A very troubled and pretty clearly unmedicated man with a long history of mental illness, addiction, and criminal activity across San Francisco, has been in jail the past three months following an especially creepy incident in the Presidio.

James Durgin, a 55-year-old former English teacher and fitness instructor, apparently suffered a severe mental breakdown about two decades ago. According to a friend and coworker at the time, who spoke on condition of anonymity to the Chronicle, Durgin "unraveled" and ultimately lost his job and apartment, and became addicted to drugs.

Fast forward over ten years, and Durgin became a denizen of the woods in the Presidio, very often setting up camp, according to residents, near the apartment complexes uphill from Baker Beach. There he was known to stalk and generally creep out multiple women over the years, and he was nicknamed the "boogeyman of the Presidio" and called "The Man in the Woods" in a 2022 NBC Bay Area docu-series called "Saving San Francisco."

Durgin was used as a central subject in NBC's (somewhat sensational) series because he was an example of a person who consistently slipped through the net of local services and law enforcement, frequently running afoul of the latter while also obviously needing serious help and generally menacing those around him.

Addicted to meth and subject to violent mood swings, Durgin was seen as a threat to the safety of women living in the Presidio, especially those who live alone. Several spoke to NBC for the docu-series, and one, Laura Strazzo, filed the November 2023 complaint with Presidio Park Police that landed Durgin in jail this latest time.

Strazzo was one of several residents who woke up one morning in November to find that Durgin had scrawled something creepy on their apartment door — in Strazzo's case it was the phrase "She's my love" — in magic marker. Strazzo produced Ring camera footage of the vandalism in progress, and Durgin was ultimately brought up on federal misdemeanor vandalism charges.

Strazzo called Durgin a "nuisance," and a sometimes menacing one.

But clearly this case isn't going to keep in jail long, and this will just add to the 60-plus arrests on Durgin's record, including 54 felony charges and 103 misdemeanors, with multiple convictions for theft and violence. He's also had 16 restraining orders taken out against him, including one by Ann Ray, the Presidio resident who appears in the opening of "Saving San Francisco," seen above.

Ray had video of Durgin showing up on her front stoop naked in the middle of the night and ringing her doorbell. Durgin also scrawled messages in chalk on stairs near her door saying "I [heart] u" over and over with "wink wink wink" repeated.

"I worry when I go to sleep at night if he'll bust the windows and make it up to my bedroom," Ray said. "I sleep with a Taser and a single-blade knife by my bed."

Durgin has multiple times been ordered into drug-treatment programs and mental health treatment. And just last August, a few months before the latest Presidio incident, NBC Bay Area reported that he was back in jail for a probation violation, stemming from an earlier conviction and probation release.

He seems clearly like a candidate for San Francisco's CARE Court, which was set up to help compel repeat offenders and the severely mentally ill into in-patient treatment. That CARE Court launched last October, but at the moment, Durgin is in the federal court system and is in custody in SF County Jail, ever since December 19. It's not clear if the outcome in this case will be any different than the others.

Still apparently able-bodied and living independently unhoused, it's not clear if Durgin would qualify for CARE Court — which requires that individuals be "unlikely to survive safely" on their own or likely to suffer a relapse that could put them in "grave disability or serious harm." A judge or family member would need to make that determination to petition for Durgin to be remanded to CARE Court.

Previously: Gavin Newsom’s CARE Court Program Starts Today, Can Force Severely Mentally Ill People Into Treatment