a reply to: intrptr
Here are a few points from the book that aren't mentioned here.
In addition to being rather odd and eccentric, Best was known to have a violent streak, especially towards animals and women. Stewart wrote that
on several occasions, Gilford (Chandler) caught Best locking his young toddler son (Stewart) in a small wooden trunk (nearly suffocating him) and that
she herself, was terrified of him.
Best was paroled from prison on July 12, 1965, two days before his thirty-first birthday. With pressure from her family and the police, his
true-love, Judith Chandler, cut off all ties with him. Less than one year later, the first suspected Zodiac murder occurred.
The Zodiac Killer’s female victims all bear a close resemblance to Best’s shunted lover, Judith Gilford.
Earl Van Best bears a striking resemblance to sketches of the Zodiac Killer.
Both Zodiac’s and Best’s fingerprints featured the same diagonal scars (a fingerprint match could not be made because of blood on the print).
Best’s ability to evade police is easily explainable – he studied forensics in college.
Best’s friends recalled him having an unusual, and sometimes creepy, interest in the occult and noted that he often joked about sending
“slaves” into the afterlife (a claim Zodiac often made in his letters to the police).
Best had more than a passing relationship with Anton Lavey (founder of the Church of Satan) and even ensured his second marriage took place on 6/6/66
(known by Satanists as Year One of the Age of Satan). At one point, LaVey contacted SFPD telling them that he believed one of his “parishioners”
might be the Zodiac killer. To date, the police detective has refused to divulge the name LaVey gave him.
Best likely had a keen interest in serial killers. He once used the false name ‘Henry Lee” [Lucas] on a fraudulent check.
After the final Zodiac letter was sent (and about the time that SFPD Detective Rotea began a courtship with Best’s ex-wife Judy Chandler), Van left
the country, travelling and spending time in both Austria and Mexico.
After Earl Van Best Jr. returned to the United States from Mexico, he was arrested several times for drunk driving and is believed to have slipped
into a alcoholism. This could be interpreted as Zodiac shifting from serial killing to a life of drunken stupor.
Darlene Ferrin (victim of the July 5, 1969 shooting) told friends that a menacing stranger had been following her and gave her gifts he had purchased
in Mexico. Her friend, Linda told investigators that the man bought the presents from Tia Juanna and said that the man had a short name, like
“Lee”. Van made frequent visits to Mexico, purchasing books and historical documents that he brought back to America for resale.
SFPD closed the Zodiac case on April 6, 2004, the same day that the author’s mother visited friends (police detectives) at SFPD asking for help in
locating the author’s birth father (Earl Van Best Jr.).
One of the Zodiac’s favorite symbols was a “dotted V”, potentially indicating the nickname that Best often went by: Van. In another letter, the
signature at the bottom is the combination of an inverted E and a sideways V, a “thinly disguised symbol for “Earl Van”.
Van’s best friend recalled Van’s obsession with The Mikado. As children, they learned every word of the comedic opera. Zodiac used lines from
The Mikado in his letters and ciphers.
During the Zodiac murders, Zodiac targeted San Francisco Chronicle reporter Paul Avery with a taunting letter campaign. Unknown until now, Paul
Avery had interviewed Best seven years before the Zodiac murders in an article about Best’s love affair with 14-year-old Judith Gilford (Chandler)
titled, “He Found Love in Ice Cream Parlor“. According to Stewart, Avery’s account of the affair greatly upset Best.
Judy Chandler went on to marry one of the lead homicide investigators on the Zodiac case, Rotea Gilford. Stewart suggests this connection could have
embarrassed the San Francisco Police Department and caused them to “shut down” the investigation.
A handwriting expert, Michael N. Wakshull (author of Line by Line), matched writing from Zodiac’s letters to Best’s signature from his marriage
certificate. In a sixty-five page report, he concluded that he was virtually certain that the person who filed out Best’s marriage certificate was
the writer of the Zodiac letters.
According to friends and family, when the home of noted Zodiac Killer suspect, Arthur Leigh Allen, was searched by police, documents with identical
symbols used in Zodiac’s ciphers were found. According to Allen, he had been given the symbols by “someone in Atascadero State Hospital. Best
served time at Atascadero, a maximum security facility in California. [see the Zodiac article for more details]
Best’s father was an expert military cryptographer in the Army. He taught Best cryptography and they often worked ciphers together as part of a
childhood game. Cryptic ciphers were often included in Zodiac’s communications to police and the press. Many of the ciphers have never been
Earl Van Best Jr.’s name (with purposeful misspellings, a common trait in the Zodiac’s ciphers) is found hidden in at least two of the
Zodiac’s cryptograms and his partial name is found in several of the ciphers and cipher keys. In the July 31, 1969 cipher sent to the San Francisco
Examiner, his name appears in the cipher and cipher key no less than eight times.
The count of letters in “Earl Van Best Jr” matches the count of the as-yet-unsolved “My name is: “ Zodiac cryptogram. As mentioned.
These were taken from that Altered Dimensions website.