Post by theczar on Mar 22, 2015 21:01:34 GMT -5
The Zodiac killer is one of, if not the most famous unsolved murder case in the last 50 years. Despite the large number of murder victims the killer claimed to have taken, he is only to have known to have killed at the very least 5 victims in the late 60's. Despite the long manhunt, he has never been properly identified.[/p]
The first known murders of the Zodiac were that of Betty Lou Jensen and David Faraday in December 1968. Police speculated that a car parked next to the couple, who were at a known "lovers lane" after a date. It's believe a man ordered the couple out of the car, and when Faraday was leaving the car, he was shot in the head. Fleeing from the killer, Jensen was shot five times in the back. The killer then drove off.
In July 1969, Darlene Ferrin and Michael Mageau were parked at a park not far from the first murder site. A car parked aside them, drove off, but then returned not long after. The driver walked up to the car, shined a flashlight at the couple, and fired at the couple with a 9 mm Luger. The killer walked away, but after hearing Mageau moan, he returned and shot each victim twice before leaving. Ferrin died at the hospital, but Mageau survived despite multiple gunshot wounds. Shortly after the shootings, a man called the Vallejo Police Department and claimed responsibility for the shootings, as well as for the Jensen and Faraday murders.
About a month after the murders, a letter was sent to three different newspapers. The letter claimed credit for both the shootings and contained a coded letter which the killer claimed would reveal his identity. The killer demanded the letter be printed on the front page of each paper, or he'd kill at least a dozen people over the weekend. One paper did publish the letter, and the threatened murders did not happen. A week later, one paper, The San Francisco Examiner, received another letter. In this letter, the killer not only first identified himself as the Zodiac, but also contained details of the murders that were never released to the public. The next day, a couple living nearby were able to crack the code. It did not contain the killer's name, but claimed he was collecting souls for the afterlife.
In late September 1969, college students Bryan Hartnell and Cecelia Shepard were picnicking when 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, carrying a gun. He claimed he was an escaped prisoner, had murdered a prison guard, and had stolen a car. He claimed he needed their car and money to get to Mexico. He demanded Shepard tie up Hartnell, and then he tied up Shepard. The man then pulled out a knife and stabbed both of them. After the attack, the killer called the sheriff's department and confessed to the attack. Police were able to lift a print from the phone, but were never able to link it to anyone. Hartnell and Shepard were taken to a hospital; Hartnell survived, but Shepard died two days later. On Hartnell's car was a message written by the killer, which included the dates of the two other attacks.
Two weeks later, eye-witnesses reported that a taxi driver, Paul Stine, had been shot by a passenger. The killer took Stine's wallet and keys, as well as a piece of his blood-stained shirt. Witnesses saw the killer wipe down the cab before walking away. Not far from the scene, police stopped a man who they suspected of trespassing. But because the police radio identified the murder suspect as an African-American male, they ignored him. The witnesses came up with a composite sketch, but no suspects came up. A few days later, the San Francisco Chronicle received another letter from the Zodiac, which contained not only a piece of Stine's shirt as proof he was the killer, but also a threat to attack a school bus full of children. Over the next few months, the Zodiac sent multiple letters, some in code, to newspapers and lawyers, issuing more threats and giving details of his murders.
In March 1970, Kathleen Johns was driving towards Modesto when a car behind her began honking and flashing its lights. After they pulled over, the driver claimed he noticed one of her wheels was loose, and offered to fix it. After finishing, the man drove off, but when Johns began to drive away, the wheel came completely off. The driver came back and offered her and her daughter a lift to a gas station for help. For almost 2 hours, they passed several gas stations, but didn't stop. He wouldn't answer her when he asked why they weren't stopping. When they reached an intersection, Johns jumped out of the car with her daughter and hid in a field until the driver drove away. While at a police station, she recognized the driver as resembling the composite sketch of Paul Stine's killer.
Throughout the year, the Zodiac sent more letters to newspapers. The letters contained, among others things: threats to use bombs in his next attacks, claims that he had killed more people, coded letters that claimed to reveal where he hid bombs (although they were never decoded, the alleged bombs never went off), and credit for the Johns abduction. In October 1970, Chronicle reporter Paul Avery received a threatening letter from the Zodiac, as well as an anonymous letter which attempted to link the Zodiac with the Riverside murder of Cheri Jo Bates. Bates was beaten and stabbed to death near a college library back in October 1966. A month later, Riverside police and the local paper received letters claiming responsibility, giving details only the killer could know, as well as stating that Bates wouldn't be the last. At the library where Bates was found near, a poem was found carved in a desk. Over the years, investigators speculated that the poem's language and handwriting resembled the Zodiac's. A few months after the Bates' murder, her father, the police, and the paper received another letter, claiming there would be more deaths. The copies the police and paper received had a scribble at the bottom that resembled a Z. In March 1971, the Zodiac sent a letter giving the police credit for finding his "Riverside activity", but claimed there were many more. It should be noted that the Zodiac has never been 100% tied to the Bates murder.
Also in March 1971, a letter believed to be sent from the Zodiac appeared to take credit for the disappearance and presumed murder of Donna Lass, a nurse who was last seen late at night in September 1970, after work. Lass has never been found, and it was later revealed that the letter was a forgery. It's now believed Zodiac had nothing to do with Lass' disappearance.
After a brief silence, the Zodiac wrote one last letter, in which he claimed to have killed 37 people at that point. Since then, several letters have been sent to newspapers, but none that have officially been tied to the Zodiac. The official number of victims attributed to the Zodiac is 5, although his real number may never be known, as he claimed to have killed many more.
Since the murders, several suspects have been brought in and ruled out. Robert Graysmith, who worked as a cartoonist for the Chronicle during the murder spree, pushed forward in his book that Arthur Leigh Allen, a convicted child molester, as the killer, based on circumstantial evidence. However, DNA evidence from the envelopes sent by the killer did not match Allen, and although some claim he's still a suspect, he's no longer considered to be the killer.
Thoughts? Last year, a man claimed that his deceased father was the Zodiac killer. There's been plenty of people online who claim their father/uncle/grandfather, etc., was the killer. I think the old AMW forums had plenty of those people. Honestly, I have no theories as to who it is. Although Allen was a good guess, I think it's more likely he's not the killer. I would say though that it is very likely that the killer is still alive. If he was in his 30's at the time, he would be in his late 70's or early 80's today. Of course, I personally don't think this guy stopped on his own. If he didn't die soon after the crime, he may have gotten locked up for some other crime.
Admin Note #1: Based on the agency's past handling of the case, our advice for anyone with information on the Zodiac Killer's identity would be to contact the FBI.
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