This letter in all likelihood was not penned by the Zodiac letter, and despite its threatening tone, no murders or abductions occurred on the specified date, or even close to it.
Sent to the Albany Times Union newspaper and postmarked August 1st 1973. Obtained by Tom Voigt of Zodiackiller.com, the letter threatened to kill a female on August 10th at 5.00 pm on a shift change, just nine days after its mailing date. An FBI cryptanalysis unit deciphered the code material at the foot of the letter to reveal 'ALBANY MEDICAL CENTER. THIS ONLY THE BEGINNING.' The threat on a nurse, had menacing overtones reminiscent to the disappearance of Donna Ann Lass from the Sahara Tahoe Hotel on September 6th 1970. Her body has never been recovered.
This letter in all likelihood was not penned by the Zodiac letter, and despite its threatening tone, no murders or abductions occurred on the specified date, or even close to it.
THE ALBANY LETTER
The Albany letter decoding from the FBI files and Dave Oranchak.
THE FAIRFIELD LETTER
THE 1987 LETTER
This is a follow up to the article Lake Berryessa-North of the Crime Scene, analyzing the sighting of an individual by Dr. Clifton Rayfield and his son David. This is what Napa County Sheriff's Department detective Ken Narlow said: "Dr. Clifton Rayfield, an ophthalmologist, and his son, David, had parked their car four-fifths of a mile further up the road from Hartnell’s Karmann Ghia. Rayfield reported to me that at approximately 6:30 P.M. he and his son had parked their vehicle north of Park Headquarters . . . in the general area of the crime scene and walked down toward the beach. While en route Rayfield observed a WMA described as five feet ten inches, heavy build, wearing dark trousers and a long-sleeved dark shirt with red coloring. Rayfield and his son both stated that they had not observed a vehicle parked in the area of their car". He continued “I think their time was off a little bit ’cause I think Rayfield actually saw the Zodiac killer just prior to him going south four-fifths of a mile to where Shephard and Hartnell had their car parked. It sure looks like he stumbled on them and had not followed them. I’m convinced that Zodiac was just stalking any singular parked cars along the route. And that’s why he stopped when he saw Rayfield’s car there. When he saw the father and son and they saw him, he decided to go back up to his car. Then he drove down the road a little ways and saw the white Karmann Ghia. Then he came down here and saw a boy and a girl laying on this blanket under this oak tree, and this is what his game was, to kill the boy and the girl. This is why he struck here and not further up the road".
Many observers believe this could be Zodiac - but what is the likelihood?
The 6:30 pm time that Dr. Rayfield parked his vehicle can be argued. Had this 'mystery man' been Zodiac, then he would have had to return up the hill, get in his vehicle and drive 0.8 miles south to where Bryan Hartnell's Karmann Ghia was located. The time would now be approximately 6:33 pm. The walk from the Karmann Ghia to the crime scene location is a quarter of a mile. The average walking speed is 3.1 mph (1 mile taking approximately 20 minutes). Therefore, the journey down to the location where Bryan Hartnell and Cecelia Shepard were lying, considering the terrain, would likely be upwards of 5 minutes - but we will go with this figure. The time is now 6:38 pm. He hides behind a tree and prepares for his attack (6:39 pm). The Zodiac then entered into a fairly long dialogue with the couple, proceeded to secure them with bindings and then stabbed them multiple times. The minimum estimation is 10 minutes, taking us to 6:49 pm. Returning up the hill and writing on the car door, a minimum of 6 minutes, giving us a time of approximately 6:55 pm when he begins his journey to Napa. The journey time for the 27 mile trip to the 1231 Main St, Napa payphone is estimated on Google maps at about 45 minutes. This would place the Zodiac Killer at the payphone at 7:40 pm - the exact time of the call to police dispatcher Dave Slaight. This timeline, however, is very optimistic, and does not tally exactly with the time of the attack, written as 6:30 pm on the car door of Bryan Hartnell. Nevertheless, it is within 10 minutes.
According to page 11 of the police report 'Miss Marilyn Denise, a student at Pacific Union College, stated that about 5:15 pm Saturday 9/27/69 she was in the Lake Berryessa area with a male companion. She stated at this time they were parked on the Knoxville Road approximately one mile south of the Lake Berryessa Marina. She stated shortly after they parked the vehicle they observed the victims who were known to them, Bryan Hartnell and Cecelia Shepard, driving south on Knoxville Road in Bryan's white Karmann Ghia. She stated as the Hartnell vehicle drove by, Bryan waved out of the window and said "Hi John", referring to her companion.' Based on this police report, let us assume that Bryan Hartnell and Cecelia Shepard arrived and parked up the Karmann Ghia around 5:30 pm.
Dr. Clifton Rayfield reported that he had parked his vehicle four-fifths of a mile further north at 6:30 pm, likely one hour after Bryan Hartnell had arrived. So, Detective Ken Narlow's assumption that Zodiac was probably "stalking any singular parked cars along the route", would be extremely unlikely, as the Zodiac Killer would certainly have stumbled across the Karmann Ghia first, not Dr. Rayfield's vehicle. This could lend credence to the idea that Dr. Rayfield and his son saw the killer after the stabbing of the couple, hence the observation of a man wearing a "long-sleeved dark shirt with red coloring", that may have been blood. This, however, has a massive stumbling block. If the Zodiac Killer had discovered the Karmann Ghia first and parked alongside it, why would he be wandering around a hillside 0.8 miles north. He would simply have entered his vehicle and driven south towards Napa.
In a previous article it was considered that the killer may have been searching for victims on foot, traveling along the hillside scanning for single vehicles and likely prey, as opposed to continually moving his vehicle back and forth. If this were the case, and the Zodiac Killer had written on the Karmann Ghia at 6:30 pm, then the journey on foot 0.8 miles north, using caution, would have taken about 20 to 25 minutes, thereby arriving at his vehicle at 6:50 to 6:55 pm, This again, considering a 45 minute journey to the Napa payphone, places him making the call to police dispatcher Dave Slaight at exactly 7:40 pm.
This would mean Dr. Clifton Rayfield and his son saw the Zodiac Killer roughly 20 minutes after they parked their vehicle, rather than shortly after 6:30 pm. In other words, the actual time they arrived at the lake was nearer 6:50 pm. If this was the Zodiac Killer after the attack on Bryan Hartnell and Cecelia Shepard, it may explain the "red coloring" on the shirt.
Dr. Clifton Rayfield had driven from Cypress Way, Los Gatos, California - so he would have traveled northwards along Knoxville Road. Had Zodiac's vehicle been parked further north, just out of view, then this would explain why Dr. Rayfied and son claimed they "had not observed a vehicle parked in the area of their car". The 6:50 pm sighting would have put greater pressure on the already strained timeline, of Zodiac leaving this area and committing any subsequent attack on Bryan Hartnell and Cecelia Shepard south of this location. This coupled with the fact Zodiac wrote 6:30 pm on the Karmann Ghia, strengthens Dr. Rayfield's initial assumption, when he stated, "I didn’t realize 'Zodiac' came upon us just before he stabbed the young couple. I sort of assumed I saw him making his getaway".
If this was the Zodiac Killer, then he was most certainly making his getaway, thereby bolstering the argument that he had never parked alongside the Karmann Ghia of Bryan Hartnell that evening. If it wasn't the Zodiac Killer spotted by Dr. Rayfield & Son, then what you have just read is inconsequential.
LAKE BERRYESSA-NORTH OF THE CRIME SCENE [PT1]
On November 9th 1969 the Zodiac Killer mailed the 'Bus Bomb' letter to the San Francisco Chronicle detailing the murder of Paul Stine. In the correspondence he stated "If you wonder why I was wipeing the cab down. I was leaving fake clews for the police to run all over town with, as one might say, I gave the cops som bussy work to do to keep them happy. I enjoy needling the blue pigs". This has been thought by many to suggest the killer may have been planting fake fingerprints on the taxicab, which sounds a little far-fetched. On October 15th, only four days after the crime, the San Francisco Chronicle ran an article entitled 'The Boastful Slayer.' It stated "Witnesses said they saw the man wiping down the door and interior of the cab with a cloth". The Zodiac suggested he was leaving fake clues, but what sort of clues would make the police run all over town, and what purpose would it serve? He may have realized that the police would likely discover the approximate area he entered the taxicab, so may have wanted to throw them off the exact location by misdirecting them to a secondary location close by. He could achieve this by leaving something in the taxicab on purpose, to give the police "some busy work." Something that featured in later newspaper articles.
Twelve days after the crime, on October 23rd 1969 the San Francisco Examiner ran this:"The search also took police to Nob Hill, where the Fairmont Hotel became involved again in the manhunt. This was because: #1. Cabbie Paul Stine, 29, the Zodiac's latest victim is believed to have picked up his fare on a street near the famed hotel. #2. A waitress in the hotel candy shop-fountain told police she served coffee during the television show (Jim Dunbar/Melvin Belli) to a man who resembled composite drawings of Zodiac. She saved the cup and saucer for a fingerprint check". It clearly states "the Fairmont Hotel became involved again," indicating it had previously been considered a possibility. But why? Paul Stine was returning to the theater district from the San Francisco International Airport, when he was directed by taxicab operator Leroy Sweet to a fare at 500 9th Avenue. There was no mention by anybody that Paul Stine was picking up a fare outside the Fairmont Hotel en route. The taxicab meter read $6.25 at 10:46 pm as it rested near the intersection of Washington and Cherry, and this meter reading, along with the final contact with Paul Stine was used to calculate his approximate position in the theater district, by Union Square. Something else must have prompted this consideration.
It has been considered that the article on the right, detailing an attack on another taxicab driver only eleven days prior to the Paul Stine murder (click to read full article), may have been the catalyst to revisit the Fairmont Hotel. However, this appears not to be the case. On September 30th 1969, a Chinese Yellow Cab driver in San Francisco picked up a fare at the 950 Mason Street, Fairmont Hotel. "He was first robbed at gunpoint. Then he was forced into the trunk of his cab and locked in after his pleas that he might suffocate failed to sway the gunman. But the cabbie was found and freed by military police inside Presidio grounds before being overcome. San Francisco Captain Martin Lee explained there is an amazing similarity in MO in the two cabbie cases. Both times the drivers picked up ostensible fares in the area of the Fairmont-Mark Hopkins Hotels at night- and they climbed in alongside the drivers. Both passengers asked to be driven to Presidio Heights, in fact just three blocks from each other. Then, nearing their destinations, each one made a last minute change, in where he wanted to be taken. The descriptions of the passengers made by the surviving driver and the three children varied widely. But Captain Lee said, only partly in jest, "all Occidentals look alike to an Oriental person." The taxicab driver had been waiting in line in front of the Fairmont Hotel at 11.00 pm on September 30th when a man, who appeared to be a cook or other hotel worker came up. He hopped in the front and asked to be taken to Washington and Locust Streets. The cabbie later asked the fare if he worked in the Mark Hopkins. He replied tersely "yeah". Near the original destination the passenger told the cabbie to drive down to Arguello and into the Presidio".
The crucial part is "Both times the drivers picked up ostensible fares in the area of the Fairmont-Mark Hopkins Hotels at night". This indicates that the September 30th case was not the catalyst for investigators to consider the Fairmont Hotel in the Paul Stine murder, but was separate and independent of it. The Fairmont Hotel clearly generated no leads we are aware of, but what drove investigators to consider this pick-up point as a viable option in the Paul Stine murder case. As stated above, the Zodiac Killer knew that investigators could backtrack his approximate location to the theater district, so possibly had to throw them off his scent by offering an alternative area of interest, in line, and not widely in conflict to the taxicab meter reading. The Fairmont Hotel and Union Square/Mason and Geary Street areas, are virtually the same distance to the Washington and Cherry intersection. Often the police withhold details of a crime to verify future correspondence from the killer. Captain Martin Lee would allude to this in a KPIX news report on November 12th 1969. Did the Zodiac Killer deliberately drop "fake clews" inside the taxicab on October 11th 1969 insinuating a connection between him and the Fairmont Hotel, sending police on a wild goose chase, "running all over town," and was he aware of the previous taxicab hold-up, thereby using it to his full advantage.
It has long been believed the Zodiac Killer may have taken credit for crimes he never committed. One such example was the Modesto abduction of Kathleen Johns on March 22nd 1970, to which he claimed credit four months later, giving us details about the crime that had already been published in the newspapers. This may also have been the case in the murder of Cheri Jo Bates on October 30th 1966, when one month after the crime somebody sent typed Confession letters to Riverside Homicide Detail and the Riverside Press Enterprise on November 29th 1966. But were these from the killer, or an elaborate hoaxer?
When a person is manufacturing a story or crime they never committed they will obviously use material gleaned from the newspapers, but may subconsciously structure details in the letter in the same order they appeared in the newspaper. In addition, they may use identical or similar words used by the author of the article. The person may have attempted to present the Confession letter as first hand information but inadvertently leaked elements of the article into its wording and structure. Here is one such newspaper article released before the Confession letter arrived:
'Riverside Police say their only clue in the brutal murder of a pretty, 18-year-old co-ed is a man's wristwatch found 10 feet from her slashed body. Officers speculated that while Cheri Jo Bates, a blonde cheerleader, studied Sunday night at the Riverside City College library, her killer disabled her car. Miss Bates' body, stabbed in the back, her throat slashed, was found early Monday under a tree, 100 feet from the car. The ignition key was in place in the compact car, but the distributor and coil wire had been torn loose, police said. Officers said an anonymous caller telephoned saying she had heard a terrified scream Sunday, then a muffled scream, then a car driving away The caller said she had not thought it serious enough to report until Monday'.
Let us compare this article to the Confession letter, to view any similarities.
#1.The first thing the article details is the 'brutal murder of a pretty, 18-year-old co-ed', in addition to being a 'blonde cheerleader.' The Confession letter opens with "she was young and beautiful", along with "maybe she will be the beautiful blond that babysits,' or "the shapely blue eyed brownett that said no when I asked for a date in high school".
#2. The article then details the car being disabled. The Confession letter similarly switches to the Volkswagen Beetle, stating "I first pulled the middle wire from the distributor", but the author retrieves some additional material from later in the article, where it states 'the distributor and coil wire had been torn loose'. This topic of the 'middle wire' has been hotly debated in many forums, on whether the author of the Confession letter is supplying information only known to the killer. Here is some additional information to help you decide. "The ignition coil is the unit that takes your relatively weak battery power and turns it into a spark powerful enough to ignite fuel vapor. Inside a a traditional ignition coil are two coils of wire on top of each other. These coils are called windings. One winding is called the primary winding, the other is the secondary. The primary winding gets the juice together to make a spark and the secondary sends it out the door to the distributor. You'll see three contacts on an ignition coil, unless it has an external plug, in which case the contacts are hidden inside the case. The large contact in the middle is where the coil wire goes (the wire that links the coil to the distributor cap".
#3. The article then mentions how Cheri Jo Bates was murdered: 'Miss Bates' body, stabbed in the back, her throat slashed, was found early Monday under a tree'. The author of the Confession letter again follows: "I grabbed her around the neck with my hand over her mouth and my other hand with a small knife at her throat", continuing on to parrot the article "I plunged the knife into her. Then I finished the job by cutting her throat". The article gives the impression Cheri Jo Bates suffered only two wounds, one to the back and one to the throat. The author of the Confession letter equally describes only two strikes with the knife, despite the fact Cheri Jo Bates suffered numerous lacerations to her body over a prolonged period, and did not "go to the slaughter like a lamb".
#4. The article then details an anonymous caller who 'had heard a terrified scream.' The Confession letter again mimics this detail: "She let out a scream once and I kicked her head to shut her up". Triggered by the anonymous caller, the author of the Confession letter is reminded to state, "Yes I did make that call to you also".
Finally, the author of the Confession letter stated "I first pulled the wire from the distributor. Then I waited for her in the library and followed her out after about two minuts. The battery must have been about dead by then. I then offered to help. She was then very willing to talk to me". None of which actually happened.
Walter Siebert stated that "he and a few friends were in the library from 7:15 pm until 9, but did not see Miss Bates, whom they all knew. They said they saw four men dressed in work clothes sitting on a fence across from the spot where Miss Bates' car was found, but they did not know them". These workmen must have been spotted by Walter Siebert and his friends when they arrived at the library at 7:15 pm. The workmen said they saw Cheri Jo Bates by her Volkswagen Beetle as they were sitting opposite her vehicle on the fence - but Cheri Jo Bates was not recollected by Walter Siebert & Co that evening. We know that Cheri Jo Bates parked her Volkswagen Beetle on Terracina Drive no later than 6:15 pm, and it is assumed it remained in that position throughout until it was discovered disabled the following day. The four young men were interrogated by police, stating "they had seen Cheri Jo near her car the previous night". They must have seen Cheri Jo Bates at 6:15 pm when she parked up to enter the library. They do not mention to police anybody tampering with the Volkswagen Beetle, anybody assisting Cheri Jo Bates, or Cheri Jo Bates experiencing any car trouble. They fail to see anything suspicious, including hearing any commotion or screams from the alleyway. This totally negates the claims issued by the author of the Confession letter, and reinforces the idea the author is simply mimicking what they have read in the newspapers. So, was the author of the Confession letter the killer? I will let you decide.
CHERI JO BATES-MINUTE BY MINUTE
CHERI JO BATES-MINUTE BY MINUTE [PT2]
CHERI JO BATES-THE COMPLETE EYEWITNESS TIMELINE
During the first two Zodiac crimes at Lake Herman Road and Blue Rock Springs Park it is entirely plausible the killer knew the area was frequented by courting couples and systematically cruised between the two locations until the opportunity presented itself. He may very well have adopted the exact same technique at Lake Berryessa on September 27th 1969, moving between areas looking for suitable victims, either by moving his vehicle or trawling the hillside on foot. One interesting observation may indicate his direction of travel after the attack on Bryan Hartnell and Cecelia Shepard, and negate the premise his vehicle was parked near to Bryan's 1956 White Karmann Ghia. In fact, it may have been parked between 0.5 and 0.80 miles northwards along the Knoxville Road. Assuming he wrote on the car door after the attack, this being the case, he certainly would not want to be conspicuous traveling along the roadside edge back to his vehicle, so likely walked along the hillside to attract less attention. Despite this choice, he still may well have been spotted.
Three possible 'Zodiac' sightings may have occurred inside of three hours.
Earlier on in the day, three young women, students of Pacific Union College parked their vehicle two miles north of the A & W Root Beer stand (5100 Knoxville Road). As they left their vehicle to go sunbathing, a white male, driving a silver or light blue Chevrolet 2-door sedan with California plates pulled up to the rear of their car, bumper to bumper, yet remained inside his vehicle. This man would seemingly remain in his vehicle for approximately 30 minutes before they spotted him again, observing them from about 40 to 50 feet away while they were sunbathing - and each time they looked at him he evaded eye contact thus drawing suspicion.
He was described as being between 28 and 40 years, 200-225 pounds, 6 feet tall, styled black hair, with rounded eyes and thin lips. He was good looking, with a muscular or stocky build, wearing dark blue or black pleated slacks and a dark pullover shirt. He remained observing them, by their accounts, for approximately 30 to 45 minutes. About two hours later, Bryan Hartnell described his attacker as having dark brown hair, 225-250 lbs in weight and 5'8'' to 5'10'' in height, but admitted he was a bad judge of height because he was so tall. He wore a dark blue windbreaker and dark blue or black pleated pants. Bryan Hartnell noted the assailant's greasy hair visible by the eyelets of the hood, suggesting a longer hairstyle, and not inconsistent with the drawing generated from the observations of the three women, with a swept back coiffured hairstyle.
After deciding the three women were not viable targets, the suggestion is that Zodiac traveled along the Knoxville Road in his vehicle and parked up at a location north of where Bryan Hartnell and Cecelia Shepard were ultimately attacked. He would then traverse the hillside, scouring the area for potential victims. The time is approximately 4:00-4:30 pm - so he had ample daylight remaining. The reason for this hypothesis are the observations of Dr. Clifton Rayfield and his son David.
In Zodiac Unmasked by Robert Graysmith, David Rayfield stated "I saw 'Zodiac' at a distance of about one hundred yards, so I wouldn’t be able to comment on his face. He was walking along the hillside about halfway between the road and the lake. But I remember him as being a stockier person. He wasn’t nimble when he was walking. And when he turned to walk away he wasn’t like a smooth, athletic person. To me he seemed a little overweight and on the clumsier side. Not having followed the story or ever having been re-interviewed by the police, I didn’t realize 'Zodiac' came upon us just before he stabbed the young couple. I sort of assumed I saw him making his getaway. I’ll tell you one thing, he didn’t like the fact I was carrying a gun. He turns and looks at me and my gun (which with its scope was pretty intimidating) for probably five, six seconds, and then turned and went up the hill up in a southerly direction. I said to myself, ‘That was funny. This guy wasn’t carrying a fishing pole. There’s no camping equipment. There’s no gun. What’s he doing out here?"
Napa County Sheriff's Department detective Ken Narlow would add "The kid had a .22 rifle, and 'Zodiac' came down within one hundred yards of them across an inlet. The kid saw the guy over there and he was wearing the blue windbreaker jacket. But evidently this wasn’t what he was looking for because it was a father-and-son deal. So the killer went a quarter mile up this road, went back up to the road, and evidently came down the road this way and saw this single car parked here, and then pulled in behind it. Rayfield and his son both stated that they had not observed a vehicle parked in the area of their car, and had only noticed the subject at a distance of approximately one hundred yards. Rayfield did report that there was a man with two young boys in the area shooting BB guns, but didn’t know whether or not they saw the subject. “I think their time was off a little bit ’cause I think Rayfield actually saw the Zodiac killer just prior to him going south four-fifths of a mile to where Shephard and Hartnell had their car parked. It sure looks like he stumbled on them and had not followed them. I’m convinced that Zodiac was just stalking any singular parked cars along the route. And that’s why he stopped when he saw Rayfield’s car there. When he saw the father and son and they saw him, he decided to go back up to his car. Then he drove down the road a little ways and saw the white Karmann Ghia. Then he came down here and saw a boy and a girl laying on this blanket under this oak tree, and this is what his game was, to kill the boy and the girl. This is why he struck here and not further up the road".
Of course, the man observed by Dr. Rayfield and son was not necessarily the Zodiac Killer - but let us run with the possibility for a moment. Detective Ken Narlow may possibly be correct, that the Rayfield's "time was off a little bit". They estimated the time at about 6:30 pm, and Narlow thought that "Rayfield actually saw the Zodiac killer just prior to him going south four-fifths of a mile to where Shepard and Hartnell had their car parked". But what of the possibility that Clifton and David Rayfield saw the Zodiac after the attack on Bryan Hartnell and Cecelia Shepard as David had initially assumed, with the time nearer 6:50 pm (20 minutes walking time for 0.50-0.80 mile). The Zodiac was traveling along the hillside equidistant from the road and the lake for obvious reasons. Despite having worn a three-quarter waistline bib during his attack, he would still be spattered with blood to some degree.
The reason for believing this sighting could have been after the attack on Bryan Hartnell and Cecelia Shepard are threefold.
In Zodiac Unmasked, Detective Ken Narlow revealed "Dr. Clifton Rayfield, an ophthalmologist, and his son, David, had parked their car four-fifths of a mile further up the road from Hartnell’s Karmann Ghia. Rayfield reported to me that at approximately 6:30 P.M. he and his son had parked their vehicle north of Park Headquarters . . . in the general area of the crime scene and walked down toward the beach. While en route Rayfield observed a WMA described as five feet ten inches, heavy build, wearing dark trousers and a long-sleeved dark shirt with red coloring". Was this "red coloring" actually blood, and the Zodiac Killer was heading back to his car parked nearby, likely just beyond the Rayfield vehicle. Had this been 6:50 to 6:55 pm, then the 45-50 minute journey time from Lake Berryessa to the 1231 Main Street, Napa payphone, would have placed him there at exactly 7:40 pm and the time of the call to police dispatcher David Slaight. Had the Zodiac Killer departed Lake Berryessa at 6:30 pm it would left at least 20 minutes unaccounted for. The 20 minute walk to his vehicle from Bryan Hartnell's Karmann Ghia fills in this time period. This period of walking may also account for the discrepancy in Zodiac's phone call, where he overestimated his distances by 1.3 miles: "I want to report a murder, no, a double murder. They are two miles north of Park Headquarters. They were in a white Volkswagen Karmann Ghia" and after a brief pause uttered the words "I'm the one that did it".
Earlier, the three women described the man wearing a "white belt around his back" or possibly "a white T-shirt hanging out". It has been considered that bearing in mind the man was a distance away, this could have been the white clothesline, described later by Bryan Hartnell. Then we have the "long-sleeved dark shirt with red coloring". But were the two sightings connected - effectively ruling out the idea Zodiac parked alongside Bryan Hartnell's vehicle before the attack - and suggest the Zodiac Killer was actually trolling the hillside on foot looking for single vehicles and vulnerable targets, and his vehicle was actually parked four-fifths of a mile north of the crime scene.
LAKE BERRYESSA-NORTH OF THE CRIME SCENE [PT2]
Yet again we shall return to the possible residence and location of the Zodiac Killer when he committed his four attacks, assuming he remained at the same address during his reign of terror. Kim Rossmo, pioneer of geographical profiling and the software Rigel, has made some excellent observations regarding the Zodiac Killer and his movements after each crime.
In his communications the Zodiac Killer made some telling remarks, that indicated he likely had a regular weekday profession. Not only were all his confirmed attacks on Friday and Saturday, but if we make the claim he was a resident in the Vallejo area, then he traveled further afield to San Francisco and Lake Berryessa on his rest day, when he had negligible time constraints. His first three letters to newspapers on July 31st 1969 held some vital clues. The Zodiac stated "I will go on a kill ram-Page Fry. night that will last the whole weekend.", "I will cruse around all weekend killing", and "I will cruse around killing people who are alone at night untill Sun Night". His span appears to cover Friday night to Sunday night, suggesting this was his window of opportunity and indicative of commitments during the weekdays.
In his early letters with the newspapers, the killer remarked about the "golf course in vallejo", "good times I have had in Vallejo", and "that area is surrounded by high hills + trees". In addition, he targeted isolated spots frequented by courting teenagers, that suggested prior knowledge of the local area, and maybe locations that he frequently passed while traveling to work, visiting friends or engaging in pastimes. His compass or navigational markers were correct regarding both Lake Herman Road and Blue Rock Springs Park, despite the widely held belief he was incorrect during his phone call to police dispatcher Nancy Slover. Despite his distance being off marginally, simply adding a comma or pause to part of the transcribed message, changes the whole meaning of the phone call. Nancy Slover attempted to talk over Zodiac to acquire details and in addition had to recall the phone conversation word for word, in context, at a later time - so we can assume it may not have been the original message verbatim.
Let us add just one single full stop into the passage to change the entire context of the payphone call: "I wish to report a double murder. If you will go one mile east. On Columbus Parkway to a public park, you will find the kids in a brown car. They have been shot by a 9 mm Luger. I also killed those kids last year.... Good-bye". The transcribed message can be made ever clearer by changing "to" into the word 'by', resulting in "I wish to report a double murder. If you will go one mile east. On Columbus Parkway by a public park you will find the kids in a brown car. They have been shot by a 9 mm Luger. I also killed those kids last year.... Good-bye". To automatically assume the Zodiac directions were wrong, would be to assume the 100% accuracy of Nancy Slover's recollection, despite the fact that phone calls were not recorded during this time. The Zodiac Killer was also correct in his description of Lake Herman Road and Betty Lou Jensen, when he wrote "the girl was on her right side feet to the west".
Another key feature, was the phone call made from Springs Road and Tuolumne Street 40 minutes after the Blue Rock Springs attack, despite this payphone being only 10 minutes journey time from the crime scene. In 40 minutes the Zodiac Killer could have traveled at least 25 to 30 miles from Blue Rock Springs, placing the phone call in relative safety on his journey to a distant residence, but chose to remain in the area of Vallejo. This gave credence to the idea the killer traveled home, concealed his weapon, changed his clothes and returned to the payphone, thereby greatly reducing the risk of incrimination.
One area Kim Rossmo highlighted was American Canyon, for which there are many good reasons.. If we take the location of Eucalyptus Drive, Rio Del Mar and Cassayre Drive, and calculate the journey time to these areas from Blue Rock Springs Park and back to the payphone, we find it takes approximately 24-34 minutes. This, coupled with stashing the weapon, changing clothes and preparation for the return journey, would place us nearer to the 40 minute mark.
Eucalyptus Drive to payphone: 7 miles (12-17 minutes).
Blue Rock Springs to Eucalyptus Drive: 7 miles (12-17 minutes).
If the Zodiac Killer had taken time to plan his crimes carefully, then California State Route 29 would have taken him directly from home to Florida Street, only one mile from the payphone - and so spending as little time as conceivably possible on the smaller roads, facilitating a speedy entry and exit from the location of the payphone. Would the Zodiac Killer have assessed the risk factor by implementing a buffer zone between his crimes and his residence, as well as the payphones and his residence? How did the buffer zones change on a Saturday compared to Friday?
The Zodiac Killer clearly had more time to venture further afield on Saturday, but with only two attacks on this day, it is extremely difficult to compare Presidio Heights and Lake Berryessa from the standpoint of a pattern. However, the route back by car from Spruce Street to Eucalyptus Drive is 46 miles (approximately 60 minutes). The journey time from Lake Berryessa to Eucalyptus Drive is very similar, 40 miles and just over an hour. Staying with the home location of Eucalyptus Drive in American Canyon, the Friday buffer zone would be 11 miles from Lake Herman Road and 7 miles from Blue Rock Springs. The buffer zone from each payphone after the second and third attack to Eucalyptus Drive is 7 miles and 9.5 miles respectively. But were these considerations in his planning? The direction of the Zodiac Killer after Lake Berryessa to the 1231 Main Street, Napa payphone, is on a direct path to California State Route 29. The quickest route to San Francisco via State Route 29, is along state route 37 and Highway 101, straight to the Golden Gate Bridge into Presidio Park. Did the Zodiac Killer again plan a quick entry and exit plan after the murder of Paul Stine, creating an immediate separation within minutes of the crime. Once over the Golden Gate Bridge, he is a ghost in the night.
In the 'My Name is' letter mailed on April 20th 1970, the Zodiac Killer stated "I have killed ten people to date. It would have been a lot more except that my bus bomb was a dud. I was swamped out by the rain we had a while back".
A cursory search on Google will show many examples of flooding in the region of American Canyon. It lies next to wetlands and an old landfill site, close to the eastern fringes of the Napa River. The City of American Canyon website states "Our waters, wetlands and uplands are part of an interconnected watershed system that drains into San Francisco Bay, the largest estuary on the Pacific coasts of North and South America.
From its headwaters near Calistoga to San Pablo Bay 55 miles downstream, a drop of water falling at the top of the ridge flows by gravity into the Napa River. There are 47 tributary creeks that flow into the Napa River. Fagan Creek, Sheehy Creek, Suscol Creek, American Canyon Creek and the North Slough are in our community. The Napa River Bay Trail is located on Wetlands Edge Road and Eucalyptus Drive. Parking is provided at the Wetlands Edge Viewing Area and Trailhead. There are several trail options for an enjoyable day hiking or biking".
This area of American Canyon is noteworthy for many reasons, but as Kim Rossmo alluded "There is no guarantee an offender will be found in the peak profile area, but all else being equal, suspects located there should be prioritized. Geographic profiling is strictly an investigative decision support tool, and a geoprofile must be considered in the context of all available investigative information".
In the December of 1968 it all began - not the murders of five innocent people, as if that wasn't enough, but the falsehoods, embellishment and deception that has marred this case for nearly fifty years. It started with some of the eyewitness testimony after the murders, extended during and after the Arthur Leigh Allen witch hunt, and has continued to the present day, where the Zodiac case now resembles a bloated carcass of fiction.
In 1968 he was described as a "madman" or "psychopath." He then transformed into a "latent homosexual" and an "intelligent and cunning criminal" who liked to play chess with the police and newspapers. But he is a lot more than that today. He is a master criminal and genius, part of a grand conspiracy, a complex hoax perpetrated by multiple individuals that permeates to the heart of law enforcement and government officialdom. The only thing he hasn't seemingly acquired yet, is his own version of the Batmobile, however, there is still time. If the Zodiac Killer were alive today looking in the mirror, it wouldn't be Alzheimer's disease that stopped him from recognizing himself, it would be the descriptions attributed to him in numerous Facebook and forum posts up and down every country throughout the world.
One may be forgiven for believing this is akin to Darwin's theory of evolution, or the metamorphosis of a chrysalis into a butterfly, however, it has much more in common with creationism where facts and reality are set aside to pursue a self serving belief of importance. The claim to absolutely know who the Zodiac is, or to have definitively solved the ciphers beyond any shadow of doubt, in which you routinely demean anyone who questions your hypothesis, is somebody who is symptomatic of an ever growing problem highlighted by Andy Warhol, that "in the future everyone will have their fifteen minutes of fame." Unfortunately it is far worse than fifteen minutes - if you don't listen the first time, that Facebook post will be repeated ad infinitum until you are beaten into submission. The problem today, is you will not get noticed with an ordinary story - it has to be headline grabbing - it has to be sensational. What we are left with is fiction, through which new recruits to the Zodiac case have to wade through to get to the truth - and undoubtedly they will find it much harder with every passing year.
You will often read this; "People don't believe my claims because they will realize their ideas, they have long held for years, have been wrong." Or "Now that I have solved the case people are upset, because their sleuthing days are over." The self importance is oozing from every pore in their body. Modesty is not a word they understand. Thomas Horan described the Zodiac period as the 'Great Zodiac Hoax.' He is correct in one respect, but he is nearly half a century out. The greatest Zodiac hoax of all is occurring now - being perpetrated on the keyboards of the modern world, by people who have attempted to shift the Zodiac case to the next level of creationism, where evidence is irrelevant.
Many people were excited when the DNA advancements were applied to the Zodiac case. Had the DNA not ruled out their suspect, one could guarantee this would have been shouted from the rooftops at the top of their voices, presented in their book as corroborating evidence for their suspect, or routinely quoted on the internet to further promote that their charge was indeed the real Zodiac Killer. On the other hand, when the DNA ruled out their suspect, it is presented as tainted or contaminated, or argued that the stamps and envelopes were licked by somebody else other than the killer. They will attempt to do anything to negate the findings they once championed as the last bastion of hope. If they truly believed that the DNA was worthless as evidence, then why would they bother submitting their suspect sample in the first place. It is a no lose situation for them, and clear evidence that these people are not seeking the truth, they are seeking self promotion.
Blinkered detective work, where belief is promoted over evidence has stained many murder investigations, and the Zodiac case is no different. Having a firm suspect you believe to be the Zodiac Killer is fine, but when you carry this suspect in the back of your mind when analyzing a particular murder or crime scene, it will inevitably affect your impartiality. The perfect example to illustrate this being the sketch generated from eyewitness testimony at Presidio Heights. The truth of the matter, is that eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable. The sketch may be a good visual representation of the Zodiac Killer, while on the other hand it may not. However, if your suspect looks exactly like the sketch you will endeavor to promote the validity of the sighting as accurate, while if your suspect looks nothing like the sketch the reverse will be the case. The neutral and objective approach has been lost. Another example, is when somebody is challenged on whether their suspect was even in northern California on the date of one of the Zodiac murders. Your question is thrown back at you, with the onus now on you to prove that he wasn't. This is the worst argument in history. as the burden lies squarely with the claimant.
The exchange of ideas, theories and presentations in the Zodiac case is the healthy alternative to the self righteous and sanctimonious individuals that have now infected the Zodiac case. The unfaltering belief they are 100% correct, devoid of the ability for introspection or self-appraisal, results in misplaced superiority that should be rejected at every turn.
The Zodiac case has taken a downturn in recent years, where many individuals simply don't discuss the various aspects of the case, but unrelentingly pursue a personal driven agenda of self promotion in which only they have the answer. The internet is littered with these individuals who have managed to turn a criminal investigation into a circus. Thomas Horan authored the books 'The Great Zodiac Killer Hoax of 1969' and 'The Great Zodiac Killer Hoax of 1986.' If this hoax were the case, one could now argue that the hoaxed have now become the hoaxers, with evidence that wouldn't even enter the courtroom toilet.
If you follow the Zodiac case in current media, it becomes evident that an unhealthy proportion of what you read and hear is the self promotion of the individual, who claims to have all the answers, or to have solved the Zodiac case. What you actually find is the bashing of square pegs into round holes and a distinct lack of impartiality and critical thinking.
A donation of one dollar a year from regular visitors to this site would help secure its future. Thank you. Richard.
The Zodiac Atlas: The Zodiac Killer Enigma by Randall Scott Clemons. Click image for details.
The Zodiac Killer Map: Part of the Zodiac Killer Enigma by Randall Scott Clemons. Click image for color version or here for black and white version.