This crime was committed eight months after the Domingos/Edwards double murder near Gaviota State Park, Santa Barbara, with the obvious and inevitable comparisons being drawn between both crimes. Both involved young couples in areas overlooking the sea, with the crime scenes in both cases strewn with .22 caliber shells - although it is not believed they originated from the same weapon.
These early crimes have always drawn interest from a Zodiac Killer perspective, as the Bay Area murderer's first three attacks involved lone couples in isolated retreats, thereby drawing the obvious interest from amateur sleuths. Here we will take a look at these early attacks, as well as the later crimes at Lake Herman Road, Blue Rock Springs, Lake Berryessa and the final confirmed murder of Paul Stine in Presidio Heights on October 11th 1969, and see if they tell us anything about the Zodiac Killer.
The two double murders of 1963 and 1964 may or may not have been the work of the Zodiac Killer, but there still may be a pattern at work. The murder site of John and Joyce Swindle was a matter of yards from the seafront, as were the murders of Robert Domingos and Linda Edwards on June 4th 1963. The first confirmed attack by the Zodiac Killer at the Lake Herman Road turnout was only a 9 minute walk to the edge of Lake Herman, approximately 0.4 miles.
The Zodiac Killer's next attack was at Blue Rock Springs on July 4th 1969, only 3.5 miles northwest of Lake Herman. with both crime scenes a relatively short distance from San Pablo Bay and the Carquinez Strait. His final attack on a couple was on the shoreline of Lake Berryessa on September 27th 1969, yet exhibited a marked deviation from the method he employed during his first two crimes. Nevertheless, it was again very close to a lake or large body of water. Lake Berryessa is situated approximately 50 miles north of Lake Herman Road, passing numerous areas on the way, including the region of Napa where he would eventually place his call at 1231 Main Street after the attack on Bryan Hartnell and Cecelia Shepard. It is for this reason, it appeared he had specifically earmarked this area as his preferred choice of attack site.
The early crimes of a serial killer are usually close to home before they venture outwards with growing confidence - but almost always they choose areas they are familiar with. It is with near certainty that the Zodiac Killer had previously frequented Lake Berryessa, as the location suited him perfectly due to its remoteness and seclusion, particularly advantageous during the early evening hours in September when the majority of visitors would have packed up for the day, yet still enough light to make his grand entrance, bedecked in the splendour of his executioner's costume. The point being, that if the Zodiac Killer had lived south of Riverside in the region of San Diego or Santa Barbara, before moving north to the area of San Francisco, Benicia or Vallejo, then one thing tied all five crime scenes together - the close proximity of water. Of course, this means little on its own unless we delve a little deeper and examine the recreation angle. What hobbies or types of leisure activity did the Zodiac Killer engage in that brought him close to these areas?
It is well known that 10.5 size Wing Walker impressions were found at the Lake Berryessa crime scene - a variant of the Jump Boot, used by military personnel - but ideal for hiking in rough and slippery terrain, with good ankle support. The Zodiac Killer also used a crossed circle logo, employed to maximum effect when he mailed us his Button letter and Phillips 66 Petroleum Map on June 26th 1970 stating the crosshairs were to 'be set to Mag N'. His directional knowledge was actually correct in both his two phone calls to police (despite what people claim on the internet), and seemed very precise when he talked about radians and inches along the radians, as well as stating the compass dial on the Phillips Map was to be set to Magnetic North. He seemed very familiar with this concept, despite the fact radians would have meant very little to the majority of the general public, unless of course you were a very keen fisherman, hiker or hunter - or all three.
The Silva Sweden AB designed their first compass in 1928, popular for outdoor navigation with many useful features.
In 1950 Silva introduced the 'The Silva Ranger' to North America, and in 1964 'The Silva Ranger Type 15' deluxe compass, with adjustable declination, clinometer and quadrant scale became available. This was a popular well constructed compass, albeit, other variations and manufacturers were widely available from hunting, hiking and army surplus stores.
Often, good compasses were fitted with a sighting mirror for plotting locations, gradation scales in inches and millimeters, a magnifying glass, a rotating dial, and more importantly, in conjunction with a map the compass could be used to locate magnetic declination points (the difference between True North and Magnetic North), believed to be approximately 16.5 degrees in 1970 when the Zodiac Killer sent us his Button letter and Phillips 66 Map. See video.
The Zodiac Killer also stated on August 4th 1969 when he mailed the Debut of Zodiac letter, "What I did was tape a small pencel flash light to the barrel of my gun. If you notice, in the center of the beam of light if you aim it at a wall or ceiling you will see a black or darck spot in the center of the circle of light about 3 to 6 inches across. When taped to a gun barrel, the bullet will strike in the center of the black dot in the light. All I had to do was spray them as if it was a water hose; there was no need to use the gun sights". A pencil flashlight was a useful tool, not only as the Zodiac claimed, to use as a sighting implement to focus his aim, but a tool that may already have been readily available to him, as it is often used in pursuits such as fishing and hiking. It is ideal to read maps and to manage small fishing tackle because it could be used hands free, held in the mouth - and in addition - it also had the advantage of being lightweight and compact. The proximity of water in all these locations had the added benefit regarding the disposal of his weapon in the immediate aftermath of each crime, if indeed, this is what he did.
The Ocean Beach location, the Santa Barbara coastline (particularly in view of the area of the Domingos/Edwards murders, that would barely have been known by somebody unfamiliar with the area), the Lake Herman and Lake Berryessa locations, all frequented by hikers and in particular fishermen, suggested the Zodiac Killer (if responsible for all these crimes) had extensive knowledge of these areas and had good reason to have visited them all in advance of each murderous attack. They were his comfort zones. They were his areas of familiarity.
Of course, the Paul Stine murder on October 11th 1969 was the biggest deviation of all, but with Presidio Heights being on the northern extremity of San Francisco, water was never far away. Washington and Cherry Streets were no more than one mile away from the coastline of Marina Boulevard.
The famous Fisherman's Wharf is situated roughly 3 miles east of the Julius Khan playground, developed as a tourist attraction in the 1970s and 1980s, but prior to this was a fishing magnet for Italian migrants. It provided good fishing, that included the now famous Dungeness crab. See on Wikipedia.