The Case of The Mysterious Zodiac Killer
The Zodiac Killer Published: 01-31-11 -10:38 AM

In the late 1960's, California was terrorized by a series of brutal murders comitted by someone calling himself, The Zodiac Killer.

Confirmed victims:

Although the Zodiac claimed 37 murders in letters to the newspapers, investigators agree on only seven confirmed victims, two that survived.

They are: David Arthur Faraday, 17, and Betty Lou Jensen, 16: shot and killed on December 20, 1968, on Lake Herman Road, within the city limits of Benicia.

Michael Mageau Renault, 25, and Darlene Elizabeth Ferrin, 22: shot on July 4, 1969, in the parking lot of Blue Rock Springs Park in Vallejo. While Mageau survived the attack, Ferrin was pronounced dead-on-arrival at Kaiser Foundation Hospital.

Bryan Calvin Hartnell, 20, and Cecelia Ann Shepard, 22: stabbed on September 27, 1969 at Lake Berryessa in Napa County. Hartnell survived six stab wounds to the back, but Shepard died as a result of her injuries on September 29, 1969.

Paul Lee Stine, 29: shot and killed on October 11, 1969, in the Presidio Heights neighborhood in San Francisco.

The Zodiac Killer's Victims

Lake Herman Road Attack

The first murders widely attributed to the Zodiac Killer were the shootings of high school students Betty Lou Jensen and David Faraday on December 20, 1968, on Lake Herman Road, just inside Benicia city limits.

The couple were on their first date and planned to attend a Christmas concert at Hogan High about three blocks from Jensen's home. The couple, instead, visited a friend before stopping at a local restaurant, and then driving out on Lake Herman Road.

At about 10:15 p.m., Faraday parked his mother's Rambler in a gravel turnout, which was a well-known lovers' lane.

Shortly after 11:00 p.m., their bodies were found by Stella Borges, who lived nearby. The Solano County Sheriff's Department investigated the crime but no leads developed.

Utilizing available forensic data, Robert Graysmith postulated that another car pulled into the turnout, just prior to 11:00 and parked beside the couple.

The killer apparently exited the second car and walked toward the Rambler, possibly ordering the couple out of the Rambler. Jensen appeared to have exited the car first, yet when Faraday was halfway out, the killer apparently shot Faraday in the head.

Fleeing from the killer, Jensen was gunned down twenty-eight feet from the car with five shots through her back. The killer then drove off.

Blue Rock Springs Attack:

Survivor Michael Mageau Just before midnight on July 4, 1969, Darlene Ferrin and Michael Mageau drove into the Blue Rock Springs Park in Vallejo, four miles from the Lake Herman Road murder site, and parked.

While the couple sat in Ferrin's car, a second car drove into the lot and parked alongside them, almost immediately driving away.

Returning about 10 minutes later, this second car parked behind them. The driver of the second car then exited the vehicle, approaching the passenger side door of Ferrin's car, carrying a flashlight and a 9 mm Luger.

The killer directed the flashlight into Mageau's and Ferrin's eyes before shooting at them, firing five times. Both victims were hit, several bullets passing through Mageau and into Ferrin.

The killer walked away from the car but upon hearing Mageau's moaning, returned and shot each victim two more times before driving off.

On July 5, 1969, at 12:40 a.m., a man phoned the Vallejo Police Department to report and claim responsibility for the attack. He also took credit for the murders of Jensen and Faraday six-and-a-half months earlier.

The police traced the call to a phone booth at a gas station at Springs Road and Tuolumne, about three-tenths of a mile from Ferrin's home and only a few blocks from the Vallejo Police Department.

Ferrin was pronounced dead at the hospital. Mageau survived the attack despite being shot in the face, neck, and chest.

The Zodiac Letters

On August 1, 1969, three letters prepared by the killer were received at the Vallejo Times-Herald, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the San Francisco Examiner.

The nearly identical letters took credit for the shootings at Lake Herman Road and Blue Rock Springs. Each letter also included one-third of a 408-symbol cryptogram which the killer claimed contained his identity.

The killer demanded they be printed on each paper's front page or he would "cruse [sic] around all weekend killing lone people in the night then move on to kill again, until I end up with a dozen people over the weekend."

The Chronicle published its third of the cryptogram on page four of the next day's edition.

Zodiac Letter Published

An article printed alongside the code quoted Vallejo Police Chief Jack E. Stiltz as saying "We're not satisfied that theletter was written by the murderer" and requested the writer send a second letter with more facts to prove his identity.

The threatened murders did not happen, and all three parts were eventually published.

On August 7, 1969, another letter was received at the San Francisco Examiner with the salutation "Dear Editor This is the Zodiac speaking".

This was the first time the killer had used this name for himself.

The letter was a response to Chief Stiltz's request for more details to prove he had killed Faraday, Jensen and Ferrin. In it, the Zodiac included details about the murders which had not been released to the public as well as a message to the police that when they cracked his code "they will have me".

The Zodiac  Cipher On August 8, 1969, Donald and Bettye Harden of Salinas, California, cracked the 408-symbol cryptogram.

It contained a misspelled message in which the killer claimed to be collecting slaves for the afterlife. No name appears in the decoded text, and the killer said that he would not give away his identity because it would slow down or stop his slave collection.

"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 ANAMAL 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 OF IT IS THAE WHEN I DIE I WILL BE REBORN IN PARADICE AND THEI HAVE KILLED WILL BECOME MY SLAVES I WILL NOT GIVE YOU MY NAME BECAUSE YOU WILL TRY TO SLOI DOWN OR ATOP MY COLLECTIOG OF SLAVES FOR MY AFTERLIFE EBEORIETEMETHHPITI" - The last eighteen letters have not been decrypted.

Lake Berryessa Attack

The Zodiac in Disguise

On September 27, 1969, Bryan Hartnell and Cecelia Shepard were picnicking at Lake Berryessa on a small island connected by a sand spit to Twin Oak Ridge.

A man approached them wearing a black executioner's-type hood with clip-on sunglasses over the eye-holes and a bib-like device on his chest that had a white 3"x3" cross-circle symbol on it.

He approached them with a gun which Hartnell believed to be a .45. The hooded man claimed to be an escaped convict from Deer Lodge, Montana; where he killed a guard and stole a car, explaining that he needed their car and money to go to Mexico.

He had brought precut lengths of plastic clothesline and told Shepard to tie up Hartnell, before he tied her up. The killer checked, and tightened, Hartnell's bonds after discovering Shepard had bound Hartnell's hands loosely.

Hartnell initially believed it to be a weird robbery, but the man drew a knife and stabbed them both repeatedly.

The killer then hiked 500 yards back up to Knoxville Road, drew the cross-circle symbol on Hartnell's car door with a black felt-tip pen, and wrote beneath it: "Vallejo/12-20-68/7-4-69/Sept 27-69-6:30/by knife."

At 7:40 p.m., the killer called the Napa County Sheriff's office from a pay telephone to report his crime. The phone was found, still off the hook, minutes later at the Napa Car Wash on Main Street in Napa by KVON radio reporter Pat Stanley, only a few blocks from the sheriff's office, yet 27 miles from the crime scene.

Detectives were able to lift a still-wet palm print from the telephone but were never able to match it to any suspect.

After hearing their screams for help, a man and his son who were fishing in a nearby cove discovered the victims and summoned help by contacting park rangers.

Napa County Sheriff's deputies Dave Collins and Ray Land were the first law enforcement officers to arrive at the crime scene.

Cecelia Shepard was conscious when Collins arrived, providing him with a detailed description of the attacker.

Hartnell and Shepard were taken to Queen of the Valley Hospital in Napa by ambulance. Shepard lapsed into a coma during transport to the hospital and never regained consciousness. She died two days later, but Hartnell survived to recount his tale to the press.

Napa County Sheriff Detective Ken Narlow, who was assigned to the case from the outset, worked on solving the crime until his retirement from the department in 1987.

More Zodiac Communications

The Zodiac continued to communicate with authorities for the remainder of 1970 via letters and greeting cards to the press.

In a letter postmarked April 20, 1970, the Zodiac wrote, "My name is _____", followed by a 13-character cipher. The Zodiac went on to state that he was not responsible for the recent bombing of a police station in San Francisco (referring to the February 18, 1970, death of Sgt. Brian McDonnell two days after the bombing at Park Station in Golden Gate Park) but added "there is more glory to killing a cop than a cid [sic] because a cop can shoot back."

The letter included a diagram of a bomb the Zodiac claimed he would use to blow up a school bus. At the bottom of the diagram, he wrote: "Zodiac = 10, SFPD =0".

Zodiac Letter>

Zodiac sent a greeting card postmarked 28 April 1970, to the Chronicle.

Written on the card was, "I hope you enjoy yourselves when I have my BLAST", followed by the Zodiac's cross circle signature. On the back of the card, the Zodiac threatened to use his bus bomb soon unless the newspaper published the full details he wrote.

He also wanted to start seeing people wearing "some nice Zodiac butons."

In a letter postmarked June 26, 1970, the Zodiac stated he was upset that he did not see people wearing Zodiac buttons.

He wrote, "I shot a man sitting in a parked car with a .38." The Zodiac was possibly referring to the murder of Sgt. Richard Radetich, a week earlier, on 19 June. At 5:25 am, Radetich was writing a parking ticket in his squad car when an assailant shot him in the head with a .38-caliber pistol.

Radetich died 15 hours later. SFPD denies the Zodiac was involved in this murder; it remains unsolved.

Included with the letter was a Phillips 66 map of the San Francisco Bay Area. On the image of Mount Diablo, the Zodiac had drawn a crossed-circle similar to the ones he had included in previous correspondence.

At the top of the crossed circle, he placed a zero, and then a three,six, and a nine, so the annotation resembled a clock face.

The accompanying instructions stated that the zero was "to be set to Mag. N." The letter also included a 32-letter cipher that the killer claimed would, in conjunction with the code, lead to the location of a bomb he had buried and set to go off in the autumn.

The bomb was never located. The killer had signed the note with " = 12, SFPD = 0."

In a letter to the Chronicle postmarked July 24, 1970, the Zodiac took credit for Kathleen Johns' abduction, four months after the incident.

In a July 26, 1970 letter, the Zodiac paraphrased a song from The Mikado, adding his own lyrics about making a "little list" of the ways he planned to torture his "slaves" in "paradice."

The letter was signed with a large, exaggerated cross circle symbol and a new score: " = 13, SFPD = 0." A final note at the bottom of the letter stated, "P.S. The Mt. Diablo code concerns Radians + # inches along the radians."

In 1981, a close examination of the radian hint by Zodiac researcher Gareth Penn led to the discovery that a radian angle, when placed over the map per Zodiac's instructions, pointed to the locations of two Zodiac attacks.

On October 7, 1970, the Chronicle received a three-by-five inch card signed by the Zodiac with the drawn with blood.

The card's message was formed by pasting words and letters from an edition of the Chronicle, and thirteen holes were punched across the card.

Inspectors Armstrong and Toschi agreed it was "highly probable" the card came from the Zodiac.

Final Zodiac Letters

After the "Pines" card, the Zodiac remained silent for nearly three years.

The Chronicle then received a letter from the Zodiac, postmarked January 29, 1974, praising The Exorcist as "the best saterical comidy [sic]" that he had ever seen.

The letter included a snippet of verse from The Mikado and an unusual symbol at the bottom that has remained unexplained by researchers. Zodiac concluded the letter with a new score, "Me = 37, SFPD = 0".

The Chronicle received another letter postmarked February 14, 1974, informing the editor that the initials for the Symbionese Liberation Army spelled out an Old Norse word meaning "kill".However, the handwriting was not authenticated as the Zodiac's.

A letter to the Chronicle, postmarked May 8, 1974, featured a complaint that the movie Badlands was "murder-glorification" and asked the paper to cut its advertisements. Signed only "A citizen", the handwriting, tone, and surface irony were all similar to earlier Zodiac communications.

The Chronicle subsequently received an anonymous letter postmarked July 8, 1974, complaining about one of its columnists, Marco Spinelli. The letter was signed "the Red Phantom (red with rage)". The Zodiac's authorship of this letter is debated.

Modesto Attack

Zodiac Letter Describing Kathleen John's Ordeal On the night of March 22, 1970, Kathleen Johns was driving from San Bernardino to Petaluma to visit her mother. She was seven months pregnant and had her 10-month-old daughter beside her.

While heading west on Highway 132 near Modesto, a car behind her began honking and flashing its lights. She pulled off the road and stopped.

The man in the car parked behind her stated her right rear tire was wobbling, and offered to tighten the lugs. After finishing his work, the man drove off; yet when Johns pulled forward to reenter the highway the wheel almost immediately came off of the car.

The man returned, offering to drive her to the nearest gas station for help. She and her daughter climbed into his car. During the ride the car passed several service stations but the man did not stop.

For about 90 minutes he drove back and forth around the backroads near Tracy. When Johns asked why he was not stopping, he would change the subject.

When the driver finally stopped at an intersection, the man told Johns that he was going to kill her and then throw the baby out after her.

Johns jumped out with her daughter and hid in a field. The driver then closed the car door and drove off. Johns hitched a ride to the police station in Patterson.

When Johns gave her statement to the sergeant on duty, she noticed the police composite sketch of Paul Stine's killer and recognized him as the man who abducted her and her child.

Fearing the Zodiac might come back and kill them all, the sergeant had Johns wait, in the dark, at the nearby Mil's Restaurant. When her car was found, it had been gutted and torched.

Most accounts claim he threatened to kill her and her daughter while driving them around,but at least one police report disputes that. Johns' account to Paul Avery of the Chronicle indicates her abductor left his car and searched for her in the dark with a flashlight; however, in one report she made to the police, she stated he did not leave the vehicle.

Riverside Attack On October 30, 1966: 18-year-old Cheri Jo Bates spent the evening at the campus library annex until it closed at 9:00 pm.

Neighbors reported hearing a scream around 10:30 pm. Bates was found dead the next morning, a short distance from the library, between two abandoned houses slated to be demolished for campus renovations.

The wires in her Volkswagen's distributor cap had been pulled out. She was brutally beaten and stabbed to death.

A man's Timex watch with a torn wristband was found nearby. The watch had stopped at 12:24 pm, but police believe the attack occurred much earlier.

The confession a month later, on November 29, 1966, nearly identical typewritten letters were mailed to the Riverside police and the Riverside Press-Enterprise, titled "The Confession". The author claimed responsibility for the Bates murder, providing details of the crime not released to the public. The author warned that Bates "is not the first and she will not be the last".

In December 1966, a poem was discovered carved into the bottom side of a desktop in the Riverside City College library.

Titled "Sick of living/unwilling to die", the poem's language and handwriting resembled those of the Zodiac's letters. It was signed with what were assumed to be the initials, "rh".

Sherwood Morrill, California's top "Questioned Documents" examiner, expressed his opinion that the poem was written by the Zodiac.

On April 30, 1967, exactly six months after the Bates' murder, Bates' father Joseph, the Press-Enterprise, and the Riverside police all received nearly identical letters.

In handwritten scrawl, the Press-Enterprise and police copies read, "Bates had to die there will be more", with a small scribble at the bottom that resembled the letter 'Z'. Joseph Bates' copy read "She had to die there will be more" without a "Z" signature.

On March 13, 1971, nearly four months after Paul Avery's first article on Bates, the Zodiac mailed a letter to the Los Angeles Times.

In the letter he credited the police, instead of Avery, for discovering his "Riverside activity, but they are only finding the easy ones, there are a hell of a lot more down there".

The connection between Cheri Jo Bates, Riverside, and the Zodiac remains uncertain. Paul Avery and the Riverside Police Department maintain that the Bates homicide was not committed by the Zodiac, but did concede some of the Bates letters may have been his work to falsely claim credit.

Prime suspect Arthur Leigh Allen

Suspect Arthur Leigh Allen Arthur Leigh Allen was the prime suspect in the Zodiac murders and the only suspect served search warrants by police.

He was never charged with any Zodiac-related crime, and his fingerprints did not match those left by the killer of taxi cab driver Paul Stine.

In 1992, 23 years after the shootings, survivor Michael Mageau identified Allen as the man who shot him, from a photo lineup of 1968 driver's licenses.

Allen, who suffered from diabetes, died in 1992 from kidney failure.

In 2002, DNA samples taken from saliva on the Zodiac's stamps and envelopes were compared with the DNA of Arthur Leigh Allen, and the DNA of a former close friend of Allen named Don Cheney, who first identified Allen as the Zodiac Killer.

Allen and Cheney were ruled out as the contributors of the DNA, though it cannot be stated definitively that it is DNA from the Zodiac on the envelopes.

While Arthur Leigh Allen was the prime suspect, all of the evidence was against him being the killer.

To this day the Zodiac murders have not been solved.

Current status of Zodiac Killer Investigations

In 2002, SFPD submitted DNA evidence from Zodiac's letters for analysis, which resulted in a partial genetic profile. The test seems to have conclusively ruled out the Vallejo Police Department's lead suspect, Arthur Leigh Allen.

During a photo line up over twenty years after Mike Mageau�one of only two survivors of the Zodiac murders�was shot, Mageau identified Allen as the man who shot him on July 4, 1969.

Mageau stated he had never been shown a photo line up prior to that appointment in 1991. Allen died shortly after Mageau's identification.

Even though DNA samples taken from the letters sent by the Zodiac ruled out Allen as the person who handled them, neither the Vallejo nor the San Francisco Police Departments have ruled out Allen as a suspect.

In April 2004, the SFPD marked the case "inactive", citing caseload pressure and resource demands.

In 2007, Jack Tarrance's stepson, Dennis Kaufman, claimed that his stepfather was the Zodiac.Kaufman turned several items over to the FBI including a hood similar to the one worn by the Zodiac.

According to news sources, DNA analysis conducted by the FBI on the items were deemed inconclusive in 2010.

In 2009, Deborah Perez claimed that her father, Guy Ward Hendrickson, was the Zodiac. However, Perez also allegedly previously claimed that she was the illegitimate daughter of John F. Kennedy, so her claim that her father was the Zodiac is no longer considered to be very credible.

The Vallejo Police Department website maintains a link for providing Zodiac crime tips. The case is also open in Napa County and also in the city of Riverside.

Edited by: Brenda Booth

Source & References: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zodiac_Killer

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