Just past midnight on Sunday November 2nd 1975 a man walked up to a couple's vehicle on Monte Cresta Drive, Belmont, California and shot 17-year-old Carlmont High School student Anthony Vincent Bruno Jr to death. "According to Police Captain George Stephenson, Bruno and his girlfriend (16 years) had been parked on Monte Cresta Drive, above Barclay Way in an isolated area of western hills when a man opened the driver's side door and apparently without saying anything fired the shotgun. The girl, who was not identified by police, pushed Bruno's body aside and drove the car to her home from where police were notified. She described the assailant as white, 5 feet 5 inches tall, 140 pounds and wearing an Army green parka with hood, according to police. Stephenson said also that a late model brown pick-up truck, possibly a Dodge or Chevrolet, had been seen in the area at about the time of the shooting."
San Mateo Times.
Anthony Vincent Bruno was shot in the mouth from close range while the couple were parked on the rise of a hill, described as a lovers lane area. The weapon (believed to be 25+ years old and not made now) malfunctioned when the cut-down stock of the shotgun broke free from the weapon and was found 10 feet from the scene of the crime. The police said it had been taped to the barrel. "The killer then ran south on Monte Cresta from the dark hillside area, past a streetlight 50 yards away, and then possibly to a late model Dodge or Chevrolet pick-up truck". The area of isolated hillside continued for several hundred feet, ending in a dirt road. Here is a newspaper cutting from the actual crime scene and its modern day equivalent on Google maps.
Whether the description of the killer is accurate or not, it is an interesting addition from Mike Morford. The couple were attacked on an isolated lovers lane area while parked up in their vehicle at around midnight, and the killer may have approached their vehicle, left and returned 15 minutes later, not unlike the Blue Rock Springs Park attack on Darlene Ferrin and Michael Mageau. The attack appeared motiveless - and probably the most important thing of all, we shall come to at the foot of this article.
'Wednesday afternoon, Juvenile Division Detective Gary Sickman drove this reporter to the scene of the slaying and replayed what police have linked together about it so far. "This is a little-known lovers' lane", Sickman said. "Many of the kids I've talked with at Carlmont were unaware of it." Sickman drove the patrol car down a narrow dirt road connecting with Monte Cresta Drive; a chuckhole-pocked stretch traversing a ridge high above Belmont Canyon. At the end of the road, a half-mile from the slaying site, a teenaged couple embraced in a parked car. Sickman checked their identification and jotted their names in his notebook after giving them a little fatherly advice'.
This murder was the first in Belmont in over two years. The Zodiac Killer's last confirmed communication was on January 29th 1974, although there were possible Zodiac communications up to July 8th 1974 with the 'Red Phantom' letter. There would have been hoax letters purporting to be the Zodiac Killer subsequent to this, but one would assume the 'novelty' of Zodiac would have worn off in time and the hoax letters would have dropped off in frequency by the November of 1975. That is what makes a letter purporting to be from the Zodiac Killer, found in a phone booth likely on the day of the murder, all the more interesting.
Mike Morford stated, in reference to a San Mateo news article dated November 14th 1975 "The reporter, a man named Bob Foster, mentions that on the night of November 3, 1975, the 11 pm TV news on channel KGO, ran a story about a Zodiac letter being found in a phone booth. This is pretty interesting to me for a couple reasons regarding the timing. First of all because, the night before, on 11/2/75, a young man and his girlfriend were attacked on a lovers lane by a gun wielding man. The male victim, Vincent Bruno was killed, but his girlfriend survived. If I recall correctly, there may have been a letter & cassette tape found the same night in a phone booth not far from the attack site, from someone claiming to be Zodiac".
I would like to thank Mike Morford for the information regarding this story. All images are courtesy of the Zodiac Killer Site forum and the San Mateo Times. Here is a link to the thread on Mike Morford's site.