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Into the Abyss
The Zodiac Killer
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The Zodiac Killer
Riverside

On the night of Sunday, October 30, 1966, long before anyone was to hear of the Zodiac
killer, an 18-year-old student named Cheri Jo Bates was brutally murdered near the
parking lot of Riverside City College's library annex. Neither rape nor robbery seemed to
have been a motive, as her clothes were undisturbed and her purse was present and intact.

After disabling her lime green Volkswagen by pulling out the distributor coil and the
condenser, then disconnecting the middle wire of the distributor, the killer had apparently
waited for Bates to return to her car and try to start it, whereupon he made a pretense of
unsuccessfully tinkering with the engine. After this ruse, and probably with the offer of a
ride, he lured her into a dark, unpaved driveway between two empty houses owned by the
college, where they spent approximately an hour and a half. Exactly what they did during
this time is uncertain, but eventually the man attacked her, slashing her three times in the
chest area, once in the back, and seven times across the throat. 1 Police determined that
the murder weapon was a small knife with a blade about 3 1/2" long by 1/2" wide, 2 but
the wounds to Bates' throat were so deep and brutal as to nearly decapitate her, severing
her larynx, jugular vein, and carotid artery. She had also been choked, beaten, and slashed
about the face. Found about ten feet from Bates' body was a paint-spattered man's Timex
watch with a broken 7" wristband, stopped at around 12:23 [see illustration], which one
source claims was later traced to a military PX in England. The paint was analyzed, and
was found to be common exterior house paint. 3 Also found at the scene were the
heel-print from a shoe that appeared to be close to size 10, 4 as well as hair, blood, and
skin tissue found in the victim's hands and beneath her fingernails. Greasy, unidentified
palm- and fingerprints were also found in and on her car, about 200 feet away. Although
the library closed at 9:00 p.m. (and books found in her car verify that she had been inside
before then), two separate witnesses reported hearing an "awful scream" at around 10:30,
followed by "a muted scream, and then a loud sound like an old car being started up"
about two minutes later. This time matches an estimation given by the coroner, and is
generally accepted as the time of her death. 5

Judging by these details, the murder of Cheri Jo Bates would appear to be nothing more
mysterious than a particularly vicious crime of passion, committed perhaps by a spurned
suitor, an ex-boyfriend, or a subject somehow linked to Miss Bates. Certainly, the simple
fact that Bates spent over an hour in the dark with the man who murdered her suggests
that she knew and trusted him enough to converse more than casually. It was not until
almost exactly one month after the attack that the case approached a bizarre new level.

On November 29, 1966, carbon copies of an anonymous letter were mailed to the
Riverside Police and the Riverside Enterprise. [see Illustration] Typed using a portable
Royal typewriter with either Pica or Elite typeface, 6 it was entitled "The Confession," and
carried a "byline" that consisted of the word "BY" followed by twelve underscores. Both
copies were on low-quality white paper eight inches wide and torn at the top and bottom
so as to be roughly squarish, and had been sent unstamped and with no return address
from a secluded rural mailbox. Presumably, the author planned on the letters being sent by
Postage Due mail. At least one of the details referred to in this letter had not been made
public, and at the time, investigators agreed that it was most likely genuine, though this
opinion has changed over the years.

THE CONFESSION

BY _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _


SHE WAS YOUNG AND BEAUTIFUL BUT NOW SHE IS BATTERED AND DEAD.
SHE IS NOT THE FIRST AND SHE WILL NOT BE THE LAST I LAY AWAKE
NIGHTS THINKING ABOUT MY NEXT VICTIM. MAYBE SHE WILL BE THE
BEAUTIFUL BLOND THAT BABYSITS NEAR THE LITTLE STORE AND WALKS
DOWN THE DARK ALLEY EACH EVENING ABOUT SEVEN. OR MAYBE SHE
WILL BE THE SHAPELY BRUNETT THAT SAID XXX NO WHEN I ASKED HER
FOR A DATE IN HIGH SCHOOL. BUT MAYBE IT WILL NOT BE EITHER. BUT I
SHALL CUT OFF HER FEMALE PARTS AND DEPOSIT THEM FOR THE WHOLE
CITY TO SEE. SO DON'T MAKE IT TO EASY FOR ME. KEEP YOUR SISTERS,
DAUGHTERS, AND WIVES OFF THE STREETS AND ALLEYS. MISS BATES
WAS STUPID. SHE WENT TO THE SLAUGHTER LIKE A LAMB. SHE DID NOT
PUT UP A STRUGGLE. BUT I DID. IT WAS A BALL. I FIRST CUT THE MIDDLE
WIRE FROM THE DISTRIBUTOR. THEN I WAITED FOR HER IN THE LIBRARY
AND FOLLOWED HER OUT AFTER ABOUT TWO MINUTES. THE BATTERY
MUST HAVE BEEN ABOUT DEAD BY THEN. I THEN OFFERED TO HELP. SHE
WAS THEN VERY WILLING TO TALK TO ME. I TOLD HER THAT MY CAR WAS
DOWN THE STREET AND THAT I WOULD GIVE HER A LIFT HOME. WHEN WE
WERE AWAY FROM THE LIBRARY WALKING, I SAID IT WAS ABOUT TIME.
SHE ASKED ME, "ABOUT TIME FOR WHAT?" I SAID IT WAS ABOUT TIME FOR
HER TO DIE. I GRABBED HER AROUND THE NECK WITH MY HAND OVER
HER MOUTH AND MY OTHER HAND WITH A SMALL KNIFE AT HER THROAT.
SHE WENT VERY WILLINGLY. HER BREAST FELT WARM AND VERY FIRM
UNDER MY HANDS, BUT ONLY ONE THING WAS ON MY MIND. MAKING HER
PAY FOR ALL THE BRUSH OFFS THAT SHE HAD GIVEN ME DURING THE
YEARS PRIOR. SHE DIED HARD. SHE SQUIRMED AND SHOOK AS I CHOCKED
HER, AND HER LIPS TWICHED. SHE LET OUT A SCREAM ONCE AND I
KICKED HER IN THE HEAD TO SHUT HER UP. I PLUNGED THE KNIFE INTO
HER AND IT BROKE. I THEN FINISHED THE JOB BY CUTTING HER THROAT. I
AM NOT SICK. I AM INSANE. BUT THAT WILL NOT STOP THE GAME. THIS
LETTER SHOULD BE PUBLISHED FOR ALL TO READ IT. IT JUST MIGHT SAVE
THAT GIRL IN THE ALLEY. BUT THAT'S UP TO YOU. IT WILL BE ON YOUR
CONSCIENCE. NOT MINE. YES, I DID MAKE THAT CALL TO YOU ALSO. IT
WAS JUST A WARNING. BEWARE...I AM STALKING YOUR GIRLS NOW.

CC. CHIEF OF POLICE
ENTERPRISE

Neither envelope bore a complete address; they were handwritten with a felt-tip pen in the
following manner.

Daily Enterprise
Riverside Calif
Attn: Crime

Homicide Detail
Riverside

One fingerprint was found on the envelope sent to the RPD Homicide Detail, but it has
never been matched to a suspect, and whether it was left by the author, a postman, or a
police officer is unknown. 7

The killer's claim that "she did not put up a struggle" was contradicted by the numerous
defense wounds on her hands and arms, as well as by the flesh and hair found beneath
Bates' fingernails. While a contemporaneous newspaper report reflects uncertainty as to
whether the knife actually broke in her body, 8 no evidence of this event is reported in the
autopsy report, and more recent pronouncements from RPD detectives are unanimous that
the knife did not break. 9 Bates' car had indeed been sabotaged in the manner described,
which had not been fully revealed by the news media. The phone call that is referred to
near the end of the letter has never been elaborated on by authorities, though researcher
Tom Voigt suggests that it was placed to the Riverside Press, rather than the police, and
so went misunderstood and ignored.

The letters were delivered on the same day they were posted. The next day, November
30th, both the Enterprise and the local police submitted their copies to the Riverside
County Postal Inspector, who in turn notified the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Murder is not a federal crime, but extortion through the mail is, and the FBI briefly
considered joining the investigation under this pretense. However, since no specific victim
of extortion was named or alluded to, there would be no federal aid in the investigation.
In an unexplained turn of events, what appears to be a photocopy of the "Confession" was
attached to an FBI report declassified in the 1990s, but the typescript and number of
words per line are different from those in the well-known copy that appears in a
photograph of the letter lying either on a detective's or a reporter's desk.

On the six-month anniversary of Bates' death, the Riverside Press, the police, and the
victim's father (whose name and address had appeared in the local newspaper the day after
the murder) were each sent nearly identical copies of another letter, this one written in
pencil on lined notepaper. Instead of a signature, two of the letters bore a symbol that
resembled a letter Z joined with a numeral 3. In what would become a hallmark of the
Zodiac's epistolary style, the envelopes were franked with excessive postage: in this case,
they each carried two of the necessary four-cent stamps. The letters sent to the police and
Press read as follows:

BATES HAD
TO DIE
THERE WILL
BE MORE

The copy without the hieroglyph signature, sent to Joseph Bates, substituted "Bates" with
"She". 10 One latent fingerprint was developed on the letter sent to the Riverside Police
Department, but its origins are not known, and it has never been matched to a suspect. 11

In mid-April 1967, a janitor at the RCC Library discovered a poem written on the
underside of a folding school desk. 12 The desk had been in storage for an unknown
period of time, but the contemporary receipt of the "Bates had to die" letters led many
investigators to believe that the poem described Bates' murder and was written by her
killer. Some amateurs, however, have noted that the style and tone of the letter indicate
otherwise: one compelling theory is that that an unrelated student penned it following an
unsuccessful suicide attempt. 13 The handwriting is of debatable resemblance to the three
"Bates" notes or any other Zodiac printing and the date of its origin is unclear, so the
entire issue remains open to interpretation. The poem read:

Sick of living/unwilling to die
cut.
clean.
if red /
clean.
blood spurting,
dripping,
spilling;
all over her new
dress
oh well
it was red
anyway.
life draining into an
uncertain death.
she won't
die.
this time
someone ll find her.
just wait till
next time.
rh

The cryptic signature, "rh," may have been a reference to RCC's President at the time, R.
H. Bradshaw.

* * *

In the wake of Bates' murder, Riverside Police worked the case under the assumption that
Bates knew her killer, or at least that the killer knew her. They even identified a likely
suspect from a pool of viable candidates, an ex-boyfriend bitter over their breakup and
resentful of her blossoming relationship with a football player. (The RPD maintains a local
man as their prime suspect in the murder, and in December of 1998 even went so far as to
secure a warrant for samples of this man's hair, skin, and saliva, which were sent to the
FBI crime lab to be checked against the evidence found at the scene. As of December
2000, the FBI completed this analysis, and the results are being double-checked by state
authorities. An announcement is eagerly awaited by authorities and amateurs alike.)
When the Zodiac case exploded into national news in the fall of 1969, though, RPD Chief
L.T. Kinkead nevertheless sent a 3-page synopsis of the local murder and the events that
followed to investigators in Napa and San Francisco, a letter that seems to have been
largely ignored. It wasn't until Paul Avery of the San Francisco Chronicle initiated a 1970
meeting between these investigators that they began to consider the elusive Bay Area
serial killer as a possible culprit, though even then RPD Captain Irwin Cross "expressed
doubt that the Zodiac [was] responsible". 14

Despite the stylistic similarities between the aftermath of Cheri Jo Bates' murder and the
linked murders that would later take place in the San Francisco Bay Area, the current
opinion of the Riverside Police Department and most other investigators is that the
Riverside and Bay Area episodes were not related. Opinion is split, however, as to who
authored the 1966 and 1967 documents, and whether they were even written by the same
person.


Riverside Footnotes

1. F. Rene Modglin, Pathologist's Autopsy Protocol, 22 December 1966. This report is
exhaustive and contains no mention of the 42 stab wounds alleged by some researchers.

2. Various sources describe the weapon as either 1.5" or .5" inches wide; the California
Department of Justice describes it as both in the same report. The tiebreaker is the
autopsy report, which specifies the dimension.

3. Doug Oswell, www.ZodiacKiller.com, 11 December 2000; Tom Voigt,
http://www.ZodiacKiller.com 17 December 2000.

4. The shoes may have been military in origin, but were not Wing Walkers, as has been
reported by other sources.

5. "RCC co-ed, 18, slain on campus" (Riverside Press, 31 October 1966)

6. FBI Laboratory Worksheet, 15 May 1974

7. While one-time Chief Document Examiner Sherwood Morrill determined that the
typewriter was a portable Royal using Canterbury shaded Elite typeface, researcher Tom
Voigt cites an early FBI report dated 1 December 1966 that identifies it as "most
probably" a Royal Merit using Pica typeface.

8. "Police send murder confession to state's crime experts" (Riverside Press, 1 December
1966)

9. Tom Voigt and Mike Butterfield, citing Det. Steve Shumway et al,
www.ZodiacKiller.com, 30 November 2000

10. Howard Davis, www.ZodiacKiller.com, 9 March 2001

11. FBI Laboratory Worksheet, 24 April 1974

12. FBI Laboratory Worksheet, 3 May 1974

13. Mike from OK, www.ZodiacKiller.com, 7 April 2001

14. "Lawmen exchange Bates, Zodiac data" (Riverside Press, 19 November 1970)
The Zodiac Killer

Vallejo

Solano County Sheriff's Office Case #V-25564
Vallejo Police Department Case #243146

Vallejo and Benicia lie just north of the San Pablo Bay and the Carquinez Strait, about 20
miles northeast of San Francisco. In the late 1960s, the area abutting the two
rough-and-tumble, working-class cities was practically uninhabited, and even now only a
few paved surfaces cross the barren expanses of southern Solano County above the
Vallejo-Benicia Freeway. One of these is Lake Herman Road, running from eastern
Vallejo to northern Benicia by way of the unincorporated area between them.

As early as 9:00 pm on Friday, December 20, 1968, a light-colored hardtop four-door,
possibly a Chevrolet Impala, was seen parked near the gated entrance to the pumping
station off Lake Herman Road just east of Lake Herman. The same car was also seen
there at about 10:00 by a different witness. Between these two sightings, a young man
and his girlfriend were parked in the same spot when a car heading west toward Vallejo
slowed to a stop several yards past their car, then began to slowly back up toward them.
The car gave them both such a bad feeling that they immediately pulled out of the gravelly
area and drove off toward Benicia. The other car followed them until the first exit, which
they took, watching the stranger continue east on Lake Herman Road.

At 11:10 pm, David Arthur Faraday and Betty Lou Jensen were parked in the same place
when they were shot to death near Faraday's brown Rambler. Having told Betty Lou's
parents that they were going to a Christmas concert, they had instead driven to the
isolated lover's lane and had been there for less than an hour when someone pulled in with
them, exited his vehicle, and began firing into their car. The killer was armed with either a
.22 caliber rifle or, more likely, a handgun loaded with .22 LR ammunition. From light
footprints and ballistic evidence, it appeared that the killer started from behind the car,
shooting out the right rear window, then the left rear tire, then coming around to the front
left. The two teenagers scrambled out the passenger's side door.

Jensen, 16, left the car alive and must have started to run toward the road; her body was
found less than 30 feet from the rear bumper. The shot pattern -- five rounds along the
right side of her back, ranging from the space between the fifth and sixth ribs all the way
down to the pelvis 1-- suggested that the killer was either competent with firearms or had
fired into her body as she lay wounded by a previous shot, as a coroner's report states that
the shots had come from no more than 10 feet away. In any case, the grouping does not
indicate marksman-like accuracy, or even the great degree of skill that is often attributed
to the killer due to this particular murder, especially considering that two rounds missed
the wounded girl as she fled. Faraday was killed by a single close-range bullet to the head;
researcher Mike R. of NJ points out that the position of Faraday's body, with the boy's feet
by the rear wheel and his head pointing away from the front of the car at an angle of about
45 degrees, suggests that he was not killed while climbing out of the door but rather while
standing by the right rear wheel. 2 All told, 10 shots were fired, but only eight rounds
were accounted for.

The entire episode was over in a few heartbeats, and the killer left the scene immediately
upon its conclusion. This was determined by an almost minute-by-minute timeline put
together from the statements of several witnesses driving by the area between 9:00 pm and
11:15 pm. One of these witnesses, Stella Borges, may even have seen the killer's car,
described as a light-colored Chevrolet, headed toward Benicia just before she discovered
Jensen's and Faraday's bodies. 3

Despite the best efforts of Solano County Sheriff's Det. Sgt. Les Lundblad, assistance
from half a dozen local law enforcement agencies, and a reward fund set up by students at
the victims' high schools, no killer was ever identified. As author Robert Graysmith grimly
noted in his seminal book, ZODIAC, "There were no witnesses, no motives, and no
suspects". 4

* * *

Six months later, shortly after 12:00 a.m. on Saturday, July 5, 1969, Darlene Elizabeth
Ferrin, 22, and Michael Renault Mageau, 19, were shot as they sat in Ferrin's car in the
parking lot of the Blue Rock Springs Golf Course. According to Mageau's statements to
police in the days that followed, Ferrin had picked him up at his house about half an hour
earlier, and they were going to get a bite to eat when Darlene said that she wanted to talk
to him about something. At Mageau's suggestion, she turned around on Springs Road and
headed east to Blue Rock Springs Park in Benicia, a spot popular with local teenagers
cruising after dark. 5

Ferrin turned off the car's headlights and motor but left the radio playing. After just a few
minutes, three cars occupied by some young revelers entered the parking lot briefly,
laughing, yelling, and throwing firecrackers. They drove off shortly thereafter, and Ferrin
and Mageau were left alone again until about midnight, when another car, alone this time,
pulled into the lot from the direction of Vallejo. Its lone occupant turned off the car's
headlights and pulled up next to Ferrin's car, six to eight feet away on her left. The car, a
brown 1958 or '59 Falcon, idled there for a moment, and Mageau asked Ferrin if she knew
the driver, to which she responded, "Oh, never mind". 6 Mageau later said that he wasn't
sure whether this meant that she did or didn't know the driver, but before he could inquire
further the car pulled out and drove off at high speed back toward Vallejo.

After about five minutes, the brown car returned to the parking lot and pulled up behind
and to the right of Ferrin and Mageau, about 10 feet back. Leaving his headlights on this
time, the driver exited his vehicle with a bright lamp or flashlight. Obscuring his face by
holding the light at arm's length and shining it directly at them, he walked silently up to the
passenger's side door. From his manner, Mageau thought he might be a policeman, and
was reaching for his ID when the man raised a handgun and fired five 9mm rounds
through the window. He shot first at Mageau, hitting him in the face and body: at such
close range, several of the slugs tore through his flesh and entered Darlene. Fueled by
pain and adrenaline, Michael kicked himself into the back seat, catching another bullet in
his left knee. The attacker then fired at Ferrin, hitting her in each arm and in the back as
she turned away. Mageau thought that the shots sounded quiet, perhaps fired through a
silencer, but nearby resident George Bryant heard both the earlier firecrackers and the
shots, and described the shots as much louder.

The killer was walking back to his car after this volley of shots when he heard Mageau
begin to yell, either in pain or in rage. He returned to Ferrin's car, fired two additional
shots at each of the victims, then turned around casually and got back in his own car.
Mageau was able to catch a look at the man's face in profile, and described him as short,
about 5'8" tall, but extremely heavyset. Though "not blubbery fat" 7 the man was at least
195 pounds and had a large face. In terrible pain but still conscious, Mageau managed to
turn the car's blinkers on in an attempt to summon aid, then opened the passenger's side
door and tumbled to the pavement. From there, he watched the attacker peel out, turn his
car around, and drive back in the direction of Vallejo. Though the Zodiac would later
claim that he remained under the speed limit after the attack, both Mageau and George
Bryant reported that he left the scene at a high rate of speed.

Several police cars and an ambulance soon arrived, summoned by more late-night
teenaged drivers who had discovered the car and victims, but the aid they could offer was
too little and too late for Darlene, who died in the ambulance with Mageau and Officer
Richard Hoffman of the Vallejo PD. Mageau went straight into surgery, but Darlene was
not so lucky: she was pronounced Dead on Arrival at Kaiser Foundation Hospital at 12:38
am.

Despite the killer's subsequent claim that the attack was committed with a 9mm Luger,
this weapon was manufactured with an eight-round magazine, and the killer fired at least
nine shots without reloading. While a 32-round extended magazine for the Luger had
been available for some time, Vallejo police believe the weapon was actually a 9mm
Browning High-Power, which carries thirteen rounds in its factory magazine, although the
weapon could have been one of several 9-round 9mm handguns available at the time. 8

Some of Ferrin's close friends reported that she may have been stalked in the months
preceding her death, or at least the recipient of some unwanted visits; author Robert
Graysmith's account contends that she knew her killer. These views are not shared by
most legitimate investigators, however, nor by Darlene's widower, Dean Ferrin, who was
never interviewed for ZODIAC and in subsequent conversation has stated that he noticed
no unusual behavior or anxiety on his wife's part in the months before her death. The
alleged "stalker" in this case was likely George Waters, a Vallejo man and would-be
paramour who had been rebuffed several times by Darlene and who, by many accounts,
did not take it in a gentlemanly fashion. 9 Waters was soon tracked down and interviewed
by Vallejo detectives, who determined that he had been watching fireworks with his wife
on the night of the Fourth, and had been at home in her company at the time of the
murders. 10 Stories that Ferrin and/or Mageau knew one or more of the other Zodiac
victims are entirely unconfirmed, as are rumors that Mageau may have been hiding some
knowledge of the killers identity or motive. His accounts of the night's events, to both the
police and the press, uniformly describe an unknown man who walked silently up to the
car and started shooting. These and other details were maintained through all recorded
interviews with Mageau, whether in horrible pain after the incident, under heavy
medication at the hospital, or in the spotlight of morbid local celebrity. 11

The lone indication that Ferrin may have known her killer -- or may have been known to
him -- was a pair of calls made to Darlene's home shortly after the murder. When the calls
were answered by Ferrin's friends at the house, there was no voice on the other end. 12
One source close to the family claims that the calls were made by Darlene's brother Leo,
who was waiting to hear from Darlene about an unrelated matter. 13

At 12:40, a pay phone call was made through the Operator to Vallejo Police
Headquarters. According to the police dispatcher, the caller's voice was mature and
without accent, and he spoke evenly and consistently as if reading from a script. At one
point, the dispatcher tried to ask the caller's identity and location, but he would not be
interrupted and said, "I want to report a double murder. If you go one mile east on
Columbus Parkway to the public park, you will find kids in a brown car. They were shot
with a 9mm Luger. I also killed those kids last year. Good bye" .14

Robert Graysmith's ZODIAC contains an apocryphal scene in which the caller hangs up,
but is surprised by a call-back device on the police switchboard that causes the pay phone
to start ringing. This allegedly caught the attention of a chance passerby who watched the
caller take the receiver off the hook, leave the booth, and drive off in a brown car. This
man, described in a subsequent letter from the killer, was sought by both the police and
local newspapers to no avail, indicating that Graysmith may simply have been elaborating
on a bogus detail provided by the Zodiac to create confusion. When the police were able
to trace the call to a pay phone at Tuolumne Street and Springs Road, they found that the
booth in question was just a few blocks away from the Vallejo Sheriff's Office. 15

* * *

A few weeks later, on July 31, 1969, the San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco
Chronicle, and Vallejo Times-Herald each received letters laying claim to the Vallejo
murders. Enclosed with each letter was one-third of a cryptogram, to be published on
each newspaper's front page by August 1. Not only were the author's claims bolstered by
an intimate knowledge of the two crime scenes, he also promised another murder spree if
his request was not met. Though worded slightly differently, each letter shared the same
salient facts, and each was closed with the crossed-circle design that would become the
Zodiac's signature. The first to be transcribed in its entirety was the one sent to the
Vallejo Times-Herald:
cryptogram

The cryptogram sent to the Times-Herald

Dear Editor

I am the killer of the 2 teenagers last Christmass at Lake Herman and the Girl last 4th of
July. To Prove this I shall state some facts which only I+ the police know.

Christmass
1 Brand name of ammo Super X
2 10 shots fired
3 Boy was on back feet to car
4 Girl was lyeing on right side feet to west

4th of July
1 Girl was wearing patterned pants
2 Boy was also shot in knee
3 Brand name of ammo was Western

Here is a cyipher or that is part of one. The other 2 parts of this cipher have been mailed
to the S.F. Examiner + the S.F. Chronicle.

I want you to print this cipher on your frunt page by Fry Afternoon Aug 1-69, If you do
not do this I will go on a kill rampage Fry night that will last the whole week end. I will
cruse around and pick off all stray people or coupples that are alone then move on to kill
some more untill I have killed over a dozen people.

The killer's letter to the Chronicle was similar, but gave an additional impetus to publish
the code: "In this cipher," he wrote, "is my identity." The 3-Part Cryptogram was solved
in less than a week by a North Salinas, CA, high school teacher and his wife. Despite the
claims of the Chronicle's letter, it did not appear to reveal the killer's identity. Their
solution was submitted to the Vallejo PD on August 8, verified by the Cryptographic Unit
at Skaggs Island Naval Communications Center, and published on August 9 by the San
Francisco Chronicle and the Vallejo Times-Herald. 16
cryptogram

The cryptogram sent to the San Francisco Chronicle

I LIKE KILLING PEOPLE BECAUSE IT IS SO MUCH FUN IT IS MORE FUN
THAN KILLING WILD GAME IN THE FORREST BECAUSE MAN IS THE MOST
DANGEROUE ANIMAL OF ALL TO KILL SOMETHING GIVES ME THE MOST
THRILLING EXPERENCE IT IS EVEN BETTER THAN GETTING YOUR ROCKS
OFF WITH A GIRL THE BEST PART IS THAE WHEN I DIE I WILL BE REBORN
IN PARADICE AND ALL THE I HAVE KILLED WILL BECOME MY SLAVES I
WILL NOT GIVE YOU MY NAME BECAUSE YOU WILL TRY TO SLOI DOWN
OR STOP MY COLLECTING OF SLAVES FOR MY AFTERLIFE
EBEORIETEMETHHPITI

The letters covering the cipher blocks were checked unsuccessfully for fingerprints by the
Vallejo and San Francisco police; they found none, though one print may have been
developed on a cipher-block. As happened after the Bates murder, local police contacted
the FBI for aid in the investigation, and as in the Bates case the federal interest here was
possible extortion. In fact, many FBI reports still classify the case under the original
extortion heading.

A little-known letter containing a key to the cryptogram was sent anonymously to the
Vallejo Police on August 10, one day after the Harden solution was made public. It was
postmarked San Francisco, and the typewritten address was to a VPD sergeant. The key
was handwritten on a sheet of white paper, and was accompanied by a short typewritten
note on a 3x5 index card expressing hope that "the enclosed key will prove beneficial to
you in connection with the cipher letter writer." It was signed " concerned citizen." The
key was described in an FBI report as "generally valid" and "substantially accurate", 17
but this is unsurprising since the author probably read the decryption in the newspaper and
simply made his own key letter by letter. One useful palmprint was found on the
envelope, 18 but it was never matched to any individual.

By August 2, all three cipher blocks had been printed. "We're not satisfied that the letter
was written by the murderer, but it could have been," said the Vallejo Chief of Police Jack
E. Stiltz, requesting another letter "with more facts to prove it". 19 In response, a second
letter was mailed to the San Francisco Examiner 20 on August 1 or 2, and received on
August 4. It was in this three-page letter that the killer first referred to himself as "The
Zodiac."
cryptogram

Cryptogram sent to the San Francisco Examiner

This is the Zodiac speaking. In answer to your asking for more details about the good
times I have had in Vallejo, I shall be very happy to supply even more material. By the
way, are the police having a good time with the code? If not, tell them to cheer up; when
they do crack it, they will have me.

On the 4th of July: I did not open the car door. The window was rolled down all ready.
The boy was origionaly sitting in the frunt seat when I began fireing. When I fired the first
shot at his head, he leaped backwards at the same time, thus spoiling my aim. He ended up
on the back seat then the floor in back thashing out very violently with his legs; that's how
I shot him in the knee. I did not leave the cene of the killing with squealing tires + raceing
engine as described in the Vallejo paper. I drove away quite slowly so as not to draw
attention to my car. The man who told police that my car was brown was a negro about
40-45 rather shabbly dressed. I was in this phone booth having some fun with the Vallejo
cop when he was walking by. When I hung the phone up the damn thing began to ring &
that drew his attention to me + my car.

Last Christmass In that epasode the police were wondering how I could shoot + hit my
victims in the dark. They did not openly state this, but implied this by saying it was a well
lit night + I could see silowets on the horizon. Bullshit that area is srounded by high hills +
trees. What I did was tape a small pencel flash light to the barrel of my gun. If you notice,
in the center of the beam of light if you aim it at a wall or ceiling you will see a black or
darck spot in the center of the circle of light about 3 to 6 inches across. When taped to a
gun barrel, the bullet will strike in the center of the black dot in the light. All I had to do
was spray them as if it was a water hose; there was no need to use the gun sights. I was
not happy to see that I did not get front page coverage.

No address

Police were unsuccessful in developing latent fingerprints on the first set of letters;
perhaps as a result, this latest letter was submitted directly to the FBI crime lab, which
determined that the letter was written on Woolworth's "Fifth Avenue" brand paper. The
lab found useful prints on its second and third pages, but they have never been matched to
a suspect.


Vallego Footnotes

1. Autopsy report, Office of the Coroner of Solano County, 21 December 1968

2. Mike R. of NJ, email to the author, May 2000

3. Tom Voigt, www.ZodiacKiller.com, December 1998

4. Robert Graysmith, Zodiac, p.12

5. Ed Rust, Vallejo Police Department report, 6 July 1969

6. Ibid.

7. Ibid.

8. Robert Graysmith, Zodiac, p. 38; Calif. Department of Justice, Special Report: Zodiac
Homicides, 1971.

9. John Lynch, Vallejo Police Department Report, 5 July 1969; John Lynch, Vallejo
Police Department Report, 6 July 1969; Ed Rust, Vallejo Police Department Report, 7
July 1969

10. John Lynch, Vallejo Police Department report, 11 July 1969

11. Richard Hoffman, Vallejo Police Department Report, 5 July 1969; Ed Rust, Vallejo
Police Department Report, 6 July 1969; "Badly Wounded Youth Holds Key to Gun
Mystery" (Vallejo Times-Herald, 6 July 1969); Dave Peterson, "Killer's Sole Survivvor
Talks" (Vallejo News-Chronicle, 19 August 1969).

12. Sgt. Odiorne, Vallejo Police Department Report, 5 July 1969. Contrary to the
account offered by author Robert Graysmith, there is no evidence that calls were made to
Darlene's or Dean's families.

13. Pam Huckaby, February 1998

14. Nancy Slover, Vallejo Police Department report, 8 July 1969

15. The booth was not across the street from Darlene's Virginia Street house, as depicted
in Graysmith's Zodiac. Acoording to researcher Ed N, it was "down the street, around the
corner, and about eight ... blocks north along Tuoloumne at the intersection of Springs,
about half a mile" from the Ferrin residence.

16. "A 'Murder Code' Broken" (San Francisco Chronicle, 9 August 1969)

17. FBI Lab report, 18 August 1969; FBI Lab report 20 August 1969

18. FBI Lab report, 20 August 1969

19. "Coded Clue in Murders" (San Francisco Chronicle, 2 August 1969)

20. Ed N, www.ZodiacKiller.com, September 2000. While researcher Tom Voigt quotes
a California Department of Justice report stating that this letter was received by the San
Francisco Chronicle, the Chronicle never reports receiving it. An article in the competing
Examiner, however, does mention that it was received at the Examiner (Vallejo Threats:
'Cipher Killer's' New Letter," San Francisco Examiner, 4 August 1969), indicating that the
DOJ made a minor mistake. This would appear to be borne out by an FBI Airtel dated 6
August 1969 which lists an "undated three page letter .... sent anonymously to the San
Francisco Examiner."

Lake Berryessa

Napa County Sheriff's Department Case #105907

The next attack came on Saturday, September 27, 1969, on the western shore of Lake
Berryessa, about 60 miles northeast of San Francisco in Napa County. At about 3:00 pm,
three young women from Angwin had just pulled into a parking area near the lake when a
man driving a light blue, two-door Chevrolet with California plates, probably a 1966
model, pulled up beside them, drove forward a short distance, and then backed up so that
he was right next to their car. Without leaving his car, he sat looking downward, as if
pretending to read something.

The women walked down to the lakeshore and had been sunbathing for about half an hour
when they noticed the same man watching them. They later described him as "clean cut
and nice looking". 1 about six feet tall and over 200 pounds, with short dark hair parted
on the side. He wore a black short sleeved sweatshirt over a tee shirt with dark blue or
black slacks. He watched them silently for another 20 minutes or so, smoking cigarettes,
then walked off. When the women returned to their car at around 4:30, the stranger's car
was gone.

The Napa County Sheriffs Department briefly investigated another encounter at the lake.
It occurred at about 6:30, when a local dentist and his son well north of the crime scene
noticed a man walking nearby who met the general description given by the young
women. When this man saw the father and son and realized that he had been noticed, he
turned around and walked away from them. It was initially thought that he might have
been involved in the Zodiacs next attack, but detectives determined that the unidentified
man did not have a car in the area, and it would have been impossible for him to arrive at
the crime scene in time. 2
Cecilia Shepard

Cecelia Ann Shepard and Bryan Calvin Hartnell, two college students who had also made
a spontaneous trip from Angwin, were picnicking at Twin Oak Ridge, 3 a peninsula on the
western shore of the lake, at twilight when they were approached by a man later described
as 5'8" to 6' tall, dark-haired, and heavyset, wearing a dark jacket and dark clothing that
seemed sloppy or dishevelled. Cecelia, who saw the man first, noted that he was wearing
glasses. He seemed to Hartnell at the time to be "in his thirties and fairly unremarkable", 4
though the young man would describe a larger and possibly younger individual after
getting a closer and more dangerous look.

Before getting too close to the couple, he ducked behind one of the two nearby trees, put
on an unusual four-cornered hood, and emerged about 20 feet away. The hood was well
sewn, black, and had a bib that fell almost to the man's waistline. Embroidered on it was
the crossed-circle design that had appeared in the 3-Part Cryptogram and its cover letters
and would serve as the Zodiac's signature in most of his letters to come. Holes had been
cut for the eyes and mouth, and though clip-on sunglasses had been added to further
protect the killer's identity, Hartnell caught a glimpse of greasy brownish hair through the
holes in the mask. On his belt, he wore a long knife in a wooden sheath and an empty
leather holster. A large semiautomatic pistol was in his right hand and he pointed it at
Shepard and Hartnell as he spoke.
Brian Hartnell

"I want your money and your car keys," he said in a calm monotone. "I want your car to
go to Mexico". 5 Hartnell handed him the keys to his Volkswagen and all the change
from his pockets. The man pocketed the coins and dropped the keys on the picnic
blanket, then holstered his weapon. Hartnell made a vague offer of help to the man in
order to escape injury, to which the man responded, "No. Time's running short." The
man then stated that he was an escaped convict from the Pacific Northwest, that he had
killed a prison guard there, and that he had "a stolen car and nothing to lose. I'm flat
broke."

Though the town mentioned by the killer is generally given as Deer Lodge, Montana, a
reliable source reports that the state was not Montana but Colorado. An early interview
with Hartnell has the badly wounded student saying that he can't remember the exact name
of the town, but that it "had some double name, like Fern Lock or something." His
interviewer suggests "Lodge," and Hartnell agrees. 6 "Deer Lodge" was then suggested as
a northwest city with a federal penitentiary, and the victim said, "That could be it, I
guess". 7 Subsequent inquiries to the northwestern authorities revealed that there had
been no such jailbreak or murder. Hartnell, who survived the attack, said that the man's
voice was unremarkable, sounding neither educated nor illiterate, and though Hartnell
could not detect an accent, he said the killer did have a slight lilt or drawl to his voice. 8

Still hoping for a peaceful resolution, Hartnell tried to relax the man by talking to him, and
they spoke for a few minutes about his car before the man removed some of the
clothesline from his belt and ordered Shepard to hogtie her friend. Hartnell balked at the
idea, and the man began to shout, "Get down! Right now! 9 Shepard acquiesced, and as
she did so, she took out her wallet and tossed it to the man, who ignored it. When she
was finished, the hooded man tied her up and tightened the knots that she had used on
Hartnell. It was at this point that the young man noticed that his attacker's hands were
shaking, and that he seemed very nervous. "I'm going to have to stab you people," the
stranger told them.

"I couldn't stand to see her stabbed," Hartnell responded. "Stab me first". 10

"I'll do just that," the killer replied.

The knife he used was double-edged and about a foot long, possibly a bayonet. It has
been described as looking made or repaired by hand, with wooden handle slabs, two brass
rivets, and white tape where the guard would normally be. Hartnell was stabbed six times,
and a retired police source confirms a fatal ten for Shepard, who died of her wounds two
days later. Leaving them both for dead, the attacker walked to Hartnell's nearby car and,
using a black magic marker, inscribed his crossed-circle logo and the dates of his Bay Area
attacks on the door.

Vallejo
12-20-68
7-4-69
Sept 27-69-6:30
by knife

Detectives later found a series of clear footprints leading to and from the scene of the
attack. The shoes that formed them were determined to have been Wing Walkers, a style
of low-cut military boot, size 10 . Set deep in the sand, the prints suggested a heavy
man.

Just as he had after the Blue Rock Springs attack, the killer later drove to a pay phone and
placed a call through the Operator to the local police. The call came through the Napa
Police Department switchboard at 7:40 pm, a little over an hour after the attack. The call
was traced to a pay phone outside a car wash at 1231 Main Street in Napa. As was the
case in Vallejo, the booth was near the station. Evidence technicians later found a clear
palm-print on the receiver, the print man was so nervous that he smudged it during the
lifting process and any evidentiary value was ruined. 11 In a calm voice, the caller said, "I
want to report a murder -- no, a double murder. They are two miles north of Park
Headquarters. They were in a white Volkswagen Kharmann Ghia." When the
switchboard operator asked where he was calling from, he said quietly, "I'm the one that
did it." Then, perhaps to facilitate a trace or perhaps to avoid the kind of attention he had
recounted in his letter to the Examiner, he simply dropped the receiver and walked away,
never again to refer directly to this attack.

Lake Berryessa Footnotes

1. Ray Land, Napa County Sheriff's Department Report, 29 September 1969

2. Kenneth Narlow & Richard Lonergan, Napa County Sheriffs Department Report, 5
October 1969. This account appears to be the inspiration for a similar but apocryphal
story in Graysmiths Zodiac.

3. The location given by Robert Graysmith as the site of the attack is incorrect. Twin
Oak Ridge, confirmed by Ken Narlow as the true site, is actually a short walk north of the
peninsula diagrammed in ZODIAC (Mike R, 1999)

4. Robert Graysmith, ZODIAC, p.317

5. Ibid., p.68

6. Brian Hartnell, interview with Det. Sgt. John Robertson, Napa County Sheriff's
Department, 28 September 1969

7. Kenneth Narlow & Richard Lonergan, Napa County Sheriffs Department Report, 5
October 1969

8. Brian Hartnell, interview with Det. Sgt. John Robertson, Napa County Sheriff's
Department, 28 September 1969

9. Ibid.

10. Kenneth Narlow & Richard Lonergan, Napa County Sheriffs Department Report, 5
October 1969. Hartnell's oft-quoted statement, "I'm chicken," may have been an
embellishment added by Ranger William White, who used the phrase on television shortly
after the attack. No record of the word is shown in any interview with Hartnell.

11. Tom Voigt, ZodiacKiller.com, September 2000. Of all the prints found, the palm
print was "the only one they had confidence in," according to Voigt.
The Zodiac Killer

San Francisco

SFPD Homicide Case #696314
Paul Stine


On the night of Saturday, October 11, 1969, San Francisco cab driver Paul Stine picked
up a fare at the corner of Mason and Geary Streets in Union Square headed for the
Presidio, which lies at the northern tip of the San Francisco peninsula. The destination
that Stine entered in his log and called in to his dispatcher was at the corner of
Washington and Maple Streets in Presidio Heights. The cab was parked one block west,
however, at the intersection of Washington and Cherry Streets, when the passenger shot
Stine point blank in the right side of the head. Whether the killer had made the trip in the
front seat or got in front after the murder is uncertain, but witnesses saw him in front as he
removed the dead man's wallet and keys, and then cut a large piece from the back of his
shirt which he soaked in blood and took with him as he walked slowly north on Cherry
Street.

Three teenage siblings on the second floor of 3899 Washington, directly across the street
from the cab, happened to spot the killer as he cut Stine's shirt and suspected foul play.
They watched him exit the cab and wipe down parts of the cab's interior and exterior,
briefly leaning on the driver's side doorframe. They called the police, who logged the call
at 9:58 p.m. and broadcast an incorrect description of the killer as a black male.
Consequently, when patrolmen Donald Foukes and Eric Zelms responded in a radio car
and noticed a heavyset white man sauntering east on Jackson Street, they made no effort
to apprehend him. Despite the intensive search of the area that followed, the killer's head
start allowed him to escape, probably to a nearby getaway car.

Foukes made a statement about his recollection of the incident, recorded in an SFPD
memo dated November 12,1969: "The suspect that was observed by Officer Foukes was a
WMA 35-45 Yrs about 5' 10", 180-200 lbs. Medium heavy build -- Barrel chested --
Medium complexion -- Light-colored hair possibly greying in rear (May have been lighting
that caused this effect.) (Navy or royal blue) Elastic cuffs and waistband zipped part way
up. Brown wool pants pleated type baggy in rear (Rust brown). May have been wearing
low cut shoes.

"Subject at no time appeared to be in a hurry walking with a shuffling lope, Slightly bent
foreward head now. The subject's general appearance to classify him as a group would be
that he might be of Welsh ancestry." 1

During shooting for a documentary on the case in the mid 1980s, Foukes stated that "The
individual I saw that night was a white male adult approximately 35 to 45 years of age, 5
feet 10 inches, 180 to 210 lbs. Since we were looking for a negro male adult, we
proceeded on Jackson Street toward Arguello, continuing our search. As we arrived at
Arguello Street, the description was changed to a white male adult. Believing that this
suspect was possibly the one involved in the shooting, we entered the Presidio of San
Francisco and conducted a search on West Pacific Avenue on the opposite side of the wall
in the last direction we observed the suspect going. We did not find the suspect". 2 Mel
Nicolai, a former Special Agent for the California Department of Justice who worked on
all but the Lake Herman Road Zodiac murders, is quoted as saying that Foukes' and
Zelms' first broadcast description of the man they saw was even taller, between 6' and 6'2",
and over 200 lbs. 3

An apocryphal passage in Robert Graysmith's book Zodiac has the officers going so far as
to stop the man and ask him if he had seen anything strange in the past few minutes, but
this conversation is not noted in any of the subsequent police reports. In no known
interview does either Foukes or Zelms mention any exchange of words with the
unidentified subject, and the story may have been based only on a forthcoming letter from
the killer. While dramatic, the Zodiac's account of the night's events cannot be confirmed,
and may well be a prevarication. On the other hand, such an encounter and its
repercussions would be a tremendous embarrassment to the SFPD on several levels, and if
this incident did in fact occur then a concerted effort would certainly have been made to
keep it under wraps.

The bullet that killed Stine was mistyped at the scene as a .38, but later ballistics tests
determined it to be a 9mm. It was not, however, the same 9mm used for the Blue Rock
Springs attack. The latent impressions of thirty fingers, three palms, and one lower finger
or palm were found in and on the cab. Found on the passenger's side front door handle,
the finger/palm print was relatively clear and crime lab technicians believed it was left by
the killer, though the possibility exists that one of the police, firemen, or lab technicians at
the scene could inadvertently have left it. Certain other prints, none of such clarity, were
actually left in blood, and "are also believed to be prints of the suspect," according to a
San Francisco Police memo. 4 In any event, none of these prints have yet matched any of
the millions filed in the National Crime Identification Computer database maintained by
the FBI. Also recovered from the cab was a pair of men's leather gloves in a size 7
(XXL), though it remains uncertain whether they were left by the killer.5

Two days later, the Chronicle received a letter from the Zodiac claiming responsibility for
the murder. The return address on the envelope was the crossed-circle design, and
enclosed with the letter was a swatch of Paul Stine's bloody shirt. Three latent fingerprints
were developed on the paper by the SFPD crime lab, but remain unmatched to any
suspect.

This is the Zodiac speaking. I am the murderer of the taxi driver over by Washington St +
Maple St last night, to prove this here is a blood stained piece of his shirt. I am the same
man who did in the people in the north bay area. The S.F. Police could have caught me
last night if they had searched the park properly instead of holding road races with their
motorcicles seeing who could make the most noise. The car drivers should have just
parked their cars and sat there quietly waiting for me to come out of cover. School
children make nice targets, I think I shall wipe out a school bus some morning. Just shoot
out the frunt tire + then pick off the kiddies as they come bouncing out.

The Zodiac would send three swatches of the bloody fabric, but 104 square inches of Paul
Stine's shirt are still unaccounted for.

Thus far, authorities had observed the Zodiac to follow a few vague patterns. He had
always attacked after sundown on weekends, always attacked young couples in or near
their cars, and always attacked in remote suburban areas near water. If he could now
break his pattern by shooting a lone 29-year-old male in downtown San Francisco, they
felt, then there was no reason why he couldn't follow through on his threat to "wipe out a
school bus;" within days, Bay area bus drivers had received special instructions on how to
react if fired upon.

The school bus threat was one that the Zodiac would return to in different forms. At the
urging of the San Francisco Police, the Chronicle suppressed the threat for a week; on
October 18, a police composite sketch based on the teenage witnesses' testimony was
amended according to the descriptions given by the responding patrolmen at Cherry Street
and was distributed with the full content of the letter.

It was during this time that the Zodiac case began to garner exceptional press coverage,
and tips to the killer's identity poured in from points as far as Houston, Atlanta, and St.
Louis. At the same time, homicide detectives along the West Coast began to consider the
Bay Area killer as a suspect in their unsolved cases. Among these were L.T. Kinkead and
H.L. Homsher of the Riverside, CA, Police Department, and they forwarded a summary of
the 1966 Bates murder to investigators in Napa, Solano, and San Francisco Counties. 6
The summary was lost in the shuffle for over a year.

The Zodiac's next mailing was sent to the Chronicle in early November in an envelope
stamped with double the necessary postage and the instruction "Please Rush to Editor."
Inside were a "Jesters" brand greeting card and another lengthy cipher. This letter marked
the first appearance of what appeared to be a body count, a number that rose steadily with
each new mailing. No evidence of any kind, however, suggests that the Zodiac was
responsible for any murders beyond the six commonly attributed to him. The Zodiac also
sent a second swatch of Paul Stine's bloody shirt in November, but it is unclear whether it
was enclosed with this letter or the one that followed it.

This is the Zodiac speaking I though you would need a good laugh before you get the bad
news you won't get the news for a while yet

PS could you print this new cipher on your frunt page? I get awfully lonely when I am
ignored, so lonely I could do my Thing!!!!!!

Des July Aug Sept Oct = 7

A few days later, he sent a longer letter that included a schematic drawing of a "death
machine" that he claimed to have rigged and ready. It was designed to blow up buses.
The Chronicle received both of these letters on Monday, November 10, 1969, and passed
them on to police after making copies for themselves. A source at SFPD was "of opinion
one or more latent prints may be developed" on this letter, but no finding was ever made
public.7

This is the Zodiac speaking up to the end of Oct I have killed 7 people. I have grown
rather angry with the police for their telling lies about me. So I shall change the way the
collecting of slaves. I shall no longer announce to anyone. When I committ my murders,
they shall look like routine robberies, killings of anger, + a few fake accidents, etc.

The police shall never catch me, because I have been too clever for them.

1 I look like the description passed out only when I do my thing, the rest of the time I look
entirle different. I shall not tell you what my descise consists of when I kill

2 As of yet I have left no fingerprints behind me contrary to what the police say in my
killings I wear transparent fingertip guards. All it is is 2 coats of airplane cement coated on
my fingertips -- quite unnoticible + very efective

3 my killing tools have been boughten through the mail order outfits before the ban went
into efect. Except one & it was bought out of the state. So as you can see the police don't
have much to work on. If you wonder why I was wipeing the cab down I was leaving fake
clews for the police to run all over town with, as one might say, I gave the cops som bussy
work to do to keep them happy. I enjoy needling the blue pigs. Hey blue pig I was in the
park -- you were useing fire trucks to mask the sound of your cruzeing prowl cars. The
dogs never came with in 2 blocks of me + they were to the west + there was only 2 groups
of parking about 10 min apart then the motor cicles went by about 150 ft away going
from south to north west

p.s. 2 cops pulled a goof abot 3 min after I left the cab. I was walking down the hill to the
park when this cop car pulled up + one of them called me over + asked if I saw anyone
acting suspicious or strange in the last 5 to 10 min + I said yes there was this man who
was runnig by waveing a gun & the cops peeled rubber + went around the corner as I
directed them + I disappeared into the park a block + a half away never to be seen again.
[This section has been marked off with the note "must print in paper."]

Hey pig doesnt it rile you up to have your noze rubed in your booboos?

If you cops think I'm going to take on a bus the way I stated I was, you deserve to have
holes in your heads. Take one bag of ammonium nitrate fertilizer + 1 gal of stove oil &
dump a few bags of gravel on top + then set the shit off + will positivily ventalate any
thing that should be in the way of the blast.

The death machine is all ready made. I would have sent you pictures but you would be
nasty enough to trace them back to developer + then to me, so I shall describe my
masterpiece to you. The nice part of it is all the parts can be bought on the open market
with no questions asked.

1 bat. Pow clock -- will run for aprox 1 year
1 photoelectric switch
2 copper leaf springs
2 6V car bat
1 flash light bulb + reflector
1 mirror
2 18" cardboard tubes black with shoe polish inside + oute

the system checks out from one end to the other in my tests. What you do not know is
whether the death machine is at the sight or whether it is being stored in my basement for
future use. I think you do not have the manpower to stop this one by continually searching
the road sides looking for this thing. + it wont do to re roat + re schedule the busses
because the bomb can be adapted to new conditions.

[Here the Zodiac's crossed-circle has been modified with five Xs drawn along the symbol's
left side]

Have fun!! By the way it could be rather messy if you try to bluff me.

PS. Be shure to print the part I marked out on page 3 or I shall do my thing.

To prove that I am the Zodiac, Ask the Vallejo cop about my electric gun sight which I
used to start my collecting of slaves.

No explanation was given for the marks along the Zodiac symbol's perimeter, but it was
assumed that each one represented a murdered victim. At this time, the Bates murder had
not yet been linked to the Zodiac, and this has been seen as a suggestion that the Bay Area
killer was not responsible for the murder in Riverside. This drawing remained unpublished
until 1996, when Douglas Oswell and Michael Rusconi posted it on the World Wide Web.
8

Famed personal injury lawyer Melvin Belli, who had been the butt of a Zodiac hoax earlier
in the year, received a Christmas card at his home on December 27. It was forwarded to
his office where a secretary opened it and found yet another piece of Paul Stine's bloody
shirt. The back of the envelope was decorated with the greeting "Mery Xmass + New
Year."

Dear Melvin

This is the Zodiac speaking I wish you a happy Christmass. The one thing I ask of you is
this, please help me. I cannot reach out because of this thing in me won't let me. I am
finding it extreamly dificult to keep in check I am afraid I will loose control again and take
my nineth + posibly tenth victom. Please help me I am drownding. At the moment the
children are safe from the bomb because it is so massive to dig in & the trigger mech
requires so much work to get it adjusted just right. But if I hold back too long from no
nine I will loose complet [crossed out] all controol of my self + set the bomb up. Please
help me I can not remain in control for much longer.

Perhaps out of wishful thinking, it was assumed that the killer wrote this letter in a rare
lucid moment, but a cursory examination of the original document and the envelope it
arrived in plainly shows that it was meticulously arranged, with a perfect left margin and
uniformly spaced lines. Even the crossing-out of the word "complet" seems too neat to be
spontaneous. The author can also be seen to deliberately alter his handwriting, though his
natural style appears to show through near the end.

Despite the gratuitous publicity events that Belli staged in the weeks that followed, the
Zodiac never contacted him again. Nothing more was heard from the killer for three
months.


San Francisco Footnotes

1. Robert Graysmith, "Subject: The Zodiac Killer" (APBNews.com, 7 December 1999)

2. Crimes of the Century, HBO, 1988

3. Tom Voigt, www.ZodiacKiller.com, 1999

4. Insp. Toschi or Armstrong, SFPD Intra-Departmental Memorandum, 19 October 1969

5. California Dept. of Justice, Special Report: Zodiac Homicides, 1971

6. Chief LT Kinkead, letter to Sheriff Earl Randol, 20 October 1969

7. FBI Airtel to Identification Division, 10 November 1969

8. The diagram can now be found in their CD-ROM, Dr. Zodiac.
The Zodiac Killer

Highway 132

San Joaquin County Sheriff-Coroner's Office Case #70-7475

Early in the evening of Sunday, March 22, 1970, Kathleen Johns, 23, was driving with her
infant daughter Jennifer on Highway 132 in San Joaquin County, several miles west of
Modesto, when a man in a light-colored American car started honking his horn and
blinking his lights at her. Driving alongside her car, he said that one of her wheels was
wobbling and volunteered to fix it. He followed her as she pulled over at Bird Road, a
turn-off just west of Interstate 5, then got out with a lug wrench and pretended to tighten
the nuts on her right rear wheel. In fact, he removed them, and when Johns tried to drive
off, the whole wheel spun loose. Again, the man offered help, this time in the form of a
ride to a nearby service station.

She accepted, and they continued in the man's car westward on 132 until he pulled into a
Richfield station at Chrisman Road. It was closed, and there followed an hour and a half
or more of silent and apparently aimless driving through the city of Tracy and its rural
environs. As they passed occasional other service stations, she asked a few times "What's
wrong with this station," or "Why can't we go in that station," to which he replied that it
was not the right one. A police report states, "she said she was very scared of this man,
did want to get out, but did not tell him to stop the vehicle or let her out". 1

Ms. Johns soon realized that the stranger wasn't taking her to any service station, and
asked him if he always went around helping people like this. The man responded, "By the
time I get through with them, they won't need my help". 2 From time to time he would
slow down, as if he were about to pull over, and then would speed up again. Finally, he
stopped the car short at a stop sign, and Johns took the opportunity to escape. She held
her baby tightly and jumped from the car, running across a nearby field and up an
embankment where she hid in the shadows. The man turned his headlights off, moved his
car a few feet, and waited silently without leaving the car. After about five minutes, he
turned his lights back on and drove away.

Ms. Johns was soon picked up by a passing Samaritan. When she made it to the local
police station in Patterson, Ms Johns recognized the man who had sabotaged her wheel as
the man in the composite sketch of the Zodiac, which appeared in a Wanted poster that
hung prominently in the office. The desk sergeant, perhaps terrified at the prospect of a
confrontation with a villain on the level of Dr. Octopus or the Joker, had Johns wait alone
in a nearby cafe for several hours until her car could be returned. The sergeant broadcast
the car's last known location, and a Stanislaus County Sheriff's Deputy found it thoroughly
burned and still smoldering -- the abductor had returned to the car and set it on fire,
destroying everything inside. Some sources report that Johns' car was moved to another
location before being torched. However, the car's hubcap was found nearby, meaning that
if the car had been moved then the man responsible had gone to the unlikely trouble of
bringing it with him, if not reattaching the hubcap, driving to the new location, removing
the hubcap again, and discarding it before igniting the car. Given that the police reports
make no mention of any trouble finding the car near the Interstate intersection, it seems
safe to assume that the car was never moved.

Ms. Johns' accounts of the night's events have varied over the years, and differ from
interview to interview. The most dramatic version, and the most familiar, is the one
recounted in a San Francisco Chronicle article by Paul Avery that appeared eight months
after the incident, 3 which has the man overtly threatening both the woman and her baby,
and getting out of his car with a flashlight after her escape. This version of the story is the
one that appears in Robert Graysmith's ZODIAC. It should be remembered that Ms.
Johns told two seperate police officers shortly after her abduction that the man simply
closed the car door and drove away. 4 Moreover, articles published in the Modesto Bee
and San Francisco Examiner in the days after the incident match the police reports. In the
late 1990s, after identifying two different and dissimilar men as her abductor, Johns
admitted that she couldn't even remember if she had been legally married at the time, and
that her memory could not be trusted to make a case against any particular suspect.

Highway 132 Footnotes

1. Officer Bauer, San Joaquin County Sheriff-Coroner's Office report, March 1970

2. Ibid.

3. Paul Avery. "New Clues Link Zodiac to Earlier Killing," San Francisco Chronicle, 16
November 1970
4. Officer Bauer, San Joaquin County Sheriff-Coroner's Office report, March 1970; Jim
Lovett, Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department report, 23 March 1970


The Summer of '70

The abduction attempt near Modesto was the last time anyone knowingly saw the Zodiac
in person. His letter-writing campaign, however, was to continue for some time. The
next mailing was sent to the Chronicle on April 20th, and included a short code and the
plans for a modified bus bomb.

This is the Zodiac Speaking By the way have you cracked the last cipher I sent you? My
name is --

I am mildly cerous as to how much money you have on my head now. I hope you do not
think that I was the one who wiped out that blue meannie with a bomb at the cop station.
Even though I talked about killing school children with one. It just wouldn't doo to move
in on someone else's teritory. But there is more glory in killing a cop than a cid because a
cop can shoot back. I have killed ten people to date. It would have been a lot more
except that my bus bomb was a dud. I was swamped out by the rain we had a while back.

The new bomb is set up like this

PS I hope you have fun trying to figgure out who I killed

[crossed-circle] 10 SFPD - 0

Although the word "cerous" in this letter is routinely corrected as a misspelling of
"curious," it is in fact an English word defined by Webster as "Of, relating to, or
containing cerium." Cerium is the most abundant of the rare-earth elements, number 58
on the periodic table. The phrase "blue meanie" is almost certainly a reference to the
uniformed ogres in The Beatles' animated film, The Yellow Submarine, which was
released in 1968; it soon gained popularity as a counter-culture euphemism for police.

The latest bus threat went unreported until later that month, when a note arrived at the
Chronicle demanding its publication. Postmarked 28 April 1970, the note was written on a
"Jolly Roger" brand greeting card featuring a cartoon prospector riding a dragon and the
pun "Sorry to hear your ass is a dragon."
Dragon Postcard

The dragon postcard

I hope you enjoy your selves when I have my Blast

P.S. on back

If you don't want me to have this blast you must do two things. 1 Tell everyone about the
bus bomb with all the details. 2 I would like to see some nice Zodiac butons wandering
about town. Every one else has these buttons like, [peace symbol], black power, Melvin
eats bluber, etc. Well it would cheer me up considerably if I saw a lot of people wearing
my buton. Please no nasty ones like Melvin's

Thank you

An unspecified number of latent fingerprints were developed on this card and its envelope
by San Francisco Police evidence technicians shortly after its receipt. One SFPD
Inspector noted that, while the envelope prints could have been left by a mail carrier, the
prints on the card itself were probably those of the Zodiac 1

The slogan "Melvin eats bluber" may have its roots in an old novelty button favored by at
least one college English professor that read "Melville Eats Blubber." The bomb threat
was finally revealed to the public on April 29, 1970, but the schematics (described as
"dubious" 2) were not published until 1986, when they were reproduced in Graysmith's
ZODIAC.

The next letter was sent to the Chronicle on June 26. It contained another code and a
Phillips 66 road map of the Bay Area, which was annotated with a stylized clock face
drawn on the summit of Mount Diablo. The design was basically the Zodiac's
crossed-circle with a zero at the top, a numeral three on the right side, a six at the bottom,
and a nine on the left. According to the annotation, the zero " is to be set to Mag. N."

This is the Zodiac Speaking

I have become very angry with the people of the San Fran Bay Area. They have not
complied with my wishes for them to wear some nice [crossed-circle] buttons. I
promiced to punish them if they did not comply, by anilating a full School Buss. But now
school is out for the summer, so I punished them in another way. I shot a man sitting in a
parked car with a .38.

The Map coupled with this code will tell you where the bomb is set. You have untill next
Fall to dig it up.

The only Bay Area shooting in recent memory that had been committed with a .38-caliber
weapon was that of SFPD Officer Richard Radetich, who was shot to death in his car
while writing out a traffic ticket six days before this letter was postmarked. A witness to
the murder identified ex-convict Joseph Wesley Johnson, a black man who bore no
resemblance to any description of the Zodiac, as the shooter, and SFPD officials were
adamant that the letter's claim was false. Most investigators agree that the Zodiac was
capitalizing on Radetich's murder and wrote the letter without the knowledge that police
had already identified a suspect.

* * *

A short note that seemed to confirm Kathleen Johns' claim was sent to the Chronicle on
July 24, 1970. Although several Bay Area newspapers had reported on Johns' abduction,
only the relatively small Modesto Bee included the detail that her car had been burned, and
many cite this as evidence that it truly was the Zodiac that Ms. Johns rode with. Sent with
this note was a lengthy perversion of the song "I've Got a Little List" from Gilbert &
Sullivan's musical, The Mikado. Its postscript refers back to the June letter and its
unsolved 32-character cipher.

This is the Zodiac speaking

I am rather unhappy because you people will not wear some nice [crossed-circle] buttons.
So now I have a little list, starting with that woeman + her baby that I gave a rather
interesting ride for a coupple howers one evening a few months back that ended in my
burning her car where I found them.

As someday it may happen that a victom must be found. I've got a little list. I've got a
little list, of society offenders who might well be underground who would never be missed
who would never be missed. There is the pestulentual nucences who whrite for
autographs, all people who have flabby hands and irritating laughs. All children who are
up in dates and implore you with im platt. All people who are shaking hands shake hands
like that. And all third persons who with unspoiling take thos who insist. They'd none of
them be missed. They'd none of them be missed. There's the banjo seranader and the
others of his race and the piano orginast I got him on the list. All people who eat
pepermint and phomphit in your face, they would never be missed. They would never be
missed And the Idiout who phraises with inthusiastic tone of centuries but this and every
country but his own. And the lady from the provences who dress like a guy who doesn't
cry and the singurly abnomily the girl who never kissed. I don't think she would be missed
Im shure she wouldn't be missed. And that nice impriest that is rather rife the judicial
hummerist I've got him on the list All funny fellows, commic men and clowns of private
life. They'd none of them be missed. They'd none of them be missed. And
uncompromising kind such as wachamacallit, thingmebob, and like wise, well-nevermind,
and tut tut tut tut, and whatshisname, and you know who, but the task of filling up the
blanks I rather leave up to you. But it really doesn't matter whom you place upon the list,
for none of them be missed, none of them be missed.


PS. The Mount Diablo Code concerns Radians + # inches along the radians.

A radian is a specific angular measurement based on the transcendental number pi. It is
equal to a circle (or 360 degrees) divided by 2pi (or 6.23818...). The resulting degree,
whose legs are equal in length to the length of the arc they form, is equal to 57.29578...
degrees.

Two days later, exactly one month after the Mount Diablo letter, the Zodiac sent his
thirteenth mailing, devoted to the tortures that his slaves would undergo in the afterlife.
The penultimate sentence is another corruption of The Mikado.

This is the Zodiac speaking

Being that you will not wear some nice [crossed-circle] buttons, how about wearing some
nasty [crossed-circle] buttons. Or any kind of [crossed-circle] buttons you can think up.
If you do not wear any type of [crossed-circle] buttons, I shall (on top of everything else)
torture all 13 of my slaves that I have waiting for me in Paradice. Some I shall tie over ant
hills and watch them scream + twich and squirm. Others shall have pine splinters driven
under their nails + then burned. Others shall be placed in cages + fed salt beef untill they
are gorged then I shall listen to their pleass for water and I shall laugh at them. Others
will hang by their thumbs + burn in the sun then I will rub them down with deep heat to
warm them up. Others I shall skin them alive + let them run around screaming. And all
billiard players I shall have them play in a darkened dungen cell with crooked cues +
Twisted Shoes. Yes I shall have great fun in flicting the most delicious of pain to my
slaves

Summer of '70 Footnotes

1. FBI Airtel from San Francisco SAC to Identification Division, 8 May 1970

2. Robert Graysmith, ZODIAC, p. 148
The Zodiac Killer

The Riverside Connection

After a few months' silence, October brought two more cards from the Zodiac. One, a
postcard with a collage on its face and 13 holes punched through it, was postmarked on
October 5, 1970. In words and letters cut from magazines and newspapers it was
addressed simply to "San Francisco Chronicle, S.F." and read:

Dear Editor,
You'll hate me, but I've got to tell you.
The pace isn't any slower! In fact it's just one big thirteenth
13
"Some of them fought it was horrible"
P.S. There are reports city police pig cops are closeing in on me. Fk I'm crackproof, What
is the price tag now?

Zodiac

Though originally dismissed as a hoax, certain phrases from this card are repeated in later
confirmed Zodiac letters, particularly the word "crackproof," which would appear in a
letter to the Los Angeles Times five months later. The juxtaposition of the letters "FK"
also repeat in the Zodiac literature, frequently in the two long ciphers and in the
hieroglyph that closes the "Exorcist" letter of 1974. Literary analysis notwithstanding, the
card was soon judged to be genuine because it announced a body count of 13 -- the
number given in the Zodiac's last letter, which had not been made public.
Halloween greeting card

The Halloween greeting card

The other mailing, sent October 27, was a customized Halloween greeting card, and it was
addressed personally to Paul Avery at the Chronicle, though his name was misspelled on
the envelope as "Averly." Inside the envelope, written twice very lightly in the shape of an
X, was the comment "Sorry no cipher." In addition to signing the card with a "Z" and the
customary crossed-circle, the Zodiac drew an unusual symbol (also used as a return
address on the envelope), 13 eyes, and the message "Peek-a-boo, you are doomed."
Kathleen Johns, the woman abducted on Highway 132, stated in an interview that she had
received a similar card, ostensibly from the Zodiac, at about the same time: she claims to
have forwarded the card to Avery, but no mention of a second card has ever been
reported. 1 Johns attributes the card to a crank, since her name and address appeared in
the newspaper shortly after her abduction, but the timing of the card and description that
she gave of it suggest the strong possibility that it was genuine and somehow lost in the
case's sea of details.

The card to Avery was widely considered a threat on his life, and the Chronicle ran a front
page story about it on October 31. Among the mail that this generated was an anonymous
letter from Riverside urging Avery to investigate a link with the still-unsolved Bates
murder. Graysmith transcribes it in ZODIAC:

Please forward the contents of this letter to the detective in charge of "The Zodiac Murder
Case." I hope this information will also help you, as we would both like to see this case
solved. As for myself, I wish to remain anonymous and I know that you will understand
why!

A few years ago in Riverside, California, a young girl was murdered, just about, I believe,
on "Halloween" evening! I could write a much longer letter, citing the similarities between
Zodiac's case and this murder, which occurred in Riverside but if the police department
cannot see said comparative similarities between these two cases, then I will take a "slow
boat to China," even if these two crimes were committed by two different people! I think,
after all the facts are studied, regarding both of these cases, if police have not already
investigated these possibilities and are not already aware of the "Riverside case," then,
even so perhaps they should look into it....

Letters to newspapers, "similar erratic printing" find out about these two different cases
....Give Captain Cross a call on the phone, he knows that "I do not quit."

Mr. Avery, I will give you a call in the near future, please look into the case, the Riverside
police have a wealth of information, so does San Francisco, let us hope that they are not
too proud to work together, and if they already are, let us hope that there has been an
exchange of information....

After locating a year-old letter from the Riverside Chief of Police to a Napa County
detective that had similarly linked the Bates murder with the Zodiac, Avery visited the
Riverside police and reviewed their evidence. Intrigued by the letters sent to the police
and press, not to mention what appeared to be a "Z" used as a signature in some, he
instigated a meeting between their detectives and detectives from Solano, Napa, and San
Francisco counties, who compared notes on the Bates murder and each of the known
Zodiac attacks up to that point. Authorities from Northern California, particularly SFPD
Inspector Bill Armstrong, felt that there was a link between the Bates murder and the
Zodiac crimes, and that they were most likely committed by the same man. State
handwriting analyst Sherwood Morrill checked the writing on the desk and envelopes
against the killer's letters to the Chronicle and found that they were "unquestionably the
work of Zodiac". 2 Riverside police, particularly Capt. Irvin Cross, were less certain and
"reaffirmed [their] skepticism", 3 probably because they had not released the full details of
the crime to their counterparts upstate -- the number of stab wounds received by Bates,
strongly suggesting what is known as a "rage killing," was not announced publicly until
May of 2000. The Riverside story broke on November 16, 1970, when Avery's article
was printed in the Chronicle.

The official position of the Riverside Police Department and most independent
investigators as of 1998 is that Cheri Jo Bates was not a Zodiac victim. RPD maintains a
local man as their suspect, and considers the Zodiac murders entirely unrelated, though
they do concede the possibility that the Bay Area killer authored one or more of the letters
sent in southern California.

* * *

The next letter came after an uncharacteristically long five-month silence. Posted on
March 22, 1971, with two upside-down 6-cent stamps, it was the only letter the Zodiac
ever sent to the Los Angeles Times, and it was the first to be sent from outside San
Francisco: it had been postmarked in Pleasanton, 15 miles east of the Bay.

This is the Zodiac speaking

Like I have allways said, I am crack proof. If the Blue Meannies are evere going to catch
me, they had best get off their fat asses + do something. Because the longer they fiddle +
fart around, the more slaves I will collect for my after life. I do have to give them credit
for stumbling across my riverside activity, but they are only finding the easy ones, there
are a hell of a lot more down there. The reason I'm writing to the Times is this, They don't
bury me on the back pages like some of the others.

In an interview with researcher Mike Butterfield, an RPD detective stated that there is a
suspicion within his department that the author of the anonymous 1970 letter to Paul
Avery linking the Zodiac to Riverside might also have counterfeited this letter. 4 Adding
to this apparent mystery is the fact that another source has reported that SFPD Inspector
David Toschi was also under suspicion for writing this letter. 5 There are no available
facts to bolster either hypothesis.

A week later, the Zodiac sent another postcard, though an agent of the US Postal Service
recognized and intercepted it before it was delivered. The intended recipient was unclear:
it was marked to Paul Avery's attention (again misspelled as "Averly"), but the address
side bore no specific address -- just the names "The Times," "S.F. Examiner," and "San
Francisco Chronicle" clipped from the respective newspapers. A hole was punched
through the upper left corner in lieu of a return address, above which the author had
written the word "Zodiac." Around the hole itself were four lines drawn in a fashion
similar to the crossed-circle design used by the killer. The entire perimeter of the card had
been notched by a hole-punch. The front of the card was decorated with a sketch of a
condominium complex that had been under development at Incline Village, NV, near Lake
Tahoe, by Boise/Interlake between 1967 and 1970. The same picture had appeared in the
Chronicle three days earlier in an advertisement for the complex, known as Forest Pines.

While the handwriting on this postcard is similar to that on confirmed Zodiac letters, it is
not unmistakably the same, and the possibility exists that it is a forgery. The use of the
hole-punch and the misspelling of Paul Avery's name, however, are both traits of
confirmed Zodiac cards and letters.

If this card was indeed genuine, it marked the last communication from the Zodiac for
almost three years.


The Riverside Connection Footnotes

1. Kathleen Johns, interview with Howard Davis and Johnny Smith, 1 January 1998

2. Paul Avery, "Zodiac Link is Definite" (San Francisco Chronicle, Nov. 17, 1970)

3. "Lawmen exchange Bates, Zodiac data" (Riverside Press, Nov. 19, 1970)

4. Mike Butterfield, "My Riverside Activity," February 1999

5. Tom Voigt, www.ZodiacKiller.com, 2000


1974

The Zodiac resurfaced in 1974, when he wrote a series of letters to the Chronicle over a
period of six months and with postmarks from around the Bay Area. Though ultimately
identified through analysis of the envelopes and handwriting, these four letters were
different from the others in that the author had abandoned his usual salutation ("This is the
Zodiac speaking") and signature (the crossed-circle design).

The first was sent on January 29 from San Mateo or Santa Clara, just south of San
Francisco, and referred to the recently released movie The Exorcist as "the best saterical
comidy that I have ever seen." It also included a quote from The Mikado (about a
"dicky-bird" whose "blighted affection" drives it to suicide) and an inscrutable drawing
that resembled a hieroglyph of some sort.

I saw and think "The Exorcist" was the best saterical comidy that I have ever seen.
Signed, yours truley:
He plunged himself into the billowy wave and an echo arose from the suicide's grave
titwillo titwillo titwillo
PS. If I do not see this note in your paper, I will do something nasty, which you know I'm
capable of doing.

In addition to a single 8-cent Eisenhower stamp, the Zodiac had placed on the envelope
two USPS stickers: one bore a picture of a clock set to 12:55 or 11:05 with the advice to
"mail early in the day," and the other was a reminder to use the recently-introduced ZIP
code. Probably from the same packet, the killer also stuck two short paragraphs about the
stamps and their packaging: "Stamps in this book have been gummed with a matte finish
adhesive which permits the elimination of the separation tissues .... This book contains 25
-- 8-cent stamps -- four on this pane and seven each on three additional panes. Selling
price $2.00." Although this letter fell under brief suspicion as a possible forgery in
mid-1978, it was verified as genuine by a panel of handwriting analysts from various
agencies throughout California.

* * *

The next letter arrived at the Chronicle on February 14, 1974, seven days after the
Symbionese Liberation Army had kidnapped Patty Hearst. It was transcribed by the
Chronicle in August 1976. Though its postmark is unclear in published photographs, an
FBI report states that it was sent from San Rafael.1

Dear Mr. Editor,

Did you know that the initials SLAY (Symbionese Liberation Army) spell "sla," [the word
"sla" is written in script] an old Norse word meaning "kill."

A friend

The terms "Old Norse" and "Old Icelandic" refer to the same tongue, but there is debate
among scholars over which is more appropriate. Some use the former in respect to the
language's Norwegian origins, but most use the latter because most of the surviving texts
were written in Iceland. Gareth Penn, a former student of medieval literature and historical
linguistics, points out that the Nordic "sla" in fact means "to strike," and goes on to list the
English language dictionaries which name it as a cognate of the English "slay" without
giving its original definition, and with Norse rather than Icelandic named as the original
tongue: Webster's Third International; Chambers' Dictionary; the Oxford English
Dictionary; the Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology; and Eric Partridge's Origins. "All
are scholarly, not popular", 2 writes Penn, who suggests that the gleaning of this
misinformation came as the result of a higher education than the SFPD and armchair
profilers everywhere had attributed to the Zodiac. For their part, the FBI seems less than
certain that this letter was written by the Zodiac.3

* * *

Three months later, on May 8, a postcard was sent to the Chronicle from Fremont, about
25 miles southeast of San Francisco, across the Bay. The message side expressed
"consternation" at newspaper ads for the movie {Badlands}, which was inspired by spree
murderers Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate. The pre-stamped address side
read "Editor, SF Chronicle, 5th + Mission, San Fran". 4

Sirs -- I would like to expression my consternt [this word is crossed out] consternation
concerning your poor taste + lack of sympathy for the public, as evidenced by your
running of the ads for the movie "Badlands," featuring the blurb: "In 1959 most people
were killing time. Kit + Holly were killing people." In light of recent events, this kind of
murder-glorification can only be deplorable at best (not that glorification of violence was
ever justifiable) why don't you show some concern for public sensibilities + cut the ad?

A citizen

* * *

The final letter was postmarked in San Rafael on July 8, 1974. The return address on the
envelope was simply "RP." In a looping, obviously disguised script, it was an attack on
the conservative Chronicle columnist Count Marco Spinelli.

Editor--

Put Marco back in the, hell-hole from whence it came -- he has a serious psychological
disorder -- always needs to feel superior. I suggest you refer him to a shrink. Meanwhile,
cancel the Count Marco column. Since the Count can write anonymously, so can I --


The San Francisco news media presented these last two letters as genuine, but SFPD Insp.
David Toschi advised the FBI confidentially that he had doubts as to their authenticity. 5
After examination, the FBI Laboratory reported that, while some characteristics of the
"Badlands" and "Count Marco" letters were inconsistent with the writing of the confirmed
Zodiac letters, "these inconsistencies are not sufficient to eliminate the writer of the
Zodiac letters" as the author of the late 1974 letters. The Laboratory went on to state that
"similarities were noted which would indicate that [these letters] were probably prepared
by the writer of the Zodiac letters". 6

San Francisco police have not verified a Zodiac letter since 1974.


1974 Footnotes

1. Report of the FBI Laboratory, 8 March 1974

2. Gareth Penn, TIMES 17, p. 300

3. Report of the FBI Laboratory, 8 March 1974

4. FBI Airtel from San Francisco SAC to FBI Laboratory, 16 August 1974; FBI
Laboratory Worksheet, 6 September 1974

5. Report of the FBI Laboratory, 8 March 1974

6. Report of the FBI Laboratory, 8 September 1974

The 1978 Letter

On April 24, 1978, a letter to the San Francisco Chronicle was mailed from either Santa
Clara or San Mateo County by someone very familiar with the Zodiac case and literature.
Although this letter was initially thought to be genuine, and though some continue to
believe that it was in fact the killer's final message to the citizens of the Bay Area, the
modern consensus among law enforcement agents and most researchers is that the letter
was a counterfeit.

The handwriting on the envelope was recognized by a copyperson at the newspaper, and
the letter made its way almost immediately to journalist Duffy Jennings. Jennings had
taken over the Zodiac beat from Paul Avery, who was now at the San Francisco
Examiner. After immediately preserving his scoop with photographs of both the letter and
its envelope, Jennings phoned Inspector David Toschi, the only detective working San
Francisco's end of the Zodiac case. Toschi was out serving subpoenas, so Jennings
hand-delivered the originals to the Hall of Justice where they were routed instead to
Deputy Chief of Police Clem DeAmicis. The letter read:

Dear Editor
This is the Zodiac speaking I am back with you. Tell herb caen I am here, I have always
been here. That city pig toschi is good but I am bu [crossed out] smarter and better he
will get tired then leave me alone. I am waiting for a good movie about me. Who will
play me. I am now in control of all things.
yours truly:

When Toschi arrived back at headquarters, he was summoned directly to DeAmicis' office
where the two men conferred and Toschi was granted custody of the letter. Sherwood
Morrill, the former state Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation handwriting
expert that had authenticated most of the Zodiac letters for Toschi and the SFPD, had
retired in late 1973, and Toschi's first move was to call John Shimoda of the US Postal
Service crime lab to confirm the Zodiac's authorship. It is unclear why Toschi called
Shimoda rather than the current chief of the state's questioned documents section, Robert
Prouty. In any case, Shimoda confirmed it as the Zodiac's handiwork, and Toschi
delivered the letter to a fingerprint expert at the SFPD crime lab, who found no trace of
prints or any other useful evidence on the single page or its envelope.

* * *

In order to fully understand the controversy that still surrounds this letter, we must take a
look at its context. At the time of its receipt at the Chronicle, Inspector Toschi, a 25-year
veteran of the San Francisco Police Department, was probably the most high-profile law
enforcement agent in the Bay Area. While the charismatic Toschi had many supporters in
city government and the local media, he had also made his share of enemies, who felt that
his flashy demeanor and his yen for publicity were unprofessional and could lead to a
conflict of interest. Further, rumor around City Hall had it that Supervisor Dianne
Feinstein would tap him as Police Chief in her bid for the Mayor's seat, and this would
certainly mark him as a threat to SFPD Chief Charles Gain and his deputy, Clem
DeAmicis.

In the fall of 1976, local author and columnist Armistead Maupin had written a serial for
the Chronicle about a fictitious SFPD detective chasing an unknown killer similar to the
Zodiac. The story's protagonist, Inspector Tandy, received advice and mentoring in the
serial from none other than Toschi. At about this time, Maupin received three notecards
from what appeared to be private citizens complimentary to Toschi and urging that he
appear more often in the story. A good journalist, Maupin attempted to verify the notes
and found that the names did not belong to San Francisco residents. Toschi was well
known for the short notes he sent to various reporters and politicians, and Maupin began
to suspect that it was he who had sent the cards. Seeing them as harmless, if not entirely
honest, Maupin kept the notes under wraps until April 1978, when the only Zodiac letter
to mention Toschi by name arrived at his newspaper, sparking suspicions that Toschi had
graduated to something akin to fraud, counterfeiting a Zodiac letter. Maupin and the
agent he had hired to publicize an unrelated book approached Sergeant Jack O'Shea, head
of the SFPD Intelligence Unit, with their suspicions. O'Shea and Toschi's boss, Lieutenant
Jack Jordan, head of the Homicide Bureau, determined that Toschi had written the fan
letters. Both men would eventually be disciplined, O'Shea more severely, for not
reporting this knowledge immediately.

Chief Gain has said that he was not told of Toschi's phony letters until late June 1978, but
the late April transfer of two detectives from Special Investigations and the Gang Task
Force to the Zodiac case may have been a sign that Toschi was already under suspicion as
the author of the latest letter. Exactly what transpired within the Hall of Justice is
unknown, but on July 10, Chief Gain held a press conference to announce two nominally
disparate events: the discovery that the Zodiac letter might be a forgery, and the transfer
of Toschi to the Pawnshop Detail in light of the phony fan letters to Maupin. At no time
was it explicitly stated that Toschi was suspected of writing the Zodiac letter, but the
implication could not be missed, especially when it was announced that two handwriting
experts were checking Toschi's hand against not just the questioned April document but
also the heretofore accepted "Exorcist" letter of January 1974. The official rationale for
announcing Toschi's embarrassing transfer was to "counter and negate" 1 Maupin's claims
-- as Toschi put it, "not to put the department on the defense, they would go on the
offense"2 -- but despite a brief revival of state and federal interest, no convincing negation
was ever launched.

By August, no fewer than four experts, including Keith Woodward, former chief of the
LAPD's document department; Robert Prouty, the specialist bypassed by Toschi in April;
his BCII colleague Terrence Pascoe; and John Shimoda, the Postal Service expert who
had initially confirmed the letter; had determined that the April letter was a fake, "a
carefully drawn copy of the true Zodiac printing .... constructed by a person that had
access to printed letters of the Zodiac".3 The lone holdout to this finding was the retired
Sherwood Morrill, whose bitter statements to the media revealed a determined loyalty to
Toschi and a great disrespect for Gain. The letter of January 1974, which had also fallen
under suspicion, was deemed to be genuine.

Speculation as to the author of the 1978 letter has focused on three possibilities. The first,
of course, is the Zodiac himself, though even the untrained eye can see that the words and
characters seem to have been meticulously drawn rather than written in the semi-manic
freehand used by the killer in his earlier missives.

Second is Toschi, and rumors have even suggested that he was identified as the author by
DNA testing in the 1990s, though there have certainly been no official pronouncements to
that effect by the SFPD or any other source. An FBI memo from August 1978 states that
analysis of the April letter was discontinued "in light of recent disclosures ... indicating
that David Toschi had authored one or more 'Zodiac' letters" 4 though it must be
remembered that the FBI received this indication from the SFPD, and not through its own
investigation. In fact, Toschi was eventually reinstated to his post as a homicide
Inspector.

Finally, author Robert Graysmith had enough knowledge of the Zodiac literature to forge
such a letter, and even had a motive -- he had been shopping his novel about the case for
two years already in 1978, though it would not see print until nine years later. In this
book, Graysmith describes a photo enlarger setup that he claims could have been used to
write the original Zodiac letters, but would have served quite well to forge the latest one.
It may be worth mentioning at this point that Graysmith had been disciplined for
plagiarism during his time as a cartoonist for the Chronicle. In any event, he has lobbied
quite vocally on Toschi's behalf, maintaining in his book and in subsequent interviews that,
whoever wrote the letter, it wasn't Toschi. San Francisco Police remain tightlipped on the
issue, saying in 1999 that "The Police Department has never made a statement on
[accusations that Toschi faked a Zodiac letter] one way or another. We will confirm that
not all the Zodiac letters are authentic". 5

The 1978 Letter Footnotes

1. Mike Weiss, "New Zodiac Disclosures" (SF Chronicle, 14 July 1978)

2. Ibid.

3. "Four experts term Zodiac letter fake" (SF Examiner, 3 August 1978)

4. FBI memorandum, 23 August 1974

5. Jim Edwards, "Was Zodiac Killer Given Time to Cover Tracks?" (APBNews.com, 7
December 1999)

A Look at Lake Berryessa

The Lake Berryessa attack offered several examples of odd behavior on the part of the
Zodiac. There is, for instance, the four-cornered hood that he put on just before
approaching the couple: its design is rare, if not unique, and the killer made no attempt to
explain it either to the students or to the press. Presumably, he wished to conceal his
identity, but this could have been accomplished less ostentatiously with a ski mask or
similarly common item. As a reason for attacking Shepard and Hartnell, he had a
fabricated story about escaping from prison in the northwest, yet signed the car door with
his easily recognizable crossed-circle logo and murder chronology. It should be noted that
he omitted from this chronology the Riverside murder, which was not attributed to him
until 1970, leading many to view this omission as evidence that the Zodiac was not, in
fact, responsible for the murder of Cheri Jo Bates. He told the students that he wanted
their money and car keys, but took only Hartnell's pocket change and left the keys and the
girl's wallet on the picnic blanket, and tied them up and stabbed them rather than simply
shooting them with the pistol he had pointed at them earlier. Finally, he never took credit
for this attack in a letter as he had for the Vallejo and San Francisco attacks.

The FBI's Crime Classification Manual describes three forms of offender behavior at the
crime scene. "Modus Operandi" is defined as the actions necessary to commit a crime and
ensure a successful escape. The two Vallejo attacks, for instance, show a consistent
blitz-style MO using a handgun and followed by a quick, controlled retreat. The MO at
Lake Berryessa is superficially closer in style to the Riverside attack, which was executed
with a knife and preceded by some kind of verbal interchange between killer and victim,
but the differences are apparent on examination: Bates' killer was ill-prepared for his
attack, using only a small pocketknife on a young woman who fought back vigorously,
whereas the Zodiac went to great lengths to immobilize his victims at the lake. In fact, it
seems that the man who killed Cheri Jo Bates wasn't even sure that he would kill her,
having conversed with her for over an hour before he lost control and stabbed her -- at
Lake Berryessa, there can be little doubt as to the Zodiac's intentions. Modus Operandi is
learned, pragmatic behavior, and can be improved upon with experience, as shown by the
foresight evinced by the killer when he foiled a potential call-back from the Napa police
switchboard by leaving the phone off the hook. The Zodiac also became more audacious
in attacking at dusk in an open area, though he was careful to choose one that was fairly
isolated. Willful alteration of the crime scene in order to confuse or mislead investigators
is called "staging," and is usually seen in cases where the killer and victim are acquainted
with one another: oftentimes, the offender will attempt to make the crime appear to be a
random rape or robbery gone wrong. This phenomenon does not seem present in the
Zodiac case, unless one counts the letters as a form of staging, having been deliberately
crafted to give an impression of their author as a dyslexic Gilbert and Sullivan fan. Any
action taken by the offender that is unnecessary to the crime's completion, or is performed
solely to gratify his own psychological needs, is called "personation." The elaborate hood,
the jailbreak lie and the demand for money and car keys are examples of personation.
Repeated examples of the same personation by the same offender are called a "signature,"
and this occurred both clinically and literally on the car door: the crossed-circle design
appeared at the foot of every letter from the Zodiac between 1969 and 1971. The phone
call was another aspect of the signature, mirroring calls made to police in Riverside and
Vallejo, and totally unnecessary to his escape.

The killer's choice of the knife over the pistol, in conjunction with his use of the unusual
hood, is generally cited as evidence that the Berryessa attack was one of ritual significance
to the killer. This may be true -- the hood remains unexplained except insofar as it was
probably meant to instill terror in his victims, and by Hartnell's account the Zodiac seemed
to lose control during the assault on Shepard. However, the fact that he had this time
chosen a location as open as the lakeside may have led to the tactical decision to use the
knife, a silent weapon perhaps brought along for such a contingency.

There are some who remain unconvinced that the Berryessa attack was an authentic
Zodiac incident, citing numerous deviations from the general pattern of the other Bay
Area attacks. There is, in truth, no conclusive evidence tying the Zodiac to this incident as
there is for the Vallejo and San Francisco murders. The handwriting on Hartnell's car is
identifiably similar to that in the Zodiac's letters, but the door-writer's posture rules out a
definitive authentication by the layman. Regardless, the differences between the lakeside
incident and the other Bay Area attacks -- which include the time of day, the lingering, the
weapon, and the absence of a follow-up letter offering proof of the author's culpability --
are to most investigators outweighed by the circumstantial evidence of similar
handwriting, weight, and general description, not to mention the phone call after the
incident. Behaviorally, the variations in MO and signature can be ascribed to the growing
boldness, calculation, and self-gratification of a developed serial killer. Moreover, if the
true Zodiac were not in fact responsible, his drive for publicity would almost certainly
compel him to deny the charges or offer a false confirmation as he did for the Riverside
murder of Cheri Jo Bates. A Zodiac copycat at Lake Berryessa would have to have been
the right height and weight; he would have had to study and superbly forge the killer's
handwriting; and he would have had to exhibit an understanding of the killer's need for
situational control, at the same time being careful to leave none of his own personation at
the scene. Meanwhile, the true Zodiac would have had to suppress his most identifiable
character trait. While intriguing, this hypothesis requires a suspension of disbelief that is
simply too great for most investigators.

Fingerprint Evidence

One aspect of the legend that has grown like moss on the long-unsolved Zodiac case is
that the killer was meticulous in his efforts to deprive the police of any physical evidence.
Often, the Zodiac's claim in November 1969 that he wore "transparent fingertip guards"
made of airplane cement is cited as evidence that he was clever enough to foil what was
then law enforcement's most conclusive evidence against a suspect. That boast, however,
is repeated in contradiction with the facts reported by numerous investigators and
recorded in dozens of local, state, and federal documents.

An examination of reports filed by the San Francisco Police Department, the Vallejo
Police Department, the Napa County Sheriff's Department, the California Department of
Justice, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation reveals that the Zodiac may actually have
been rather sloppy both in the construction of his letters to the press and at the scenes of
some of his attacks. At least two lifts were taken from the July, 1969, letter to the Vallejo
Times-Herald, and it appears that an additional print was found on the cipher-block sent to
the San Francisco Examiner, both part of the killer's very first mailing. Additionally, two
"fingerprint[s] of value" were developed on the second and third pages of the killer's next
letter, his August 1969 missive to the Examiner. These were developed by the FBI
Laboratory, whose Latent Fingerprint Section would perform almost all of the ensuing
print work for the case and store it under Latent Case #A-10042.

The Napa County Sheriff's Department found several finger- and palm-prints following the
attack at Lake Berryessa. While the numerous impressions found on Bryan Hartnell's
Kharmann Ghia were mentioned only in passing and are probably unrelated to the attack,
four prints of note were found among 35 developed in the phone booth where the Zodiac
placed his call to the Napa Police Department. Of particular interest was a clear palm-print
found on the receiver - it was still off the hook, and the print was still wet, indicating that
it had been left by the last person to use the phone, presumably the killer. To evidence
technician Harold Snook's great shame, however, the print was not given enough time to
dry, and it was ruined in the lifting process.

The three youths who witnessed the immediate aftermath of Paul Stine's murder watched
as the killer proceeded to wipe down certain areas of Stine's cab. He was, no doubt, trying
to obliterate any prints he may have left - an action that would be pointless if his fingertips
had been covered with guards. Further, while the witnesses were specific in their
description of a wiping action, they saw nothing that could be interpreted as the planting
of false prints from the time the killer exited the cab to the time he left the area.
Regardless, SFPD crime lab technicians developed dozens of prints in and on the cab.
Among these were several that, according to an SFPD memo, "show traces of blood [and]
are believed to be prints of the suspect". Most of these came from the post between the
driver's side front and rear doors. In addition, wrote an SFPD Inspector, "latent prints
from right front door handle are also believed to be prints of the suspect". It should be
noted that these prints featured the loops, whorls, and textures that would be missing if
the killer's fingers were coated in airplane cement or any other medium.

The letter that followed this attack, claiming Stine as a victim, also bore fingerprints:
another FBI report says that SFPD "stated that latent prints were obtained from the
[10/13/69] letter".

Only in the next letter, sent November 9, 1969, did the Zodiac make any claim about
masking his fingerprints. Again, this claim would be counterproductive if, as some
theorists maintain, the Zodiac had left false prints in the cab: after all, why would the killer
go to the trouble of leaving such a red herring only to deny that it existed? A more
reasonable explanation is that the Zodiac knew the police had not only handwriting and
fingerprints, but now a good physical description, as well, and the "transparent guards"
claim was a desperate bid to instill doubt in the SFPD. Nonetheless, prints were found on
the killer's greeting card of April 28, 1970, and according to a San Francisco detective,
"the latents were not made by persons handling the card after its receipt".

A 1969 FBI report categorized SFPD's prints into "thirty latent fingerprints, three latent
palm-prints, and one latent impression (fingerprint from lower joint area of a finger or
palm print)". Only two, belonging to Paul Stine and an unidentified police officer or
newspaperman, were ever identified. The number of fingerprints submitted to the FBI Lab
by San Francisco and Vallejo Police was later raised to 38, a figure that does not include
the lifts made by the Napa County Sheriff's Department. While the great majority of these
prints are probably unrelated to the case, there is a high degree of probability that some of
them do belong to the killer, and that he could be identified through a match with one or
more of them.

Law enforcement confidence in the prints appears to be high. Literally hundreds of
suspects were checked against them, including Arthur Leigh Allen, the most widely
known. In Allen's case, Vallejo Police requested that the FBI "expeditiously compare" his
prints to the two latents developed on the August 1969 Examiner letter, and "further
requested [the FBI] to compare Allen's fingerprints with all latent prints developed in the
Zodiac investigation as time permits." There was no match and Allen was "dismissed as a
suspect", shedding light on the faith that both local and federal authorities maintain in their
evidence.

The Case Against Arthur Allen

In the years since Robert Graysmith's seminal book ZODIAC touted "Robert Hall Starr"
as the top suspect in the unsolved murders of five San Francisco Bay Area residents, it has
become increasingly difficult to discuss the Zodiac case without also discussing Arthur
Leigh Allen. Allen, the Vallejo resident and convicted child molester who served as the
inspiration for the pseudonymous "Starr," died in 1992 under a cloud of speculation that
he was the notorious serial killer who put five bullets in the back of a teenage girl as she
ran for her life. He was never charged for those murders, however, and despite the best
efforts of some investigators, not a single piece of evidence was ever developed that could
tie him to the Zodiac crimes. In fact, Allen's alleged links to the case have been found time
and again to be false, coincidental, or attributable to Allen's deviant personality.

Arthur Allen first came to the attention of the Vallejo Police Department in early October
1969, though the circumstances of his candidacy are unclear. Detective John Lynch's first
and only report on Allen does not mention how Allen became a possible suspect, but a
cursory look at VPD reports from the time shows that even the shakiest accusations were
considered grounds for a police interview in conjunction with the murders of Betty Lou
Jensen, David Faraday, Darlene Ferrin, and Cecelia Shepard. For a time, rumor held that
Allen had received a speeding ticket near Lake Berryessa on the night of Shepard's
murder, but it was later determined that this event never occurred. Whatever lead
instigated Lynch's interview, it can safely be assumed that it was not accompanied by any
significant evidence, as the conversation was quite brief and the detective was not
particularly aggressive. 1 In all likelihood, Arthur Leigh Allen was simply one of dozens of
Vallejo locals who had been fingered by a friend, an enemy, an acquaintance, or a relative
based on little more than a hunch. Too tall and too bald to match the Zodiac's decription,
he was quickly forgotten.2

The tip that launched Allen to the top tier of possible Zodiac suspects came almost two
years later. On July 15, 1971, southern California businessman Santo Panzarella
approached the Manhattan Beach Police Department with the information that Allen had
made incriminating statements to Donald Cheney, Panzarella's partner, that would seem to
indicate that Allen was the Zodiac killer. Intrigued, two MBPD detectives visited Cheney
and Panzarella at their place of business, and were told a remarkable story.

Cheney, who had been friends with Allen for years until he moved to southern California,
told the detectives that he and Allen had had a conversation in Allen's Fresno Street
basement in December 1968 that started on the topic of recreational hunting but soon
took a turn for the bizarre. Allen brought up Richard Connell's classic short story The
Most Dangerous Game, the tale of a mad count that hunts shipwrecked travelers on his
private island for sport, which has been published in dozens of fiction anthologies and is
popular at the grade school level. Allen is said to have greatly enjoyed the story, and
allegedly identified with the count.

After broaching the idea of hunting humans, Allen is said to have given a hypothetical
account of how he would commit a series of murders in lovers' lanes. He allegedly
described how he would "use a revolver or pistol with a flashlight attached to same for
illumination and an aiming device, [and] would walk up and shoot people . Allen also
talked about shooting the tires of a school bus and picking off the 'little darlings' as they
came bouncing off the bus", 3 and went on to say that he would send harassing notes to
the police. If this was not enough, Allen also allegedly stated that he would call himself
"Zodiac."

According to the MBPD report, "Cheney replied, 'Zodiac why that, why not something
else?' Arthur Allen at this time became very emotional and stated, 'I like the name 'Zodiac'
and that's the name I'm going to use'". 4

On its face, Cheney's account appears damning - after all, if Allen made these comments in
December 1968, then he had displayed knowledge of the Lake Herman Road murders that
no one but the Zodiac would have until August 1969. The Zodiac's threat to shoot at a
school bus did not come until even later, in October of that year. We can forgive minor
quibbles, such as the misquote of "little kiddies" as "little darlings;" the police, rather than
the newspapers, being named as the recipients of the forthcoming letters; and the missing
definite article that the killer unfailingly used as part of his moniker. There is, however, the
question of Cheney's timing: why did he wait two years to come forth with this
information?

Cheney moved to southern California in January 1969, and it is possible that he did not
hear about the second Vallejo attack and the letters that followed it. However, the Zodiac
case exploded into national attention following Paul Stine's murder in downtown San
Francisco, and it is unlikely that anyone in the state of California could have avoided
hearing about the unknown killer who stalked lovers' lanes, wrote taunting letters to the
newspapers, and called himself "the Zodiac," and apparently Cheney was no exception. By
their own admission, "Mr. Panzarella and Mr. Cheney had read and seen articles in the
newspaper, the Los Angeles Times, concerning the 'Zodiac' killings". 5 Ignorance, then, is
no explanation for his silence. We must infer from his account that none of the Zodiac
reports registered with Cheney, and that he never again thought of Allen as a possible
killer until 1971, when he heard about an obscure and totally unrelated series of unsolved
murders in Grass Valley, CA, a small town about 150 miles north of San Francisco and
Vallejo. According to Cheney and Panzarella, it was "the recent killings in the Grass
Valley Area by an unknown suspect [that] brought the suspicions to a focus."

We must wonder how the Grass Valley murders would jog Cheney's memory as regards
Allen and the suspicious conversation, when the almost daily reports out of San Francisco
detailing a killer identical to the one Allen described did not. We must also wonder why, if
Allen was indeed the Zodiac, he would reveal the identifying details of his murderous
exploits within days of their commission. Certainly, he could not expect Cheney's memory
to be as bad as it appears to be; the slaying of Jensen and Faraday on December 20, 1968,
dominated the Vallejo media for weeks. The Zodiac did take certain risks, but situational
control was one of his hallmarks. Such a concern would almost certainly rule out anything
as foolish as overtly detailing his crimes, especially to someone who might have suspicions
about him already - Allen had touched Cheney's young daughter inappropriately on a
camping trip years before, and Cheney had complained to Allen's brother about it. (In one
report, a VPD detective wrote, "This might be a motive why Cheney would make such an
accusation against Arthur Allen") 6

Arthur Allen, by most accounts, was something of an eccentric. Described as
"anti-establishment", 7 he was rejected as a VPD applicant at age 19 and received a
discharge other than honorable from the US Navy at 25. He owned several handguns and
allegedly kept one in his car at all times. He was also a pedophile, and had lost jobs,
alienated friends, and would be committed to Atascadero State Hospital because of this
disorder. Cheney was not the only person to whom he had spoken about the Zodiac
murders: Allen made no secret of his 1969 interview with Det. John Lynch, and bragged
openly that he was a Zodiac suspect. He also appeared to have an interest in abnormal
psychology, studying Mental Hygiene and working at Atascadero before his incarceration
there. It is not too great a stretch of the imagination to think that Allen, with his interest in
guns, law enforcement, and the criminal mind, might simply have been interested in the
shocking local murder and brought the topic up one night with Cheney. He may even have
recognized the apparent lack of motive in the case, and commented on "The Most
Dangerous Game" to explain it as sport.

The Chief of Manhattan Beach Police contacted the San Francisco Police Department
soon after the interview, and SFPD Inspector William Armstrong spoke to Cheney on July
26. During the eleven intervening days, Cheney began what has become an interesting trait
of recovering memories that are increasingly elaborate in their indictment of Arthur Allen.
He began by backdating the conversation by one year, telling Armstrong that it took place
in December 1967, rather than 1968. 8 He then remembered that Allen had asked about
how one could disguise one's own handwriting, and claims to have offered Allen advice on
that subject. 9 In subsequent interviews, Cheney has also remembered that Allen had not
initiated the conversation by bringing up Connell's short story, but by declaring that he was
looking to change careers, and would like to become a police officer. In the event that this
plan fell through, Cheney said, Allen allegedly stated that he could become a criminal
instead, and would elude detection by committing murders that had no motive. 10 This
story was changed yet again when Cheney stated that Allen couched his statements in
plans to write a crime novel. 11 Then he added Allen's alleged idea to disable a woman's
car by removing the lug nuts from one of her wheels. 12 (This story is an obvious allusion
to the abduction of Kathleen Johns in March 1970, which has not been confirmed as a
genuine Zodiac incident. Johns has positively ruled Allen out as the man who disabled her
car and took her on a frightening ride through rural San Joaquin County. 13) Finally,
Cheney has said that his inspiration to notify the police came not from the Grass Valley
murders as previously stated, but from reading a newspaper article about the Zodiac's
threat to kill "little darlings" - not even the Zodiac's actual phrase - which he linked with
Allen's similar words. 14 It has become clear over time that Cheney's account cannot be
relied upon for accuracy. A number of likely explanations come to mind, not the least of
which is that his memory of events had simply become mixed up over the years,
incorporating one or more genuine conversations with news accounts he had read or
heard. The one explanation that does not seem credible is the one offered by Cheney
himself.

Armstrong put these issues aside and notified the Vallejo Police Department. After some
background investigation, it was agreed that detectives from both jurisdictions would
contact Allen together and interview him as a suspect.

The interview took place at Allen's place of employment in early August, and was an
almost humorous example of a suspect running circles around the detectives interrogating
him. Allen displayed a great knowledge of the pop culture references used by the Zodiac
as well as the media reports about the killer, but nothing about the crimes themselves. He
denied the incriminating conversation that Cheney described, but did acknowledge reading
"The Most Dangerous Game" and stated that it had made an impression on him. He
offered an alibi for his whereabouts on the day of the Lake Berryessa attack in the form of
a serviceman from Treasure Island - this may have been an oblique reference, lost on the
investigators, to the 1933 film Charlie Chan at Treasure Island, in which the Chinese
detective matches wits with a San Francisco villain named "Doctor Zodiac." He claimed to
have spoken with his neighbor, Mr. White, upon returning home that afternoon - a
possible reference to Ranger William White, who had appeared on television the day after
the lakeside murder to discuss the crime scene. Allen also mentioned "the two knives I had
in my car with blood on them" without any prompting from police: the blood, he said,
"came from a chicken I killed". 15 There has been speculation that this is a reference to
Brian Hartnell's words just before he was brutally stabbed by the Zodiac: according to
Ranger White's statements, quoted liberally by the local media, Hartnell asked to be
stabbed before his friend because he was chicken and couldn't bear to see her in pain. It
has become clear with the declassification of Napa police reports that these were not
Hartnell's words, and that they were attributed to him for the media's benefit. Finally,
when asked for his whereabouts in October 1966, Allen responded, "You mean about the
Riverside killing?" 16 Had this statement come any time before November of 1970, it may
have carried weight as evidence, but the Riverside murder of Cheri Jo Bates had been
linked to the Zodiac for almost a year, and made front page news around California when
the story broke.

The detectives commented on Allen's wristwatch at some point during the interview. It
was an expensive Sea Wolf model, made by the Swiss manufacturer Zodiac, whose logo is
a crossed-circle. Allen responded that he received it as a gift in the summer of 1969.
Allen's brother was later asked about it and said that his mother gave it to him for
Christmas in 1967. In a parting shot at the detectives and police in general, Allen stated
with doubtless irony that "he wished the time would come when police were no longer
referred to as 'pigs'". 17 The Zodiac had used the epithet on occasion, notably in his
seven-page letter of November 1969, and it was dutifully publicized by the San Francisco
Chronicle on November 12, 13, and 26, garnering front page status twice.

In every case, Allen can be seen to exploit the media reports of the crimes and letters in an
effort to tease his interviewers. While this behavior and the taunting letters that the Zodiac
sent to the newspapers have been compared, Allen can just as easily be seen to speak from
the comfortable knowledge that he would never be tied to the crimes because he was not
the killer. Only the brand of Allen's wristwatch suggested knowledge of the Zodiac events
before they took place, and even this item was assigned undue suspicion by Allen himself,
who told police that he had received it just before the killer took his name. None of his
remarks - or remarks attributed to him by any reliable source - betray knowledge of the
crimes beyond the common understanding held by anyone who had followed the news
accounts of the case. In 1971, the number of people with such understanding numbered in
the hundreds of thousands.

In the absence of any other promising leads, however, San Francisco and Vallejo police
saw Allen as the most viable of their Zodiac suspects. On September 14, 1972, a search
warrant for his Santa Rosa property was issued, and detectives were soon combing
through his trailer and cars looking for firearms, ammunition, clothing, and any other
evidence that could link him to the crimes or letters. Nothing of the sort was found. 18
Major case prints - inked impressions of the entire hand, fingertip to palm - were taken, as
were samples of his left- and right-handed writing. All were tested by state experts against
the Zodiac evidence. In no case was there a match. California handwriting analysts even
went so far as to state that Allen's writing "definitely was not that of the Zodiac killer". 19
He was given a polygraph test and passed it.

The matter seemed resolved until 1986, when author Robert Graysmith leveled his pen at
Allen in his groundbreaking case study, ZODIAC. Once a best seller and now in its 29th
printing, ZODIAC has been cited as a source by almost every subsequent work on the
case. Graysmith was tipped to Allen's suspect status by local authorities, and carried on an
unofficial investigation of him in the early 1980s without significant findings. Nonetheless,
Allen remained the favorite of San Francisco detectives, and Graysmith followed suit,
exaggerating the marginal links between Allen and the Zodiac case and mixing rumor with
fact to convince the reading public that there was no doubt as to the killer's identity. The
world knew him as "Robert Hall Starr," but to anyone who had met him, there could be no
mistaking Allen.

In December 1990, when Ralph Spinelli was arrested for armed robbery in Lake Tahoe,
NV, his bid for leniency included a tip to the Zodiac's identity: none other than Arthur
Leigh Allen. Facing 30 years in prison, Spinelli claimed that Allen had told him in 1969
that he was going to San Francisco to kill a cabdriver. Perhaps not coincidentally, Allen's
only arrest before his child molestation charge was for a fight with Spinelli. Under
pressure following the success of Graysmith's book, and with the knowledge that Allen's
Vallejo property had not been searched in 1972, VPD took advantage of Spinelli's
negligible tip and searched Allen's Fresno Street basement. Seized were bomb-making
materials, newspaper clippings, several firearms, a knife, a typewriter, and Allen's Zodiac
watch. Of these, the knife and one handgun could have been Zodiac evidence (it is widely
believed that the Zodiac was not responsible for the murder of Cheri Jo Bates or the
typewritten confession that followed it), but neither led to charges or an arrest, and it can
be assumed that they were unrelated. Allen's prints were submitted to the FBI Laboratory,
and again the comparison came back negative. According to one newspaper report, "Allen
was dismissed as a suspect". 20

The wealth of factors pointing to Allen's innocence has led many armchair investigators to
approach the record looking for loopholes in the truth. When Allen's fingerprints didn't
match the crime scene prints, doubt was cast on their legitimacy despite law enforcement's
confidence in them. When his handwriting didn't match the Zodiac's, a photo-enlarger
setup was proposed. When Allen passed a grueling 10-hour polygraph test, he was labeled
a sociopath who could beat the machine. One wonders what it would take to get around
an exclusion based on DNA evidence, should such evidence arise.

In proposing incriminating circumstantial evidence, Allen's accusers add their own
loopholes. Allen can be "placed" in Riverside in 1966 - but can just as easily be "placed" in
Santa Rosa. Cheney's account is often cited - but not his egregious timing or the numerous
changes in his story. Spinelli's story is also given credence - but his acrimonious
relationship with Allen, imminent prison time, and 20-year silence are played down. Allen
is said to have had access to a car like one seen by a victim - but the truth is that Allen had
lost access to that car when he was fired from a job three months before the attack. 21
Allen had mysterious coded letters in a strongbox - but they were sent to him by a patient
at Atascadero. The Zodiac letters are said to have stopped while Allen was at Atascadero
- but the letters stopped eight months before Allen was incarcerated, and the one received
upon his release was a phony. A convicted child molester, Allen was, like the Zodiac,
interested in "little kiddies" - but pedophiles that kill outside of their target group are
incredibly rare. In the aggregate, the coincidences are compelling, but when each is
scrutinized, the case against Allen becomes a ball of string: pull on it, and it falls apart.

In the final analysis, only one article exists that could serve to tie Allen to the Zodiac case,
and this is the Sea Wolf wristwatch given to him by his mother. She died January 10,
1989. Hardly a conclusive link to the murders, or evidence of anything except a mother's
generosity, it was seized by Vallejo police during their 1991 raid on Allen's apartment.
Despite his repeated requests, it was never returned. Legally blind, stricken with diabetes
and kidney failure, the target of a campaign of innuendo that dogged him to the last,
Arthur Leigh Allen died without it 18 months later.

The Case Against Arthur Allen Footnotes

1. Det. John Lynch, Vallejo Police Department report, 6 October 1969

2. Sgt. Jack Mulanax, Vallejo Police Department report, 9 August 1971

3. Charles W. Crumly, Manhattan Beach Chief of Police, in a letter to Insp. David Toschi,
19 July 1971

4. Ibid.

5. Ibid.

6. Sgt. Jack Mulanax, Vallejo Police Department report, 11 August 1971

7. Charles W. Crumly, Manhattan Beach Chief of Police, in a letter to Insp. David Toschi,
19 July 1971

8. Insp. William Armstrong, affidavit for search warrant, 14 September 1972

9. Ibid.

10. Tom Voigt, interview with the author, 15 December 2000

11. Tom Voigt, www.ZodiacKiller.com,8 January 2001

12. Ibid.

13. Tom Voigt, www.ZodiacKiller.com, 18 February 2001

14. Tom Voigt, interview with the author, 15 December 2000

15. Sgt. Jack Mulanax, Vallejo Police Department report, 9 August 1971

16. Ibid.

17. Ibid.

18. Capt. Roy Conway, affidavit for search warrant, 21 February 1991

19. Ibid.

20. "Signs point to Vallejo man," Vallejo Times-Herald, 1 August 1991

21. Sgt. Jack Mulanax, Vallejo Police Department report, 11 August 1971

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Zodiac Wanted Poster

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Zodiac Killer as Seen by His Victims