- A prominent physician at San Francisco General Hospital
who once headed the San Francisco Medical Society was found stabbed to
death inside the doorway of his Diamond Heights home Thursday, police said.
- Dr. Robert J. Lull, 64, was discovered on the floor in
the entryway of his hilltop home on Gold Mine Drive at Jade Place shortly
- Hospital officials, concerned when he did not show up
for the clinic he ran in nuclear medicine, alerted his personal assistant,
Elsie Garce, who found the body, authorities said.
- Lull was last seen at an appointment with his doctor
at 3:40 p.m. Wednesday, according to police. Neighbors reported nothing
unusual at the residence either Wednesday night or Thursday morning.
- "At this point, we can't say what the circumstances
were, but we know he was the victim of a homicide,'' said San Francisco
police Inspector Holly Pera. "We're piecing together evidence at the
- Lull was well liked by his neighbors and respected by
his colleagues, Pera said. "He had a real love for medicine,'' she
- Police say they have no sign of forced entry into the
four-bedroom, two-story home, but one unusual clue was plainly visible
- Cherry pits -- marked by yellow evidence tags -- were
found scattered in front of the walkway leading from the street to the
door as well as inside the home. "Our fondest hope is that we can
find DNA from the pits,'' Pera said.
- Another clue police are focusing on is a tan or gray
car that they say Lull was known to drive, a car that once belonged to
one of his sons. Two other cars, a Mercedes Benz and a Lexus, were in the
- But the third car "appears to be gone,'' Pera said.
"It's usually at the home when he is home. That is the most recent
car he has been driving.''
- Lee Lull said her ex-husband was a devoted doctor and
father but did not seem to be too worried about his security, sometimes
leaving his door unlocked in the upscale neighborhood.
- "This is so unreal,'' she said of the slaying, saying
she kept in contact with him regularly, and the couple remained close.
She discounted that the cherry pits would have been left by her ex-husband.
- "I really doubt he would go around spitting cherry
seeds around -- he took care of his house," she said. "He would
have parties for everybody at the clinic.
- "He was a really good man. There aren't a lot of
- She said she could not fathom why someone would attack
him. "I don't think he has any enemies as far as I know of,'' she
- Lull had been chief of nuclear medicine at the hospital
since 1990 and served as a radiology professor at UC San Francisco.
- He had served as president for both the American College
of Nuclear Physicians and the San Francisco Medical Society, which he headed
in 2002, and served as editor of its journal, San Francisco Medicine, from
1997 to 1999.
- Colleagues, friends and neighbors described Lull, a father
of two adult sons, as a dedicated doctor who was also friendly and sociable
and loved to sail and play tennis.
- "He was absolutely adored by the staff,'' said San
Francisco Medical Society Executive Director Dr. Mary Lou Licwinko. "I
am just in shock."
- "He was quite a guy,'' said neighbor Barry Kinney.
"He was very much a hail-fellow-well-met person.'' He would jog through
the neighborhood or be seen driving the small car, as well as his prized
bright red Mercedes and his black Lexus.
- Kinney said Lull was committed to his work and research.
He once joked: "A little radiation is good for you -- now and then.''
- Lull focused on improvements in diagnosis and treatment
of thyroid cancer. Last year, Lull lectured in San Francisco about the
threat of nuclear terrorism.
- At San Francisco General Hospital, word of the popular
doctor's death swept through on a day that was supposed to be reserved
for a morale boosting ice cream social amid budget cuts.
- "He was a great guy -- talkative, friendly, dependable,''
said hospital chief executive Gene O'Connell. "He's going to be missed
by everyone here. He's not somebody who can be replaced.''
- "It's been a tremendous shock to all of us at the
General,'' said Dr. Valerie Ng, hospital chief of staff.
- Ng said Lull was a highly revered expert in the field
of nuclear medicine, a specialty that performs diagnostic screens such
as bone scans for cancer patients.
- Lull was already renowned in the field when he was recruited
to work at San Francisco General in 1990, following the closure of Letterman
Army Medical Center in the Presidio. He had been chief of nuclear medicine
there since 1976.
- "This is a blow, not only to us, but to the field
of nuclear medicine,'' said Ng. "He was an icon to us all. He trained
generations of doctors in nuclear medicine.''
- Ng said hospital staffers had become concerned when the
reliable doctor did not show up for work in the morning. "Patients
had had studies done, and Bob was needed to interpret them,'' she said.
That triggered the discovery of the body.
- Dr. George Susens, who preceded Lull as president of
the Medical Society, said Lull prided himself as the first academician
from San Francisco General Hospital to be elected to the post. "He
had an infectious smile,'' said Susens, a Kaiser internist. "He was
fun to have around."
- Medical Society spokesman Steve Heilig said Lull was
a thoughtful scientist with a long military background. He favored nuclear
power as a solution to global warming, but he was so passionately opposed
to the development of proposed "bunker buster" nuclear weapons
that he co-sponsored a resolution at the California Medical Association
House of Delegates opposing the technology. The resolution did not pass.
- "He was a rigorous scientist, but he had a real
open mind," Heilig said. "He liked to learn stuff.''