Monday, November 21, 2022

November 21, 1969: Revisiting the Gaul/Sharp Murders

Most students of TLB probably know about subsequent suspected deaths of persons which have been attributed to the Family. Prominent among these are the murders of Doreen Gaul and James Sharp on November 21, 1969 in the Westlake area of Los Angeles. 

Doreen Gaul yearbook photo

James Sharp

Doreen was 19 years old and was originally from Albany, NY. James Sharp was 15, and was from St Louis, MO. Both of these teens were students of Scientology, and travelled to Los Angeles to study its teachings, living in a neighborhood close to downtown LA.

Doreen lived in a house where several other students of Scientology lived, and it is believed that Bruce Davis--who was a Scientologist himself and who frequented this house--was thought to have possibly known Doreen, as he is reported to have dated a number of girls at that residence. This takes place, of course, over three months after the Tale/Labianca killings, and about ten days before the TLB case broke and was finally reported in the press.

For years, Davis has been considered a suspect by many in the Gaul/Sharp murders, with some people contending that Davis was himself the Zodiac killer. Davis denies all of this, and the debate over Family involvement into Doreen and Jim's death continues.

Rare photos of Doreen Gaul

Recently I discovered what I consider an excellent article on Doreen and Jim, along with some additional photos of Doreen that I had not previously seen. The article was written by G. Jack Urso, and it appears on his website, along with his other writings. I highly recommend everyone read this article, as I believe it a very logical insight into the murders of Doreen and Jim, and will help facilitate the discussion of that case going forward.

The link to the article: Click on the Historical and Literary Essays drop down, and select the article, "Green Grass and Rainbows: The Murder of Doreen Gaul, November, 1969".

In addition, below I provide the LAPD progress reports of the murders, which I originally located at To me, the timeline of the night of November 21, 1969 chronicles Jim and Doreen's movements with remarkable detail. Compare this to, say, the Tate murders and then the Labiancas, and I think we see a significantly greater amount of eyewitness data just before the crime occurred. According to the police reports, witness Greg Wells saw Doreen and Jim standing at the corner of 9th and Alvarado hitchhiking at 9:35pm. At 11:00pm Alex Risk discovered the bodies in the alley behind 1138 Magnolia St.

Someone within that intervening 85 minutes picked up the two, drove them to an unknown location, raped Doreen, killed them both, then drove them to the alley and dumped them behind 1138 Magnolia. Both of them were beaten with what appeared to be a chain at that location posthumously. Their bodies were discovered only a few blocks from where they were picked up hitchhiking.

Doreen and Jim were last seen on the corner across the street from this building

In my opinion, this crime occurred very close to where Doreen and Jim were picked up, and was ruthlessly carried out very quickly. Taken together, the murders of Doreen and Jim remain a mystery, and many questions about this case exist, as it remains on the periphery of the Tate/Labianca murders.

Had Doreen lived, she would be 72 today. Jim would be 68. These two kids died an extremely violent and senseless death, and their killer(s)--because they may have been young at the time--may still be roaming the streets today. Let us forever remember Doreen Marie Gaul and James Andrew Sharp.

Below are LAPD progress reports on the Gaul/Sharp murders:


DebS said...

Nice post on the 53rd anniversary of Doreen Gaul and James Sharp's unsolved murder, Torque.

starviego said...

Thanks Torque. This is one of those cases that calls for a test of any remaining DNA trace evidence, if there's any left.

Torque said...

Thanks Deb. Star, yes agreed. I don't know if anything was preserved for potential DNA testing, with the exception of hair that was found in the hands of both Doreen and Jim. The police reports I have posted are the only ones I have been able to find. It would of course be interesting to see what additional reports may exist.

D. said...

My only issue with the blog post linked to this one is that I have strong doubts that Bruce Davis made a return trip to England. In fact, I don't believe he did at all. I do know he was in TN around December though.

DebS said...

D, I agree. There is no evidence that Bruce made a return trip to England and the letter from Interpol says as much. I also have a hard time believing that Bruce lived in one of the Scientology dorms during the time that Doreen was there. Bruce's time is accounted for during the month of October 1969. He was released from the Inyo County jail at the very beginning of November 1969 and went directly to Mark Ross's in Venice. There has been no indication that Bruce took refuge in a Scientology facility after Haught's death.

nikki stardust said...

Doreen Gaul's and James Sharp's deaths are haunting and tragic. They had the courage to follow their desires and dreams to California. They deserved better than to be a forgotten,long lost cold case. nikki stardust

Gorodish said...

That was an excellent article by Jack Urso. Thanks for the link, Torque.
I've never believed the ridiculous stories about Bruce (Zodiac, etc.), and I never thought him remotely involved with the Gaul/Sharp murders. The only Mansonite capable of inflicting 50 plus stab wounds per victim was holed up at his parents' house in Texas during November 1969, waiting for the proverbial axe to fall. Bruce seemed to be more of a bumbling braggart and a follower. I believe he was a reluctant participant in Shorty Shea's murder - not because of any moral issues, but more due to self-preservation. (Once again, my money's on the guy from Texas inflicting over 90% of Shorty's stab wounds, while the others took a few token stabs to impress Charlie). Like Reet Jurvetson a week earlier, and Marina Habe eleven months earlier, Gaul and Sharp tragically ran into the wrong people on the wrong night.

Gorodish said...

Also, I can't seem to remember where I read it several years back, but I recall something about motorcycle tire marks being found on Gaul and Sharp's bodies.

Torque said...

Gorodish, yes, good points. After reviewing available information on Doreen and Jim, I have to conclude that their killer(s) were from the neighborhood. Early on, the police focused on youth gangs in the neighborhood as suspects. That their bodies were discovered only a few blocks from where they were last seen is especially telling.

Yes, like Marina and Reet, these people were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Not sure about the motorcycle tire marks on Doreen and Jim, but it may be in the police report. There were, however, car tire marks on the alley very close to their bodies, and police did photograph these.

Gorodish said...

I found a couple of those old blog articles mentioning the motorcycle tire marks, but nobody seems to quote a source. Interestingly enough, both articles are about Marina Habe's murder. There sure are a lot of unsolved vicious murders of young people from 1968-69 Los Angeles....Habe, Walts, Jurvetson, Gaul and Sharp, to name a few. Were the cops just overloaded with cases back then? Or was it indifference over rebellious teens? The way they bungled a lot of the early T/LB case makes me wonder.....

Mr. Humphrat said...

It seems weird that there are blood spatters on the garage door even though the murders didn't take place there.

Torque said...

Mr. Humphrat, I believe this is from the post mortem beating of both Doreen and Jim with what appeared to be a chain or similar device.

Mr. Humphrat said...

Torque thanks that explains it