Who Was The Doodler?

Published: Updated: 2 comments

Update: San Francisco Police Release Age Progression Drawing of Doodler Serial Killer

Now, here’s a serial killer I’ve never heard of and one whose identity remains a mystery to the public but not to the police.

Between January 1974 and September 1975, there were six murders and three assaults in San Francisco’s gay community.  In the attacks, the killer met other men at after-hours gay clubs and restaurants in San Fransisco. He usually sketched the men before having sex with them and then stabbed them, thus the name “The Doodler” (also known as “The Black Doodler”). Police believe the man committed the murders after feeling shame over his gay experiences.

From 1976 to 1977, police were questioning a certain young man about the murders and attacks. Two survivors identified him, yet no arrest was ever made, mostly because the survivors did not want to be outed. One was a well-known entertainer, the other a diplomat. Coming out of the closet in the ’70s was not like it is now. People lost jobs over it and were disowned by society.

The suspect talked freely to the police, but they never released his name to the public.

Harvey Milk, an advocate of gay rights during this time (Sean Penn played him in the movie, “Milk”), was quoted as saying, “My feeling is they don’t want to be exposed. I can understand their position. I respect the pressure society has put on them.”

Ok, Harvey, whatever. But now it is 2012, and the world is different than in the late ’70s. Why haven’t the survivors come forward? Surely, they have come out of the closet by now. And, more importantly, why haven’t the police released the suspect’s name?

I may have found some names of victims:

  • Gerald Cavanaugh, 50. His body was found on a beach near Ulloa Street at 1:30 a.m. on January 27, 1974.
  • Stig Berlin, 40. His body was found in his Hyde Street apartment at 1:45 p.m. on February 19, 1974.
  • Clans Christmann, 31. On July 7, 1974, his body was found on a beach near Lincoln Way. He had been stabbed to death.

In 1978, five more gay murders similarly occurred in San Mateo County to the Doodler murders, making police wonder if they were connected. It is unclear if there was ever a connection.

The fact that The Doodler sketched his victims before the attacks could mean he was a local artist. I think it can also suggest that he liked to have something to remember his victims by, sort of a trophy if you will.

It’s worth noting that during The Doodler killings, San Francisco PD also dealt with the Zodiac Killer and the Zebra Murders. The Zodiac Killer remains unknown, but arrests were made in the Zebra Murders. So, SFPD had their hands full.

But after all these years, why not release the name of the suspect? Why is there such little information about this case?

New sketch was released in early 2019

*Updated 2020



Stephen November 21, 2016 - 1:27 PM

I am more than convinced now that the doodler is earons he just got rid of a comment which must have been close to the mark I do know this mans name both his birth name and his suppergras name but its better coming from the investigaters and hope its sorted soon real soon

Stephen November 20, 2016 - 9:41 PM

I have read through the stories of the gay people who were murdered in my mind they all seem to have been killed by the same person .
And I also found many simillarites to the ear murders especially where the bodies would be found in or near waterI an now wondering how longhas this man been distroying lives if it is him who did this dirty work and what could have started hi m off on this killing spree.I would never believe he was born that way and would very much like to know although I’ve already come to my own concluetion.


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True Crime Diva

True Crime Diva

I've blogged true crime since 2010, happily taking up only a tiny corner of the internet. I'm not here for attention; I'm here to tell you their stories.

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