On Saturday February 21st 1970, John Franklin Hood (24), who had served decorated time in Vietnam in the 64th Armoured Division and Sandra Garcia (20), who worked in the California Department of Motor Vehicles, decided to visit the quiet retreat of East Beach, Santa Barbara one evening, when they fell victim to a knife wielding assassin, not unlike the previous murders of Robert Domingos and Linda Edwards .
Domingos and Edwards, were brutally gunned down on June 4th 1963, near Lompoc, Santa Barbara County, by an unknown assailant who had initially bound the couple before they had managed to free themselves, at which point he then resorted to a .22 calibre weapon to execute the couple. This earlier crime and the murder of John F Hood and Sandra Garcia in 1970, seemed to bear all the hallmarks of the Lake Berryessa attack on Bryan Hartnell and Cecelia Shepard on September 27th 1969, accredited as a confirmed Zodiac event. Both Bryan Hartnell and Cecelia Shepard were stabbed repeatedly without mercy. Although the couple survived the initial attack, Cecelia Shepard succumbed to her injuries two days later at the Queen of the Valley Hospital.
John F Hood and Sandra Garcia, were set to become married and were enjoying the evening
tranquility, lying on a blanket under a full moon, when a knife-man carrying a bone handled 4" blade approached them, taking them by surprise, and despite evidently fighting back against their attacker, both unfortunately had their lives cruelly snatched away on that fateful night. John Hood suffered 11 stab wounds, the majority inflicted to the face and back, with Sandra Garcia receiving the brunt of the attack, leaving her almost unrecognizable, in what appeared a senseless and motiveless crime. There appeared to be no sexual interference, with their possessions left untouched where they lay.
The couple were discovered the following day, face down on their blanket, the bone handled fish knife used in their murder was retrieved from beneath the blanket, partially buried in the sand.
Parallels in all three cases have been drawn, due to all three attacks occurring remote areas, all on beaches, near water, with lone couples the target, and robbery seemingly not the motive.
These murders, came five months after the Lake Berryessa attack, one month before the Modesto abduction of Kathleen Johns on March 22nd 1970 and two months prior to the 13 Symbol Cipher letter mailed to the San Francisco Chronicle on April 20th 1970. This letter made no reference to the Hood/Garcia murders, however the victim count had moved on to 10, as the Zodiac Killer announced ' But there is more glory in killing a cop than a cid because a cop can shoot back. I have killed ten people to date. It would have been a lot more except that my bus bomb was a dud. I was swamped out by the rain we had a while back.'
The murders have been thought by some to be the work of the Manson Family, but former gang member Robert Beausoleil, serving life for the murder of Gary Hinman in 1969, as part of the 'Helter Skelter' revolution, has distanced himself from any involvement and no connection has ever been proven.
The Zodiac crimes had played high on the public psyche, with many crimes committed around the same period being drawn into the Zodiac timeline, but for now all that remains is conjecture. Despite this fact, the similarities in all three of the above cases, deserves our closer attention.
Another crime to show parallels to this case was the double murder of Thomas Victor Dolan (17), of Manhattan Beach and Homer Clyde Shadwick (19), of Saginaw Michigan, also on a Santa Barbara beach on July 4th 1970 and just 10 miles from the Hood and Garcia crime scene.