SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- Police in San Francisco on Thursday announced they have doubled the reward offered in the nearly half century old cold case of the "Doodler" -- a serial killer who terrorized gay men in San Francisco's Castro during the mid-1970s.
In a press release issued Thursday morning, police noted that January 27 of this year marked the 48th anniversary of the first "Doodler" homicide which occurred in January of 1974. The SFPD has increased the reward from $100,000 to $200,000 for information leading to the identification, apprehension, and conviction of the serial homicide suspect.
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.
"People were very worried," said SF resident Harry Breaux, recalling the time. "It was scary, you know? The city was different then. At night, there was a lot of activity, so it was kind of like easy prey for somebody of that bent to perform."
It was a perfect environment for a killer, say those who remember San Francisco in 1975. According to police, the "Doodler" would sketch his victims at bars and nightclubs before striking up a conversation with them.
Initially, the Doodler was connected to the murder of five victims whose bodies were found in the area of Ocean Beach and Golden Gate Park area. However, a later investigation uncovered evidence that Warren Andrews may be the sixth victim of the serial killer. Andrews was a victim of an assault at Land's End on April 27, 1975. He was found unconscious and never regained consciousness, dying several weeks later being attacked. All six victims of the Doodler are believed to be Gay Caucasian males.
A forensic sketch that shows an "age progression" of the suspect was released three years ago.
The case has seen activity in recent years. In 2018, police said they were looking at DNA evidence, hoping to solve the case much the same way the Golden State Killer was found that year. And then in 2019, they released an updated sketch of the suspect, and the 911 call that reported one of the bodies on Ocean Beach.
At the time of the killings, investigators thought they were close to making an arrest, but felt witnesses were reluctant to come forward because of fears they would be outed.
"Well they could be fired," Breaux said. "That wasn't over yet. Today, people go, 'Oh, gay? So what? Who cares?' That could get you thrown out of your apartment still in the '70s."
There are some reports over the years suggesting the Doodler may have been connected to as many as 14 killings.
The SFPD Homicide Detail continues to actively work 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.
Wilson Walker contributed to this story.
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