On August 4th 1969, the San Francisco Examiner received a three-page letter with smudged writing, ending with "no address". There is no record of an envelope attached to this letter, and therefore its mode of delivery to the San Francisco Examiner offices is unknown (but it was likely hand delivered - see "No Address From Zodiac" article below).
The Zodiac Killer detailed the first two attacks at Lake Herman Road and Blue Rock Springs Park in the 'Debut of Zodiac' letter and goaded the police by writing "By the way, are the police having a good time with the code?". However, the code was to be deciphered only four days later (August 8th) by Bay Area residents Donald Gene and Bettye June Harden of Salinas, California. Unfortunately the code, albeit unsurprisingly, never revealed his identity as he had claimed it would.
However, the first line of the correspondence was undoubtedly a direct reply to Vallejo Police Chief Jack E. Stiltz who still expressed doubts regarding the Zodiac Killer. Jack E. Stiltz was a native Vallejoan who first joined the police force in 1939, and oversaw many changes, including the new station located at 111 Amador Street, before retiring with health issues in 1970. Jack E Stiltz died in 1974.
The Zodiac sent three coded segments in three letters on July 31st 1969 to the San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco Chronicle and Vallejo Times-Herald giving details of the first two crimes to police. The Zodiac Killer, seemingly though, still had a lot to prove to Police Chief Jack E. Stiltz, who was less than satisfied that the letter writer and killer were one and the same, as can be seen below in the following extract from from the Saturday August 2nd 1969 San Francisco Chronicle. He requested the writer to send a further correspondence "with more facts to prove it".
Another Zodiac article was featured the following day on Sunday August 3rd 1969 in the San Francisco Examiner. The mistrust of Jack E. Stiltz was highlighted again, reiterating that he "still is not convinced the letters and codes were written by the actual killer". The police chief "urged the writer to send more letters, with more facts to prove his connections to the crimes". See article to the right.
The Zodiac Killer's response was almost immediate, when he hand delivered the 'Debut of Zodiac' letter just one day later on August 4th 1969 to the San Francisco Examiner offices, effectively leaving little doubt he was replying directly to Vallejo Police Chief Jack E. Stiltz.
The letter also details his 'encounter' with a negro male (as yet unidentified) by the payphone at the intersection of Springs Road and Tuolumne Streets in Vallejo. This was the Zodiac Killer's first contact with police, just 40 minutes after the brutal shooting of Darlene Ferrin and Michael Mageau at Blue Rock Springs Park on July 4th 1969. The police dispatcher that morning was Nancy Slover, who became the first person to hear the killer's voice. The Zodiac uttered these ominous words: "I want to report a double murder. If you will go one mile east on Columbus Parkway to the public park, you will find the kids in a brown car. They were shot with a 9 mm Luger. I also killed those kids last year.... Good-bye".
The letter below was to arrive at the San Francisco Examiner just one month later. The note said;
This is the Zodiac speaking.
In answer to your asking for more details about the good times I have had in Vallejo, I shall be very happy to supply even more material. By the way, are the police having a good time with the code? If not, tell them to cheer up; when they do crack it, they will have me. On the 4th of July I did not open the car door. The window was rolled down all ready. The boy was origionaly sitting in the front seat when I began fireing. When I fired the first shot at his head, he leaped backwards at the same time, thus spoiling my aim. He ended up on the back seat then the floor in back thashing out very violently with his legs; that's how I shot him in the knee. I did not leave the cene of the killing with squealling tires + raceing engine as described in the Vallejo paper. I drove away quite slowly so as not to draw attention to my car. The man who told police that my car was brown was a negro about 40-45 rather shabbly dressed. I was in this phone booth having some fun with the Vallejo cop when he was walking by. When I hung the phone up the damn thing began to ring & that drew his attention to me + my car.
Last Christmass In that epasode the police were wondering how I could shoot + hit my victims in the dark. They did not openly state this, but implied this by saying it was a well lit night + I could see silowets on the horizon. Bullshit that area is surrounded by high hills + trees. What I did was tape a small pencel flash light to the barrel of my gun. If you notice, in the center of the beam of light if you aim it at a wall or ceiling you will see a black or darck spot in the center of the circle of light about 3 to 6 inches across. When taped to a gun barrel, the bullet will strike in the center of the black dot in the light. All I had to do was spray them as if it was a water hose; there was no need to use the gun sights. I was not happy to see that I did not get front page coverage.
Zodiac symbol inserted here
On the right are the three pages of correspondence mailed by the Zodiac Killer. The writing is not very clear, but click on the page you want to view to enlarge the image. Once the image has appeared you can click on the letter a further time to expand it for even greater clarity.
The Zodiac Killer would highlight this correspondence a further time when he mailed the 'Bus Bomb' letter on November 9th 1969, in reference to the 'Vallejo Cop'.
At the foot of the 'Bus Bomb' letter, the Zodiac Killer stated "To prove that I am the Zodiac, Ask the Vallejo cop about my electric gun sight which I used to start my collecting of slaves".
Shortly after the Presidio Heights murder of taxicab driver Paul Stine on October 11th 1969, the police claimed that the Zodiac Killer could not have been hiding in the park, whilst claiming he also left fingerprints on the interior and exterior of the taxicab - placing emphasis on the blooded fingerprints on the driver side dividing panel. The Zodiac Killer again felt compelled to reply in the November 9th 1969 'Bus Bomb' letter, just like he had in the 'Debut of Zodiac' letter above. He stated "I have grown rather angry with the police for their telling lies about me...... p.s. 2 cops pulled a goof abot 3 min after I left the cab. I was walking down the hill to the park when this cop car pulled up + one of them called me over + asked if I saw anyone acting suspicious or strange in the last 5 to 10 min + I said yes there was this man who was runnig by waveing a gun & the cops peeled rubber + went around the corner as I directed them + I disappeared into the park a block + a half away never to be seen again." and again asked for press coverage. "By the way it could be rather messy if you try to bluff me. PS. Be shure to print the part I marked out on page 3 or I shall do my thing. To prove that I am the Zodiac, Ask the Vallejo cop about my electric gun sight which I used to start my collecting of slaves".
The last time the Zodiac was doubted he supplied extra details of the Blue Rock Springs and Lake Herman Road attacks to Vallejo Police Chief Jack E. Stiltz - and he again did the same in the 'Bus Bomb' letter - reminding everybody that he indeed was the Zodiac Killer. In other words, do not doubt him and "Ask the Vallejo cop about my electric gun sight which I used to start my collecting of slaves". The Vallejo cop he is referring to is Jack E. Stiltz. The Vallejo cop to whom he sent details about his improvised gun sight in the 'Debut of Zodiac' letter only three months earlier. He proved to Jack E. Stiltz that he was both the letter writer and the killer, and again here in the 'Bus Bomb' letter, he is referring back to this Vallejo cop..... and to not doubt him again.
NO ADDRESS FROM ZODIAC
The 'Debut of Zodiac' letter was received by the San Francisco Examiner newspaper on August 4th 1969, who immediately turned it over to the Vallejo Police Department for comparison to previous Zodiac correspondence. The FBI files constantly referred to the July 31st 1969 trinity of letters and envelopes, but there was a notable absence of the word "envelope" when referring to the August 4th 1969 communication - and more importantly, on the day it was received. The FBI files explicitly state that the correspondence was "undated", and sent "anonymously". In the absence of any dated or postmarked envelope, this strongly indicates that the three-page letter was hand delivered by the killer to the offices of the San Francisco Examiner at Third and Market Streets.
The Zodiac Killer painstakingly detailed his first two crimes in the July 31st letters "stating some facts which only I + the police know", so must have been aghast at the statement of Vallejo Police Chief Jack E Stiltz in the Sunday August 3rd 1969 San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle, wanting more facts to prove the letter writer was the killer. This may explain his eagerness in rushing off his three-page letter to the San Francisco Examiner. He may have considered posting it in a public mailbox, but his apparent desire to back up his claims in the July 31st letters and have it published in the Examiner by Monday afternoon, forced him to opt for the direct route of hand-delivery.
For 35 years starting in 1965, the San Francisco Chronicle and Examiner operated under a Joint Operating Agreement whereby the Chronicle published a morning paper and the Examiner published in the afternoon. The Examiner published the Sunday paper's news sections and glossy magazine, and the Chronicle contributed the features. Circulation was approximately 100,000 on weekdays and 500,000 on Sundays. Wikipedia.
Below, the Vallejo News Chronicle details the Zodiac Killer's fourth letter to the San Francisco Examiner on Monday August 4th 1969,
The noticeable absence of the word "envelope" is not the only reason for believing the 'Debut of Zodiac' letter was hand-delivered, when we look at the layout of the 3rd page, where the Zodiac Killer writes "NO ADDRESS".
Why on earth would the sender feel the need to write "no address" at the foot of the letter? Probably because there was no envelope containing the address of the San Francisco Examiner.
The scale on the left is slightly cut off, but the 3rd page measures approximately 10 inches in length.
If the Zodiac Killer had placed all three pages together, placing the 3rd page facing outwards on the top or bottom, then by folding the letters in the middle twice, the face of his communication would measure approximately 2.5 inches in height. The highlighted pink section would be the visible part of his communication, and where the address of the newspaper should have been written. But because he delivered it directly to the San Francisco offices, there was no need for an address - which is exactly what he wrote.
Does the hand-delivery of this letter tell us anything else about the Zodiac Killer, other than his eagerness for publication? The following is speculative and must be regarded as such.
The Zodiac letters have been heavily dissected to discover the likely home residence of the Bay Area murderer, so that is what we shall attempt to do in order to make some observations regarding this communication.
How prepared would the Zodiac Killer be, to travel a long distance just to hand-deliver this letter, rather than mail it? If the Zodiac Killer lived or worked in San Francisco, then it isn't a problem to deliver it in person, either by making the journey specifically or en route to his workplace. However, if he lived in an outlying area (but didn't work in San Francisco) such as Napa (44 miles), Sacramento (94 miles), Santa Rosa (57 miles), Vallejo (29 miles), Oakland (9 miles), then how likely would it be for a person to travel these distances for no other purpose than the desire to hand-deliver a letter? Surely, based on the 'least effort principle' of geographical profiling, the further away he lives, the less likely this would be the case
This may suggest that the killer either lived and worked in San Francisco, or lived in one of these other regions and traveled into San Francisco for his profession. If he lived in Napa, for example, would he travel 44 miles (88 miles round trip) for the sole purpose of dropping off a letter, rather than mail it in Napa or somewhere close by? Unless, he lived in Napa and worked in San Francisco.
If the August 4th 1969 'Debut of Zodiac' letter was personally delivered by the murderer to the San Francisco Examiner, does it in some small way reveal something about Zodiac Killer and his likely residence - or is "no address" the likely outcome.
1963 June 4th-The Domingos/Edwards Murders
1966 October 30th-The Cheri Jo Bates Murder
1966 November 29th -The Confession Letter
1966 December- The Riverside Desktop Poem
1967 April 30th- Bates Had to Die Letter
1968 December 20th-The Lake Herman Murders
1969 July 4th-The Blue Rock Springs Attack
1969 July 31st- Vallejo Times Herald Letter and
408 Cipher Page1 (solved)
1969 July 31st- Examiner Letter and
408 Cipher Page 2 (solved)
1969 July 31st - Chronicle Letter and
408 Cipher Page 3 (87% solved)
1969 July 31st-The Complete 408 Cipher
1969 August 4th- Debut of Zodiac Letter
1969 August 10th- Concerned Citizen Card
1969 September 27th- The Lake Berryessa Attack
1969 October 7th- The Good Citizen Letter
1969 October 11th-The Presidio Heights Murder
1969 October 13th-The Paul Stine Letters
1969 October 22nd-Call to Chat Show
1969 November 8th-The Dripping Pen Card and
340 Cipher (unsolved)
1969 November 9th-The Bus Bomb Letter
1969 November 19th- The Riddler Notes
1969 November 21st-The San Jose Code Letter
1969 November 28th-The Betsy Aardsma Murder
1969 December 7th-The Fairfield Letter
1969 December 16th-The Fairfield Letter
1969 December 20th-The Melvin Belli Letter
1970 Feb 21st- The Hood and Garcia Murders
1970 March 22nd-The Modesto Attack
1970 April 20th-"My Name is" Letter,
Cipher 3 (unsolved) and Bus Bomb Diagram
1970 April 28th-The Dragon Card
1970 June 26th-The Button Letter
Cipher 4 (unsolved) and Map
1970 July 4th-The Sleeping Bag Murders
1970 July 24th-The Kathleen Johns Letter
1970 July 26th-The Little List Letter
1970 Sept 6th-The Donna Lass Disappearance
1970 October 5th-13 Hole Postcard
1970 October 17th- "You Are Next" Postcard
1970 October 27th-The Halloween Card
1971 March 13th-The Los Angeles Letter
1971 March 22nd-The Pines Card
1971 Unknown- The 148 Character Cipher
1971 July 13th-The Monticello Card
1973 August 1st- The Albany Letter
1974 January 29th-The Exorcist Letter
1974 February 3rd-The SLA Letter
1974 May 8th-The Citizen Card
1974 July 8th-The Red Phantom Letter
1974 December 27th- Christmas Card
1975 November 3rd- The Belmont Letter
1978 April 24th-The 1978 Letter
1978 May 2nd- The Channel Nine Letter
1978 July 19th- The Scotch Tape Letter
1981 March 8th- The Peachtree Letter
1986 May 6th- The Freeway Letter
1987 October 28th- The 1987 Letter
1990 September 25th- The Celebrity Cypher
1990 December-American Greetings Card
Unknown DMV Letter (possibly November 1971)
On August 11th 1969, a letter was received by Sergeant John Lynch of the Vallejo Police Department under the title of a concerned citizen, containing a brief typewritten message and the key for the 408 cipher. The card read: Dear Sergeant Lynch, I hope the enclosed "key" will prove to be beneficial to you in connection with the cipher letter writer. Working puzzles criptograms and word puzzles is one of my pleasures. Please forgive the absence of my signature or name as I do not wish to have my name in the papers and it could be mentiond by a slip of the tongue. With best wishes. concerned citizen. For a three part analysis of this correspondence, click here.