It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
The Zodiac Killer: The Case Reviewed
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. LINK
Eventually the man attacked her, slashing her three times in the chest area, once in the back, and seven times across the throat. Police determined that the murder weapon was a small knife with a blade about 3 1/2" long by 1/2" wide, 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. LINK
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 p.m., 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.
Now something interesting is here, the Zodiac uses a handgun. This is important because it would become, his signiture weapon.
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. LINK
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 —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. LINK
"Ferrin and Mageau were left alone ( Are you seeing the pattern? good because its important) 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 Ford Mustang or Chevy Corvair, idled there for a moment, and Mageau asked Ferrin if she knew the driver, to which she responded, "Oh, never mind." 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. LINK
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 a.m. LINK
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: LINK
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, 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. Again we have yet another description that seems to match up with the first.
Cecelia, who saw the man first, noted that he was wearing glasses. Yet another clue, now we know that he wears glasses. A highly important clue. He seemed to Hartnell at the time to be "in his thirties and fairly unremarkable", 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.LINK
His interviewer suggests "Lodge," and Hartnell agrees. "Deer Lodge" was then suggested as a northwest city with a federal penitentiary, and the victim said, "That could be it, I guess". 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.]LINK
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 door frame.
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.
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. LINK
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".
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". 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. LINK
The Zodiac Killer Psychological State
At the time of the murder Allen was a school teacher in Calaveras County, Cal. -- about 400 miles away. But nearly every weekend he traveled to Riverside where he was a car club member. On the Monday following Bates' murder, Allen did not go to work. If Allen did commit the murder, he might have needed to allow time for scratches on his face to heal.
About a month after the murder, typewritten confession letters were mailed to a local paper and to police. Analysis revealed that typewriter was a Royal model with either Elite or Pica type. In 1991, police seized a Royal typewriter with Elite type from the home of Arthur Leigh Allen.
Shortly after Bates' murder, Allen was fired as a school teacher after he molested a student. He moved in with his parents in Vallejo, Cal. Friends and neighbors report that Allen spent a lot of time alone, driving in nearby rural areas -- such as Lake Herman Road
Allen was still living in Vallejo -- in fact just minutes from the murder scene. Mike Mageau survived the attack and described the killer's escape in a brown Corvair. Allen reportedly had access to a friend's brown Corvair.
Lake Berryessa is a recreational are about 40 miles north of Vallejo. It's an area the avid outdoorsman would have frequented for SCUBA diving and camping.
Bryan Hartnell survived the attack and described the weapon as a 12-inch long knife in a sheath with rivets. During the 1991 search of Allen's home, police found a a 12-inch long knife with a sheath and rivets.
Arthur Leigh Allen died in his home in Vallejo, California on August 26, 1992 of coronary heart disease. He went to his grave proclaiming his innocence. LINK
According to his brother, Ron, Allen was given a Zodiac watch as a Christmas gift from their mother in 1967. (Allen's estimation of when he received the watch was July or August 1969.) The logo for the Zodiac watch is a cross-circle symbol, the same as eventually used by the Zodiac killer.
According to police statements, within days of receiving the watch, Allen is alleged to have made these claims to his friend, Don Cheney:
(Allen used the premise of writing a novel to communicate this fantasy. Cheney estimates the conversation took place on Jan. 1, 1969.)
He would like to kill couples at random.
He would taunt the police with letters detailing his crimes.
He would sign the letters with the cross-circle symbol from his watch.
He would call himself "Zodiac."
He would wear make-up to change his appearance.
He would attach a flashlight to the barrel of his gun in order to shoot at night.
He would fool women into stopping their cars in rural areas by claiming they had problems with their tires, then loosen their lug nuts and eventually take them captive.
The killer left footprints with a size 10 ½ Wing Walker -- a fairly obscure military boot. While employed as an Aircraft Supply Sergeant in the US Airforce, Jack would have had access to the Wing Walkers.
During Tarrance's time as a ham radio operator he would have to have been very familiar and skilled with different types of codes and coding schemes.
Jack Tarrance was an avid camper and geographer who liked to pinpoint exact locations. Zodiac's June 26, 1970 letter to San Francisco Chronicle reporter Paul Avery included a map with Mount Diablo marked off. The letter also included a cipher that has never been solved.
Many years later a Zodiac enthusiast drew a line connecting the murder of cabbie Paul Stine and the Vallejo murders to the tip of Mt. Diablo. The connection displayed an angle that measured 57.3 degrees - a precise radian angle. Dennis took the radian concept a step further and mapped the locations of Zodiac victims' bodies, and discovered that numerous body locations fell along the radian line. In 2001, Dennis found many letters and other documents that Jack was keeping in storage. Among the items found were formulas relating to radians and measurements.
In what seems to be another coincidence, Zodiac sent his last letter on July 8, 1974. Two days later, Jack appeared in a California court and was sentenced for poaching. He was taken directly into custody and spent the next 30 days in jail; it was his first time behind bars.
All of the documents and evidence Dennis collected was given to the FBI and then forwarded to the San Francisco Police Department. LINK
In the movie, Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal) visits the home of a man who supposedly knew Zodiac suspect Rick Marshall. He goes there in search of film canisters that may contain Zodiac murder footage. When Graysmith is in the man's home, he asks him about the movie posters that Rick Marshall drew. The man tells Graysmith that it wasn't Marshall who drew the movie posters, it was him. He then takes Graysmith into the basement where Graysmith hears footsteps above him, even though the man had told him they were alone. This is all true and really happened to Graysmith, even the footsteps. Some investigators who have researched the case believe that this man and Rick Marshall may have been working together.
On March 13, 1971 the Zodiac sent a letter to the Los Angeles Times. Coinciding closely with the mailing, Gaikowski was involuntarily committed to the Napa State Hospital after "going berzerk." He was then diagnosed with a mental illness and began treatment at Mount Zion Hospital in San Francisco. The Zodiac didn't write again for almost three years. LINK