Widely considered to be the final Zodiac letter, mailed to the San Francisco Chronicle on January 29th 1974, either from San Mateo or Santa Clara County after a hiatus of nearly three years since his previous correspondence, that of the 'Pines' postcard or 'Los Angeles' letter, both mailed in the March of 1971. The 'Exorcist' letter was without doubt a response to the San Francisco Chronicle article entitled 'Weird Goings on at the Movies,' authored by Paul Avery and published on January 11th 1974, detailing the audience reaction to the recently released Exorcist movie in 1973. The news report was from the Northpoint Theatre, located at 2290 Powell Street, San Francisco. The theater was located 3.4 miles from Washington and Cherry Streets, the intersection where Paul Stine was murdered and only 1.7 miles from the region of Mason and Geary, where the taxicab driver allegedly picked up Zodiac on October 11th 1969.
One month after the 'Los Angeles' letter of March 13th 1971, a Zodiac film was released on April 7th directed by Tom Hanson, and later that year the blockbuster 'Dirty Harry' movie, based on the Zodiac Killer, was released on December 23rd 1971 directed by Don Siegel. The Zodiac Killer, however, would remain 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 - and brings forth the question of where outward mail would be vetted. The first answer is not difficult.
However, in this letter he offers his opinion on the Exorcist film, calling it "the best satirical comedy that I have ever seen," as he did some four months later highlighting the 'Badlands' movie (1973) starring Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek.
In addition, the letter contained lines from The Mikado, and a strange collection of, as yet undetermined symbols at the foot of the letter. The 'Exorcist' letter symbols 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 in the following S.L.A. letter on February 3rd 1974 and highlighted the word in quotation marks.
He signs off the 'Exorcist' letter with a final jibe at police, stating Me-37 SFPD-0, possibly indicating the final murder count, albeit other explanations have been suggested for this figure. Needless to say the infamous Zodiac crosshairs are not present on this communication.
There is a strange dichotomy evidenced in the letter, where the author begins by referencing 'The Exorcist' movie (1973) and immediately follows it up by paraphrasing 'Tit-Willow' from 'The Mikado' (1885). 'The Mikado' is often described as the best in British satire, as well as a comedy opera, therefore the word usage of the author describing it as a 'satirical comedy' is unlikely to be accidental. However, the attempted blending of these vastly different productions into one correspondence seems forced, and chosen for a specific purpose. In the Zodiac Killer's July 26th 1970 Little List letter, the reason for his selection of verses is apparent in their sinister nature. The July 26th 1970 correspondence paraphrases A more humane Mikado, followed by As some day it may happen, both of which harbor malicious intent, whereas Tit-Willow is about a little tom-tit's last reflective moments before his suicidal plunge into a billowy wave. This is hardly in keeping with the threatening overtones of the Bay Area murderer and certainly out of kilter with the foot of the Exorcist letter, which threatens to "do something nasty, which you know I'm capable of doing." The answer to the identity of the author may lie in the Tit-Willow verse, preceded by "Signed, yours truley".
The final line of text on 'Exorcist' letter is nothing new, reminiscent of his very first letters to the newspapers nearly five years ago, where he stated: "If you do not print this cipher by the afternoon of Fry.1st of Aug 69, I will go on a kill ram-Page Fry. night. I will cruse around all weekend killing lone people in the night then move on to kill again, until I end up with a dozen people over the weekend." It could have seemed fitting for the Zodiac Killer to finally end as he had started, if indeed this was his last correspondence. The final lines read: "If I do not see this note in your paper, I will do something nasty, which you know I'm capable of doing."
The choice of verse on the letter has led some to believe the correspondence is a form of epitaph, the final offerings of a killer being exorcised of his demons or somebody who has reached the end of the line. This is entirely possible when we consider this was the last confirmed letter mailed by the killer, however, his threat to "do something nasty" if the note is not published sounds all too familiar and not like somebody who has reached a crossroads in life. Although at this point the Zodiac has dropped his 'This is the Zodiac Speaking' opener and the crossed circle is no more, and neither reappear in any of his subsequent 1974 letters.
In his following two communications he even signs off with "a friend" and "A citizen" and the running victim count has been set aside. But these remaining offerings are less than convincing Zodiac material and must be viewed with caution when placed in context to earlier Zodiac correspondence. View the two follow up communications.
The 'Exorcist' letter would yield a palm print but it provided no match to the main suspect in the case, that of Arthur Leigh Allen.
# The Exorcist is an American horror film released in 1973, directed by William Friedkin and adapted for screenplay by William Peter Blatty, based on his 1971 book. The movie divided audiences and critics alike, as it explored the subject of demonic possession, in this case that of a 12 year old girl played by Linda Denise Blair. This masterpiece of evil still remains one of the most influential movies in the horror genre to this day.
Extra reading on the Exorcist letter in Zodiac News.
The 'Exorcist' letter makes reference to lines in the Mikado, a two part comic opera by Gilbert and Sullivan, which opened to the paying public on March 14th 1885, and was hugely successful, running for 672 performances at the Savoy Theatre in London.
It was believed the Zodiac had leanings towards Gilbert and Sullivan after previously paraphrasing certain lines of the opera in the Little List letter sent to the San Francisco Chronicle on July 26th 1970.
Two days after the Kathleen Johns Letter, the 'Little List' letter boasted about the ways he would like to torture his slaves in paradice. The first section of the 'Little List' letter pulled lines from 'A more humane Mikado', and continued on to extensively recite Gilbert and Sullivan's Mikado Act One Part 5a 'As some day it may happen', performed by Ko-Ko.
In the 'Exorcist' letter he quotes; 'He plunged himself into the billowy wave and an echo arose from the suicide's grave, titwillow, titwillow, titwillow.'
See Act II -On a tree by a river from the Mikado.
Below the newspaper cutting is an excerpt from the Zodiac Killer FBI files regarding the 'Exorcist' letter.
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 3rd-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