On Jan. 27, 1974, officers responded to the water’s edge of San Francisco Ocean’s Beach, where the body of Gerald Cavanaugh, 49, was found. He had been stabbed repeatedly with defensive wounds on his left arm. The victim was last seen at Castros’ bar. He was believed to be the first victim of the Doodler. At first, investigators knew little about the Canadian-born mattress factory worker, who was only identified as John Doe No:7 by the county medical examiner at the time.
Five months later, a woman along Spreckels Lake found Texas-born Joseph Stevens, 27, who was known as a popular female impersonator. He had been stabbed to death three times. Also, the victim was last seen at the Cabaret Club the night before his demise. Authorities believed Stevens had driven to the park with the killer.
Soon, authorities started connecting the dots when Klaus Christmann, 31, a German immigrant, was found dead in the same manner by another lady walking her dog just a month after Stevens’ homicide. He was found with multiple stab wounds, and his throat slashed numerous times. Just like Cavanaugh, both men were found fully clothed and killed at San Francisco’s Ocean Beach. However, the killer unleashed 15 stab wounds on Christmann. In addition, investigators found make-up tubes in the victim’s pocket. Hence, they believed the victim had been a gay man.
Despite the connections, the killings went on for another year without any arrest, including the murders of Frederick Capin, 32, and Harald Gullberg. The 66-year-old Gullberg was believed to be The Doodler’s last victim after he was found on June 4, 1975, on a Lincoln Park golf course by a hiker. His neck has been slashed. However, unlike the others, his pants were unzipped and wearing no underwear, and he was older.