SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Cold case investigators released an updated sketch and audio tape Wednesday of a suspect they believe is the ‘Doodler’ — a serial killer who terrorized gay San Francisco men in the mid-1970s.

SFPD Investigations Bureau Commander Greg McEachern also announced a $100,000 reward for information leading to the suspect’s capture in five homicides that spanned from January 1974 to June 1975.

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The killer was dubbed the ‘Doodler’ after he told a person who later became a victim and survived that he was a cartoonist. Police say the attacker was doodling while he and the man talked at a late-night diner.

“All these victims who were recovered … were found out near the Ocean Beach and Lincoln Park area,” McEachern said. “What made investigators believe that all of those victims were as the result of the same suspect was that they had similar injuries including stab wounds to the upper chest and back. A similar weapon was used .. and that all the men who were victims were gay white men.”

Detectives played for reporters an audio tape of a dispatch call they believe was made by the suspect:

Police operator: “Communications this is Quintana may I help you?”
Caller: Yes, I believe there might be a dead person … on the beach .. across from Ulloa St., Ulloa St., if you follow the street right down to the water. I was walking along there … and I thought I saw somebody lying there. But I didn’t want to get too close to him because you never know what could happen. Okay?”
Police operator: “Did you want to give us your name sir?”
Caller: “No I don’t think that’s necessary. I just wanted to let someone know. Maybe he needs help or something. I just felt it was my duty to report it.”

Responding officers discovered the body of 50-year-old Gerald Cavanaugh, the first of the killer’s five known victims.

Two other victims survived attacks in July 1975 at Fox Plaza. McEachern said both men gave police at the time descriptions that were similar.

He said police were also trying to locate an unidentified East Bay psychiatrist who may have been treating the suspect at the time of the slayings.

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“He may have had the last name of Priest,” McEachern told reporters. “We are hoping someone in the public may know who that psychiatrist is.”

The Doodler slayings is one of several cold cases, particularly serial crimes, being re-examined after the capture last year of the notorious “Golden State Killer” through DNA analysis, McEachern said.

Police described the killer as an African-American male, about 5 feet, 11 inches tall with a lanky build who was likely in his early 20s at the time of the atacks.

He targeted white men he met at after-hours gay clubs and restaurants in San Francisco. He usually sketched them before having sex and stabbing them.

McEachern said police have interviewed the man since returning to the case and he remains a person of interest. His name was not released.

The SFPD Homicide Detail is actively working this cold case. Anyone with information is asked to call the SFPD 24 hour tip line at 1-415-575-4444 or Text a Tip to TIP411 and begin the message with SFPD. You may remain anonymous.


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