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Thread: The Zodiac

  1. #1 The Zodiac 
    Forum Ph.D. william's Avatar
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    Jun 2006
    Wherever I go, there I am
    About 10 years ago I read a book by Robert Graysmith entitled "Zodiac". This has been the only book that, while reading, I had to go lock my doors.

    In the late '60's and early '70's, a man calling himself "The Zodiac" killed five persons and wounded two more. He taunted the police with phone calls and letters to the newspapers. Some of these letters contained cryptograms. Some of these cryptograms are still unsolved.

    He was never caught....

    The following is a concise overview of the crimes. It can be read in more detail here:
    And in much greater detail in Robert Graysmith's book:

    Lake Herman Road
    On the night of Dec. 20, 1968, Betty Lou Jensen and David Faraday were on their first date. At about 10:15 they parked in a lovers lane on Lake Herman Road near the San Fransisco Bay area. At about 11:00 a car pulled beside them. The driver of the other car brandished a pistol and ordered the couple out of the car. The man shot Faraday in the head when he was half-way out of the car, and Jensen was shot and dies 28 feet from the car while trying to flee.

    Blue Rock Springs
    Around midnight on July 4, 1969, Darlene Ferrin and Michael Mageau drove to the Blue Rock Springs Golf Course in Vallejo California, four miles from the Lake Herman Road murder site, and parked. A car drove up, and parked. Almost immediately, it drove off. About 10 minutes later, the car returned and parked, with the lights on, behind Ferrin's car. The man exited his vehicle and walked toward the passenger side of the couple's car, shining a light in their eyes. The man shot the couple multiple times and began to return to his car. The man heard Mageau moan, and returned to shoot them both again. He then drove off.

    At about 12:40, the Vallejo Police Department received a phone call where the caller took credit for the crime and also took responsibility for the Lake Herman murders.

    Ferrin dies, but Mageau survived.

    The first letters
    On August 1, 1969, three newspapers, the Vallejo Times-Herald, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the San Francisco Examiner, received letters claiming to be from the person that committed these crimes. Each letter contained part of a cypher, in which the killer claimed contained his identity.

    On August 7, 1969, another letter was received at the San Francisco Examiner. This letter contained details about the crimes which were not made public.

    On August 8, 1969, Donald and Bettye Harden of Salinas, California, cracked the 408-symbol cryptogram. The cryptogram did not contain Zodiac's name....

    Lake Berryessa
    On September 27, 1969, Bryan Hartnell and Cecelia Shepard were picnicking at Lake Berryessa. A man approached the couple donning a black hood. Under the guise of robbing them, he had Shepard tie Hartnell's hands behind his back. The man then hog-tied Shepard and then retied Hartnell. The man then pulled out a knofe and stabbed the couple multiple times. The man then went to the couple's car and, with a felt-tip pen, wrote on the door
    "Vallejo/12-20-68/7-4-69/Sept 27-69-6:30/by knife".
    At 7:40 p.m., the man 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, only a few blocks from the sheriff's office and 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 a suspect.

    Hartnell survived.

    Presidio Heights
    A man entered the cab of Paul Stine and requested to be taken to Washington and Maple Streets in Presidio Heights. For reasons unknown, Stine drove one block further to Cherry Street and the man shot him once in the head. The man then took his wallet and car keys and took part of Stine's shirt. Three teenagers witnessed this crime from a second level building across the street. They observed the man wipe down the cab. A bloody fingerprint was left on the cab.

    Two police officers responding to the crime saw a man two blocks from the crime scene. The officers had been told that the suspect was a black male, which was an error.

    It turns out, that this man was the Zodiac, which he revealed in a future letter.

    These are the known Zodiac crimes.
    More letters and cryptograms were mailed from the Zodiac. They can be seen here:
    Some of these letters contained pieces of Stine's shirt.

    According to Wikipedia, three cryptograms have yet to be cracked.

    The Zodiac may also be responsible for a murder of Cheri Jo Bates in 1966 in Riverside California. Paul Avery of the Chronicle did a story of the possible connection between the Zodiac and this crime. Roughly four months later, Zodiac sent another letter taking responsibility. In this letter, he stated "...they are only finding the easy ones, there are a hell of a lot more down there."

    Lake Tahoe
    On March 22, 1971, Paul Avery of the Chronicle received a postcard thought to be from the Zodiac. The Zodiac took credit for the disappearance of Donna Lass from South Lake Tahoe on September 26, 1970.

    Most of the above is adapted from Wikipedia;
    There are a few other possible Zodiac crimes elaborated on there, including the account of Kathleen Johns, abducted by a man claiming to be the Zodiac.

    There is overwhelming circumstantial evidence that points to one suspect; Arthur Leigh Allen. However, his fingerprints didn't match the bloody cab print, his handwriting didn't match the Zodiac letters, and DNA taken from known Zodiac letters didn't match Allen's. Allen died in 1992.

    There are many resources on the internet dedicated to this case. Some think Allen was the Zodiac regardless of the DNA, handwriting, and fingerprint. Others have pointed to other suspects. And at the bottom of the Wiki article, I see a link to an article that states it was all a hoax.

    Anyone care to discuss...?


    "... the polhode rolls without slipping on the herpolhode lying in the invariable plane."
    ~Footnote in Goldstein's Mechanics, 3rd ed. p. 202
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  3. #2  
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    May 2008
    Within the mind
    The Zodiac is an amazing case, their was a copy-cat killer at one point; a person who called himself The Zodiac Killer, New York. Ofcourse there was the San Franciso...

    Cogito, ergo sum
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