The hunt for 'The Doodler,' 1970s serial killer who targeted gay men; reward now at $200K

SF police link 6th death to 'The Doodler'

Lyanne Melendez Image
Friday, January 28, 2022
Hunt for 'The Doodler,' 1970s serial killer who targeted gay men
San Francisco police have doubled the reward to find the 1970s serial killer targeting the gay community known as "The Doodler" to $200,000.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- It remains one of San Francisco's most notorious cold case murders that's never been solved, but investigators think they are close. "The Doodler" was a serial killer who targeted gay men in the 1970s, and has never been caught.

San Francisco police now believe a sixth victim may be linked to the Doodler and have doubled the reward to $200,000.

Police have two sketches of the man that for the past 48 years San Francisco police have called the Doodler.

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He frequented gay bars in the Castro and in the Polk Gulch including this one, the Cinch Saloon, still around today and investigators say, in the 70s, one of the Doodler's so-called hunting grounds.

"He'd pick a guy somewhere at the bar, he'd sit at the table, he'd sketch them, he was a good artist, so then he would walk up to the guy and say like my doodle?" explained SF Chronicle Reporter Kevin Fagan

Fagan told me that was the Doodler's pick-up line and that's how, police say, he managed to lure and kill gay men including 27-year-old Jae Stevens who was found brutally stabbed at Spreckels Lake in Golden Gate Park.

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We found Jae's sister Melissa Stevens who lives in the North Bay.

"The fact that people are interested in it now means we're getting closer because for years it went unnoticed. You know a lot of families have been terribly damaged by this act of his," said Stevens

Many people have never heard of the Doodler. Why? In the 70s investigators were laser-focused on other notorious cases like the Zodiac Killer, the Zebra Killings and let's not forget Patty Hearst. Also, SFPD was not gay friendly and this community did not trust officers.

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Gay Activist and former Supervisor Tom Ammiano told us what it was like for a gay man in the 70s.

"Why go to the police? You're not going to get any kind of justice. They've proven that our lives are not valued," explained Ammiano.

Now a sixth victim, Warren Andrews is believed to be linked to 'The Doodler' after investigators found new evidence. He was found beaten at Lands End in April 1975 and later died of his injuries.

"He's got some DNA which is considered a magic bullet in these cases and it's being tested," added Fagan.

Investigators have told Fagan, they believe they know the identity of the Doodler. They believe he's in his 70s and living in the East Bay.

The person believed to be the Doodler was brought in before but they just couldn't pin anything on him. Back in the 70s investigators collected fingerprints and maybe saliva. DNA technology was not around. Two of his victims survived and are still alive. That is how police were able to have those sketches. One of the survivors was a diplomat and the other a well-known actor at the time. Both are very traumatized, both not wanting to be associated with gay murders.