Another series of "Zodiac Killer" phone calls have been unearthed and sent to me by Jibberjabber, a previous contributor to the Zodiac Tapatalk forum. The first were received by Redding, California police on March 18th 1970, four days before the claimed attack on Kathleen Johns near Modesto on March 22nd 1970. Two calls were received - the first at 2:46am by police dispatcher Mrs. Wanda J. Derra - in which the person identified himself as "Zodiac" and stated "Today's the day_an Enterprise school bus". Several minutes later he rang again and reiterated the threat, saying "If you don't believe me just watch the kiddies tomorrow". Unfortunately, without any extra dialogue or information, it is practically impossible to determine the validity of this threat. The city of Redding straddles Interstate 5, approximately 140 miles north of Sacramento.
The second series of phone calls from somebody claiming to be the Zodiac Killer were received in Middletown, California, threatening students from the Middletown Unified School District on January 19th 1971, just under two months before the Los Angeles letter was mailed by the Zodiac Killer. Middletown lies about 20 miles north of Santa Rosa, from where the Zodiac Killer aimed a bombing threat on school buses on October 15th 1969, before the threat on schoolchildren was released in the newspapers (L.A. Times Oct 16th, S. F. Chronicle Oct 17th). At 2:15pm somebody claiming to be "The Zodiac" rang the high school and stated "I'm going to get some of the monsters". When questioned by the person in the office who he was referring to, the caller added "The ones walking home". About 45 minutes later, at 3:00pm, an anonymous individual rang the household of one of the school bus drivers and spoke to his wife, stating "You don't have to worry about your husband tomorrow morning because he won't be coming home. Neither are the kids because I'm going to take care of them". Again, without any pertinent information being revealed by the caller, no verification is possible.
The third series of calls were received by Redwood City and Belmont police in the Bay Area on Sunday, June 11th 1978, forty-eight days after the Zodiac Killer "I am back with you" letter was mailed on April 24th 1978. The difference here, was that all three phone calls were recorded by police. The calls, literally back-to-back, began at 3:20am with something like "I'm still around". San Francisco Homicide investigator James Tedesco revealed that the phone calls (similar to the 1978 letter) didn't contain any direct threats, and was unwilling to reveal how they were going to determine if the caller was the Zodiac Killer or not. Obviously, these are the most interesting of all the phone calls because they were recorded. However, like the Oklahoma radio station phone call on December 7th 1969 by somebody claiming to be the Zodiac Killer, the likelihood these recordings still exist today, or were ever played to Bryan Hartnell, David Slaight or Nancy Slover to give some indication of their authenticity or otherwise, will likely never be known.
On December 19th 1969, somebody claiming to be the Zodiac Killer threatened cops by making a phone call to Sergeant Robert Rengstorff of the San Jose Highway Patrol, stating "I am going to kill five of you officers and a family of five between now and Monday". This threat towards San Jose police and a family of five was issued on a Friday, exactly as was the November 21st 1969 letter, mailed to San Jose police threatening harm on a widow. After the threat on the widow was thwarted by 24-hour police surveillance on her residence, was this the response, to once again instigate fear in the San Jose community?
The threat of killing "a family of five between now and Monday" is rather specific, almost as though he had earmarked a couple with three children. We know the Zodiac Killer read the August 4th 1969 San Francisco Examiner and August 6th 1969 San Francisco Chronicle newspapers, which may have inspired his attack at Lake Berryessa and certain subsequent claim to the Snoozy and Furlong murders by the addition of "Aug" on the November 8th 1969 Dripping Pen card. This was an obsession he would carry forward into 1971, referencing the Snoozy and Furlong murders at least two more times, if not three.
The August 6th 1969 San Francisco Chronicle article, entitled The Frenzy Of San Jose Girls Slayer, read under the banner of Children "The other Furlong children are Glen, 16; Floyd, 12, and Pamela, 11. Furlong said he did not know and had not yet talked to Kathy's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Wilfred Snoozy. Both Snoozy, a carpet layer, and Mrs. Snoozy reportedly are in a state of collapse. Her funeral has been scheduled Friday at 11 a.m. at the Place Funeral Home in Los Gatos. Burial will be at Oak Wood Cemetery in Santa Cruz. Funeral services for Kathy will be held tomorrow (Thursday) at 2 p.m. at the Oak Hill Memorial Park Mortuary in San Jose. Burial will be at Oak Hill Memorial Park". The Furlong's had three surviving children called Glen, 16; Floyd, 12, and Pamela, 11, which ties in with the threat from the December 19th 1969 telephone caller to kill "a family of five between now and Monday".
The rather obscure article about the phone call to San Jose Highway Patrol on December 19th 1969, threatening "I am going to kill five of you officers and a family of five between now and Monday", was somewhat mirrored by the person claiming to be the Zodiac Killer in Barstow, California on March 26th 1971. Not only did this individual make a phone call at 9:15pm to the KWTC radio station stating "This is the Zodiac. I'm coming out there", which he repeated and hung up, he also rang the radio station at 11:30pm claiming "This is the Zodiac. There are going to be four people dead in Barstow by morning", before repeating the statement and hanging up once again. The California Highway Patrol, as it did on December 19th 1969, also received a threatening phone call from the "Zodiac Killer" at 5:00pm on March 26th 1971. On December 19th 1969, I believe the threat was aimed towards the Furlong family of five in San Jose, so were the four people mentioned in this latest phone call in Barstow just a random and empty threat on four random people, or was the threat target specific? These are the only two "Zodiac" calls known to have been aimed at the California Highway Patrol, with both issued on a Friday, separated by 15 months, with the possibility of multiple targets. However, this doesn't reach the level of "beyond a reasonable doubt" that the callers on December 19th 1969 and March 26th 1971 were the same person, or the infamous Zodiac Killer.
THE ZODIAC KILLER PHONE CALLS TO BARSTOW [PART ONE]
Thanks to Jibberjabber for his assistance in this matter.
KSZL is a commercial radio station that is licensed to and serves Barstow, San Bernardino County, California, United States. The station is owned by California Communications of Barstow, LLC and broadcasts a news/talk format. The station first signed on in 1947 as KWTC. Originally owned by William T. Brown, Burton C. Boatwright, and Robert E. Reno—doing business as Mojave Valley Broadcasting Company. In June 1950, KWTC joined the Liberty Broadcasting System, an early radio network that carried live re-creations of Major League Baseball games.
On March 13th 1971, the Zodiac Killer mailed a letter to the Los Angeles Times newspaper in response to him being connected to the murder of Cheri Jo Bates in Riverside on October 30th 1966. The letter stated "This is the Zodiac speaking Like I have allways said, I am crack proof. If the Blue Meannies are evere going to catch me, they had best get off their fat asses + do something. Because the longer they fiddle + fart around, the more slaves I will collect for my after life. I do have to give them credit for stumbling across my riverside activity, but they are only finding the easy ones, there are a hell of a lot more down there. The reason I'm writing to the Times is this, They don't bury me on the back pages like some of the others". This letter implied that he was still on the prowl for more victims, while insinuating his Riverside activity down south, in which he borrowed some of his wording from the movie trailer Vanishing Point (1971), a film released in the USA on March 13th 1971. The release date of the film marrying with the date this letter was mailed and postmarked from Pleasanton.
The majority of the movie features car delivery driver, Kowalski, being pursued by police while delivering a Dodge Challenger from Colorado to San Francisco. Here are some of the key points from the Vanishing Point trailer, spoken by the narrator: "They want to get him and put him away, but there'll have to catch him first". The author of the Los Angeles letter stated "If the Blue Meannies are evere going to catch me, they had best get off their fat asses + do something". The trailer of the film continued with a host from the KOW radio station reporting the chase and remarking "And there goes the Challenger being chased by the Blue, Blue Meanies on wheels".
Just under two weeks after the Los Angeles Times letter and release of this film, somebody claiming to be the Zodiac Killer rang the KWTC radio station in Barstow, California on March 26th 1971, stating "This is the Zodiac. I'm coming out there". This was spoken twice before he hung up. Barstow is located in San Bernardino County, 59 miles north of Riverside.
Of course, this phone call could have originated from somebody with a beef against the authorities and/or residents of Barstow, using the Zodiac Killer pseudonym to engender fear in the community. However, the interesting aspect of the phone call was its delivery to the KWTC radio station, just 13 days after the Los Angeles letter using wording from the KOW radio station host in the Vanishing Point movie. When the Los Angeles letter was received by the Times, it is very doubtful that any connection was made between the latest Zodiac letter and the movie, let alone the choice of words in the letter mirroring the KOW radio host. Therefore, it is rather curious that somebody claiming to be the Zodiac Killer happened to choose a radio station relatively close to Riverside, following a letter that quoted a radio station and mentioned Riverside activity.
Vanishing Point (1971) is about a long-distance car chase through the Mojave Desert. The main character, “Kowalski,” is a loner, a Vietnam War veteran, and an ex-cop. He is fueled by drugs that allow him to keep going without sleep, and successfully outruns the police every time a new pursuit begins. Las Vegas, often known simply as Vegas, is the 25th-most populous city in the United States, the most populous city in the state of Nevada, and the county seat of Clark County. The Las Vegas Valley metropolitan area is the largest within the greater Mojave Desert, and 2nd-largest in the Southwestern United States. Barstow is a city in San Bernardino County, California, in the Mojave Desert of Southern California, which is the natural route along the main highways from the Mojave Desert to San Francisco. In other words, Barstow is in the Mojave Desert, featured in the Vanishing Point movie, that was quoted by the Zodiac Killer in his March 13th 1971 letter, just two weeks before the phone calls to Barstow.
If one phrase summed up the Zodiac Killer, it was "the monster that challenged the world". The title of a 1957 movie starring Tim Holt - a western star, who inspired the comic book series and worked alongside such movie greats as Humphrey Bogart and Ginger Rogers. The majority of the underwater scenes in the film were shot at Catalina Island off the coast of Los Angeles. Other primary filming locations included the Salton Sea, as well as Brawley and Barstow, California. It is speculated by many Zodiac researchers that part of the Halloween card design was inspired by the Tim Holt comic book #30.
THE ZODIAC KILLER PHONE CALLS TO BARSTOW [PART TWO]
Thanks to Jibberjabber for his assistance in this matter.
Of the three lengthy cryptograms crafted by the Zodiac Killer, the 408 cipher mailed on July 31st 1969 was his introductory message to the public, proclaiming his intention to collect slaves for the afterlife. The cryptogram was a simple homophonic substitution cipher, cracked in a matter of days by schoolteacher Donald Gene Harden and Bettye June Harden (née Tischer) of Salinas, California. The Zodiac Killer's next character laden cryptogram appeared reactionary, in that the design of the 340 cipher on November 8th 1969 was much more complex, despite the fact it contained a contemporary message regarding the "phony" (Eric Weill), who rang into the Jim Dunbar TV Show on October 22nd 1969 and February 5th 1970 pretending to be the infamous Zodiac Killer. Although the design of the cipher was arguably more difficult, it is clear that the Zodiac Killer underestimated its complexity and failings, resulting in the contemporary message contained within it being diminished and compromised by the passage of time.
When the Zodiac Killer created his third lengthy cryptogram (in possibly May, 1971), containing yet another contemporary message about "phony" Eric Weill (and claimed additional "phony" Karl Francis Werner), the Zodiac Killer, this time, made sure his message would not be lost to the hands of time by manufacturing a cryptogram much simpler than the 408 cipher, by allotting just one ciphertext character to each plaintext letter. The only three times he deviated from this technique in the cryptogram was with the bold letter "G" that concluded the word "LISTENING" on the third row, and the letter "T" in "THE" and "FRONT" on the first and fifth row. The Zodiac Killer likely incorporated two deliberate errors on the first row when he used two misspellings within his "This is the Zodiac speaking" introduction. These deliberate misspellings, by adding and subtracting a plaintext letter, very likely created to add minor complexity, and prevent an immediate decoding of his cipher.
Having used the letter "Z" in plaintext for the first time in three cryptograms, it seemed that the Zodiac Killer couldn't resist using the "sun cross" character (similar to his crosshairs) to represent the initial of his pseudonym. This becomes apparent when he uses this individual character to sign off his accompanying letter, rather than the traditional crosshairs or letter "Z".
Victims of serial killers make up a very small percentage of the total number of murder victims each year. Communications written by such killers (and accompanying hoaxers) are even less. So imagine the percentage of serial killers and their accompanying hoaxers that mail communications to authorities with cryptograms and codes included within the correspondence. Now imagine two cryptograms contained within two letters unreleased into the public domain, both of which have many crossover features, that both use the ciphertext character "7" to represent the plaintext character "A" in the code, with both claiming to be from the Zodiac Killer, and both using the "sun cross" in their respective codes. These two letters were mailed from Fairfield, California (1971) and Albany, New York (1973). Now imagine mailing a 148 character cryptogram in 1971 using the root word "phony" that was previously used to describe the Jim Dunbar TV Show hoaxer Eric Weill in the headlines of a newspaper article on February 6th 1970, who was the focus of the 340 cipher solve in 2020, when the Zodiac Killer wrote "That wasn't me on the TV show" and effectively proclaimed the caller a hoaxer. A 340 cipher message that wasn't known to anybody else but the Zodiac Killer in 1971. Regardless, we must not let facts get in the way of the long told Zodiac narrative.
The Citizen Detective podcast is currently covering the Zodiac Killer case, having previously covered the pre-canonical murder of Cheri Jo Bates in Riverside on October 30th 1966, and the attacks at Lake Herman Road (12:20:68) and Blue Rock Springs (07:05:69), in two Youtube videos in excess of three hours duration.
On April 19th 2023, the podcast will be covering the third and fourth attacks at Lake Berryessa (09:27:69) and Presidio Heights (10:11:69).
Created by Canadian filmmaker Andrew Gray, with Production Assistant, Ashley Monroe, it is hosted by Mike Morford, Dr. Lee Mellor and Alex Ralph, with the aforementioned episodes having featured guest speakers Cloyd Steiger, a retired Seattle homicide detective, and Suzanna Ryan, Laboratory Director of Pure Gold Forensics. The back catalogue of videos have included the Colonial Parkway murders, the Idaho murders, the Barbara Nantais and Claire Hough murders, the Doodler murders in San Francisco, and the Short Family murders, to name but a few. Please visit their Citizen Detective YouTube channel, or their website at Abjack Entertainment.which features multiple true crime podcasts to enjoy.
On November 29th 1966, one month after the murder of Cheri Jo Bates alongside the Riverside City College library, two confession letters were delivered to the Riverside Homicide Detail and Riverside Press Enterprise containing a sinister message. They read in part "Then I waited for her in the library and followed her out after about two minutes. The battery must have been about dead by then. I then offered to help. She was then very willing to talk to me. I told her that my car was down the street and that I would give her a lift home. When we were away from the library walking, I said it was about time. She asked me "about time for what". I said it was about time for her to die". If the good Samaritan, as he claimed in the letter, was offering to give her a lift home from his nearby vehicle, then it's fairly obvious that Cheri Jo Bates isn't going to willingly travel 3.5 miles back to her 4195 Via San Jose home with this individual and leave her prized Volkswagen Beetle with the windows rolled down, her keys in the ignition and the doors unlocked. Therefore, the idea that her killer promised her a lift home doesn't tally with the condition her vehicle was found the following morning.
The January 1969 Inside Detective magazine described the crime scene, stating "The victim of the savage attack was clad in faded red capris, a long-sleeved pale yellow blouse with a ribbon tied at the throat. Her feet were encased in white sandals. A large red and tan woven straw bag was half covered by the body". This large bag can be seen in the crime scene photographs. If Cheri Jo Bates had arrived back at her vehicle after exiting the library and placed her library books on the passenger seat, one might have expected Cheri Jo Bates to have first removed this straw bag from her shoulder prior to rolling the windows, placing her key in the ignition and preparing to drive away (especially if the bag was slung over her right shoulder). This oversize straw bag would certainly have impaired her ability to shift gear in a comfortable manner while driving. If she had removed this bag to prepare to drive home and was forcibly removed from her vehicle in a surprise attack under the threat of a knife or gun, why under any circumstances, would she have placed the bag back on her shoulders under duress (for it to be later found under her body in the driveway) The Confession letter author claimed she was very willing to talk and leave with him, which would explain her grabbing her bag before leaving - but not the condition her vehicle was ultimately found the next morning. If the author was her killer, she had two minutes (according to the Confession letter) to remove the straw bag from her shoulder before he arrived and offered the young woman assistance.
Recently I looked at the autopsy report of Cheri Jo Bates, which may suggest her being placed in a choke-hold at the moment the attack began, while the killer stabbed backwards into her upper body and right arm, before thrusting her forward (face down) into the hard driveway floor and "finishing the job out" by stabbing her in the back and slashing her throat. This would explain why her straw bag remained in contact with her body throughout (although not slung over her head as a method of carrying it). A vicious attack from the front, by a knife wielding assailant facing Cheri Jo Bates, is less likely to have her retaining control of a large straw bag throughout.
None of the knife wounds to her front torso were immediately life threatening, so a savage attack with somebody thrusting a knife towards her (and into her) while she is mobile and able to run, is unlikely to create a scenario where her bag remained on her shoulder during this period. Her bag is likely to be dropped - and she is likely to move away. The chances that she would be coincidentally reunited with that bag later in the attack is extremely unlikely. The position of the straw bag under her body, on the right side, could suggest she had the bag on her right shoulder when the killer grabbed her around the neck with his left arm and stabbed backwards with his right hand. Her right arm would naturally come upwards to defend herself, with the straw bag remaining in relatively close contact with her body while upright. When the killer thrust her face down into the driveway, her straw bag fell from her right shoulder to the position shown in the crime scene. In other words, she was grabbed and killed in virtually the same spot in the driveway.
To listen to a comprehensive discussion on the Cheri Jo Bates murder in Riverside on October 30th 1966, with contributions from Druzer and Michael Morford, please visit the Citizen Detective podcast on Youtube (running time 3hr 10 mins).
As shown many times on this site, the Zodiac Killer was able to forage through newspaper articles many years previously to gain inspiration for the content of his contemporary communications. It was believed this was achievable with such ease because the Bay Area murderer, a voracious narcissist, kept newspaper cuttings from his published crimes and communications. One outlier correspondence mailed on December 27th 1974 to Mary Pilker, sister of missing nurse Donna Lass, came in the form of a Christmas card addressed to Mrs. Mary Pilker 1609 South Grange, Sioux Falls, South Dakota. It depicted snow covered pine trees with the already inserted message of "Holiday Greetings and Best Wishes for a Happy New Year", followed by a cryptic addition from the author, stating "Best Wishes, St. Donna & Guardians of the Pines". The question has always been - was this festive greetings card mailed by the Zodiac Killer? To answer this, we have to unearth the likely inspiration for the message, and whether the Christmas card was intended to be malicious or otherwise.
Jibberjabber, a previous contributor to the Tapatalk Zodiac forum, forwarded me a newspaper article from the Sacramento Bee published shortly after the disappearance of Donna Lass, on September 24th 1970. This newspaper article, highlighted by Jibberjabber, had all the ingredients to create the 1974 Christmas card mailed to Mary Pilker, including her address.
The article read: "Donna lived during the summer with Mr. and Mrs. Larry Lowe, a young couple who had planned to return to college but are remaining here also in the hope of being some assistance in locating her. Mrs. Lowe also is a nurse and worked with Donna from 1967 to 1969 at Santa Barbara. The missing woman was working at Letterman General Hospital in San Francisco when she was persuaded to seek employment at South Lake Tahoe by the Lowes last June. Donna was described by Mrs. Lowe as shy and retiring, a girl who never smoked, who drank very little and was generally opposed to the free lifestyle of many of her contemporaries. She attended church at St. Mary's in the Pines every Sunday". If Donna Lass attended St. Mary's in the Pines, it isn't difficult to contemplate how the author of the 1974 Christmas card invoked a religious element and arrived at the message "Best Wishes, St. Donna & Guardians of the Pines".
If the Sacramento Bee (or another contemporary article containing this information) was the source of the inspiration for the 1974 Christmas card, would this lend credence to the Mary Pilker communication being mailed by the Zodiac Killer, irrespective of whether he had a hand in the disappearance of Donna Lass? We know the Zodiac Killer was able to source newspaper articles from distant years, so does the similarity in wording between the 1970 Sacramento Bee article and 1974 Christmas card, specific to the religious tendencies of Donna Lass, lean towards the Zodiac Killer being the author of this festive message to Mary Pilker in South Dakota. Thanks to Jibberjabber.
Attorney Jennifer Taylor and investigator Chris Williamson are currently in the midst of a series of podcasts covering the Zodiac Killer case and the pre-canonical attacks in Southern California, which are often linked with the Bay Area murderer. The first two episodes, just shy of three hours each, with contributions from Raven & Mandy from the Sirens Podcast, feature several guest speakers from the Zodiac community. In the first instalment, Michael Cole, author of the The Zodiac Revisited book trilogy and website, is joined by Kristi S. Hawthorne, who unearthed a possible link between the murder of taxicab driver Ray Davis in Oceanside in 1962 and the murder of Paul Stine in Presidio Heights on October 11th 1969. The second podcast features somebody from England and Ross Geraci, host of the Planet X Filmworks Youtube Channel, who has compiled several videos on the pre-canonical murders of Ray Davis (1962), Johnny & Joyce Swindle (1964) and Cheri Jo Bates (1966). He is soon to release another comprehensive video on the murders of Robert Domingos and Linda Edwards in Santa Barbara in 1963
The Vanished Podcast, hosted by Jennifer Taylor and Chris Williamson, can be found on multiple outlets, such as Audioboom, Apple, Spotify, Podchaser, Podbean and Deezer, to name just a few. Here is a link to the Apple Podcast. The investigative duo have extensively covered many other cases, including D.B. Cooper (1971), Jack the Ripper (1888) and Amelia Earhart (1937).
Part One: Vanished: Zodiac: "Sick of Living, Unwilling to Die"
Part Two: Vanished Zodiac: “Many Undiscovered Victims”
Part Three: Vanished Zodiac: "Trial by Jury"
More episodes will be added upon release.
For black and white issue..