California Cold Cases

More murders occur in California than in any other state. Some attribute the high population and dense living as the major contributors to this statistic, but, for whatever reason, the state leads in murders. Additionally, a lot of those murders are unsolved.  There are cold cases going back over four decades to the tune of 41,000—a number that is startling, to say the least. 

The Famous Case of Natalie Wood

One of the most famous unsolved murders in California is that of actress Natalie Wood. Wood’s husband, actor Robert Wagner, was the key person of interest in the case, but was later cleared.  Wood’s cause of death was originally deemed drowning but was later amended to “drowning and other undetermined factors.” She disappeared while out boating with her husband and another friend, actor Christopher Walken. The two men corroborated that Wood had gone out on a dinghy to party hop among boats, leaving the final facts related to her death unknown to this day. 

The Zodiac Killer

California’s Zodiac Killer taunted law enforcement for decades, and still has not been identified. The infamous serial killer was known for sending cryptic messages to police and the press along with graphic accounts of his crimes back in the 60’s. He is definitely connected to five murders, though he claims to have killed up to 37. Known for targeting couples, the megalomaniac loved to create fear through his villainous acts, and claimed responsibility for murders after the fact.  The FBI says the case is still open, though who is on the suspect list we do not know for sure.

The Doodler

In the 70s the San Francisco area was terrorized by a notorious serial killer dubbed the Doodler.  Known to target gay men, the Doodler often stalked his victims in gay bars. There, he sketched his quarry and then showed the drawing to his prey. That is how he struck up a relationship, only to ultimately kill the unsuspecting man. The case has been unsolved for decades, in part because the gay community had no trust for police during the Doodler’s reign of terror. Now, a $200,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest of the killer, who is believed to be in his 70s and still living in California. Police believe they know who the culprit is based on new DNA technology, but do not know where he is.


Cold cases abound in California, causing intrigue and speculation. On the other hand, if you are facing murder charges in a current case, you are no doubt completely focused on your own future. At David M. Boertje & Associates, our dedicated, aggressive criminal defense attorneys put 100% into every case we defend. To discuss your situation, schedule a confidential consultation in our San Diego office today.

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