Bill Baker, a now retired Santa Barbara detective thought that the early murders of Robert Domingos (18) and Linda Edwards (17) on June 4th 1963 carried many of the hallmarks of the now notorious Zodiac Killer, who terrorized part of Northern California in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Fifty-six years ago, a couple were brutally gunned down while fleeing for their lives from a remote beach, situated 3.32 miles east of Gaviota State Park and alongside Highway 101, approximately a five-hour drive from Vallejo, California.
The couple were Robert Domingos (18) and Linda Edwards (17), who had on Senior Ditch Day, June 4th 1963, decided to go sunbathing on a remote beach, accessed via a decline trail off the main highway, where they left their 1956 copper and black Pontiac. The young couple were struck numerous times in the back. Robert Domingos was shot eleven times, while Linda Edwards was targeted eight times. It was a sunny afternoon when the killer approached the couple, armed with what was thought to be a .22 caliber long rifle (a weapon ideal for target shooting with minimum recoil).
It is speculated that Robert Domingos may have had a brief altercation with the assailant due to some bruising on his face at autopsy, however, at some point in proceedings the young couple were forced to run for their lives, which unfortunately was a brief bid for freedom as they were cut down by a succession of bullets. It is believed the killer then approached the position they fell and finished his cold-blooded execution of the defenseless couple.
For reasons known only to the killer, he then proceeded to drag the bodies at least 30 feet to a nearby shack, where he placed Linda's body on top of Robert's, cutting open her bathing suit with a knife to reveal her breasts. It is then thought the killer attempted to set fire to a tarpaulin covering on the door of the shack, testified by the presence of scorch marks - although it cannot definitively be proved when these scorch marks were created. The evidence in this crime was carelessly left at the scene, that included spent and unspent ammunition found inside the shack.
Interesting though, was the unspent .22 Caliber Western Super X long rifle ammunition. The murders of Betty Lou Jensen and David Faraday on December 20th 1968 with a .22 caliber weapon, detailed by the Zodiac Killer in the trilogy of letters on July 31st 1969, declared the use of Western Super X in his first confirmed contact with authorities. The unused ammunition boxes in the Domingos/Edwards murders had a lot number, sold locally, although not exclusively at the nearby Vandenberg Air Force Base, approximately 10 miles north of Lompoc, California - but crucially they were devoid of price tags, suggesting that they were possibly part of a larger consignment. The military connection is interesting bearing in mind the attack at Lake Berryessa on September 27th 1969 (Wing Walkers), along with the Zodiac Killer's perceived fascination with astrology/astronomy, as the Vandenberg Air Force Base had manned spaceflight ambitions.
Early on in the investigation a 17-year-old boy from Lompoc was arrested due to intoxication and revealed to investigators that he knew the murdered couple, having been jealous of Robert Domingos. He explained to officers he had been at Refugio Beach on the Tuesday of their murder.
Refugio Beach is 5.65 miles east of the crime scene. It was noticed by investigators that the boy had a badly bruised hand and knuckles "pushed in", consistent with a fight. It was believed that Robert Domingos may have struggled with the assailant before being shot. Under questioning, the teenager was combative and belligerent, and somebody who was already known to Lompoc police, having a previous arrest record.
On June 5th 1963, investigators traveled to Santa Cruz to apprehend two teenagers, James L. Coleman and J, C, Reed for the fatal stabbing of Vernon C. Smith (63) in Lompoc during a robbery. Neither were considered suspects in the Domingos and Edwards slayings, but implicated a third person called "Sandy" in the murder of Vernon Smith. The two youths admitted their part in the robbery, but claimed it was "Sandy" who perpetrated the murder in the camper truck owned by Vernon Smith and parked on San Miguelito Canyon. Coleman and Reed were eventually convicted in a Santa Barbara County court and sentenced to 5 years to life. "Sandy" was then sought for questioning in relation to the Domingos and Edwards murders, Santa Barbara detectives later stated that they discovered a vehicle stolen by the three youths and inside retrieved some clothing thought to have been owned by "Sandy". The clothing contained the names "Robert Coffman" and "William Carr", one of which they believe could be the true identity of "Sandy".
The murders of Robert Domingos and Linda Edwards have not been widely confirmed as Zodiac Killer victims, probably due to the time period and location, although some similarities do exist between this case and the Zodiac Killer attack at Lake Berryessa. In both instances a lone couple callously attacked near a beach used by fishermen. The killer at both crime scenes had used a knife and pre-cut bindings, and the military connection was a real possibility. The murders of John Franklin Hood (24) and Sandra Garcia (20) on Saturday 21st February 1970, approximately 30 miles miles east near Santa Barbara Cemetery, also showed similar hallmarks to the above cases.
It is possible these murders, along with the Cheri Jo Bates murder were early Zodiac crimes, despite the fact no hard evidence ties either crime to each other or to the confirmed Zodiac murders that began on December 20th 1968. That being said, the Zodiac Killer may have twice previously indicated that the Lake Herman Road double murder may not have been his first heinous crime, subsequently stating in the Los Angeles Times letter on March 13th 1971 "I do have to give them credit for stumbling across my riverside activity, but they are only finding the easy ones, there are a hell of a lot more down there". If he had any connection to the 1966 Riverside murder, then his typed Confession letter mailed on November 29th 1966 also boasted that "she is not the first and will not be the last."
Extra reading on the murders of Robert Domingos and Linda Edwards.
To view five interesting videos, extensively covering the Domingos/Edwards case click here.
Update: On May 17, 2018, Shaun Gallon was officially charged with the murders. Gallon's motives or connection to the couple remain unknown. If convicted, Gallon faces the death penalty or life in prison without parole. Gallon, now 39 years old, reportedly has a history of criminal misconduct, including attempted murder with a package bomb in June 2004, a conviction for wounding a man with an arrow and allegedly killing his younger brother in March 2017.
Lindsay Cutshall (22) and her fiancee Jason Allen (26) were intending to rent a room at a local motel called River's End in Jenner, California [see area on Google maps], but after failing to do so, headed for the nearby Fish Head Beach - a decision that would ultimately prove deadly. Their bodies were eventually discovered on August 18th 2004. When the crime surfaced, it was believed that they were executed as they slept in their sleeping bags, with a shot to the head, either late at night on August 16th or early morning on the 17th.
Both victims were slain with a .45 caliber Marlin rifle, however, no shell casings were retrieved from the scene suggesting the killer cleaned up after the double murder, in what appeared a motiveless crime, as neither of the victims had been sexually assaulted or robbed. Sanoma County detectives ruled out the robbery aspect as a motive, as their belongings, as well as their red 1993 Ford Tempo remained untouched.
Other murders became linked to the Jenner murders, notably Brandon Rumbaugh (20) and Lisa Gurrieri (19), who were both shot to death in their sleeping bags, while camping in Yavapai County, Arizona on October 19th 2003, and Stevan Haugen (54) and his girlfriend Jeanette Bauman (56) who were discovered at a remote campground close to Oakridge, Oregon on July 1st 2005 - both had been shot, along with Haugen's dog. Similarities existed between all the cases, in that no sexual interference was apparent, robbery was not the motive, the couples were killed while in sleeping bags in remote areas and the weapon of choice was a high caliber rifle.
The Zodiac Killer has even been suggested for the 2004 Jenner murders, despite the fact nothing concrete ties him to any crime subsequent to the Paul Stine murder in Presidio Heights on October 11th 1969, nearly 35 years previously. But in an intriguing development to the Jenner case, was the release of information by Sanoma County detectives in 2006, that poems had been discovered near the crime scene, along with drawings of devil-like faces inked into nearby driftwood. Messages of interest, written within the pages of an informal visitors journal also peaked their interest. There was also an empty bottle of Camo 40 beer and a black and white hat found on Highway 1, directly above the beach location.
The entries of interest in the above journal are:
ENTRY 1- Salutation from – "Friendly neighborhood Spiderman friend & sidekick!"
ENTRY 2- Another salutation from, "your friendly neighbor hood friend, Spiderman, 7/25/04" With a response, "Ha Ha Ha Spiderman, A, 8/12 A+, the Drifting Inn"
ENTRY 3- Contains a unique signature in the top right corner followed by writing: "Chrissie" from "Auburn 7/10/04"
ENTRY 4- A rhyme mentioning Santa Claus, leprechauns, and the tooth fairy.
ENTRY 5- Dated 8/4/04 and signed by the letter "R" . It begins with the following: "At the Driftwood Inn, alone again, outside of myself and placid as hell…" View segment
Extra reading on the Lindsay Cutshall and Jason Allen murders
1963 June 4th-Domingos/Edwards Murders
1966 October 30th-The Cheri Jo Bates Murder
1966 November 29th -The Confession Letter
1966 December- Riverside Desktop Poem
1967 April 30th- Bates Had to Die Letter
1968 December 20th- 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 (solved)
1969 July 31st-The Complete 408 Cipher
1969 August 4th- Debut of Zodiac Letter
1969 September 27th- Lake Berryessa Attack
1969 October 11th- Presidio Heights Murder
1969 October 13th-The Paul Stine Letters
1969 October 22nd-Call to Chat Show
1969 November 8th- Dripping Pen Card and
340 Cipher (unsolved)
1969 November 9th-The Bus Bomb Letter
1969 November 28th- Betsy Aardsma Murder
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 27th-The Halloween Card
1971 March 13th-The Los Angeles Letter
1971 March 22nd-The Pines Card
1974 January 29th-The Exorcist Letter
1974 February 14th-The SLA Letter
1974 May 8th-The Citizen Card
1974 July 8th-The Red Phantom Letter
1974 December 27th- Christmas Card
1978 April 24th-The 1978 Letter
1987 October 28th- The 1987 Letter
1990 December-American Greetings Card
13 Hole Postcard
148 Character Cipher
Arthur Leigh Allen
Blue Rock Springs Attack
Bus Bomb Letter
Call To Chat Show
Cheri Jo Bates
Concerned Citizen Card
Debut Of Zodiac Letter
Donald Lee Bujok
Earl Van Best Jr
General News Articles
Gilbert And Sullivan
Kevin Robert Brooks
Lake Berryessa Attack
Lake Herman Road Murders
Lake Tahoe Disappearance
Los Angeles Letter
Melvin Belli Letter
Mike Morford (Morf13)
My Name Is Letter
Possible Zodiac Attacks
Possible Zodiac Letters
Post An Article Here
Presidio Heights Murder
Red Phantom Letter
San Jose Code Letter
Scotch Tape Letter
Tamalpais Valley Attack
Telegraph Avenue Incident
The 340 Cipher
The 408 Cipher
The Celebrity Cypher
The Little List
You Are Next Letter
Zodiac Letters Poll