Known as the Christmas card or American Greetings card for obvious reasons, this card is often referred to as the Eureka card because it was postmarked Eureka, California, December 1990 (possibly 20th December). This correspondence was mailed to the San Francisco Chronicle three years and two months after the last confirmed Zodiac correspondence (October 28th 1987 letter) and depicts a Christmas scene of a snowman, adorned with a Groucho Marx style face, red bobble hat and a green and white striped scarf, with a small rabbit facing the snowman.
The wording on the card exterior read; "FROM YOUR SECRET PAL CAN'T GUESS WHO I AM YET? WELL, LOOK INSIDE AND YOU'LL FIND OUT..." and once opened it revealed: "...THAT I'M GONNA KEEP YOU GUESSIN'! HAPPY HOLIDAYS, ANYWAY".
The American Greetings Card Company was founded in Brooklyn, Ohio in 1906 by Jacob Sapirstein, a Polish immigrant. It was originally called the Sapirstein Greeting Card Company. The designer of the card was George Schill, a contract artist with the American Greetings Card Company (Corporation) for 38 years, who informed me that all the imagery on the card (including the snowman) is exactly as he created it. In other words, nothing was added to the card outer by the Zodiac Killer. George, who retired several years ago, remarked "I did create the card as shown" and that "The ‘“guess who“ copy is typical of a greeting card friendship/secret admirer type of card, and I added the Groucho Marx glasses which are cliche". George's website lists his accomplishments as an illustrator, stating "my work has garnered a number of awards and has been selected for inclusion in the NY Society of Illustrators Annuals, Communication Arts, Printʼs Regional Design Annuals, and the Addyʼs. In addition to my freelance work, I have designed thousands of greeting cards as a contract artist with the humor divisions at American Greetings, where I also write gags, develop characters, and concept new lines. Several of my cards have been nominated for the National Cartoonist Society Reuben Award".
This correspondence was discovered on March 3rd 2007 by editorial assistant Daniel King of the San Francisco Chronicle among some photo files. The 2007 Zodiac movie, directed by David Fincher and based on the Robert Graysmith book, was released in the USA the day before this correspondence was unearthed, on March 2nd. The movie had its premier in Los Angeles and California on March 1st.
The card inner contained a photocopy of two US postal keys, supported by a magnet key-chain or pencil flashlight, however, there was no added text on the card from its sender.
Documents examiner Lloyd Cunningham (see right) declared the handwriting on the envelope not to be from the hand of Zodiac, but as with other alleged communications from Bay Area murder, experts would have differing opinions, believing it to have been written by the Zodiac Killer. Cunningham stated "The big problem you have here is, why would a person overwrite all of these letters. The Zodiac never did that in any of his writings". He formed the opinion that that the author of the 1990 envelope was copying or tracing the script from another document, summing up that he "could never conclude that this is the writing of the Zodiac, It tends to lean the other way -- I have the impression that someone tried to imitate the Zodiac's handwriting". The problem with this conclusion is, why would the Zodiac Killer use an address style of San Francisco Chronicle, 901 Mission Street, San Francisco, California. 94103, when the Zodiac Killer had never used this format before? Why not use an address style previously used, if your intention was to imitate the Bay Area murderer?
The envelope to this card bore handwriting uncannily familiar to another envelope and card apparently sent to Mrs Irene Preston of Lincoln Montana, by Theodore Kaczynski in 1990 (a friend of long standing), wishing her a happy Christmas and new year. This story was fielded by the US News and World Report in 1997. The image of two keys inserted into the greeting card could be a very simple clue to its author - TK - meaning Ted Kaczynski. See article.
Earlier in Ted Kaczynski's bombing campaign, on June 10th 1980, Percy Wood, president of American Airlines opened a package containing a book called 'Ice Brothers' packed with explosives, from which he narrowly cheated death. The device was constructed using wood - the victim's last name was Wood and the return address was from a street named Ravenswood. Was Ted Kaczynski playing a game of words with investigators in his attempted murder of Percy Wood? Inside the chiseled out section of the book Ted Kaczynski had inserted a small piece of metal in which the letters "FC" had been punched into its face. These two alphabetical letters would be used throughout his bombing campaign to identify his work to authorities. "In all, 16 bombs—which injured 23 people and killed 3—were attributed to Kaczynski. While the devices varied widely through the years, all but the first few contained the initials "FC." Inside his bombs, certain parts carried the inscription "FC," which Kaczynski later asserted stood for "Freedom Club".
In 2020, I discovered a credible link between the 1990 Eureka card and the 2001 Happy New Year card with respect to the handwriting and choice of address style on both envelopes. This has important ramifications for suspects such as Arthur Leigh Allen who died in 1992 and Theodore Kaczynski, who was arrested on April 3rd 1996 in Lincoln, Montana. If these two communications were written by the same author (and you believe the Eureka card to be genuine Zodiac material), then a case can be made that neither of these suspects is the Bay Area murderer, along with Ross Sullivan who died in 1977 and Earl Van Best Jr who died in 1984. The last two prominent suspects of Sullivan and Best can almost certainly be ruled out as the Zodiac Killer, when you compare the 1969 and 1987 Vallejo Times-Herald envelopes.
Here is the communication mailed to the San Francisco Chronicle on January 10th 2001 threatening the Muni drivers of San Francisco, widely believed to be somebody mimicking the Zodiac Killer. While this may be the case, one has to consider the style and format of the writing (on the envelope shown below) with respect to previous Zodiac communications. No other authenticated Zodiac communication (or unauthenticated communication) prior to 1990 carried the address of "901 Mission Street" with "San Francisco, CA 94103". However, both the 1990 and 2001 card were both written in this fashion.
The Eureka card is the only other possible Zodiac communication addressed in near identical fashion to the 2001 offering (shown in tandem with the envelope below). The problem arises when we consider that the Eureka card was not discovered until March 3rd 2007 by editorial assistant Daniel King of the San Francisco Chronicle among some photo files. The 2007 Zodiac movie directed by David Fincher and based on the Robert Graysmith book, was released in the USA the day before this correspondence was unearthed, on March 2nd. The movie had its premier in Los Angeles and California on March 1st.
This means that whoever wrote the January 10th 2001 card, addressed it in near identical fashion to a previously unreleased and potential Zodiac communication (thought to be genuine by many). The Eureka card wasn't made public until 2007, so the author of the 2001 communication has a high probability of being the author of the December 1990 Christmas card. You cannot 'copycat' the handwriting or style of an envelope that hasn't been released into the public domain. If you believe the Eureka card to be genuine, it follows that you should lean towards the 2001 communication being genuine also. If you hold the opinion that Zodiac was still alive in 1990 mailing Christmas cards, then it is extremely likely he was still active in 2001 doing exactly the same thing.
Here is a follow up article on the 2001 Happy New Year card.
The Eureka card is reminiscent of the Halloween card addressed to Paul Avery of the San Francisco Chronicle on October 27th 1970. The Halloween card began with the same introduction; "FROM YOUR SECRET PAL. I feel it in my bones, You ache to know my name, And so I'll clue you in.." On the inside of the Halloween card it stated: "But, then, why spoil our game! Happy Halloween!". The author of the card had added two words, firstly 4-TEEN, along with the exclamation BOO. Positioned at the foot of the card he had placed some strange, as yet undetermined 'Asian style' characters.
The Eureka card, if from the Zodiac Killer, would be the first time he failed to add any text to his correspondence, besides the envelope. The photocopying of the two keys is nevertheless a curious addition, in that he could have sent a photograph or a drawing, but chose this form of messaging. The photocopied image suggests inversion, reversal, or a negative as the overriding message in accompaniment to the two US postal keys. However, no definitive reason or universal consensus to this communication has been agreed since the time it was discovered in 2007. But one would assume an underlying message exists regarding this card.
Another interesting connection was noted on viewing the Tom Hanson Zodiac movie from 1971, in that the killer wore a Groucho Marx style nose and glasses in one scene from the movie, covered in a forum thread at ZodiacKiller.com. This was not the only possible film connection to the Groucho Marx style disguise featured on the 1990 Eureka card. Terror Train was released in 1980, directed by Roger Spottiswoode and starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Ben Johnson and David Copperfield. During New Year celebrations at the students fraternity house Sigma Phi, a prank backfires on Kenny Hampson (Derek MacKinnion). Mentally scarred by the event, this forms the basis of revenge when the students responsible for the prank board a private train hosting a fancy dress party exactly three years later. On boarding the train one of the students is stabbed, but his friends believing it is a prank, continue along unconcerned. The killer collects the victim's Groucho Marx mask, follows them onto the train and seeks his revenge, one by one. The movie was primarily a thriller/slasher, filmed in Canada from November 21st to December 23rd 1979 and released by Twentieth Century Fox in the October of 1980. Watch the official trailer or read more on this topic.
The Little List letter was mailed to the San Francisco Chronicle on July 26th 1970 and heavily featured the Gilbert and Sullivan stage play, The Mikado. One section loosely quotes 'A more humane Mikado', to be followed by the more extensive paraphrasing of Act 1 Part 5a, 'As some day it may happen'. The curious thing, is that the Zodiac Killer's version of the Little List mimics the Groucho Marx version in the Bell Telephone Hour (1960), rather than the original Gilbert and Sullivan play.
Extra reading on the 'Eureka' card.
Postmarked San Rafael, California, the 'Red Phantom' letter or 'Count Marco' letter was received by the San Francisco Chronicle on July 9th 1974, but could have been franked anytime between July 3rd 1974 and July 8th 1974 because of an illegible postmark, and the fact that the author was responding to a Count Marco column entitled Your Mirror Can Also See Inside You (dated July 3rd 1974) This short, eleven lined letter is considered debatable Zodiac correspondence, as are several of the later letters attributed to the Bay Area murderer. Recent analysis of the SLA letter and Red Phantom letter on this website has demonstrated that neither of these communications were authored and mailed by the Zodiac Killer. The 'Red Phantom' letter has been linked to the film El Espectro Rojo, which had a showing in the Bay Area around the relevant time period. However, this is very likely an incorrect assertion.
The letter was aimed at Marc Henry Spinelli, better known as Count Marco, a columnist at the paper who ultimately quit his job shortly after this letter was received. The letter fails to mention the Zodiac Killer, and is suggestive of an author who appeared to be irked by Marco Spinelli - enough so - that they were driven to communicate indirectly to the columnist by addressing his adopted character of Count Marco. But could any of the articles written by Marc Henry Spinelli in the run up to this correspondence have ignited something within the author to generate such a response? A great article at Zodiac Revisited details ten columns that went to print at the San Francisco Chronicle in the run up to this letter being mailed, starting from June 25th 1974 and finishing on July 8th 1974. Visit http://zodiacrevisited.com/ten-days-of-count-marco/ to review all ten columns.
On July 10th 1974 the San Francisco Chronicle stated: "Although he never identified himself as Zodiac in either of the latest messages, San Francisco Homicide Investigator Dave Toschi said "There's no doubt in my mind about either one. I took them to a documents expert and in less than five minutes he told me positively they were in fact written by the Zodiac. He's trying to slip letters and cards into the Chronicle without being detected. He's not fooling anybody - no matter what his game is". Yesterday's letter was dropped into a mailbox in Marin County sometime on Monday. It criticized Count Marco for his "superior" attitude and demanded the column be cancelled. The postcard (previous Badlands card), although received on June 4, was mailed in Alameda County nearly a month earlier, on May 8. There was no explanation for its delayed arrival in the Chronicle offices".
Inspector David Toschi and the documents examiner were seemingly too eager to authenticate the Red Phantom letter, which should be consigned to the list of "Zodiac letters that never were". The SLA letter and Red Phantom letter were written by the same author, but it certainly wasn't the Zodiac Killer. The likely authorship resides within the female members of the Symbionese Liberation Army or somebody closely allied to them. See here.
The obituary of Marc H. Spinelli began with "Marc H. Spinelli, better known to Chronicle readers as Count Marco, a columnist who gave outrageous advice to women for 15 years. As Count Marco, Mr. Spinelli was a star performer in a circulation war in the 1960s between The Chronicle and other Bay Area newspapers. At the height of his fame, he wrote his newspaper column, appeared on his own daily television show, wrote three books, won prizes and developed a huge audience that was either amused or appalled by his words" sfgate.
Lloyd Cunningham, a former documents examiner, first became embroiled in the Zodiac case while a police officer at the time of the Presidio Heights murder of taxi driver Paul Stine, when countless officers flooded the area in the aftermath.
He became a documents examiner in 1980, having scrutinized countless letters during his career, including the JonBenet Ramsey ransom letter and the Leonard Lake and Charles Ng 'sex slaves' victims letters, which he reconstructed. But above all, he was captivated by the Zodiac mystery, during which 30 years of careful handwriting analysis of multiple suspects, he has failed to confirm a single match in his opinion. He said "All over the world, people were mesmerized by the Zodiac mystery, and everyone's relative or ex-friend became a suspect".
But he alluded to one stark reality - that the Paul Stine letter (and two others), with the mailed bloodstained pieces of shirt, are the only confirmed Zodiac letters to have definitely been mailed by the killer.
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- The Three Bates Letters
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 3rd- The Snoozy & Furlong Murders
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 14/15th- Zodiac Call to Santa Rosa
1969 October 21st- The Phone Call to Palo Alto
1969 October 22nd- Call to Chat Show
1969 November 2nd- Daniel Williams Poisoning
1969 November 8th-The Dripping Pen Card and
340 Cipher (solved in 2020)
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- Oklahoma Radio Call
1969 December 7th-The 1st Fairfield Letter
1969 December 10th- Forecast for Cancer
1969 December 11th- Forecast for Leo
1969 December 16th-The 2nd Fairfield Letter
1969 December 19th- Zodiac Call to San Jose
1969 December 20th-The Melvin Belli Letter
1970 January 4th- Phone Call to Peggy Trainer
1970 Feb 21st- The Hood and Garcia Murders
1970 March 22nd-The Modesto Attack
1970 April 15th-The Robert Salem Murder
1970 April 20th-"My Name is" Letter,
Cipher 3 and Bus Bomb Diagram
1970 April 28th-The Dragon Card
1970 June 18th- Oakland A's Letter
1970 June 26th-The Button Letter
Cipher 4 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 Possibly May- The 148 Character Cipher
1971 July 13th-The Monticello Card
1972 June 29th- The Novato Letter
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
1976 August 26th-The Deep Real Estate Ad
1978 March 13th- The "I Am Back" Phone Call
1978 April 24th-The 1978 Letter
1978 May 2nd- The Channel Nine Letter
1978 July 19th- The Scotch Tape Letter
1981 March 8th- The Atlanta Letter
1982 January (?) - The Santa Claus Card
1986 May 6th- The Freeway Letter
1987 October 28th- The 1987 Letter
1988 February 1st- The McDonald's Letter
1988 February 8th- The McDonald's Letter 
1990 September 25th- The Celebrity Cypher
1990 December-American Greetings Card
1991-The Scorpion Ciphers to John Walsh
2001 January 10th- Happy New Year Card
Unknown DMV Letter (possibly November 1971)