A 72-year-old former officer, Joseph James DeAngelo, may now face consequences for at least some of the 12 murders and roughly 50 rapes he allegedly committed across California in the late 1970s. But the same can’t be said for of the state’s mystery serial killers. California has many grisly, disturbing and high-profile crimes in its history, but here are a few of the high-profile killers who were never apprehended.
The Zodiac Killer
The Zodiac Killer did far less damage than the Golden State Killer but is more widely known, to put it mildly. He was believed to have killed five people between 1968 and 1969, mostly in Northern California, all while bragging about his deeds in letters sent to the San Francisco Police Department, the San Francisco Examiner, and other local papers. It’s one mystery that officials don’t seem optimistic about solving as they believe the suspect may have already died. In 2014, a Lousiana man became the latest to claim that he knew who the killer was — his biological father who died in 1984. The man sure gained a lot of attention for the book he wrote about his supposed murderous father, but the claims were not proven.
Though the Zodiac Killer’s terror is largely in the past, younger generations can feel an inkling of it by watching David Fincher’s gripping film Zodiac.
Similar to the Golden State and Zodiac killers, this one also hits close to home — specifically, the Castro. The first known victim of the Doodler — also known as the Black Doodler due to the color of his skin in sketches — was found on Ocean Beach in 1974. For roughly the next year, at least five gay men were stalked and stabbed by the suspect. Though he has been credited with up to 14 murders, the deadly nature of the 1970s for gay men means the Doodler is sadly not the only murderer at the time. Frightened witnesses wouldn’t go on the record for fear of being outed and the only suspect walked. No other suspect was identified but if the killer is still alive, he would be in his early-to-mid 60s.
Santa Rosa Hitchhiker Murders
As SF Weekly previously reported, the Sonoma County Sheriff in 1975 tried linking the Zodiac Killer to murders in Santa Rosa, which he probably would have gladly taken credit for while trying to up his notoriety. But the true killer of eight young girls, most of whom were raped, was never identified. The victims were found from 1972 to 1979 and ranged from 13 to 20 years old. Zodiac Killer suspect Leigh Allen reportedly lived in Santa Rosa near where the bodies were found, and Ted Bundy was also a suspect in hitchhiker murders before his credit card history cleared him.
San Diego homeless killer
A more recent unsolved killing spree took the lives of some of our most vulnerable people. The killer attacked dozens of homeless men and an elderly woman in the summer of 2016, leaving four of them dead and setting two of them on fire. That July, Jon David Guerrero — who had a history of criminal charges and mental illness — was detained and later charged. He was found mentally incompetent to stand trial last July and the case has been suspended, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune.
That’s plenty to disturb you for now, dear reader. Sweet dreams.