A volunteer safety group in San Francisco has begun highlighting LGBT-related unsolved homicide cases on its website, hoping to help find the people responsible for the deaths.
Castro Community on Patrol has been working with inspectors at the San Francisco Police Department for several months to find information in the cases, the oldest of which is from 1974.
Especially with the cases that are decades old, “The hope is that people who were closeted back then and who were reluctant to talk to authorities are at a point where they may recall knowing this person,” and are able “to bring in some new evidence for the investigation,” said Greg Carey, the group’s patrol chief. Carey is also a member of the SFPD Chief’s LGBT Advisory Forum, where several community members meet monthly with police officials.
With the some cases being almost 40 years old, many of the people who may have known what happened to the victims are likely dead.
“The inspectors we’ve worked with have fairly good evidence to work from, but they don’t have the one piece that really identifies a suspect,” said Carey. He added whether the cases are “old or new, it’s often just one more piece of information the inspector needs to tie these things together.”
In July, Herman Rodriguez posted on an online comment on a Bay Area Reporter story involving Joseph Rodriguez, 30, a.k.a. Lisa Yancey, who was found stabbed to death in his Tenderloin apartment in February 1975.
“I am glad they are still looking for these folks,” Rodriguez said. “Joseph Y Rodriguez was my Gay Uncle, as my nephews and niece call me, he was my Guncle. He had a family. He mattered and still does. Even if the killer is dead, it would bring answers to questions.”
In the 1974 case, Stig Lennart Berlin, a 37-year-old gay man, was found stabbed to death in his Tenderloin neighborhood apartment.
The most recent case involves Clyde “Leo” Neville, 51, who was found gagged and beaten in his Hayes Valley apartment in August 2011.
CCOP plans to add more cases to its website. One homicide victim who doesn’t yet appear on the site is Mariah Qualls, a 23-year-old transgender woman who was found dead of a blunt force injury to the head in her North Beach residential hotel room in December 2009. A $75,000 reward has been available in the Qualls case since 2011.