It's comforting to pretend that real-life crime plays by the same rules as TV, and that sooner or later every killer is nabbed by an attractive cop with a clever one-liner. Unfortunately, some deranged murderers are never found. What happened to them, you ask? Maybe they switched hobbies, maybe they slipped in the shower and broke their necks, or maybe they're hiding in your closet right now. (Yes, every single one of them.)
So load up a playlist of cute baby animals in another tab, and let us tell you about ...
"The Doodler" Killed As Many As 14 People In The '70s (And Got Away With It Because They Were Gay)
The Doodler sounds like a Batman villain who draws mustaches on people's faces, but he was far more sinister. His name came from his propensity to sit in bars and nightclubs and charm his victims by sketching them, before leading them off to be stabbed to death. If you're wondering how he remains at large despite being seen in public places, now's the part where we tell you that these were gay bars in San Francisco in 1974 and 1975. That's not a time period when law enforcement (or society in general) were on the best of terms with the LGBT community, to put it mildly.
New York Daily NewsRemember, this was before Billy Crystal put on a dress on TV and cured homophobia forever.
The Doodler has been credited with as many as 14 victims, although it's likelier he was "only" responsible for around five or six. It's possible the other murdered gay men were rolled into his case erroneously, or because, you know, more killers means more paperwork.
The first killing was in 1974. By 1977, the police had gone "Ugh, fine," put together a composite sketch of the killer, and determined a suspect. They also had some witnesses, including someone who had been about to sleep with a man who matched the killer's description, only to "reconsider" when a knife fell out of his coat. We're not sure if the witness was creeped out, or if he decided the man was too much of a clumsy dork.
San Francisco Police Department"Sorry, you're not 'still make out after a knife fell out of your coat' cute."
The police were "fairly certain" they had the right guy ... but he walked free because no witnesses were willing to publicly testify. None other than Harvey Milk explained why, telling the AP that the witnesses probably feared the unemployment / social ostracism combo that came with being outed. It didn't help that in the same years the killings occurred, some San Francisco Police Department officers liked to cruise around undercover, pick up gay men, and then arrest them, at one point beating a "suspect" so badly that he suffered brain damage. So yeah, not the most approachable people in the world.
Eugene Register-GuardNote that the headline wasn't "Murder suspect free because we treat gays like shit."