yet they now have a self imposed segregation.

Why don’t Harry Britt and the legitimate shop owners try to make the neighborhood comfortable for all?

This above is only one example of the pushback. This is what was indeed happening to Castro over 1976-1981. By 1979 it prompted a CBS Channel 5 report asking if San Francisco’s Gays were going too far in public.

Screencap from a 1979 Channel 5 Report– double entendres existed in a number of business signs, this one at Polk & Pine Street.

With the blatant daytime groping, hate crimes had been increasing. Latino gangs in the old Spanish neighborhoods would attack gays– sometimes right at 18th Street and Castro. There were shouts of “faggots” and then gun fire. By the early 1980s, black gangs were essentially running the gay bars out of Tenderloin. The famous Kockpit on Eddy was closed after a gang threw in cherry bombs. The owner grabbed one of the members and the others rushed him, with enough intent that he released the gang member and closed his bar.

Hardcore leather gay nightlife wasn’t going to give an inch out of South of Market. On the other hand, Tenderloin Gay nightlife moved west to Polk Street, which had always been the red light district for the gay community. In fact, it was so equated with Hamburg’s famous red light district (and many German gays had come to San Francisco) that it was colloquially known as Polk Strasse. (The reader can note in the picture above that the once-famous Sukkers Likkers has “Polkstrasse” under Wine and Spirits indicating a gay establishment.)

In a sense we must let this tumult play on in the backdrop. We are, of course, more interested in methodical footsteps at night; more curious about some gent who strode up to bars quite casually and unsuspected as to his intents. None of his victims were tricks, gigolos, or hustlers. He didn’t cruise Polkstrasse. You know why? Police can cover such beats with a thick network of informants. They know who the angels of the cement are. They can find out what trick is picked up, where, and eventually by whom.

The best testimony to the above is the sudden drop in Gay murder stats after 1982. AIDs had shut down the casual sex of 1970s night/daylife. Only tricks and hustlers working the red light district braved the dangers for money. Murders now surrounded Polk Street hustling, and SFPD was solving almost all of them. But pre-AIDs the pickups had been made in crowded bars, a bath, or in the dark alley next to it by two patrons, or a couple of parks. There was nothing for SFPD to backwork. There was no way for detectives to uncover who could have connected with the victim and when. Sadistic Gay murders generally went unsolved until 1983.

It is within this casual nightlife that JACK The KNIFE walked and knew to confine himself. He was untraceable. He knew that cruising the tricks on Polk Street would only lead to his identity.

The night stalker whom I dub JACK The KNIFE was obviously a well-informed part of the nightlife, of this there can be no doubt. As Gay nightlife moved west to Castro the murders came with them. This made it even more evident the killer walked within the carnivale glitz of the disco/bar scene. Throughout the waves of murders over a decade, the victims would be baited into deadly trysts or accompany their killer home. When AIDs shut it all down, JACK stopped too.

How many killers were there? Certainly more than one. But a series of victims continue to stand out. These are the victims of the gent who strangled and then mutilated. It’s a distinct signature within the bloodbath of murder by blade, strangle, bludgeon. These murders are very similar to the CLONE MURDERS, but the knifework sets them apart. The CLONE MURDERS are also bunched within 1978, but these strangle/mutilations span the timeframe in question: 1967 to 1981.

We must probe motive. We cannot assume every murder was for some cheap sexual thrill. Why? The “Devil made me do it” was too popular a fad in the 1970s, and the philosophy hit home with the biker culture South of Market (of course).

First, we must qualify this type of “devil worship.” There is a vast difference between practitioners of high end occult, which has precepts and traditions that go back to the days of medieval alchemy. Occult means “hidden” in Latin and these practitioners sought the “hidden” essence behind the functioning of the universe. Think of the following analogy: the internal organs of the body are also called the occult organs. This merely means in anatomy that they are not visible to the eye, but obviously they are crucial in maintaining the life and well-being of the visible body. Medieval occultists and their modern counterparts are looking for this same power, whether they be spiritual beings or an energy force. The Occult is viewed as a pursuit for the invisible power that is crucial to maintaining the visible universe.

Occultists differentiate between white workings and black workings, blood workings and other such invocations. They call upon the Arch Angel Michael and upon Isis (talk about covering your bases). They know how and when to invoke the Pentagram of the Air, etc. They have wands and all that kind of paraphernalia.

A page from sheriff captain Keith Wolverton’s book Mystery Stalks the Prairie, dealing with cattle mutilations in Montana 1975-1976. These practitioners were definitely “Dummies Guide” occultists.

Your average autodidact of devil mayhem in the 1970s had the equivalent of a “Dummies Guide to Devil Worship” and a library of Hammer movies. These type of devil worshipers preyed upon the weak and viewed themselves as the strong.

The invocation of the Black Mass:  

In nomine dei nostri Satanus luciferi excelsi   

In the name of Satan, the ruler of Earth, king of the world, open wide the gates of hell and come forth to greet me as your brother and friend. Grant me the indulgences of which I speak, for I live as the beasts of the field rejoicing in the fleshly life. I favor the just and I curse the rotten. By all the gods of the pit, I command that these things of which I speak shall come to pass. . . . . . Blessed are the strong, for they shall possess the Earth. Cursed are the weak, for they shall inherit the yoke. Blessed are the bold, for they shall be masters of the world. Cursed are the righteous and humble, for they shall be trodden under cloven hooves — Hail Satan!

Within our society the “dark side” is given form as the “devil” and he is swaddled with all that we fear. He is a predator accompanied by dark symbols, murder, blood sacrifices, and twilight deeds. If adherents believe there is such a being or force that will give them power by inflicting pain, torture, or murder upon others, within or not a ritualistic setting, they will act accordingly. These lay practitioners will get books on the occult and demonology and devil worship and they’re going to start their own live-action-role-playing. The end result is still murder, whether they were in black robes or in sex sado positions.

Coming down to cases

The aforementioned CLONE MURDERS stand out as an aberration in the long line of Gay murders in San Francisco. The victims had been seen in S.F. Gay bars, but then they vanished. When their bodies had been found, it was clear they had been tortured before death. Unlike most of the S.F. Gay murder victims their bodies had been transported to an isolated area of Tunitas Creek Road in San Mateo County. Some victims could be identified. Two victims remain John Does to this day.

S.F. Examiner, December 29, 1979, seeking the identity of the 2 John Does.

Why was it necessary for the killer in this case to transport the bodies? Well, 6 more Gay victims being found in S.F. in 1978 would add to quite a tally already. And this could cause more Gay vigilantes and more neighborhood watch. But leaving the bodies where they were killed could also identify the killing location, and I would suggest they were all killed in the same hidden lair.

David Likens has been found guilty of these CLONE MURDERS in the court of public gay opinion. After all, he had served time for a similar murder earlier. He was into sado and bondage, and he hung himself in jail rather than face trial. But there is evidence that indicates more than one perp was involved. Likens didn’t have a car, though he had a buddy who did. Likens also didn’t exactly have a convenient lair. He had a flat in Haight, but then moved in with a buddy named Danny Hepburn on Henry Street. Hepburn also killed himself (officially). Likens had essentially been a prostitute out of an escort service on Church Street in Noe Valley, south of Castro. He could have connected with victims here, but the books of an escort service seem an easy way to link him to the murders. There is no easy answer as to where the victims were killed, but the “Robert Redford of Gay Porn” may have been involved. However, these may not be thrill murders.

The CLONE MURDERS, in fact, bear a similarity to another spree of murders that give us the closest thing to snuff. Officially, there is no real Snuff Film, that is to say, no murder committed on camera for the sake of filming on camera and distributing for profit within an underground network of patrons/sickos . . . but in a series of murders in Kansas City, Missouri, in the 1980s we come close. Polaroids of gay male victims exist, either dead or unconscious, bound and showing the effects of torture. Sometimes they even have a dog collar on. The Berdella Murders victims were afflicted beyond the usual sado experiments. Some had drain cleaner swabbed in their eyes. Each had been photographed many times while undergoing the stages of torture. After days (or longer) of this treatment, Bob Berdella killed and then dismembered them. Berdella was certainly into the bizarre (he owned a gift shop called Bob’s Bazaar Bizarre). Kansas City PD balked at the idea Satanism was involved, but more than one survivor spoke of the paraphernalia inside the house and books on the dark arts.

Snapshots of only a few of the Berdella victims– they bear a resemblance to the CLONE victims as well. Clean cut except for mustaches in some cases.

The Berdella Murders became a part of the “Satanic Panic” of the 1980s, in which the panic was more publicity than substance. The era of “panic” was largely after-the-fact of the greatest interest in “devil worship.” This had begun during the counterculture in the late 1960s. After its philosophy collapsed in 1970, the Boomer generation was still left with a searching, antiestablishment mindset. Many reached out to sample “devil worship”– the devil being promoted as a symbol of intellectual questioning of the establishment. For the mainstream it was just dangerous demonology. And, of course, TV and movies capitalized on the fad made so commercially successful by the Exorcist (1973)– even the Snoop Sisters (The Devil Made Me Do It, 1974) had to contend with a devil’s coven (the episode which introduced Alice Cooper to the TV world), and Kolchak (The Devil’s Platform, 1974) had to confront a political candidate who sold himself to the devil so he could win Chicago. Movies such as Ride with the Devil (1975) showed what it was like to come across a devil’s coven in the wilds. Conspiracy of Terror (1975) was a TV pilot for a series that never got greenlit, but it is probably still on Youtube and the reader can check it out (no spoiler alerts here). It presents to us a sample of what could be lurking in innocent suburbia 1975. Cattle mutilations were headline news in the mid to late 1970s, and the chief theory was that devil covens were doing it.

“Satanic Panic” hit the mainstream after a book in 1980 claimed that kids in daycare were being taken away to secret rituals before being returned to the daycare. Due to the new fad of regressive hypnosis, unconnected kids over North America were having such recalled memories. This was too close to the mainstream not to set off a fad of panic and panic of fad. The public was led to believe there must have been a massive, far reaching conspiracy to inspire so many regressive hypnotic revelations.

Ernesta Snoop (Helen Hayes) with Alice Cooper in the Snoop Sister episode The Devil Made Me Do It, March 1974.

But in substance the “Satanic Panic” of the 1980s was trying to lock the door on a horse that had long been out and equally out of fashion already. It was a decade after the most feverish interest in the whole idea of using “devil worship” to free oneself from the establishment mindset. However, the 1980s fad does give us a valuable window on the 1970s, the era when “devil worship” was a more likely motivation for some crimes.

The CLONE Murders occurred in 1978, within the time frame that was absorbed in the whole concept of “ride with the Devil.” They pre-shadow the Berdella Murders and there are indications that more than one person was involved. As noted, the chief suspect David Likens killed himself, and so did his former roommate, and another fled San Francisco. Likens association with them in particular is disturbing on more than one level. He was the icon of the Gay community’s festive carnivale. He could solicit anyone and get a score. Yet there was a dark side to him. He liked sado. The one Gay porno picture he starred in was Night of the Occultists. If anyone had contacts for making Snuff– shooting and developing and underground contacts– it was Likens. Berdella had no such contacts. Therefore he was limited to self developing polaroids. That is the hindrance to Snuff stills or film: developing. Someone else will see what is being done and call the cops.

The question is, were these CLONE Murders filmed? It’s not a question I pull from a hat. It is an induction. The great hindrance, once again, to Snuff is that it is evidence of the ultimate crime. Vendors can claim they didn’t know; that they thought these were actors. But from them there is a chain of contacts the police can follow back to the filmmakers. Likens was only a cog within a much greater wheel of S&M in a very raucous time, within a leather culture steeped in the then-current fad of “devil worship” empowerment and antiestablishment. If Snuff could ever get made and moved, this was the time and these were the people.

I am not only uncovering and presenting Gay murders with these synopses, I am also attempting to broaden the investigation and place out information for those willing to follow. Such films may exist but be dismissed, the participants unidentified and written off as actors. Comparing the features of the CLONE victims to those persons in such films can assist in determining the authenticity of the films.

The attitude to make Snuff certainly existed in the South of Market atmosphere. The desire to watch murder just for the sake of watching murder was a prime motive that formed the “Gay Cult Killers,” and its high priest was the discarded son of a screenwriter. By this time, the Satanic Panic was a vain thing. It was a broadcast of the trinkets of theatric “devil worship.” In such a staged, ritual setting in 1985 a victim was killed and a pentagram was carved into his chest (but such clichés are not a part of the 1970s “by the book” devil worship). We should touch briefly on this murder, as it may give some form to the circumstances of the CLONE victims.

This ritual murder and sacrifice of a young Gay (apparently) man took place in South of Market (naturally) on Stillman Street (essentially South Park) in June 1985. The victim is still listed as John Doe 60, and was found wrapped in a yellow blanket and put under the axel of a rig near China Basin on what used to be an extension of 6th Street (all remodeled today). His lips were slit. He had been stabbed. His scrotum had been slit. There was a pentagram carved into his chest. His hands and feet had been bound with guitar wire. Melted wax had been dripped onto his right eye. Obviously, this was some kind of ritualistic murder.

John Doe 60 June 16, 1985– morgue photo.

When in 1987 the perps were apprehended, the headlines read “Gay Murder Cult.” Middle-age waiter Clifford St. Joseph was arrested as the main perpetrator. Later Maurice Bork was revealed as an accomplice (he basically turned evidence on St. Joseph). Then Ricky Hunter, a 21 year old homeless Gay prostitute, turned evidence. He had admitted that he had been a sado slave in the flat. He had been handcuffed to a radiator for days. Once he had been released to go get cigarettes, coffee, etc. He returned (supposedly he liked being a sado slave). A series of disturbances, essentially initiated by Ed Spela, led to the police arriving at the flat and eventually Ricky Hunter claimed a sodomy charge against St. Joseph. But no one still wanted to talk about any murder. It took SFPD two years to finally get people to talk.

By this time (1987) Bork was already serving life for another crime (he had supposedly also carved a pentagram in another guy’s chest) and if ever granted parole he would be sent back to Canada, where he was still wanted for another crime. What it came down to was that Clifford St. Joseph was the only one viable to prosecute. The book was thrown at him and he was sentenced to 34 years in prison. Ed Spela was not prosecuted (to my knowledge). He never partook in the rituals, he insisted, and only assisted in getting young men for St. Joseph and Bork. Yet when backed to the door of 93 Stillman by Geraldo Rivera, he admitted:

Ed Spela: “They asked me if I had ever thought of killing someone just to watch them die. And they asked me if I’d like to join a Satanic cult.”

St. Joseph, 1987

Watching someone die, just for the sake of watching someone die, is the first step in the motivation for Snuff. But the stumbling St. Joseph and Bork didn’t have the wherewithal to film and develop, most crucially develop, film.

Spela admitted to having been a trick since 13 years old (he was in 1987 about 28 years old), and he had known St. Joseph since the early 70s. I discovered that during the glut of murders (1975-1978), St. Joseph had a flat on Geary in Tenderloin. There was nothing blatantly “Satanic” in these Tenderloin murders– the pentagram seems to have come from Bork and was no doubt inspired by the 1980s’ overproduced mentality with the props. But, curiously, Claude DeMott’s scrotum was slit in the same way in December 1975 as John Doe 60. Curiously again, a victim was found (no name or location) in November 1984 in San Francisco, also castrated. The compiled lists of homicides states the victim was a 36 year old white male. This was about 7 months before John Doe 60 was ritualistically murdered. Bork had not yet arrived in S.F., and presumably he was the author of the pentagram idea, which is not recorded as being a part of this shadowy 1984 murder.

The point is made, though. This was far from an actual practicing cult, yet they engaged in their comprehension of the dark side. Apparently homeless male prostitutes looking for a roof were the easy “weak” targets to bear the yoke, according to devil (and leather) mentality. It is a rarity here, probably from Bork, that the victim should have something so cliché as a pentagram carved in his chest.

Sacrifice or murder for empowerment does not need the trinkets and tokens of wizardry and its ritual. What it looks for is an ideal victim. It is a curious thing that the CLONE victims, Berdella’s victims, and the victim of the “Gay Cult Killers” in 1985 all bear a resemblance– clean cut, often a mustache.

I’m attempting to give atmosphere here for the reader to understand the era. The CLONE MURDERS were not unique to San Francisco. Serial murder of gay men was ongoing over the country, in between the major hubs of concentrated Gay life– San Francisco, New York, Seattle, Los Angeles. And I think it is obvious many of them involved sado, and this means that something more than twisted thrill could have been involved.

Notice in the B.A.R. for June 1971.

One example includes a 16 year old victim in San Francisco. Officially, Jackie Truss was a waiter at the Trapp, a Gay bar where patrons went for pickups for hire. Accounts vary, but it came down to him being found strangled on October 24, 1970, a week before Halloween. By June 1971, Kansas City Police linked his murder to 13 other Gay murders across the country.

The idea of ritual murder or Snuff killings may seem a stretch for some, but as I introduce more, many more victims during this period the reader will come to understand what a Dodge City the S.F. Gay community had become. It was an ideal location to hunt victims for various “diabolical” reasons. Fake I.D.s were easy to get. Runaways sank into the worst crimes on Polkstrasse. Predators had a fertile field indeed, and before AIDs they walked within the torrent of nightly jubilation to find any age, size, looks, anything they wanted. Within the torrent is JACK THE KNIFE, The DOODLER, and perhaps those who long used tricks to get what they wanted.

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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.

“It’s Satanic, Until Proven Panic.” — DOODLER/JACK The KNIFE. GAY MURDERS of San Francisco

The podcast where Dan Seitler and I talk about the Gay Murders of the Swingin’ Seventies and Decadent Eighties.

“It’s Satanic Until Proven Panic.”

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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.

The Gay Murders of San Francisco–Origins

Gay murders became rampant in San Francisco in the 1970s, with 1974-1976 seeing the most concentration. Despite San Francisco supposedly becoming a Gay center after the end of World War II, it is a fact that Gay murders were almost unknown in the city. The murders came with the Beat, the counterculture that sprang from it, and then exponentially increased as the cultural flux made San Francisco a modern Dodge City for antiestablishment subcultures after the Summer of Love. To underscore the point, we have to compare before and after.

I’ve waded through police and academic lists of all homicides happening in San Francisco prior to counterculture 1967. I’ve cross-referenced any murder that looked like it had potential to shed light on the subject of Gay murders. However, in doing so I discovered a singular fact: they really weren’t happening. An ambiguous one is the murder of Dr. Edward Muentzler in 1950. His body is found trussed in bed . . .well, you best read the Coroner’s Register for yourself.

Two men were sent over for the crime– they got a 2nd degree murder charge on them, which means this wasn’t premeditated. But what was all this about? Was it sexual? Were they teaching him S&M?

It would be some 6 years before another murder happened that had “gay overtones.” The reader best also read the Coroner’s Register.

Police later tagged Bobby McMann for the murder. From the above 2 examples we also see a common thread: murders weren’t going unsolved. By late 1960s, “suspect unknown” became a common notation summing up a Gay murder.

With the counterculture’s bohemian attitude about sexual freedom and tolerance, Gays were coming to San Francisco too. But that is still no explanation for the rash of murders. Several factors were involved that plagued society in general. Not least was drug use. But overall, the murders have to be connected to aspects of the 1960s counterculture attitude. In essence, the murders gradually begin in 1967. So it is unavoidable that we must look for an agent within this volatile period of cultural experimentation.

The year 1966 saw the beginning of the cynical “God is Dead” movement, the proliferation of drug use, and there was increasing migration to Beat centers– San Francisco and New York– by those dovetailing on that philosophy. They were against authority, frankly naïve, and did not view outcasts (largely bums and deadbeats) as representing a criminal element. It was the establishment which was corrupt and upside down. Losers like Charles Manson, for example, could rise to a place of influence.

Simply distilled, the new philosophy of unfettering one’s mind from the past norms is obviously one that is going to be uniquely twisted by the criminal mind. The provocative antiestablishment and counterculture mindsets were emboldening the criminal mind to become more audacious as well. Examples include Manson’s murders, The Zodiac Murders, and into the 1970s the killings of Zebra and the SLA. “Sexual Freedom” brings its own kind of practitioners and experimenters. Gay social life was already planted in the bohemian gardens, so to speak, the location to which antiestablishment was filtering. And this brings up the ultimate significant fact: where the school of fish is concentrated, there will the sharks be gathered as well. Hundreds of thousands of the younger, “freer” generation were cycling through San Francisco. Those willing to take advantage were coming too and were bolder than before.

There are still other factors, for when the Gay murders took form in the late 1960s they took on a very disturbing, formulaic form– brutal knifing, strangle, bludgeon. Over the span of 1967 to 1982, there are over 60 murders listed as “no suspect.” And this number is not including the Gay murders by gun. They ebb and flow over the years, but on the whole these very involved ways of murder–strangle, blade, bludgeon– remain constant. It is obvious there must be more, many more, than one perpetrator. Nevertheless, the murders are all quite similar.

Donald Fleming is the first of interest here– found nude, strangled and killed by a butcher knife at his residence on Montezuma Street. The date was May 10, 1967. John Gilleran is killed by a pair of scissors at his residence on Bush Street. He was stabbed 15 times. The date is September 21, 1967. Fleming was 32, Gilleran was 26. In between was the Summer of Love– but it wasn’t hippie love that killed them. Nor was it the lifestyle of the Gay community. No such concept had congealed yet. The victims’ residences are spread about San Francisco. Fleming lived in Bernal Heights; Gilleran in Lower Nob at 890 Bush Street.

Put back in Kodachrome, and Montezuma Street would still have the psychedelic feel of 1967 S.F. Here Don Fleming was brutally murdered in a similar fashion that would be repeated in the mid 1970s.

This pattern would continue in 1968. In October a series of strangulations would commence. Dave Evans is strangled with a towel in his flat on Chattanooga Street in Noe Valley. The date is October 3. On the borders of Tenderloin, Joey Ramirez is tied up in his flat on O’Farrell and strangled. It is October 22. A high end strangling occurs at the Fairmount atop Nob Hill. Franc Blachinger is strangled on February 16, 1969. These are older victims. Evans was 39, Ramirez 41, Blachinger in his 50s.

The 60s’ murders end with the stabbing of Charles Hedberg at his flat on Twin Peaks on Burnett Ave. It is June 24, 1969. The 1970s see them begin by a stabbing on Holyoke. February 25, 1970, Louis Drinkmann is killed at his flat. This is right off Mansell in Visitacion Valley.

Basically, these murders are all over the place.

Charles Hedberg, senior photo.

The series of strangulation in late 1968 to February 1969 could have been done by a pickup who had frustrated contempt for his patron or by a serial who actively stalked. Hedberg’s stabbing might be connected to the earlier ones. This night stabber might have left San Francisco. He might have later retuned.

But it is a fact: each year after there were a few similar Gay murders–stranglings and knifings. They remained spread out. Slowly they began to form around the nucleus of the bar scene in Tenderloin. Then it became epidemic in 1975, concentrated here and then moved westward in 1976 when the bar scene expanded to the relatively new nucleus of the Gay community in The Castro.

This 1975 to 1976 westward shift has been declared in these posts several times. But in light of the early murders (1967-1973) a new fact bears on it. The pathology of the murders starkly reveals a new addition in 1974. Prior to 1974, all unsolved Gay Murders were essentially in the flat of the victim. Trysting locations were monitored by SFPD, such as at Land’s End, and sweeps would occur, starting in 1971, to stop public sex. Despite Gay newspapers, like the local B.A.R., forewarning Gays to avoid Land’s End, etc, adding that they shouldn’t be doing that in public anyway, the practice continued and moved along Ocean Beach. As public promiscuity increased in the 1970s, murders began at trysting locations. The first was January 1974. It was the murder of Gerald Cavanaugh at Ocean Beach near Ulloa Street.

Interestingly, Cavanaugh’s murder would (in retrospect) be attributed as the first of the so-called DOODLER Murders. This case has sadly become the focal point of assessing whether a serial killer was ever involved along the long graph of murders from 1967 to 1982. Whether DOODLER is a likely candidate or not, what is of far more interest is that in 1974 murders begin at public trysting locations. They are sporadic and continue into 1975. Relatively speaking, it was a short fad of modus operandi. As a footnote, it must be noted that the bulk of these public murders would be attributed to The DOODLER. Ironically, the very concept and moniker of The DOODLER comes from Summer 1975 attacks by a young black man in Mid-Market in the victim’s flat– the opposite M.O. to these public murders.

And, of course, the purpose of my investigation is (1) to document the Gay murders and then (2) to analyze and see where a serial may be afoot. The above break in the pattern is valuable to that end. These public murders may indicate the same perp.

However, the earlier and more prevalent pattern of murder inside the victim’s flat continued unabated. Stig Berlin’s murder in his Hyde Street flat (Feb 1974) has gotten some public attention recently. But I must now add Paul Jankowski (January 29, 1974) and Dan Shepard (September 14, 1974.) The first happened in Tenderloin, the second in Pacific Heights. There are others, but at present these top the list for refining.

Except for one murder in May 1976, in which the victim was dragged into a basement, the murders by knife/strangle/bludgeon are exclusively again within the flat of the victim. Yet as the second wave of murders strike in 1980, there is a murder at Buena Vista Park that is near identical to the earlier public “DOODLER” murders. Don Meder was viscously stabbed in November. Then in the summer of 1981, there is the strange murder of Mike Singleterry in Corona Heights Park nearby– strangled and beaten.

Gerald Cavanaugh, a Canadian expatriate living in Haight. His murder was the first public Gay murder following the series that began in 1967. Fellow Canadian expat Donald Webb would be strangled in his flat on Nueva on Xmas Eve 1976.

Gay hate crimes had been committed in public, of course. But there was no real ambiguity about the motives. On occasion groups of punks attacked or murdered gay men, or an individual shot one. These are not included here because their motives are known and the killers outed. The murders in question are where the victim was lulled into a trysting location or back to his apartment. Sex or drugs was obviously the solicitation. Then in Ripper-esque fashion he was brutally murdered.

Within the dark side of freeing oneself from the fetters of past morality came Sado-masochism. There came the strange fashion of “leather.” The macho man gay biker gangs. Entire bars were devoted to this leather/biker gang fashion. Murals inside would inspire patrons with scenes of jailhouse fantasies of rape and bondage. It was no joke. Quite a few of these guys had records. They had been in regular gangs before, and now with gay culture solidifying in San Francisco, leather subculture formed in South of Market. Brutal predators had places to loiter. And, as stated a number of times in these posts, as the murders ramped up the Gay community was sure the killer or killers was coming from South of Market or had a heavy connection to it. NO S&M leather man was ever a victim.

Ocean Beach by The Great Highway– Both Gerald Cavanaugh (1-27-74) and Fred Capin (5-12-75) would be found near Ulloa Street where it intersects with The Great Highway. Their murders, however, were about a year and a half apart.

The murder of Paul Hayes in December 1980 was a rare example where S&M would actually be listed as the cause. Hayes was found strangled and his body dumped at the entrance to Mount Tamalpais Park in Marin County. He was a middle age man now, who liked the leather culture, but he didn’t have a bike or anything. He was leather in one way. For those who tune into my and Dan Seitler’s podcast interview, you’ll understand Dan’s meaning of S&M– Stand & Model. There was a group of guys who liked the macho image, but they weren’t the tough guy. Hayes was one of the live action roll players who fell victim. His body was found without his leather boots and leather jacket. The police tagged Floyd Fischer for the crime.

The opening of a significant gay porno flick shot in S.F. in 1973 Nights in Black Leather has the star strutting along Polk Street looking to score. He is in partial leather–boots, pants, metal studs.

The vicious killing of gay men by gay men obviously wasn’t a natural consequence of Gay lifestyle otherwise it would be seen in the police and coroner records in the 1940s and 1950s. There is no need to go into the detailed history of how and why gays became concentrated in San Francisco. That is for another post. Here, in short, it can be noted that it is largely attributed to World War II. Conscription concentrated gay men in the military. With the mass discharges at the end of World War II, instead of going home those discharged from the Pacific remained in San Francisco. Wartime liberty had shown the men that the city’s bohemian bars welcomed all– The Black Cat and Mona’s were the prime examples. Bohemian bars would evolve into gay bars. The bar would become the meeting place and to an extent the social center of this era of the Gay community. The fact nevertheless remains. Gay murders really weren’t happening.

The murders came with counterculture, S&M, and the broad mind of antiestablishment and its unfettering of leather, leather, leather.

Something else came to San Francisco, and the antiestablishment mindset emboldened it. Satan worship. It’s creed was the strong treading under foot the weak. It was something that appealed to biker gangs, and this made it welcomed in South of Market. But that is for the next post. We get into something truly dark, and it must be explored free of all the theatre and clichés.

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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.

The DOODLER or JACK THE KNIFE– Some Corrections & Leads

Through San Francisco’s mists of time and through lists of victims, more information emerges on the “Gay Murders” or “Queer Killings” of the 1970s. Foundationally, the most important is the information which establishes the details of a case, of course. A few corrections or clarifications to some previous statements on here need to be made.

One, the murky victim “Nick Bauman” emerges more clearly. He is Nicholas Parker Baumann. I previously typed the date of his sadistic murder as May 2, 1975. It was actually May 2, 1976. It was at 4th and Howard Street, South of Market. The circumstances are a bit more shadowy now, and it was not listed as a “gay killing.” (The location is not going to be a site to which I will devote too much photography. The entire area has been wiped out and redesigned for Moscone East and South, etc. So there is no old ambiance remaining from the 1970s, which at that time was essentially the 1940s waiting for a new coat of paint.)

I mentioned in a previous post about how the murders stopped in Tenderloin in February 1976 after the publication that Gay vigilantes knew who the killer was and were going to get even with him. The murders then move west in April. I said the murders came back to Tenderloin in June in a nebulous way in the murder of Peter Molzen. True enough. Molzen was viciously stabbed, but Dennis Flynn, his roommate, who had been suspected, did confess to the crime. Flynn does not appear to have been a serial who then killed his roommate.

Adjusting Nick Baumann’s date, however, shows that vicious crimes came back to South of Market in May 1976.

The murder in The Castro of Robert Culver in April 1976 didn’t fit the M.O. pattern by the fact he had been shot. The killer also strangely remained in the apartment for hours. When witnesses saw him through the windows, he fled. He appeared part Latino or Asian. What was of particular interest is that he left doodles behind. This made the case stand out and of interest. John Montalvo was suspected, and a search of the court outcome will be necessary. I’ve mentioned the case before as an example of more than one doodling killer.

The gap after the vigilante warning remains, but there is an interesting case on the edge of Chinatown– on Pine Street. It is the murder in September 1976 of Daniel Silva. He too was viciously stabbed. A few weeks later Grant Dailey would suffer a particularly gruesome stabbing on Steiner Street.

The glut of murders began in 1975, as I previously stated. However, Richard Gonzales’ murder on Eddy Street in January 1975 is still murky. Phillip Molno was originally listed as a witness– then later suspected of the murder. It’s a question of digging into court records to see if he was stuck with it.

However, it’s now become clear that Thomas Almli’s murder on March 20, 1975, in the school area on Golden Gate Avenue was a Gay murder. The details are still hazy. Almli, 54 years old, had been stabbed in what is apparently another Ripper-like scene– dark night, trysting location.

Original information in the murder of Dennis Dickinson had stated it happened at Sherman and Folsom, the center of South of Market. I then was told on reliable information that it was 6th and Folsom. Accurate information places him back at 5 Sherman, where he had drug himself after being beaten . . .and supposedly knifed.

In a 1979 local CBS segment, Don Knapp explores whether Gay culture in public has gone too far. The clip shows a billboard on Castro Street of an advertisement for the somewhat notorious Ritch Street Baths.

I’ve been able to add about 20 cases of Gay murders to my previous list– both before and after the glut of 1975-1976. These reveal the same pattern– victims ranging in age between mid-30s to mid-50s. They are stabbed, strangled, or bludgeoned. In one rather exotic case, a victim was killed with a Medieval mace. Of particular interest are 1973 and 1974 cases that have never seen the light of day– what is interesting is that only one was in Tenderloin, occurring on January 29, 1974, two days after Gerald Cavanaugh’s body was found far away on Ocean Beach. He is, of course, the first victim cited as that of The DOODLER, but his murder is remarkably similar to those other victims both before and after the so-called DOODLER was in action.

After the Tenderloin vigilante threat, the shift in murders westward to the Castro area is hardly surprising. Gay community life had already been concentrating in Castro, but it had been free of murders until Culver’s murder in April 1976. The shift in murders highlights that the killer or killers was coming from the nightlife bar scene. Many victims, I suspect, were being taken by surprise now. The Castro bars, which had previously serviced a neighborhood, were relatively safe places to connect. Not so starting in 1976. By 1979, it was getting really bad. The nightlife scene had hit Castro hard. It was beginning to draw strong reactions, from both Straights and Gays, complaining about the public promiscuity. Neither wanted the bar crowd nightlife coming to a neighborhood. This is dealt with in more detail in the next post. What is significant here is that the concentration of gay nightlife culture also concentrated the murders into a general location.

This once again draws a very unique circle around the pre-1975 murders. Before the Gay community was concentrated, the murders were also spread all over San Francisco. This is a valuable clue.

In the 1973 detective film The Laughing Policeman we get a somewhat interesting tour of gay sights before the gay community took form in The Castro. The killer in this movie– a “John” or high-end homosexual man– is quite mobile and visits key locations over San Francisco. The film even preserves the unmarked Ritch Street baths in China Basin. (They were notorious in the gay nightlife of the city, and an early victim in 1972 may have met his knife wielding killer there.) In the movie, the killer takes a trick he picked up in Tenderloin (at the Frolic Room) to his Embarcadero apartment. He is seen visiting the leather bar The Ramrod (whose owner was instrumental in getting the film made) in South of Market. All of this covers quite a stretch of town, and it is fairly accurate in reflecting the unconcentrated (and low key) gay culture in the early 1970s San Francisco.

The pre-1975 murders show a killer or killers who was quite mobile– from a strike at the base of Telegraph Hill to Pacific Heights, to Bernal Heights, and even Bronte Street. This M.O. takes up again in the post 1976 murders, with a concentration in the west– Castro, Noe Valley, Twin Peaks, and, of course, Buena Vista.

In essence, we have a shark or sharks who knows how to follow the pack. He might be an earlier one who is back in town. The most advantage in tracking him may be in examining these early murders.

*         *        *

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 Gay Vigilantes: Was The DOODLER “Executed”?

The Gay community in San Francisco in the Swingin’ Seventies viewed itself as pivoting between two extremes– keeping the police from harassing them and at the same time getting help from them. They believed they were persecuted because they were Gay. They believed crimes against them weren’t being pursued because they were Gay. In essence, when the police were not actively shaking the community down, the Gays believed they stood back and let random crime have its way with them.

By January 1976, the bloodbath of murders set radical members of the community over the edge. These Tenderloin and SOMA murders didn’t appear to be random. Someone was hunting them. There had always been a nucleus of “community watch” members who had patrolled the streets and armed Gays with whistles so they could alert others they were under attack by a cop or some creep they knew the police wouldn’t come and stop. Vigilantism was an easy next step.

The grapevine was strongest in Tenderloin. Claude DeMott’s gruesome murder in his 64 Turk Street hotel room went through the community. He had put up quite a fight. When his body had been found on Monday morning December 8, 1975, it was reported his throat had been slit. His anus had been cored. His penis had been cut off. His scrotum had been sliced open.

He was and was not a drag queen. He only sometimes was known to have worn drag. Others in the hotel, it was reported, referred to him as a transvestite. He was quite personable, unassuming, a former soldier. He was 36 years old, white. The B.A.R. reported it was the “most sadistic slaying” so far seen in the Gay community. Inspectors McCleary and Falzon were on the case. The last name didn’t set well with the community. Frank Falzon was not well-liked and considered to do very little when it came to Gay murders.

Then January 24, 1976, Bruce DeJon (50) was found dead at 242 Turk Street at the Salvation Army Hotel, now called St. Lukes. DeJon was found nude, in bed, with a sheet pulled over his head, which when pulled back by inspectors McCreary and Falzon had been bashed in by the bloodied lampstand nearby.

Police passed this photo around of Claude DeMott, trying to get information. The B.A.R. published it for the community

Claude DeMott had last been seen talking to a black man. The same can be said about DeJon. The whole idea of a serial was coursing through the Gay community in Tenderloin. The B.A.R. writes: “Tenderloin sources say that they had leads to the identity of the killer, but they do not trust the SFPD to do anything responsible, and that the killer of DeJon will be dealt with by them. The killer, they say, does live in the Tenderloin and is well known to many bar-hoppers. They refuse to give BAR any further details.”

The Gay murders had so far surrounded the bar nightlife in Tenderloin and South of Market. Now, perhaps not so coincidentally, they had stopped. . . February proved this. . . March proved this . . .April proved ambiguous.

Robert Culver was murdered in The Castro. But the circumstances were a bit different than the Tenderloin murders. Then John Marsalla was mutilated and strangled on Brompton in Diamond Heights, far south. But as the year passed the murders weren’t returning to Tenderloin or SOMA.

What had happened? Did the Tenderloin vigilantes deal with the suspect and kill him? In order to find the killer’s identity, should we be looking for missing persons at this time or another unexplained murder of a Tenderloin resident found in another district? Or was the published threat enough to make the suspect leave off prowling the Tenderloin and head west?

The Gay community had been steadily heading west to The Castro for years, but it had not been plagued by murders. This district was viewed as a mixed neighborhood of old time straight residents and the newer gay immigrants. It was regarded as a neighborhood— a place to live. It was not the “the smug display of unabashed hedonism” of Tenderloin and South of Market nightlife. Despite numerous gay bars, nightlife was different. These were bars servicing a neighborhood. No one, including many Gays, wanted Tenderloin and especially South of Market nightlife coming west to The Castro.

Castro Street 1979, a clip from a CBS 5 news story. As the sordid Tenderloin and SOMA standards moved west, the community, both Straight and Gay, began to object.

Yet with Culver’s and then Marsalla’s murders, the killing were coming west. By October 1976 the same gruesome type of murders came to Steiner Street in Alamo Park, just up Lower Haight. Someone obviously had come west from Tenderloin.

The cessation and then shift west is an intriguing kink in the timeline that I must contemplate. Its voice is silence, the rest is interpretation– to paraphrase an often applied line to many unsolved topics. The Gay vigilantes certainly showed their conviction that an individual serial killer had been afoot. The cessation of murders would seem to bear out their theory. Subsequent murders avoided Tenderloin for some time.

The problem with interpretation is that more things than silence influence it. This timeline gap in spring 1976 and the savage murders moving west can underscore the vigilante threat had its effect. However, the killer could have moved away. Yet another could have moved in later in 1976. It’s not reaching to consider this. It was an incredibly migratory time. In 1971 this had happened. An employee of The Trapp had been strangled in his bed. Later the killer was apprehended in Kansas City, reported to have left a trail of Gay victims (supposedly 13) across the country. (It would happen again in 1979, with a sado killer coming from the Seattle area.)

San Francisco had been attracting the S&M crowd, and it was becoming a revolving door for the more affluent partakers. The heavy duty biker and leather crowd was centered in South of Market. And none of the leather crowd had been victims. They, in fact, had been the feared suspects before. South of Market was a real problem and all of its leather bars.

On the same page in the B.A.R. issue presenting DeMott’s murder, there is the story headliner “Male Kidnap and Rape.” Bob Sheidler, age 26, was walking down Clay Street to Polk Street– the main street of Gay life– when 5 guys got him and raped him. “He described them as four whites and one black person, with two of them in full leather and chain regalia, and the other three as partial leather and levis.” The article continues:

“After puling him into the car on Clay Street, screaming, they put a bag or pillow case over his head. They proceeded to take him to a park-like area, and then raped him savagely. . . .SFPD Homicide officers are investigating this case as it may have some connection with the S&M slayings.”

There was no further comment, but this quote reveals SFPD’s attitude– Gay leather sados were prowling about preying on the Gay community. To the Tenderloin crowd, it was an individual Jack The Ripper-like villain.

How good were the Tenderloin sources? Only thin strands connected a black man to DeMott’s and DeJon’s murder; and even if that was right, was he the same Doodler who would take form in news articles in 1976? Remember, the whole idea there was a frustrated, latent homosexual black man as the Doodler stems from a shrink having turned in a patient who supposedly had confessed to the Ocean Beach murders during sessions with him. Yet how do we know this was the real culprit who inspired the “Doodler” police sketch? And even if he was, how do we know this is the same bar-hopper suspected in Tenderloin?

SFPD sketch of a man who doodled along Market Street and then is associated with a knifing and a couple of other attacks in and around Fox Plaza, July 1975.

For that matter, the Tenderloin sources may have been better. They may not have been after a young black guy. They might have been after a leather white guy from South of Market who lived in Tenderloin. Again, we don’t know what played on behind-the-scenes. What we do know is the murders leave Tenderloin.

They come back to Tenderloin in an ambiguous way– Peter Molzen is brutally stabbed in his apartment on Geary on June 24, 1976. Toschi and Mullane respond and arrest his roommate Dennis Flynn, but Flynn is soon released by the court as the DA tries to gather more evidence.

When the Gay murders do return to Tenderloin, it is 1979 and they can be tentatively categorized as of various origins. A gay hustler is suspected to have killed William Prince in his Jones Street apartment in late afternoon January 4. He is also the suspect in the Quirinio Paolazzi murder in Bernal Heights on York Street on May 17. There was a transvestite, George Wright, strangled at an Ellis Street motel on June 10. Hank Lawrence, an employee of The Trapp, a rather notorious Gay bar on Eddy, is also knifed at his 155 Turk Street apartment in the early morning of July 19. All the above were middle age men, and in Paolazzi’s case 72 years old.

The second great wave of unexplained Gay murders roughly begins in late 1980, and it is not as easy to dissect.

In between in 1978, there was that wave of S&M murders classified as the CLONE MURDERS. The victims were last seen in a South of Market or Castro bar, but their bodies were found far away on Tunitas Creek Road (San Mateo County) or in Marin County across the Golden Gate. They had been strangled in sado. They were called CLONE MURDERS because the victims all generally resembled each other– young clean cut guy next door.

One cannot help but notice the waves and the lulls. The most intriguing lull is after the Tenderloin killer is loudly proclaimed to be identified by Tenderloin Gay vigilantes, who say they will handle him. Thereafter the murders move elsewhere. And we must follow these leads.

The second wave of murders indicates more than one type of suspect was responsible, but within it there was yet again a sado killer.

*         *        *

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.