Crime

Police say man could be sixth gay victim of mysterious serial killer The Doodler

Lily Wakefield January 28, 2022
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Police released sketches of serial killer The Doodler, including a mock-up of what he may look like today

Police released sketches of serial killer The Doodler, including a mock-up of what he may look like today. (San Francisco Police Department)

Police believe they have identified a sixth victim of mystery serial killer The Doodler, who targeted gay men in San Francisco in the 1970s.

The Doodler, who has never been identified and earned his monicker by sketching his victims, killed at least five men in San Francisco between January 1974 and June 1975.

The serial killer’s victims were all white men and were all found dead in popular gay hook-up spots in San Francisco’s parks and beaches around the Golden Gate Bridge.

In 2020, The San Francisco Chronicle published a series of articles in which cold case detectives Dan Cunningham and Dan Dedet explored The Doodler’s crimes, as well as the death of Warren Andrews, a separate cold case from 1975.

Andrews was found in San Francisco’s Lands End park and Cunningham told the newspaper last year: “The location, the time period, the victimology – it all makes me think that it might be connected.

“I’d be a fool not to consider him as a Doodler victim.”

On Thursday (27 January), police announced that Andrews, a 52-year-old lawyer, is likely to have been the sixth known victim of The Doodler. The announcement comes 48 years to the day since the killer’s first victim was discovered.

The San Francisco Police Department said in a statement: “On 27 April, 1975, Andrews was a victim of an assault at Land’s End. Andrews was found unconscious and never regained consciousness dying several weeks later.”

According to The San Francisco ChronicleAndrews’ family believe he was gay, but he never came out.

While the five other confirmed victims were all stabbed to death after “homosexual encounters”, Andrews was beaten with a rock and a tree branch.

The Doodler earned his name by sketching his victims before killing them

The initial investigation into The Doodler’s crimes was shrouded in mystery, as surviving victims were reluctant to come forward at a time when sodomy was still criminalised in the majority of US states, including California.

Homicide detectives were tipped off in 1975 by three men who had survived attacks by The Doodler, allowing them to create a police sketch of the serial killer. He was described as a young, Black man, around six feet tall with a slim build.

He was given the moniker The Doodler became he would draw sketches of his victims in bars before approaching them, as a way to start conversation.

While the police had an initial lead, and brought a suspect in for questioning, they were unable to build a case against him because the surviving victims feared being outed if they testified in court.

After cold case detective Dan Cunningham picked the case back up in 2017, the San Francisco Police Department announced a $100,000 reward for information and released an aged version of the police sketch.

This has now been doubled to $200,000 as the investigation progresses, with new evidence from Warren Andrews’ crime scene currently undergoing DNA testing.

Police spokesperson Robert Rueca told The San Francisco Chronicle: “There are some cold cases where investigators think that with a little bit of the public’s help they can create some real strides in the investigation, and this is one of those.

“If it wasn’t for investigators like Dan Cunningham who are really driven to solving these cases, they would just remain on the shelf. He’s one of the best.”

More: murder, San Francisco, serial killer

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