Murder By Forgotten Category: The Gay Murders of San Francisco 1968-1982

What follows is a list of murder victims. They are the victims of a new age– the swingin’ lifestyle of the Age of Aquarius. The age was initiated by the counterculture. But after the Nehru collar philosophies collapsed in 1970, the age entered the mainstream as a new liberated lifestyle. Many “mainstream” murder sprees, both solved and unsolved, are known from this period. But the list posted here is of the lost category: the Gay Murders of San Francisco.

The Swingin’ Seventies lifestyle extended beyond the strange promiscuous fashions of the mainstream. It liberated the Gay community, but it did not play out in a similar fashion. Added to Gay nightlife was the biker crowd and their predilection for sado masochism and even the occult, the very trendy fashion of the 1970s. Nightlife became a game for some, an unknown game for most others: it was a game of the hunter and the unsuspecting hunted.

Murder had many motives: thrill, sado gone bad, vengeance, ritual, drugs, easy victims for robbery. Most often it was by knife, strangling, or bludgeon. Seldom reported, except as names on a list of unsolved murders of the year before (such as in the S.F. Examiner yearly roundup), and seldom qualified as a “gay” murder, the details and cases remain largely unknown to the public.

Although the murders mount upward in 1967, they began in December 1966. Lydal Amerson was tagged with the murder of 47 year old Irving Schuett at his Jackson Street flat. He was accused of strangling him with the phone cord. Examples where the suspect was known or even apprehended would soon become a rarity. For as the nightlife culture expanded in the 1970s there were too many murders for the police to keep up with. Always suspicious of the “establishment,” the Gay community in particular wouldn’t always cooperate. This created a Dodge City environment to the nightlife– especially in Tenderloin, South of Market (SOMA) and eventually The Castro– that opened up many more of its habitués to murder.

After much initial research, the list is as follows. It is not complete. Some is compiled from official sources, some from newspapers, some from academic repositories like the Criminal Justice Center at the Ohio State University. The formal list in bold will be contrasted by my own bare notes under in italics. Often my initial research had to correct the ages given on the list maintained at Ohio State University. Sometimes the addresses. My notes meant something to me, and they do not reflect my level of knowledge on the cases. For details on some cases you can read some of the posts on this blog. Those posts still constitute only a scratch on the surface of the cases.

Unsolved murder by gun is not included here. Nor are those where there was a suspect, whether that suspect was cleared or not. Only cases where no suspect was known.

5-10-1967– 66 Montezuma, “Fleming, Donald”, no suspect, sex gay, butcher knife.
Most likely murdered at 68 Montezuma. Actual age=33. Chronicle says murdered at 3255 Folsom. This is actually the funeral home. Ohio State lists 66 Montezuma. Funeral records say 68 Montezuma.

9-21-1967– 890 Bush, “Gilleran, John”, no suspects, sex gay, scissors 15 times.
An impromptu weapon. Age = 24. Scissors come up more often in cases where suspects are known. The defense is “homosexual panic.” It is considered an impromptu weapon. The victim in such cases is often middle aged. Gilleran was young, and it looks like a maniac went at him.

1968

10-3-1968– 207 Chattanooga, “Evans, Dave”, no suspect, gay sex, strangled with towel.
Age 39.

10-22-1968–788 O’Farrell, “Ramirez, Joey”, no suspect, gay, tied up, choked.
World War II enlistee—AAF. Buried at Fort Logan. Never married. Age = 41. Second of middle age men dead by asphyxiation. But the “gay” category could be assumed/incidental. Some robbery victims, tied and gagged, choked to death.

1969

2-16-1969– Fairmont Hotel, “Blachinger, Franc”, no suspect, gay, cut and strangle.
Actual name Francis X. Blechinger. Again, a middle age man at 52 or 54 (varies). The location suggests the killer was a pick up. Same perp as above two cases?

6-24-1969– 477 Burnett, “Hedberg, Charles”, no suspect, gay sex, knifed.
Age = 44. Again, a middle aged man killed at his address (in this case Twin Peaks.)


1970

2-25-1970– 945 Holyhoke, “Drinkmann, Louis”, no suspect, gay sex, knifed.
Age = 49. Circumstances may not indicate a sex killing.

5-9-1970– 245 Leavenworth, “Pace, Effin”, no suspect, gay sex. Bladed.
(alias names, real age=29)

11-6-1970– 1231 Market, “Trudeau, Alfred”, no suspect, gay sex, bladed.
Age = 38. SPC 3 US Army.

1971

1-6-1971– 1035 Bush, “Miller, Lyle”, no suspect, gay sex, bludgeoned by lamp.
Age = 52.

2-8-1971– 195 Chanel, “Ward, George”, no suspect, gay sex, drowned.
(public) George Sid Ward, age = 21. Vietnam soldier. Circumstances must be checked further to verify category.

1972

4-19-1972– 475 Brannan, “Whaley, James”, no suspect, gay sex, bladed.
Age = 45.

10-26-1972– 144 Eddy, “Ladd, Edward”, no suspect, gay sex, blunt force.
Age = 43

1973

7-9-1973– 20 Franklin, “Pryer, Carl”, no suspect, gay sex. bladed.
(middle name David or Deforest) Age – 53.

9-7-1973– 402 Broadway, “Snyder, Paul”, no suspect, gay robbery, bladed.
(Telegraph Hill; Age = 34).

10-11-1973– 149 Bronte, “Pindell, Arthur”, no suspect, gay robbery residence, bladed. (Actual age 46)

1974

1-27-1974– Ocean Beach/Ulloa, “Cavanagh, Gerald”, no suspect, gay sex. bladed.
For whatever reason cataloged as the “first” DOODLER victim. Lived in the Haight on Belvedere Street. Land’s End and Ocean Beach to the south were popular public trysting locations. May have encountered his killer there or in a bar and went not to his apartment (more common), but to a public place. Land’s End regularly swept by SFPD since 1971 due to complaints of public promiscuity. Age = 50.

1-29-1974– 250 Taylor, “Jankowski, Paul”, no suspect, gay sex, bludgeoned with feet or fists. Age =50

2-19-1974– 725 Hyde, “Berlin, Stig”, no suspect, gay sex, gay. bladed.
Age 37. Apartment was a bloody mess. Born in Europe, immigrated to America.

6-25-1974– Spreckles Lake Golden Gate Park, “Stevens, Joseph”, no suspect, gay sex, knife.
(Jae Stevens) Also haphazardly slapped onto the victim list of The DOODLER. Stevens was a high end drag performer. Several nuances exist in his case, including a car chase that night.

7-7-1974– Ocean Beach/Lincoln Way, “Christman, Claus”, no suspect, gay sex. bladed.
Also classified as a DOODLER victim. A gruesome scene, he was knifed at a popular trysting location.

9-14-1974– 2150 Jackson, “Shepard, Dan”, no suspect, gay sex, bladed.
Age=34

2-2-1975– 375 Eddy, “Gonzales, Richard,” gay sex. bladed.
First a witness, then POI, Philip Molno was tagged for it. First of a series of Tenderloin gay murders.

3-16-1975– 344 Ellis, “Vasquez, Joe”, no suspect, gay sex. bladed.
Transvestite killed in apartment. Born Mexico 1951, known by many aliases in S.F., primarily “Barbella.” Age = 23. Second Tenderloin gay murder.

3-20-1975– 727 Golden Gate, “Almli, Thomas August”, no suspect, gay sex. Bladed.
Age 53– Third Tenderloin gay murder.

4-1-1975– 370 Ellis, “Rodriquez, Jose”, no suspect, gay sex, $50K reward. Bladed.
Fourth tenderloin gay murder– knifed in apartment in building next to Vasquez’s apartment. Also a transvestite known under an alias name “Yancy”. From Texas. Age = 30. Meetings convened in Tenderloin to deal with the rash of murders. Reward offered.

4-27-1975– Land’s End, “Andrews, Warren”, no suspect, Robbery gay sex, died 6/22/75.
Land’s End was a popular trysting location. Andrews, 52, was knocked on the head by a rock. Went into coma; died at hospital a couple of months later. Circumstances indicate a young trick.

5-12-1975– Upper Great Highway/Ulloa, “Capin, Frederick”, no suspect, gay sex. Bladed. Age =32– Found near where Cavanaugh’s body had been found. Could have been murdered by the same perp. Also classified as a DOODLER murder. Occurred almost 1.5 years after Cavanaugh’s murder.

6-4-1975–Lincoln Golf Course/Land’s End, “Gullberg, Harold”, no suspect, gay sex?
Dead a few days when found, Gullberg age 66 was scratched apparently by a twig or branches. Probably same perp who killed Warren Andrews with a rock. Coroner was unsure whether homicide. Strangely listed as a DOODLER victim when it seems Gullberg, even if murdered, was killed by the same perp who used a rock on Andrews. Gullberg had $2.43 in pocket.

7-21-1975– 55 Sherman, “Dickenson, Dennis”, no suspect, gay sex.
Beaten or knifed, accounts differ as to where he dragged himself afterward and died. Suspected to be drug revenge. Age = 28.

8-19-1975– Hahn/Visitacion, “Alfano, Jeffery”, no suspect, gay robbery. Blunt force.
Far gone as a location from the heart of Gay nightlife, but with time this area does form a nucleus for outlying gay murders. Age = 18

8-29-1975– 51 Dore Alley, “Reel, David”, no suspect, gay sex.
Strangled and mutilated in a parking area. Had recently left The Brig— a major leather bar in SOMA. Age = 31.

9-27-1975– 1390 Market, “Gilbert, George”, no suspect, gay sex. Bladed.
Fox Plaza. Two attacks (one victim knifed, survived; the other bound) occurred there in July on the lower floor, attributed later to the DOODLER. This murder was stated to be unrelated. Age = 32

12-8-1975– 64 Turk, “Demott, Claude”, no suspect, gay sex. Blunt force, knife, castrated. A gruesome scene. DeMott was former Army, now sometimes a Transvestite. This is yet another Tenderloin murder. The Gay community was getting angry. Soon the Gay newspapers would report vigilantes knew who the Tenderloin killer was, and they were going to get revenge. Age = 36.

1976

1- 8-1976– 1476 Valencia, “Steeples, George”, no suspect, Prostitution gay bi sex. Knifed.
(Actual age– 54) Confused scene of, apparent, wanton murder in Mission District.

1-24-1976– 242 Turk, “DeJon, Bruce”, no suspect, gay sex. Bludgeoned lamp.
Yet another Tenderloin murder. Published warnings convey vigilantes were now going to get the perp. Age =51

4-25-1976– 169 Brompton,”Marsalla, John”, no suspect, gay sex. Bladed.
Far afield from the others, but of particular interest here. Marsalla was strangled and stabbed. This murder and that of Grant Dailey were similar, and they indicate a butchering sado maniac. Certain surface similarities to Fleming’s murder in 1967. Age = 52.

5-2-1976– 4th/Howard, “Bauman, Nick”, no suspect, robbery witness. Beaten.
For some reason known as “Granny Goose.” Full name Nicholas Parker Baumann. Actual age =29. He had been drug into a basement and bludgeoned. His testicles were pulverized, according to one public report. The area is now the Moscone Center area and bears no resemblance to what it was in 1976. Often considered one of the Gay murders, but the list at Ohio State does not list the circumstances as “gay” related.

9-19-1976– 745 Pine, “Silva, Daniel”, no suspect, gay sex. Bladed.
Age = 50.

10-12-1976– 700 Steiner, “Dailey, Grant”, no suspect, gay sex. Bladed.
Of particular interest here for its gruesome similarities to Marsalla’s murder. The “future” CLONE MURDERS would be similar but less gruesome. In those instances the victims were dumped off Tunitas Creek Road, but actual location of death unknown yet possibly in a Mission District/thereabouts apartment.

12-24-1976– 154 Nueva, “Webb, Donald”, no suspect, gay sex. Asphyxiate.
Canadian like Gerald Cavanaugh and of a similar age. His small bungalow was far afield of the concentration of Tenderloin, Castro, and Market gay murders. Age = 50.

1977

Between January and May a rash of murders by knife and, more commonly, blunt force, takes 5 victims. No suspect. Not listed as “gay” or sex related, but as robbery. Still checking on any connection.

9-27-1977– 2030 Mission, “Harding, Edwin”, no suspect, gay sex. Ash tray.
Actual age was 33. Bludgeoned by someone who came home with him.

10-23-1977– 268 Carl, “O’Shields, Barry”, no suspect, gay sex. Bladed.
Murdered by someone who came home with him. From Florida. Actual age = 26

1978

2-6-1978– 90 Parkridge, “Kenny, Thomas”, no suspect, gay, medieval. Knight’s Mace.
Murdered by someone who came home with him. Age = 39. Twin Peaks.

2-8-1978– 244 9th St, “Smoot, Richard”, no suspect, gay. Gun. Rare example on my list of murder by gun. Picked-up at bar. Killed opposite 51 Dore Alley— going to parking lot with someone as had David Reel? Did he get suspicious of his trick? Intended CLONE victim? Or the same “Jack the Knife” of Reel’s murder? Pursue. It is at this time that Gay men are being murdered by someone they go home with.

4-2-1978– 240 Jones, “Johnson, Dennis”, no suspect, gay narcotics. Bladed.
(Actual age = 24)

7-31-1978– 450 Powell, “Delepeleere, Robert”, no suspect??, robbery. Gagged.
(Checking) Address is Sir Francis Drake Hotel—he was born in another country. Not listed as “gay,” but the scenario is suggested by some circumstances. Some robbery victims died by choking after being gagged by assailant. Age = 44. Murder occurred three days after birthday.

8-14-1978– 1300 26th Ave, “Knorr, George”, no suspect, gay robbery. Bladed.
Age = 42. Murdered in his apartment by someone who came home with him.

9-19-1978– 240 Dolores, “Leboe, Robert”, no suspect, robbery. Bladed.
Checking. Not listed as “gay.” May have been a mistaken victim. Had two children. Born in Utah, grew up in San Francisco. Adress is nice 1970s townhomes or apartments. Couple blocks from Market Street and popular “Truck Stop” pick up restaurant, and other pick up locations. Age = 51. Obit in Chronicle. Since the solicitation for many victims may have been “cocaine” rather than sex, examining the details of some murders of apparent non Gay men may be of value. Several Market Street establishments, though often labeled as “gay”, were patronized by non Gays. Truck Stop in particular was noted for good food.

CLONE MURDERS
Daniel Joseph Oller found dumped San Mateo Co. 17 March 1978.
Ronald Young – found dumped San Mateo Co. 17 March 1978.
2 John Does found dumped San Mateo Co. June 7, 1978.
Jerry Haberle found dumped Marin Co. September 16, 1978.
Arthur Tomlin Goodman III found dumped San Mateo Co. October 6, 1978.
Rick Smoot connected somehow?

Popular David Likens, the “Robert Redford” of the Gay community in San Francisco, was arrested for these murders. He hung himself in January 1979 in a San Mateo Co. jail. Apparently from the stigma of his relationship with Likens, his former roommate Archie Daniel Hepburn killed himself a few months later.

1979

1-4-1979– 240 Jones, “Prince, William”, no suspect, robbery. Bladed.
Gay? Age could be wrong = 45 or 55. BD could be 05 Feb 1933 as opposed to 1923. In reports of the Quirinio Paolazzi murder in May 1979, references are made to a similar murder earlier in the year, possibly perpetrated by same young trick. This appears to be that case– similar murder time in late afternoon.

5-17-1979– 1676 York, “Paolazzi, Quirino”, no suspect, gay robbery. Fire Poker.
Paolazzi was 72. Jersey of young man left behind at scene. Perp dumped Paolazzi car at Buena Vista Park .

6-10-1979– 790 Ellis, “Wright, George”, no suspect, gay. Strangled.
Appears to be transvestite reported in B.A.R. as strangled at the motel at Ellis and Polk. Age = 47

6-19-1979– Noriega/Beach, “Doe, John”, no suspect. Gun.
Later identified as Drath. Trick revenge murder? Tricks were being blamed for a large portion of the murders. Young Drath, a runaway, was shot several times. His body was found somewhat buried at Ocean Beach.

7-19-1979– 155 Turk, “Lawrence, Henry”, no suspect, gay robbery. Bladed.
Age =44. Possibly the Trap employee reported in the B.A.R. as murdered. The Trap was a nasty place. Tricks were for hire.

9-22-1979– 280 Eddy, “Frozetting, Billy”, no suspect. Bladed.
(Checking) Tenderloin, in the heart of the gay murders. Park now. No such name in phone book or death records. Age given in list as 48. May not be gay.  

1980

4-26-1980– 998 Howard, “Smith, Peter”, no suspect, robbery. Bladed.
(Checking) Never married—no kids. US Army. Age = 59.

7-7-1980– 1315 Polk, “Miller, Hamilton”, no suspect, Robbery. Gagged, etc.
Scotsman. Not listed as gay, but happened at the Leland at Polk & Bush. Nice looking today. Center of prostitution back then on Polk Street.

7-25-1980– 445 O’Farrell, “Haefer, Robert”, no suspect, gay. Asphyxiate.
Age =39

9-7-1980– 825 Lincoln Way, “Probert, Howard”, no suspect, gay robbery. Strangled.
Nice 1970s apartments at 9th and Lincoln. Not married, no children. Age = 62.

11-10-1980– 1651 Market, “Brannigan, Wm”, no suspect, gay. Asphyxiate
This was now the 4th who died of strangling or asphyxiation since the beginning of the year. Age = 33

11-24-1980– Buena Vista Park, “Meder, Donald”, no suspect, gay. Bladed.
Age = 42 (4 days short of his 43rd BD). Stabbed to neck. Pants found around ankle. Knifing similar to so-called DOODLER Ocean Beach murders of 1974-1975. Buena Vista Park was becoming a real problem for crime and especially for robbery of Gay men. However, in this case it seems murder was the object. Lived nearby on Fillmore. Must have walked to the park to make a connection.

1981

3-27-1981– 646 Douglas, “Cushway, Rich”, no suspect, gay robbery. Bladed.
Age = 33.

4-29-1981– 4126 18th St, “Duncan, David”, no suspect, gay. Blunt force.
Australian, age 44. Killer robbed the place and apparently even tried to move a safe. It wasn’t sado gone bad, but that may have been the killer’s guise.

8-24-1981– Roosevelt/Museum, “Singleterry, Wm”, no suspect, gay robbery. Strangle.
According to newspapers this was far more involved. Tire iron was used. Singleterry mysteriously disappeared from bar, leaving behind full drink and jacket/cigarettes. Location is at entrance to Corona Heights Park.

12-15-1981– 630 Franklin, “Valine, Larry”, no suspect, gay. Bladed.
Age given as 22; actual age was 32. Married in Jan 70-divorced in June 1971. Possible. Maybe from Hamilton, CA.

8-21-1981– 298 6th St, “Kleinschmidt, Ric”, no suspect, argument. Bladed.
Address is school where drug deals also known. Never married. Not listed as gay. Age = 34. Buried back in home state.

1982

5-18-1982– 217 Eddy, “Marquez, Adolfo”, no suspect, gay robbery. Strangled.
Born in Mexico. Mexican death certificate–“afixia pulmonar, estrangulacion manual.” Age given as 50.

7-22-1982– 855 Burnett, “Clark, Leroy”, no suspect, gay. Bladed.
Twin Peaks. Leroy Joseph Clark—B 12 March 1927-22 July 1982— From Colorado. Murdered by someone who came home with him. Age = 55.

The above list does not include unsolved gay murders by gun. Nor, for the most part, does it include murders not specifically listed as gay but whose circumstances strongly suggest this was a factor. These are still being researched, and possibly 10 names can be added.

Murder by strangulation is not common among men except among Gay men at this time. As the reader will note, there were waves where quite a few men were strangled over a year or two years. Knifing is far more common.

Like anybody else in the city scene back then, Gay men were into drugs. Some of the public murders might have been revenge murders for bad drug deals– Dickinson, Kleinschmidt, Bauman. The last, however, was murdered in a particularly gruesome way.

As also noted in other articles, tricks murdered older men just to rob them and then have no witnesses. Some feigned homosexuality just to lure Gay men into a compromising position.

However, due to waves and locations and particularly brutal ways of murder– such as in Marsalla’s, Reel’s, and Dailey’s deaths– one must consider a serial was also afoot. More than one killer was certainly coming home with his pick up. Some were murdering without robbing.

Close to 70 names are here. These represent only those in San Franciso. Others were being murdered in San Jose and around the Bay Area. Still others were being killed in similar fashion in the Gay centers– New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, perhaps also Chicago. Killer or killers may have worked more than one city. Comparisions should be made with other city murder lists. Unfortunately, these are not as easily available.

*         *        *

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.

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