Many people have questioned Lake Berryessa as a Zodiac crime, citing the different style of the attack and his failure to detail this crime in any of his subsequent correspondence with newspapers. The writing on the car door, his phone call and the mention of 'sept' on the 'Dripping Pen' card mailed on November 8th 1969, have seemingly failed to convince everyone. So later we will take a closer look at the sketch, bearing in mind the Zodiac could easily have cut and dyed his hair in the two weeks prior to the murder of Paul Stine.
The Zodiac Killer also stated in the November 9th 1969 'Bus Bomb' letter "I look like the description passed out only when I do my thing, the rest of the time I look entirle different. I shall not tell you what my descise consists of when I kill."
Earlier on in the day three young women, students of Pacific Union College parked their vehicle at the A & W in St Helena. Within seconds of leaving their vehicle, a white male driving a silver or light blue Chevrolet, 2-door sedan with California plates pulled up to the rear of their car, bumper to bumper, yet remained inside his vehicle. This man would come into play later, once the girls had headed off to Lake Berryessa and parked up. The time was approximately 3.30 pm. They again noticed the same man approximately 50 feet away observing them sunbathing, and each time they looked at him he evaded eye contact, thus drawing suspicion. He was described as being between 28 and 40 years, 200 - 225 pounds, 6 feet tall, styled black hair, with rounded eyes and thin lips, he was good looking, with a muscular or stocky build, wearing dark pants and a dark pullover shirt. He remained observing them, by their accounts, for between 30 - 45 minutes.
Here are the separate descriptions they submitted;
#1. "A subject driving a late model silver-blue Chevrolet, 2-door sedan. This subject was described as 6' tall, weighing 200/210 pounds, muscular build, rather nice looking."
#2. "Vehicle described as a 1966 or 1967 light blue Chevrolet with California plates. Witness believes the vehicle was a 2-door sedan and described the headlights as long rather than round."
#3. "Subject was described as approximately 28 years of age, 6'1" to 6'2" tall, 200/225 lbs, black hair possibly styled, with a part on the left, rounded eyes, thin lips, medium nose, straight eyebrows, small ears, well built, rather nice looking."
#4. "Vehicle was described as a late model Chevrolet, sky blue in color. The rear taillights appeared to be long rather than round. She described the subject as 6' tall, stocky build, about 200 lbs, black short-sleeved sweater shirt, dark blue slacks, and straight dark hair neatly combed. She guessed his age at approximately 30 years."
When the three young women returned to their vehicle at 4.30 pm, the man and his vehicle had left.
Certain key aspects given by Bryan Hartnell and the three women match up. The dark hair, observed by both Bryan Hartnell and Cecelia Shepard by the eyelets of the mask worn by the assailant, may indicate his hair was drawn downwards when he pulled on the mask. The sketch by the three women indicates longer hair, probably swept back on top. The description of a heavyset man, 200-225 pounds is identical in both instances, in line with the description of a heavyset man at Presidio Heights. The age is also consistent.
The three women described what they thought was a white belt around his back, thinking it could possibly have been a tee shirt hanging out. Another girl stated he was wearing a black short sleeved sweater shirt bunched up at the front, again describing a white tee shirt hanging out the back. Did the bunched up sweater shirt hide anything sinister.
Could the descriptions given by the women, describing a white belt around his back or white tee shirt 'hanging out', actually have been the cut lengths of plastic clothesline trailing from his rear pocket in anticipation of a prepared attack on the women, but for whatever reason got cold feet, changed his mind and turned to Bryan Hartnell and Cecelia Shepard approximately two hours later.
In an interview with Sgt John Robertson, Bryan Hartnell mentioned the windbreaker worn by the assailant stating "That was dark blue. And I don't know. Maybe he had something in his pouch." The three women would describe the man as he approached the beach within 20 feet of them, noticing "a black short-sleeved sweater shirt, bunched up in front". Was the knife or gun concealed under his shirt, described by Bryan Hartnell as "a knife in a case on the right side of his belt, near the front of his trousers." Bryan Hartnell in the police report, stated the assailant was wearing "sloppy clothes. And he had on this old pair of pleated pants. Well like I say, he was dressed kind of sloppily, you know. His pants real tight up here and his stomach kind of pouched a bit." These style of pants would be later detailed by Donald Fouke, one of the responding officers at Presidio Heights on October 11th 1969. Bryan Hartnell would also describe the clothing worn by the assailant as old fashioned. One of the women would describe the vehicle driven by the mystery man, stating the car "as appearing very conservative and did not appear to belong to any young person, such as a teenager."
The three women described his vehicle as a 'late model, 1966 or 1967 light blue Chevrolet, the rear taillights appeared to be long rather than round.'
Below is a picture of the rear end of a 1967 Chevrolet Nova II, with long taillights, rather than round. What was actually meant by the description of 'long' can be interpreted in two ways, either long vertically or horizontally, however after much searching of vehicle specifications, this car has been chosen for a reason. Its track width is almost identical to the tire impressions found next to Bryan Hartnell's 1956 White Karmann Ghia, shortly after the Lake Berryessa attack. This was examined in much greater detail here.
William Crow described the vehicle as possibly a blue Valiant in the original police report, and bearing in mind the vehicle momentarily stopped just past the turnout, before reversing, this would undoubtedly be the best view he had of the vehicle that night, before being chased down Lake Herman Road. The rear of a 1967 Plymouth Valiant is shown in the above right photograph, with the characteristics of the rear end and taillights bearing a passing similarity to the 1967 Chevrolet Nova II. So is it possible William Crow was pursued by a 1967 Chevrolet Nova II on December 20th 1968, the same vehicle that would be viewed by the three women at Lake Berryessa nine months later. A vehicle that would further match the track width, measured by detectives alongside Bryan Hartnell's 1956 White Karmann Ghia.
Finally we shall return to the sketch attributed to the three women and compare it to the sketch generated at Presidio Heights.
The first image on the left is the original sketch (colored, without glasses) from the three teenagers overlooking 3898 Washington Street. The middle image shows the Lake Berryessa sketch with the haircut from Presidio Heights. The right image changes one further characteristic from Lake Berryessa;- the lips of the assailant. Taking into consideration the eyewitnesses at Presidio Heights were hindered by distance and poor lighting, was the Lake Berryessa sketch more accurate. Or indeed, was the man observed by the three women actually the Zodiac Killer. It depends on whether the images below could be mistaken for the same person. I will let you decide.