Widely considered to be the final Zodiac letter, this correspondence was 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. The Zodiac Killer's previous correspondence, that of the 'Pines' postcard or 'Los Angeles' letter, were 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, which detailed the audience reaction to the recently released Exorcist movie in 1973. The news report featured was from the Northpoint Theatre, located at 2290 Powell Street, San Francisco. The theater was located 3.4 miles from the intersection of Washington and Cherry Streets, where on October 11th 1969 taxicab driver Paul Stine was murdered, and only 1.7 miles from the corner of Mason and Geary Streets, where he apparently picked up Zodiac that fateful night.
Nearly one month after the March 13th 1971 'Los Angeles' letter, a Zodiac film directed by Tom Hanson was released on April 7th, followed later that year by the Don Siegel blockbuster 'Dirty Harry' movie, based on the Zodiac Killer and released on December 23rd 1971. Despite both of these films directly and indirectly referring to the Zodiac Killer, the Bay Area murderer would remain quiet for nearly three years until the arrival of the Exorcist letter. It would seem incomprehensible that a killer who so craved attention would fail to capitalize on such a veritable banquet in his name - unless of course he was indisposed. This brings forth the question of where outward mail would be vetted. The first answer is not difficult.
However, in this letter the author offers their opinion on the Exorcist film, calling it "the best satirical comedy that I have ever seen," as they did some four months later highlighting the 'Badlands' movie (1973) starring Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek (assuming the same author was responsible for both).
In addition, the letter contained lines from The Mikado, and a strange collection of, as yet undetermined characters 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. On January 31st 1974, in an article entitled 'Zodiac Mystery Letter - the First Since 1971', the San Francisco Chronicle released the 'Exorcist' letter to the public minus the Asian style symbols at the foot of the correspondence, as shown here. This makes it even more compelling that the author of the S.L.A letter was likely knowledgeable of the contents omitted from the Chronicle, because the whole design of the S.L.A letter was geared to giving us the word "kill". The sheer fact that "To Kill" could even be created by the 'Exorcist' letter symbols is a compelling argument that both the January 29th and February 3rd communications were authored by the same author or group. The S.L.A letter was mailed on February 3rd 1974 from Los Angeles County, one day before the kidnapping of Patty Hearst. According to the FBI files, it wasn't received by the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper until February 14th 1974. This short, seven lined letter is widely referred to as the SLA Letter due to the mention of the Symbionese Liberation Army within the correspondence. It is extremely likely this communication was written by the Symbionese Liberation Army or somebody in close alliance with them. The S.L.A letter began with "Dear" and ended with "a friend".
Seven days later, a typed correspondence was mailed by the Symbionese Liberation Army on February 10th 1974, and addressed to the Hearst family. It too began with "Dear" and ended with "A friend".
The author 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 - and 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, curiously 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." It could be argued that the 'Exorcist' letter is a patchwork offering, stitched together by drawing on previous correspondence - and therefore created by somebody mimicking the Zodiac Killer rather than the genuine Bay Area murderer himself.
On January 31st, in the article entitled 'Zodiac Mystery Letter - the First Since 1971', the San Francisco Chronicle presented the Exorcist letter with the strange characters at the foot of the letter whitewashed. Only two or three days had elapsed, when the S.L.A letter (02/03/74) was also mailed to the Chronicle. But had the author of the February 3rd 1974 letter revealed something about the Exorcist letter known only to them and the police? Had the author of the S.L.A letter effectively decoded the Exorcist letter characters for them, but they just didn't realize?
Just before the author signs off with "a friend" on the S.L.A letter, he highlights the word "Kill" at the foot of the letter, referencing Old Norse. In the identical position at the foot of the Exorcist letter the author highlights the strange characters in bold marker, before signing off with Me-37. Was the author of the S.L.A letter telling us that the word "Kill" could be decoded in the Exorcist letter characters, thereby confirming they were the author of both? The author of the S.L.A letter would not only have to know that characters existed at the foot of the Exorcist letter, because the San Francisco Chronicle had whitewashed them, but also know that they could possibly feature the word "Kill". Could the author of the S.L.A letter, if different from the author of the Exorcist letter, accidentally place the word "Kill" in the same position through two letters, and highlight them both in bold writing and quotation marks to signify their importance?
The choice of verse on the letter has led some to believe this correspondence is a form of epitaph and the final offerings of a Zodiac Killer being exorcised of his demons, who has reached the end of the line. This is entirely possible when we consider this was allegedly the last confirmed letter mailed by the killer, however, his threat to "do something nasty" if this note was not published sounds all too familiar - and not like a killer who had reached a crossroads in life. The supposed Zodiac Killer has dropped his 'This is the Zodiac Speaking' introduction and the infamous crossed circle - and neither reappear in any of his subsequent 1974 communications.
In the following two offerings of that year, the author signs off with "a friend" in the S.L.A letter and "A citizen" in the 'Badlands' (Citizen) card, with the running victim count having been set aside. 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 demonic possession 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 is an excerpt from the Zodiac Killer FBI files regarding the 'Exorcist' letter.
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 (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 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 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 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
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
Unknown DMV Letter (possibly November 1971)