History So Interesting
It's Criminal

From DNA testing to the Dixie Mafia, we bring you new stories of true crime in American history. Join writer & host Benjamin Morris for exclusive interviews with authors from Arcadia Publishing, writing the hottest books on the most chilling stories of our country’s past.

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The San Francisco Doodler Murders: Interview w/ Author Kate Zaliznock & Laurie Krill

The San Francisco Doodler Murders: Interview w/ Author Kate Zaliznock & Laurie Krill

In 1974, a series of San Francisco’s most horrific unsolved murders began. In less than two years, the man police called “The Doodler” took at least five lives, terrorized the LGBTQ community and left three survivors forever changed. Initial reports claimed that the murderer didn’t approach his victims with the knife he used to kill them, but that the suspect shared skilled drawings—sketches of faces and animals—before leaving a string of gay men to bleed out on the sands of Ocean Beach. Police investigations and activist efforts to uncover the serial killer led to several suspects but no definitive identification of the artist of death. Author Kate Zaliznock shines a light on this riveting cold case.

Kate Zaliznock is a Bay Area–based writer and editor. Her past work has covered a wide range of topics, including music, history, science, pop culture and politics. She is also the founder of Open Color, an arts collective and magazine that features both emerging and established artists from around the globe. This is her first book on true crime.

Releasing 9/22; buy HERE

[00:00:02.170] - Ben

Kate, Laurie, thank you both so much for joining us on crime capsule for this bonus episode. And congratulations on the publication of your book. Before we get started, would you just introduce yourselves to our listeners?

[00:00:18.350] - Kate

Sure. My name is Kate Saliznak, and thank you so much, by the way, for having me on this podcast. Pleasure. I'm from the Bay area, I live here and my background is primarily in the arts. I'm an art consultant and a writer who's focused on the arts in the past. This is my first two kind book. It's always been a passion and always been a dream. So when the pandemic hit and time opened up to do it, I made it happen. Really excited about it.

[00:00:55.370] - Ben


[00:00:58.130] - Laurie

I'm Laurie Cryll. I am an acquisitions editor at the History Press, which is part of Arcadia publishing, and I work on a lot of different books, but True Crime is one of my favorites. And I was really excited when Kate came to me with her idea, and it's really great to see it as a finished book.

[00:01:17.930] - Ben

Well, thank you. Today we're going to talk not just about this case, the unsolved murders in San Francisco in the mid nineteen s, seventy s, but we're going to talk about the story of the case, the research and the writing of this book. Call it kind of a how to write a true crime book as much as we're looking at the crime itself. Kate, I'd like to start with you. What is your connection to this case? How did you first find it?

[00:01:48.290] - Kate

Well, I had heard about this case very just very briefly in a conversation a couple of years ago with a coworker. And during the course of a conversation, we're talking about a lot of things that happened in San Francisco, unsolved cases. So when the opportunity came up to send Arcadia some pitches for different books is when I really looked into this case more. And it turns out that I used to live across the street, literally across the street from where these murders began. I used to live on Ocean Beach. I could look out my window and see where this whole thing started. So when I looked at it more in terms of shaping a pitch for the book, what was really important to me when it came to tackling my first case was that I knew the area just really familiar with just the layout, just little things that if I'd never been there, I wouldn't know about it. Right. So the connection really came from wanting to find a cold case that was a serial killer and wanting to find a case that was in the Bay area that was accessible to me. So that's kind of how I found out about it.

[00:03:12.390] - Kate

And the other thing that was really important to me was that I found a case where marginalized victims were involved to just have an opportunity to try to find some justice in those cases. And this one I thought was a really great opportunity to try to do that.

[00:04:01.610] - Laurie

I have to say that I'm originally from California. I live in Charleston now for work. But I had never heard of this case, and I only lived 3 hours from San Francisco. So I think that there's probably I think one of my favorite things about Kate picking this case was highlighting something both the marginalized community and something that I had never heard of, which made it doubly interesting for me because it's where I grew up. So the fact that I hadn't heard of this and she was really interested in making those connections and highlighting something that had been overlooked, that was a really important consideration for me when she came to me with this idea.

[00:04:44.450] - Ben

Yeah. Laurie, tell us, how did this story come to find you? What state was Kate's manuscript in when you first started working together?

[00:04:54.590] - Laurie

One of the coolest things about working in nonfiction versus fiction is that oftentimes when people come to me, there's no manuscript. What we're looking at is the kernel of an idea that will grow into the book. I'm kind of able to help guide the book from its first draft, opening chapter, what we want to cover in the book, what's important to cover in the book. And then Kate really gets to kind of build her framework, get feedback as she needs it, and we kind of help the book come together. It's not an endeavor that she had to undertake and then try to figure out how it was going to fit with our publishing company, because every publishing company is a little different. We all require different things. There's different things to consider beyond just the content when you're evaluating whether a book is going to fit with a company. And so for us, it's great to get in on the ground floor before the manuscript is done.

[00:06:07.110] - Ben

It sounds like a very symbiotic relationship, and that, Kate, you might be teaching Laurie about the material, the actual contents and the details of the case. And then, Laurie, you are there guiding, shaping, and directing the flow of the larger narrative, kind of crafting it into a more substantive account.

[00:06:27.090] - Laurie

Yes, in some cases, I have to say, Kate obviously is very talented. She's a great writer, so I didn't have to worry about that kind of stuff, like line level, like, whatever. She was doing a great job, so my job was more of like as coming in as a reader, as a cold reader. I don't know this case like she does, so I'm able to point out things where I'm like I don't really think I'm following your train of thought here. Can we bring this out a little bit more? Can we connect these two things a little more strongly so that you when your reader picks up the book, they're able to follow the thread of your train of thought? And that's one of the more important things that I do, is just kind of making sure that when you're writing a book, like, you're in that world so much and you spend so much time there, you're so familiar with it that sometimes you forget that a reader is coming in and does not have the same level of knowledge that you do. So you kind of have to step back a little bit and make sure that you're guiding them through the book, through the timeline that you've developed.

[00:07:35.130] - Ben

I'll have some specific questions for you about those moments shortly, Laurie, but for now, let's just jump right into what happened. The book begins with a cold open, as the filmmakers say, in 1974, when a body is found on a slightly remote beach in San Francisco. Whose body was it, Kate, and what had happened?

[00:08:03.810] - Kate

So this man's name was Gerald Earl Cavanaugh, and he had either gone to Ocean Beach on his own or was brought to Ocean Beach. All we know for certain is that at 01:29 a.m. The following morning, so that would be January 27, the call was made into San Francisco Police Department. That body was found on the shoreline. So the person didn't want to give their name, didn't want to get involved. So pretty much immediately, the detectives came to the scene and arrived just before Gerald's body was pretty much pulled out to sea. They had to kind of go into the surf and get him back to shore. He had been viciously stabbed a number of times, mostly in the back. So we know that somebody kind of wasn't expecting this, and he was barely mentioned in the press. There's very little that we know about Gerald because, frankly, his death occurred in a place that was a well known cruising ground for gay men. There was sort of this attitude of, what was he doing out there in the middle of the night? Well, you expect if you go out there in the middle of the night, it's dangerous.

You're living a lifestyle that we don't approve of, that type of thing. There was a lot of homophobia and a lot of disinterest in that murder in general, even though it was extremely graphic. This was a lot of frenzy, stabbing, lot of blood, and it really would have been something that made more headlines. Number one, I think, if this were a straight man. But also, number two, he was not the only gay man who's being found on these cruising grounds murdered, whether it be by the Doodler or someone else. Once I really started looking at this case, the overwhelming aspect of it wasn't so much just the Doodler case. It was how many murders of gay men were happening at this time, and sifting through all of that information and all of those cases. Gerald might have been the first of the Doodler, but he was certainly not the first gay man to be brutally slaughtered in San Francisco. So in 73 or 74, he was in the very beginning of 74. So that's the first murder that we.

[00:11:13.830] - Ben

Associate with the duplicate, and fairly soon thereafter, more victims began to emerge. You write that there's a second, then a third, and then how many men were killed in total that we know of in that first wave of murders?

[00:11:35.290] - Kate

Well, there for about 45 years, it was the numbers five men who are associated with the you. This year, there has been as close to confirmation as you can get, some law enforcement that a six victim might have also been involved in this case. So that hasn't been proven yet, but I've had it confirmed by SFTD, by the lead investigator on this case. So that's a case that I'd like to hear some more about, because it is sort of something they just talked about. So the number recently has gone from five to six.

[00:12:32.230] - Ben

And you write that there are a number of details that many, not all, but many of the victims share. Such as? There's some very interesting ones. Number one, sobriety, total sobriety, with the exception of one right, he's very drunk. Another one is a seeming lack of sexual activity prior to their deaths and even the way in which the killer seemed to gain their trust only to literally stab them in the back. They were all attacked from behind. Not all, but the vast majority of them were. What do we learn from these similarities?

[00:13:21.930] - Kate

Number one, I think that these men were targeted because with the exception of one, it seems that these were very closeted men. The majority of them were immigrants who didn't have a lot of family and friends in the area. It is the easiest thing if you're trying to pick a victim. You want to pick someone who is not going to be immediately missed or who you think is not going to be immediately missed. The lack of evidence of sexual activity that has been made public, at least I can say there's nothing that's been made public. It's probably the thing that stuck out the most to me in this case. It was something that I felt I needed to get consult from retired FBI, from current researchers, the NCABC, which is the FBI branch, for victim studies of violent crimes. That is not normal. That is very unusual for a serial killer to use a sexual lure. All these men, assuming we went to these places with the intention of having some sort of sexual activity. Using a sexual lure to get victims to a place, but then not sexually assaulting them makes this person a little bit of an outlier.

So that's something that I talk about in the book a lot through the guidance of other people with more expertise on these topics. That's the thing that I think unifies them all. And as you mentioned, with the exception of one victim, all of these victims were sober, which I found to be very interesting.

[00:15:33.330] - Ben

What do we know about his Mo. This is the point at which his nickname comes into play, and there's a sense in which we know a little bit about his method, but it's not entirely clear.

[00:15:51.160] - Kate

So there is the prevailing narrative that was presented as closely to fact as possible while these murders were occurring and for a long time afterward. And there is the reopened investigation of the cases that started in 2018 that started up after the Golden Gate Killer was arrested. There were a lot of re examinations of cold cases. So the Dudler name came out of the several survivors who said that they had met this man in a bar or in a restaurant around the Castro, and he had told them he was an art student, but with one surviving victim. The dealer approached this victim with sketches of animals and started talking about his talents as an art student and how he wanted to get into commercial art as a career. From that story, from the sketches of animals shown to one surviving victim has spiraled into a very specific narrative of the Doodler approaching each of his victims at a bar, sketching a portrait of them, and that being his pick up.

so what current investigators have really looked into is the validity of that myth that he was going up to people and drawing them. In reality, the gay community at large during this period of time was not taking any of this lying down. The Doodler was certainly not the only source of violence in the community. People were getting harassed, getting injured, getting murdered, getting assaulted a lot in the Castro. So there were a number of organizations that banded together to form citizen patrols that were on the lookout. Multiple men were repeatedly arrested as potential suspects in the Dupe and the Dudler murders. People were looking for this guy. So you really have to question, if that's the lore, how could he have continued doing it six times within the span of less than two years and not have that alert anyone?

[00:19:24.830] - Ben

Yeah, I'd like to ask laurie about this, because you have kind of an interesting moment where you have one thing that is thought decades ago. You have a revision to that notion, which comes much more recently. How do you balance that tension within the story as you're editing a manuscript like this? If misinformation is key to understanding how a case progresses early on. And yet by the end of the story, the misinformation has never been fully debunked. It's only been partially debunked. There's a little bit of uncertainty still surrounding it. As Kate says. How do you, as an editor, then sign off on what is known, what is unknown, and what is partially known?

[00:20:14.370] - Laurie

Sure, that's a good question. So when you're building a story, there's always going to be a hook, and no matter the story is true or not. And in this case, the Doodler mythology that built around these murder cases really were what connected them all together for investigation. So it is still part of the story, even though maybe evidence of that is not available. It's still how all the stories hang together. So it's something that's a narrative thread. But also, I mean, Kate addresses this very well at the end of her story. She's like, all of these things were said to have happened. This is the evidence we actually have. There is a possibility that there are even more victims out there because they were so focused on this particular train of evidence that we really don't know if it was true. There could potentially be more victims that we could connect to the same person. So the police are expanding their search in terms of the type of murder that was occurred and the areas that they're looking at. So the police over time, had to adjust their way of looking at it. And so as long as the book addresses that and helps the reader understand why we've moved from we're looking at this group of people to we're looking at this group of people, then it's a great story.

[00:21:47.800] - Laurie

You still have fulfilled the obligation as an author of explaining to the reader how you got from A to B. That's really the important part.

[00:22:01.350] - Ben

I will confess to both of you that as I was reading your book, kate was, it is a page turner. It is absolutely a page turner. And as I was turning each page, I was looking for waiting for the reproduction of one of these alleged doodles. Right. I mean, I felt like that was the kind of it was the bait that I was getting ready to bite down on. I was sort of waiting for it, and it never came. And it never came. And then I realized there must be a reason for that. And there's a specific thing that I want to ask you about the California Public Records Act. But in advance of that, it became quite clear by the middle of the book that this telling absence right. This felt absence in the lack of evidence that we as your readers get, had its own origin.

[00:22:57.150] - Kate

Exactly. Yes. That was one of the first questions that I had about this case, was the same thing. How do I would these drawings were covered? Would someone at least have their portrait drawn? Let's just start there and winding and weaving my way through research. It took a very, very, very long time for the SFPD to officially talk to me about this case. And that was a huge part of my discussion, was both sides agreed that there is no evidence for portraits. So I wanted to without first of all, I did not know that at the point I was writing this book as the research came in, because I wanted to write it in a linear way. I wanted to go on this journey with the reader. So when I started writing this book, I started with the autopsy. I didn't start with any case file, any type of research that other people have done on this case. I started with the autopsy so that I could see what exactly happened and then worked my way out from there. And just as you're saying with you reading the book, I have the same exact feeling when am I going to get to someone who can say, well, this is where it came from?

[00:24:35.150] - Kate

And when I finally got to the end of the line, which is the current inspector on the case, we don't have them. It's not something that we have. And so we have to look outside of the preconceived notions that have been around this case for decades.

[00:24:57.910] - Ben

So let's go back to what we do have then. And one of the things that we do have, which is incredibly powerful in your account, are several these small handful of instances in which this killer attacked someone who was able to either get away or who survived, or who screamed loudly enough that the neighbors heard and kind of intervened. And by my account, there were three sort of primary survivors of attempted murder by this individual. Tell us about these folks.

[00:25:34.390] - Kate

So they are known. We do not know their actual names. What we do know is one was a Swedish diplomat who lived in the Fox Plaza. We know the other one was a renowned public figure. Everybody in San Francisco where the Bay Area would know his name. And the third one is an internationally known entertainer and that has spawned theories from a lot of people think it's Ross Hudson. There's all types of once you open that door of that's what the police said at the time, they kind of teased the press a little bit. Well, if we said his name, everybody would know who he was.

[00:26:22.270] - Ben

If we're in the mid seventy s and we're talking internationally known stars, my bet is going to be James Garner. I'm a big Rockford Files kind of guy. So it's got to be James Garner, right? It has to.

[00:26:37.150] - Kate

Everybody has it's like with the Zodiac, everybody has their idea of who this person is. But we do know that everyone except for the diplomat has passed away. So unfortunately, we do not have an opportunity to get the accounts of the people who I refer to as the public figure and the entertainer. So the Diplomat is the person who is still alive. And what happened was he is the man who was presented with the sketches of the animals. He was at a bar that was a couple of blocks away from where he lived, the Class Plaza, and he hit it off with this guy and brought him back to his apartment. And they walk in and this man asks him for drugs and the dipolesis. I don't have any drugs.

[00:27:37.100] - Ben


[00:27:37.920] - Kate

He goes in the bathroom for 30 minutes, doesn't come out. Now, I don't know what I would do if I just had somebody sitting in my bathroom for 30 minutes. And when did you change it?

[00:27:50.940] - Ben

Suspect already?

[00:27:52.230] - Kate

Yeah. So when we now call, the Doodler came out of this bathroom, the Diplomat said he was completely his whole face had just completely changed. He had a knife, and basically he told him, I've done this before. I enjoy this. You people are all the same. And the Diplomat was very clear. You people meant gay men. And so there was a lot of rage behind this act. We know that he stabbed the Diplomat six times before he was finally able to get away. And perhaps one of the most disturbing elements of this case to me in its entirety is that the other victim, the public figure, was also lived in the Fox Plaza and practically next door to the Diplomat, for all intents and purposes, to return to that building with another victim a matter of weeks after you've attacked the diplomat. That tells me a lot about this guy. To repeat such an intensely horrific act, to be so bold as to come back almost to say, you're not going to tell on me, your closet, you're not going to lock me up. Because it doesn't just mean admitting that your true sexual identity, but it also means losing your job, losing your family.

You've already been through the trauma of being stabbed six times and narrowly surviving with your life. And you know the way I feel about it, if someone had taken that much from me and traumatized me that much, I don't know that I could add to that trauma by saying, I'm going to come forward and lose the support system that I really wouldn't rely on to kind of get through this. So there were two attacks at the Fox Plaza, and like I said, they were very close to each other. And like you said, in one instance. The other instance at Fox Plaza, someone was tied up and screamed, banged on the walls before they could be stabbed. And with the entertainer, with your international entertainer, the gist of his statement was that he was getting into bed with this man and a butcher knife fell out of his sleeve and the guy immediately ran out of the room. And thank God he did, because he probably would be the 6th or 7th fiction had he not.

[00:31:21.990] - Ben

It's a small red flag. It's just a tiny little red flag. When a butcher knife just shows up like that, you might have cause kill the moon.

[00:31:36.370] - Kate

Yeah, that's kind of what happened. And these three survivors all occurred after at least the five murders that we know. So if this is indeed the same man who killed Gerald and those subsequent men, if he's the same person who attacked these other men in their homes, there might have been a progression of leaving these guys out on the beach. They're completely blood soaked, absolutely horrific scene. I'm not getting that much attention. Nobody's really looking for me. I feel like you up the ante by starting to go in someone's home trying to and there's still no sexual activity. Maybe that's simply because these people got away. But the coming out of the bathroom with you people are all the same. Those are kind of indications to me that there is something bigger going on that is tied to, at the same time, outside of a sexual motivation.

[00:32:59.830] - Ben

Terrible irony here that you point out, which is that for these survivors, even though their own lives were nearly ended, they still felt like they could not speak publicly about what had happened for fear of destroying their own lives in terms of reputation. And that sort of the public shame is being outed if they were in fact closeted and so forth. And it's just really gripping moment in the narrative where you realize that the human cost of these incidents is in a sense greater than the body count. Right. And sometimes we condense murder narratives to just the body count, one after the other, and we have to be very careful about doing that. I think your observation about the stigma that was still attached in this time, even as the gay liberation movement was really gaining steam, was so spot on. Now I want to shift gears to talk about context and about research for a minute, and I want to bring Laurie in on this question. The Dougla Murders offers an incredible amount of insight into the time and place of its case, right. The emerging gay rights movement, the rise of gay activism in California, the Bay Area, the other serial murders happening at the time, the Zebra, the Zodiac, and so forth, as well as the context of the conflicts with the San Francisco Police Department and the tensions between officers, law enforcement and members of the gay community.

All of this is part of the narrative. In fact, these aspects are central parts of the narrative, and the story could not be told without them. But before we return to the sort of progression of the case, Laurie, the question that I have for you is how and when did this digging into the context of the murders emerge in your conversations with Kate? And to what extent, as an editor, are you always watching out for the need for this kind of meta story? Right? The story outside the basic narrative of that growing body count and the hunt for the killer.

[00:35:22.180] - Laurie

Basically, Kate and I started talking about it when she first brought this case to me because as someone who works in a lot of true chromebooks, I'm very aware of the potential exploitation of the worst moment in someone's life. And it's really important for me. I'm a true crime aficionado, too. I love reading those books. I love listening to the podcast. So sometimes I question, like, am I getting the right story? Is this important for me to know? And so for me, I really want to see my authors. And Kate does this very well, putting the victim first. So in order to tell the story of this guy committing this horrific crime, we have to know who the victims are. And it's a big part of why he chose them and why there were so many victims is the culture that they were in at the time. And Kate was very aware of that from the very beginning. Is that one of the most important pieces of scaffolding that we have in this book is the gay community at the time in San Francisco and all of the distrust that they had in law enforcement and the general population just not accepting them and the very valid reasons that they might have for protecting themselves versus going to the police for help.

So we knew from the very beginning that this was going to be a big part of the story. And Kate and I talked about how important it was to really showcase that in terms of the entire community being involved and being potentially targeted by this particular serial killer, because that was part of his Mo. That was part of what he did, is target this specific community. So we needed to see who those people are and what was important to the victims and their community so that we could know them because they can't tell their story anymore.

[00:37:49.810] - Ben


[00:37:51.130] - Laurie

You have to be really careful about glorifying a crime that the person who was most hurt by it doesn't have voicing it anymore.

[00:38:07.130] - Ben

Kate, what was it like for you to have to travel back in time 50 years to bring this context back to the present? That San Francisco and the Bay Area have changed so much in that time? It's almost unrecognizable, isn't it?

[00:38:21.690] - Kate

Yes, absolutely. So the thing is that, like I said, I really wanted to go in as tight of a chronological. Order as possible. I thought that working backward and trying to say, okay, it's this way now. How are things back then would just be too overwhelming anyway. So starting in, I wasn't just looking at the coverage of these murders, which was very scant. I was reading all of the publication, especially the san francisco sentinel and the bay area reporter, which were the two main LGBTQ publications at the time. So those reading through those in their entirety as these times were going, it wasn't just even the stories. It was ads for different bars, a lot of ads for different celebrations. So you get a feeling of what's going on. You get a rhythm of, okay, this is sort of what the vibe is while this is occurring, because in those publications, you get a lot more coverage, obviously, of all of the other crimes that were going on. You get even interactions with law enforcement. There was a man, sergeant blackstone, who was on, I believe, the homicide detail, and wrote a column for the sentinel in which he would answer questions that people sent in regarding the relationship between the gay community and the police and things like that.

So, honestly, those two publications, and I say this in my acknowledgment, this book wouldn't exist without them, because they did such an incredible job with making sure that their readers got a huge range of information. You knew the best place to go see the latest drag show, and you knew that somebody keep an eye out, because there were three attacks on 18th and castro last night, or whatever it was. So that in combination was really I am forever indebted to the GLBT historical society, which has been around for decades and decades. They are absolutely essential to researching the gay community during the period of time that these murders occur. So really, it was deferring to rather than me trying to learn it all, there's no learning at all. I wasn't alive then. There's no way. It was a matter of piecing together who I could find that did have that knowledge. That did have that experience. And did have that database of just knowledge that I cannot have a lot in the book is me highlighting the work of people who again. Have that experience and have that knowledge. Because I think if I would have tried to go about it simply as let me go backwards.

And just kind of what I feel like if I was that's not going to work. A lot of times in different cases, you could try to put yourself in the shoes of the victim or even the shoes of the killer or any of that. I don't have any of that. So I really needed to be resourceful and make sure that I was in contact with the authorities on the history of that time in that community.

[00:42:10.070] - Ben

One of the themes that is emerging as the two of you are meditating on this is access, right? It's access to certain kinds of information and what we have available to us, what we have to go in search of the balance between discovery and common knowledge or kind of that sense of attention between what is known can be found and what remains unknown. One of the key sources of tension in your book, and this is a question really for both of you, is attention regarding what I believe in the very first paragraph of the entire book, you call the bane of your existence, which is the California Public Records Act, and your effort as a researcher to gain access to files which remain sealed. And they remain sealed, of course, for good reason in some cases, but in other cases, you say you're having to sort of wage this repeated series of battles in order to learn what you need to learn in order to tell this story. Tell us about the CPRA and your very complicated relationship to it.

[00:43:28.240] - Kate

Yeah. So basically, for anyone who's never had the pleasure of trying to figure out how to get information through this act, it has blanket coverage for anything that is still under investigation. Which means if I go to the La times from 1975 and there's a booking photo of someone, even if they were later convicted right. They'll say, for some reason we can't, because that would show the course of the investigation as to how we got that guy's booking. But it's in the newspaper. I don't understand. There's a lot of information like that that will be printed, that will be out in the public. And you'll say, hey, can I get the official records on this? Can I get the official statement on this? Can I get a photo that you've already released to the press, but I can't use it? It's rainy. It's from I don't have access in these cases, a lot of imagery, a lot of statements only exist in these microfilm roles that hopefully stay together for a while, because that's pretty much it. So every time I turned around, there's some reason almost always, well, it's tied to an ongoing investigation, and it doesn't matter if it's been made public or not.

So my frustration is it's really misleading. Just call it the Public Records Act because there are a lot of things that are public that they simply won't give you anything official on. That is a true joy. But what I found out, I had better luck with the Freedom of Information Act request. At least they would show me that they had reviewed the request. When you get something back or a Freedom of Information Act request, it will show you, we looked at this. We can give you this. We can't give you this. This parts redacted. I would just get a no from California. So what I wound up doing, it's taken a lot of time, and there's actually still elements of different things that I'm in conversation with law enforcement about that. Just couldn't make it into this book. Maybe the next one. I just felt like the most efficient way to sort of get out of this loophole was to find some contact in as many jurisdictions, and there are multiple jurisdictions that I talk about pieces in this book, not just San Francisco. Get those contacts, try to just inch your way into a phone call.

Email is great, but if you can get somebody on the phone, explain, this is who I am, this is why I want this information, could you put the right request into the right person?

[00:47:19.710] - Ben

So, Laurie, in your role, when an author comes to you with these kinds of obstacles, how do you navigate them? What options do the two of you together?

[00:47:31.040] - Laurie

Well, I'm not really deeply involved in the research, so I'll always offer suggestions, but the author's connections are really what sell the story to me to begin with. So Kate already had a really great connection to the Barry community, and she's already working on building all those relationships that she needed for this book and for the research she did. And I don't remember any specific conversations that we had, but I do know that I definitely encouraged your ongoing relationship that you developed with the police officers in some of your cases that really worked out well. I'm pretty familiar with law enforcement because of my background. So it was great to hear that she was able to find some of those connections that were willing to talk to her and willing to discuss the case with her because they could recognize a mutually beneficial relationship in terms of getting some light shined on these cases. And she was really able to navigate those difficulties very well.

[00:48:50.790] - Ben

Kate, is there a particular area in which you really felt as though you were able to shine some light that had never been shown before in that respect?

[00:49:00.630] - Kate

Yes, I had a very cool moment that may or may not be related to the duplicate case. I do talk about it in the book, though, because like I said, when you really look at the number of murders in the general area of gay men, but I actually had a phone call with a sergeant on some John Doe cases, and it was one of those things sometimes as a researcher, you have a question in your mind. You go, I'm going to be the 800th person to ask this guy this, and be like, yes. No, we looked into it. No, it's not that. But something told me, just ask. And so I said, you probably thought of this many times, but have you looked into so and so? And you could just kind of feel this shift on the phone call because the suspect I mentioned, who I write about in the book, who very prolific serial killer, Dylan's in Clinton have thought about him an area at the same time and he had never been looked into. The current investigators weren't aware of who he was. And maybe it's nothing but having that tiny moment of just that acknowledgement of we didn't think about that and we have DNA and we can go back and look at this and we can either rule it out or rule it in.

[00:50:40.530] - Kate

That was a really huge moment for me. And it helped that the sergeant that I spoke with at length was saying how much he appreciates work. That like the work that we all do is solid research and presenting facts and putting the work behind the story. And that it's helped with a lot of cases. So just that small connection of realizing that what I'm doing is important and can be helpful in a much larger sense than even the book.

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