California police hunting a 1970s-era serial killer who once told a victim he was a cartoonist, earning him the nickname "the Doodler," are hoping the mysterious murderer will finally -- and fittingly -- be undone by a sketch.
The killer terrorized San Francisco's gay community in 1974 and 1975, stabbing at least five men to death and birthing a series of cold cases that still have investigators hitting a brick wall four decades later. On Wednesday, officials released a drawing of what the suspect may look like today.
The killer became known as "the Doodler" after a survivor told authorities his attacker described himself as a cartoonist and was seen doodling as the men talked at a late-night diner. Police discovered the body of the Doodler’s first known victim on Jan. 27, 1974. An anonymous caller reported seeing a body, later identified as Gerald Cavanaugh, 50, near Ocean Beach in San Francisco.
Three other bodies were discovered along the beach and another was located in Golden Gate Park.
"In the 1970s, this was gripping the gay community and San Francisco," police Commander Greg McEachern said at a news conference on Wednesday.
McEachern said authorities were releasing the new sketch in hopes of bringing justice to victims of the "horrendous homicides."
The killer targeted men he met at after-hours gay clubs and restaurants in San Francisco and usually sketched them and had sex -- before stabbing them to death. The man was described as being about 5-feet-11 with a lanky build.
At the time of the murders, the Doodler was likely in his early 20s. A man was arrested in 1976 after a witness provided a description of the serial killer. But the individual, who remains a person of interest in the killings, was never charged.
Police announced a $100,000 reward Wednesday for information leading to an arrest and they released the audio of the 911 call authorities received in January 1974 reporting Cavanaugh’s body. They are still seeking information about the identity of the caller, who declined to give his name.
"I believe there might be a dead person," the caller said. "But I didn't want to get too close to him because you never know what could happen."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.