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Changing What We Know About Serial Killers: the Case of the Doodler

The Doodler, one of San Francisco's most well-known cold-case murderers, is making headlines again. The San Francisco Police Department recently announced the possibility of a sixth victim. The Doodler's method is consistent and heinous. In the mid-1970s, he targeted gay men by posing as a cartoonist and drawing sketches of his victims before a sexual encounter, then attacking and murdering them. Bodies were frequently dumped on local beaches and parks, causing concern and panic among Bay Area residents. Even though he has not been apprehended, police believe they are getting closer to solving the case.


 


The reward for information leading to the "identification, apprehension, and conviction" of the Doodler has been increased to $200,000, according to the SFPD, 48 years after the killer's first victim was discovered.


According to police, a potential sixth victim, Warren Andrews, was assaulted and discovered unconscious in Lands End Park in April 1975. According to police, Andrews never regained consciousness and died about seven weeks later.


 


The Doodler is one of several cold cases that have recently resurfaced due to advances in DNA technology, which led to the arrest of a suspect in the so-called Golden State Killer case in April. He is accused of a series of robberies, rapes, and murders that occurred throughout California in the 1970s and 1980s. The suspect, Joseph DeAngelo, was apprehended six days after investigators secretly swabbed his car door, collecting a DNA sample that matched samples collected at crime scenes decades ago. DeAngelo, now 72, is married with children and lived near the locations of some of his crimes. He did not enter a plea during his court appearance in late April.


 


The San Francisco Chronicle published a story about the Doodler in January 1976, and two days later, a suspect was apprehended. He was detained "outside a Tenderloin bar last Friday night after a bar patron called to report that a man fitting the composite drawing furnished by the SFPD had entered the bar and was offering to draw sketches of patrons," according to The Sentinel. According to the newspaper, "the man was carrying a butcher knife and a sketchbook when the police apprehended him." 


 


According to The Sentinel, police questioned the man several times. According to an unnamed police source, the suspect confessed the killings to a psychiatrist. "He's struggling with his sexuality," Gilford told The Chronicle at the time. "He's probably ashamed of what he's doing. Homosexuality has never been accepted in the black community. ... His guilt causes him to want to erase the acts he's committed."


 


“That was a viral meme in police circles at the time,” says Alfred. “And it was probably true. In some cases.”


 


Police had a strong suspect and three witnesses who were still alive. Those three men, however, refused to testify. "I feel they don't want to be exposed as homosexuals," Gilford told UPI. The Associated Press headline read, "Murder suspect free because gays remain silent." Harvey Milk, a legendary gay rights activist, and politician, told the AP, "I can understand their position." "I respect the pressures that society has placed on them." Gay sex was illegal in California until January 1976, and discrimination in jobs and housing was still prevalent. According to Alfred, "there was still a long history of mistrust between gay men and the police force." "The homicide detective might have been in the vice squad when he busted you two years ago."


 


In the 43 years since the Doodler's last suspected hit in 1998, many of the officers involved in the investigation, as well as many of the witnesses, have died.


 


This story is intriguing partly because the killer does not appear to fit the stereotypical portrait of the American serial murderer that emerged in the 1970s and 1980s (think Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, David Berkowitz, etc.). We've learned much about serial killers and their psychology over the years.







  1. IQ and murder techniques are associated with serial killers. Data from the Radford University/Florida Gulf Coast University Serial Killer Database, a collection of thousands of serial homicides, show that killers in the "bomb" category have the highest average IQ scores. Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, earned a Ph.D. in mathematics and taught at U.C. Berkely before he went off the grid and settled in a small cabin in remote Montana. Murderers with average intelligence prefer poisoning, while those with slightly below-average intelligence prefer strangulation, stabbing, and shooting. Bludgeoning is associated with the lowest IQ scores.




  2. The concept of a serial murderer prototype does not exist. Many people would like to believe that there is a prototypical personality profile for serial murderers. However, as with so many other aspects of human psychology, there are variations in personality and behavioral nuances that constantly challenge our assumptions. It would be much easier to apprehend perpetrators if we could crack the secret code, but there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all formula.




  3. Not all serial killers are mad psychopaths. Only 2 to 4% of serial killers are legally insane, according to statistics. In general, pleading insanity is a risky defense in court because a defendant must show that they were unaware of their actions at the time of the murders and were incapable of distinguishing right and wrong. Most serial killers are well aware of what they are doing; they know that it is wrong, but they continue to do it.




  4. Serial killers tend not to be very mobile. At the same time, several high-profile serial killers are known for traveling across the country in search of victims, the majority hunt in a small geographic comfort zone close to home or work. Ted Bundy had known victims in Washington, Colorado, Utah, and Florida, but even for serial killers, this is highly unusual. "Place" killers are almost as uncommon as traveling serial killers. These people, such as America's first serial killer, H.H. Holmes, who murdered his victims after they checked into his strangely constructed hotel near the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, had a penchant for killing people in a single structure, such as a home, hospital, or hotel.




  5. Not every serial killer kills for lust. Lust killers engage in erotophonophilia, a homicide in which the offender seeks sexual fulfillment by killing someone. The death of a human being provides the perpetrator with sexual arousal or gratification. Ted Bundy, Ed Kemper, Gary Ridgway (The Green River Killer), and Dennis Rader are well-known serial killers who fall into this category (BTK). This is undoubtedly dark, disturbing, and fascinating, but there are other types of serial homicide. Offenders may be motivated by a desire for power and control or to fulfill a mission related to some philosophical, political, or religious platform. Those with psychotic breakdowns may be motivated to kill by violent hallucinations, such as murderous voices.




  6. Despite not all serial killers, many of them do so alone. One in every four serial killers has one or more killing partners. Karla Homolka, for example, is a Canadian serial killer who raped and murdered at least three minors in Ontario between 1990 and 1992, including Karla's sister.




  7. Serial killers take numerous victims. Some do, but the majority kill fewer than eight people. In fact, over the last 70 years, the number of victims per serial killer has decreased dramatically. In 1950, 38% of all serial killers had at least five victims. The percentage of serial killers with more than five victims has dropped to 13%. This is due to a variety of factors. Better investigative techniques, DNA, video surveillance, communication between jurisdictions, and other factors, for example, all contribute to the apprehending of these individuals before they amass obscene body counts.




  8. The same motives drive the vast majority of serial killers. When serial offenders are finally imprisoned and interviewed, more than 60% say they were motivated solely by pleasure, financial gain, or some combination of the two. Other motivations identified in the study included anger, avoiding arrest, cult pressure, and seeking attention.




  9. Both men and women have an equal chance of becoming victims. Approximately 49% of serial killer victims are male, while 51% are female. Some serial killers appear to kill only one gender, while others, such as Richard Ramirez (The Night Stalker), appear to kill randomly. His victims included men, women, children, the elderly, and people of various races and ethnicities. It seems that no one was spared.




  10. White victims make up two-thirds of the total, whereas black victims are overrepresented. Except for black victims, serial killer victims closely match the U.S. Census population numbers. While whites account for 62 percent of the population and 67 percent of serial killer victims, black Americans, who account for 13 percent of the people, account for 24 percent of all serial killer victims.




  11. More than fifty percent of victims of serial killers are under the age of thirty. Only 11% of victims are over the age of 60. This could be because many serial killers target victims their age.




  12. Where a serial killer strikes vary. Washington, DC, has historically had the highest rate of serial killings per capita. Louisiana, Alaska, and Indiana are among the states at the top of the list, with 5 to 6 serial killings per 100,000 residents.




  13. Not all serial killers are white and masculine. The majority of serial killers in recent years have been black. Females account for nearly 17% of the total. Serial killers vary in race, ethnicity, religion, nationality, age, gender, socioeconomic status, intelligence, and education.




  14. The 1980s marked the height of serial killings. Some researchers refer to the period between 1970 and 2000 as the "Golden Age of Serial Killing," which may be a little too upbeat for some, but it does demonstrate the vast difference between this era and those before and after it. During this period, there were more serial killings than at any other time in American history.




 


Serial Killer Psychology is an exciting thing to discuss since this is a group of minds that commit the most infamous of crimes, yet we still don’t understand how their minds work. They’ve been labeled sociopaths, psychopaths, crazy, insane, etc. So many stereotypes have been formed based on the most famous serial killers caught, yet the cold cases add up. So studying their mental state is how they can be seen and stand out. 


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Tags: News Crime Psychology Stereotype Insane Crazy The Doodler Serial Killer Psychopath



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