The Doodler

By SF Chronicle, Ugly Duckling Films, Neon Hum Media

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Category: True Crime

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 Mar 31, 2021


The Golden State Killer. The Unabomber. Ted Bundy. You’re probably familiar with these serial killers. But in the mid-1970s, another monster terrorized San Francisco’s gay community. He was coined “The Doodler,” and he may have been responsible for as many victims as the Zodiac Killer, yet you’ve probably never heard of him. Plagued by a complicated investigation, a frightened public, and the hesitation of many to come forward, the case went cold, and a killer walked free. Nearly 50 years later, a renewed hunt for a forgotten serial killer seeks to change that. Follow the story on “The Doodler” podcast, debuting in March 2021. Have a tip? Email, call (415) 570-9299, or visit

Episode Date
6. A Sketch for the Street Cops
In the Fall of 1975, a composite sketch of The Doodler is published in the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Francisco Sentinel, and tips begin to roll in. Street cops are on high alert for anyone matching the description. Inspectors Rotea Gilford and Earl Sanders round up several suspects for interrogation. Kevin and Mike uncover more details about a psychiatrist and secretary who claim their patient is The Doodler. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Apr 13, 2021
5. An Actor and a Diplomat Walk into a Bar
At the end of 1975, The Doodler murders Harald Gullberg, the fifth and final suspected fatality that investigators have tied to this case. The Doodler’s sixth victim actually survives a brutal knife attack. Investigating today, Kevin is desperate to talk to an eyewitness, but investigator Dan Cunningham says the man wants to put the events of 1975 behind him. Private investigator Mike Taylor looks into rumors that this surviving victim may have been a Swedish diplomat, and some new leads emerge. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Apr 06, 2021
Introducing: Spy Affair
A charismatic Russian woman arrives in the US on a mission to improve relations between the two countries, and she soon makes some powerful friends. But who is Maria Butina? And who is she working for? As Maria gets closer to the rich and connected she also attracts the attention of the FBI. In the politically charged world of US-Russia relations, everyone has secrets and almost nothing is what it seems. From Wondery, the makers of The Shrink Next Door and Dr. Death comes SPY AFFAIR a story about deception, appearances and betrayal. Hosted by Celia Aniskovich. Listen today at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Apr 01, 2021
4. Gilford and Sanders
More than a year after the murder of Gerald Cavanagh, the SFPD finally assigns a dedicated team of investigators to The Doodler case. Turns out Rotea Gilford and Earl Sanders, the first Black homicide investigators in the SFPD, are perfectly suited for the job. Around this time, The Doodler claims his fourth victim - a nurse named Fredrick Capin. Now, Kevin and Mike try to learn what they can about the circumstances around his death. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Mar 30, 2021
3. The Zebra Diversion
Kevin and Mike dig deeper into the lives of the first three Doodler victims, and a clear pattern begins to emerge around the method and location of these deaths: brutal stabbings in remote hookup spots. Did SFPD see that pattern in the ‘70s? Or was it lost amid the crime wave sweeping across the city at the time? They look into the infamous Zebra killings of 1973 and ‘74. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Mar 23, 2021
2. Murder, Mistrust, and the SFPD
The Doodler’s second known victim is an up-and-coming San Francisco drag queen named Jae Stevens. In the present, the San Francisco Chronicle’s Kevin Fagan recruits private investigator and former Chronicle colleague Mike Taylor to help him track down some of Stevens’ friends and family. Through Jae’s story, we learn how the contentious relationship between police and the gay community complicates the original investigation. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Mar 16, 2021
1. The Coldest Case in San Francisco
You’ve probably heard of the Zodiac Killer but not The Doodler. Why not? Between 1974 and ‘75 he killed at least 5 gay men in San Francisco and got away with it. But ever since, the case has been mostly overlooked. Until now. SFPD re-opened the case in 2018, with investigator Dan Cunningham at the helm. Meanwhile, award-winning reporter and host Kevin Fagan starts an investigation of his own. He starts by looking into The Doodler’s first known victim - Gerald Cavanagh. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Mar 16, 2021
Trailer: Introducing The Doodler
San Francisco was a haven for queer people in the 1970s, but it was also home to a little-known serial killer called the Doodler. It might sound like a silly name, by his body count is as high as the Zodiac's. All of his victims were gay men. The Doodler was never caught. His murder spree was forgotten — lost in the chaos of the times. But 46 years later, the case has been reopened. San Francisco Chronicle reporter Kevin Fagan is trying to figure out how the Doodler got away. He's doing his own investigation. His leads have brought us closer to solving these crimes than ever before. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Mar 02, 2021
Help Us Find a Serial Killer: The Doodler
The Golden State Killer. The Unabomber. Ted Bundy. Serial killers you’ll be familiar with. But between 1974 and 1975, there was another ruthless serial killer at large, terrorizing San Francisco’s LGBTQ+ community. He was coined the "Doodler” and may have killed as many people as the Zodiac Killer. And yet you’ve likely never heard of the Doodler. While a social movement roared to life in the city, The Doodler haunted its queer nightlife scene. Plagued by a flawed investigation, a frightened public, and hesitation from victims’ friends and associates, who feared involvement would out them to family and employers, the investigation went cold. And so the killer walked away free. But The Doodler, a podcast coming 2021, seeks to change that. Have a tip? Email us at, give us a call at +1(415) 570-9299, or visit us at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Oct 15, 2020