San Francisco Chronicle reporter Kevin Fagan is determined to solve the mystery surrounding the murders of gay men in San Francisco five decades ago. In 2019, the San Francisco Police Department reopened a cold case of a serial killer who preyed on gay men in the 1970s. Fagan elaborates on why the police called the killer the Doodler:
The Doodler hunted gay white men in diners and bars, and got his name because he would lure them in by drawing sketches of them as he sat nearby. After showing them the doodles of their faces, the killer would ask them to go away with him to have sex — and then, once away from prying eyes, he would attack them with a knife. The killings happened along Ocean Beach and in Golden Gate Park.
In 2018, in an effort to get tips from the public, the SFPD released a sketch of what the killer would possibly look like today. In addition to the sketch, an audio recording of a call to San Francisco police dispatch from an unidentified man disclosing finding a body on the beach was also released.
In a podcast produced by the Chronicle aptly called The Doodler, Fagan conducts his own investigation in parallel with the SFPD’s in the hopes of bringing the killer to justice.
In a Reddit AMA (Ask me anything), Fagan explains why the case of the Doodler fell under the radar during that time:
This one slipped by because at the time, mainstream media and the non-LGBTQ public in general simply didn’t pay much attention. Killing gay men in the early 1970s was easier to get away with when there were still oppressive laws on the books and so many people had to hide who they really were. As ex-mayor Art Agnos tells me in the podcast, those were “Neanderthal” times in many ways.
Fagan reveals in the first episode of The Doodler podcast that while there are five confirmed victims of the Doodler, there may be more. On the website for the podcast, the Chronicle urges anyone who has any tips regarding the Doodler or any of the victims from that time to either email them or call the hotline (415-570-9299).
With two episodes of The Doodler released, the podcast has gained buzz over social media with the various reviews from other media outlets and endorsements from pop star Rick Astley, whose wife’s company, Ugly Duckling Films, produced the podcast, and author Christopher Rice.
#TheDoodler podcast is out now! Please listen, share and subscribe to this important and fascinating podcast – Rick x https://t.co/tigc5WMjxz @LeneBausagerUK @__Sophia @UglyDFilms @SonyPodcasts @sfchronicle @neonhummedia pic.twitter.com/rllSyG7rTh
— Rick Astley (@rickastley) March 16, 2021
My new podcast obsession. https://t.co/Dvp27UTtr1
— Christopher Rice/ C. Travis Rice (@chrisricewriter) March 20, 2021