Cheryl and her friend had visited a local cafe, the Firefly Tavern, from where they accepted a lift from James Findley. After her friend had been dropped home, Cheryl continued on with Findley, however she would never make it home. The next day she was discovered naked, with a bullet wound to the head. The killer had inflicted a deep laceration across her torso, carved the letter Z onto her stomach, and her left nipple had been removed, which is why this attracted so much attention from Northern California.
On October 21st 1970 San Francisco law enforcement were contacted by the Cincinnati Post and Times Star, concerning a subject arrested by the Cincinnati Police Department on a murder warrant issued in Butler County.
The FBI file stated 'Source advised that (redacted) has been charged with murder of 16 year old girl and noted victim's body had been mutilated, including the superficial cutting of a Z on the abdomen and excision of the nipple of left breast. Source noted that (redacted) had reportedly been in San Francisco during August 1970. Advised that on August 4th last and August 30th last, Brenda Vance (23), negro female, and Janice Smith (22), NF, were found murdered in San Francisco. Both were prostitutes working in San Francisco area. Both died from severe blows to the head. Smith's body was mutilated extensively, including removal of nipple from left breat. Vance's body had numerous burns of torso and breasts. (redacted) believes both victims were abducted at gunpoint and taken to abandoned dwelling and murdered.'
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The murder of Brenda Vance and Janice Smith in August bore uncanny similarities to the murder of Cheryl Segal in Cincinnati. This coupled with the carved Z symbol in the latter was enough to initiate an investigation into this subject regarding the Zodiac Killer, and several pages of information can be viewed here in the FBI files, starting on page nine.
James Findley has so far been denied parole.
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