Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Patrick W. Kearney: The Trash Bag Murderers

Available Young Prey

The decade of the '70s was a confusing time for young people, particularly young gay people. The AIDS epidemic hadn't been named as a serious threat yet. The popularity of gay bathhouses, gay bars and anonymous sex in parks, public toilets and parties was at its frenzied zenith. Gays were coming out with a vengeance, and they were finally taking what they considered their rightful freedoms.

The corner of Haight & Ashbury in San Francisco
The corner of Haight & Ashbury in San Francisco

In the wake of the "free love" '60s in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury, young people headed to California in droves. Gay teens were drawn there as if to Mecca. Misunderstood youths ran away from unsympathetic parents, stuck out their thumbs and headed to their promised land.

They didn't necessarily find what they were looking for. Many of them ended up as boy prostitutes, trying to eke out a meager living. According to Dennis McDougal, in his book "Angel of Darkness," "During the '70s and early '80s, more than a hundred young hitchhikers caught rides on the streets and freeways of southern California and didn't live to tell about it."

Angel of Darkness by Dennis McDougal
Angel of Darkness by Dennis McDougal

They were young, pretty, and eventually, desperate.

According to Berkeley psychologist, Michael Evans: "Homosexuals are an easy population to get access to in some anonymous way."

Chicago Police Sgt. Richard Sandberg put it another way: "The gays are easy prey."

 

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