The Doodler refers to a Black male, young, tall, unidentified, and violent serial killer who was active between January 1974 – September 1975.
His target area was the LGBTQ community in San Francisco. People did not speak out and trust in police was low.
Five of his victims are known but he is allegedly responsible for as many as sixteen murders. Some victims survived his assaults.
The Doodler got his name because the public was told that he watched his victims, sketched them, and used those sketches to strike up a conversation. More about this below.
His victims were white gay men who were stabbed repeatedly. Knife attacks are highly personal crimes. It requires a closeness that the attacker wants, even craves. In three cases, the victims had their pants unzipped but autopsies showed no sexual activity before death nor was there evidence of assault. None of the victims were locked up.
Who is the Doodler? What evidence pieces are preserved? Can we check for DNA and do a familial search?
Kate Zaliznock discusses conversion therapy, castration, and lobotomy. It is possible that the Doodler was a patient? Someone young, subjected to either conversion therapy, castration, or lobotomy but despite that, was still rejected by their family?
The author takes the reader through her research and tells us about the victims. Zaliznock compares several suspects, shows us were the information about them overlaps, and where they differ. We learn about the officers who oversaw the cases and the attitudes of the time towards gay people.
As the victim tally grows, we see the Doodler gain confidence. He progresses to killing in people’s homes.
The author discusses many victims, police officers, and of course suspects. The book would benefit from a cross-referenced index and single sentence summaries in the text to help the reader. Bullet points work better than listing information in a sentence.
Of all the victims who survived the attacks, only one is still alive. This person, known only as the Diplomat, has been collaborating with police from the start. DNA might give us answers but exploring it, is a lengthy process. The authorities do have their eye on a suspect though.
Note that the Diplomat told police that the Doodler did not draw people as previously believed. He drew animals. “The Suspect was drawing animal figures on a napkin,” according to the police press release. “The suspect commented to the Victim that he was attending art school and was studying to be a cartoonist. The Victim believed the suspect to be skillful in drawing as he himself had a background in art.”
Read the book until the end because it will update you on the ongoing investigation.
The San Francisco Police Department is confident that they will solve this case. They ask anyone with information to call the SFPD’s 24-hour tip line at 415-575-4444 or text a tip to TIP411. There is a $200’000. — reward.
Highly recommended reading!
Note: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. My other book reviews are here.