Notorious San Francisco: Vampire Slasher
Tiny Quincy Street in Chinatown was the setting for real life scenes in one of San Francisco's most tragic stories of madness and murder. Three homeless men were attacked in this area in the fall of 1998 by a 21 year old psychotic who believed he was a samurai vampire compelled to slash the throats of his victims and drink their blood. Known as the Vampire Slasher, Joshua Rudiger of Oakland had a lifetime history of mental illness, including a diagnosis of bi polar disorder and another of psychosis dating back to 1981. The unwanted and unstable child was raised in a string of foster homes until he was 15 when he tried to commit suicide by stabbing himself with a samurai sword. Later, he was charged in a knifing and in a separate attack on a friend with a makeshift bow and arrow, but failed to get the help he needed because of the inability of the victims to testify against him. The knifing victim died in prison in an unrelated incident while the arrow victim moved and did not avail herself to authorities. Rudiger spent six months at Atascadero State Hospital but was released in spite of the fact that he still insisted he was alternately a ninja warrior or a 2,000 year old vampire. Less than two weeks after the Oct. 16, 1998 Chinatown attacks, Rudiger murdered 48 year old Shirley Dillahunty as she slept in a doorway near the Women's Building in the Mission. Dillahunty also led a tragic life, after disability forced her to give up her livelihood as the operator of a successful Ocean Avenue hair salon in the 1980s. Dillahunty lived on the streets and was a familiar neighborhood figure in the area where she died. Rudiger was arrested Nov. 11 when he attacked the third homeless man in Chinatown. After his arrest, Rudiger confessed and announced he was the Vampire Slasher. He fingered himself as the killer by identifying an Asian symbol left at the crime scenes by both the Chinatown attacker and Dillahunty's murderer. Rudiger pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity as defense lawyers detailed  to the jury his sad childhood from the time Rudiger was found abandoned as a baby in a filthy bath tub. Rudiger was found guilty of second degree murder in the death of Dillahunty and of assault in the Chinatown attacks. He was ruled legally sane by the court during sentencing and was given 23 years in prison for the crimes. 

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