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.

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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.