This letter was received by the San Francisco Chronicle on February 14th 1974.
The letter followed sixteen days after the 'Exorcist' letter, believed to be the final confirmed correspondence by the Zodiac Killer, mailed on January 29th 1974.
The 'Exorcist' letter symbols at the foot of that communication were decoded by Kevin Robert Brooks to spell the words "To Kill", which although not proven, seems to make sense, in view of the word "Kill" the author placed on this letter and highlighted in quotation marks.
The S.L.A. or Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) were thrust into the spotlight after the kidnapping of Patty Hearst, a media heiress, on February 4th 1974. They were a short lived urban militant group, operating from 1973 to 1975, and infamous for their bank robberies and murders during this period. This letter was received ten days after Patty Hearst was kidnapped. It read:
"Dear Mr Editor, Did you know that the initials SLAY (Symbionese Liberation Army) spell "sla", an old Norse word meaning "kill". a friend."
Sla in Old Norse does not mean "kill" as the author of this communication claimed. Sla in Old Norse means "to strike". Here is a PDF of Old Norse from York University, compiled by Ross G. Arthur.
Paul Avery, a San Francisco Chronicle reporter wrote many of the Zodiac articles, and without question the Zodiac would respond to many. In two instances he personally addressed communication to Paul Avery, when the murderer mailed the 'Halloween' card on October 27th 1970 and the 'Pines' card on March 22nd 1971. If we believe the 'Pines' card to be genuine correspondence from the Zodiac Killer, then his following two communications after a three year hiatus may very well have been influenced by Paul Avery as well.
The Exorcist letter was without doubt a response to the San Francisco Chronicle article entitled 'Weird Goings on at the Movies,' published on January 11th 1974, detailing the audience reaction to the recently released Exorcist movie in 1973. Eighteen days later the Zodiac responded stating it was "the best satirical comedy that I have ever seen."
Then this letter arrived. Paul Avery became very interested in the Patty Hearst case, continuing to cover the major stories of the day, and would collaborate with another Chronicle reporter Tim Findley to cover the unfolding Patty Hearst kidnapping and the exploits of the Symbionese Liberation Army. Paul Avery would later go on to author a book alongside Vin McLellan called 'The Voices of Guns' regarding these events. The SLA letter may very well have been Zodiac's response to Paul Avery yet again. If we start with the Halloween Card addressed to Paul Avery, then this correspondence may likely have been the fifth letter in a row aimed at the San Francisco Chronicle in direct response to the renowned journalist.
Zodiac Ciphers News-The SLA letter.
The 'Citizen Card' letter was postmarked Alameda County and mailed to the San Francisco Chronicle on May 8th 1974.
The author of this letter was referring to the 1973 Badlands film directed by Terrence Malick and starring Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek, based upon the real life events of Charles Raymond Starkweather (20) and his girlfriend Caril Ann Fugate (14). They were a pair of spree killer's who went on a two month rampage killing 10 people in total, including her entire family in the area of Nebraska and Wyoming back in 1958, before they were finally captured.
Charles Raymond Starkweather was sentenced to death, and died in the electric chair at Nebraska State Penitentiary on June 25th 1959, while Caril Ann Fugate received a life sentence, which was eventually commuted, allowing her to be released in June 1976.
Incidentally Kit and Holly mentioned in the correspondence are the names of the two killer's in the movie, portrayed by Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek. The wording on the letter read:
"Sirs -- I would like to expression my consternt (crossed out) consternation concerning your poor taste + lack of sympathy for the public, as evidenced by your running of the ads for the movie "Badlands," featuring the blurb: "In 1959 most people were killing time. Kit + Holly were killing people." In light of recent events, this kind of murder-glorification can only be deplorable at best (not that glorification of violence was ever justifiable) why don't you show some concern for public sensibilities + cut the ad? A citizen."
This letter and the previous S.L.A. letter marked a deviation for the Zodiac Killer, in the way he signed off both communications. Instead of the ominous crosshairs and running victim count, he would sign off with "A citizen" and "a friend," and either marked a shift of personality within the murderer or both letters were simply not mailed by the Zodiac Killer.
This correspondence and the Exorcist letter, both mailed in 1974, seemingly showed the killer's interest in these 1973 movies, dedicating two letters to the subject and mailing both to the San Francisco Chronicle. Even more curious therefore that two movies released in 1971 received no attention whatsoever from the Bay Area killer.
One month after the Los Angeles letter of March 13th 1971, a Zodiac film was released on April 7th directed by Tom Hansen, and later that year the blockbuster 'Dirty Harry' movie, based on the Zodiac Killer, was released on December 23rd 1971 directed by Don Siegel. In fact the Zodiac Killer remained quiet for nearly three years.
It would seem unimaginable that a killer who so craved attention and publicity would fail to capitalize on such a veritable banquet in his name, unless of course he was indisposed. Was the Zodiac Killer incarcerated during this period?
Zodiac Ciphers News-The Citizen Card.
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