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One of the key elements to any case is eyewitness testimony - and although it is not always wholly reliable, it does provide certain indicators that cannot be overlooked when matching a suspect to a particular crime. This is no different in the Zodiac crime committed at Blue Rock Springs Park in Vallejo, where Michael Mageau survived a hail of bullets at point blank range to recount his experience of that dark night back on July 4th 1969. Nearly three months later came the Lake Berryessa attack on September 27th 1969, in which Bryan Calvin Hartnell managed to 'play dead' to relive his terrifying account of that day's unfolding horror, along with the recollections of Officer Donald Fouke in Presidio Heights on October 11th 1969, a day in which the killer narrowly escaped the clutches of law enforcement but for a critical error that allowed the murderer of Paul Stine to disappear into the night.
Here we will assess Kevin Robert Brooks suspect Donald Lee Bujok, searching for anything in the victims statements and perceptions of those fateful days, that give rise to a credible link to this suspect, and again, let you decide on the merits or pitfalls of any association.
Initial statements can become elaborated upon in time, so we will take Michael Mageau's early description of his assailant, where he described him as short, possibly 5'8'', heavyset, with a beefy build, but not blubbery fat, around 195-200 lbs, short curly hair in a military style cut, combed up in a kind of pompadour, light brown, almost blond. He was between 26-30 years of age and was not wearing glasses, but made reference to the fact that he could not recall anything unusual about his assailant, other than he had a large face.
Donald Lee Bujok is pictured below in ninth grade and here on the left in a mugshot taken at Montana State Prison. Note the curly pompadour style hair flicked up at the front with shorter hair in the more recent picture, yet still turned over at the front. When comparisons are drawn from the school yearbook, it can be noted the size of Bujok's face in regard to the other adolescents as notably larger. Considering Michael Mageau's description was on a dark night, when shadows would have inevitably made objects and faces appear smaller due to a lack of definition, this is an unusual observation. In addition, the mugshot with glasses superimposed, bears a striking similarity to the famous Zodiac Killer composite sketch.
The brutal stabbings at Lake Berryessa was the only time the killer engaged in any known protracted dialogue, thereby lending to the notion that the murderer may have unwittingly revealed key elements to his identity during his close interaction with surviving victim Bryan Hartnell. During his conversation with Bryan Hartnell the killer stated, "I just got out of ......some prison in Montana". Later in an interview with Sgt John Robertson at the Queen of the Valley Hospital, just one day after the attack, Bryan Hartnell tried to recall the name of the prison, "it's some double name, like Fern Lock or something," and when aided by Sgt John Robertson saying "It's Lodge", Hartnell replied "Oh yeah, yeah at least we know we're together on that." The police sergeant would suggest "Mountain Lodge Prison, or something of that nature," and Hartnell said "Yeah. You know he broke out and had to kill a guard getting out".
On December 17th 1968, aged 32 years, Donald Lee Bujok was released from Montana State Prison in Deer Lodge Valley, approximately 3 and one half miles from the town of Deer Lodge, after serving 11 years for the slaying of Undersheriff Otto Fossen in 1957. Was this the moment in the dialogue with Bryan Hartnell that the impenetrable Zodiac Killer became human for just a brief moment in time, to possibly reveal clues to his identity that for so long he promised in his cryptic ciphers and later communications with police? A transcript of Bryan Hartnell's conversation with the Zodiac stated that the assailant revealed "I'm on my way to Mexico, I escaped from Deer Lodge Prison in Montana, Deer Lodge. I need some money to get there".
Approximately 40 minutes after the attack at Blue Rock Springs Park, a call was received by the Vallejo Police Department allegedly from the killer, from a phone booth at the gas station close to murder victim Darlene Ferrin's home, where the man claimed responsibility for the Lake Herman Road murders and the recent attack at Blue Rock Springs Park. The police dispatcher who took the call in the early hours of July 5th 1969 was 26-year-old Nancy Slover, who described the voice as mature, without accent, who spoke even but consistent, soft but forceful, as if reading from a script. However, it is equally conceivable the killer may have been speaking the way he always did, applying control in the monotone fashion that was now as natural to him as the murderous rampage he had recently embarked upon.
These are the questions Kevin Robert Brooks has wrangled with, in his conviction and search for the truth behind America's most infamous serial killer. Despite all the correspondence, cryptograms, and cat and mouse games employed by the man labeling himself the Zodiac Killer, could the answer simply lie somewhere three and a half miles west of Deer Lodge, that fell from the mouth of a killer one fateful September afternoon?
The Zodiac Killer mystery retains an unfaltering allure, that has managed to captivate a worldwide audience for more than four decades. When people become entranced with the case, there are many times upon reviewing the postcards, ciphers and wording, that the breath of the killer can almost be felt for a brief moment, when you spot something you think is significant, before it is cruelly snatched away. But it does not stop you trying to close the book on years of torment for the victims families and friends, which often has become overlooked in the midst of this tragic affair. Many suspects have been touted as the infamous Zodiac Killer, and most have been effectively eliminated from ongoing scrutiny. Recently however, another name has emerged as a contender for the Zodiac murders, that of Donald Lee Bujok, promoted from previous obscurity to the forefront of the discussion by the detailed and extensive research of Zodiac enthusiast Kevin Robert Brooks, who can claim to have felt the breath of a killer more than most.
But can Kevin Robert Brooks convince us that Donald Lee Bujok is the killer?
As an introduction to this suspect, one must first acquaint themselves with the forerunner to this story, Donald Lee Bujok-Zodiac Suspect, which details the thought processes the killer used in the design of the Halloween card. Bearing in mind the killer is approaching his writings from a rationale different from the norm, the key to cracking his codes may lie in the unconventional thinking held naturally by very few individuals.
Kevin Robert Brooks also dissects the Exorcist letter and subsequent SLA letter, which he believes are inextricably linked by the word "Kill". It is a widely held belief that the footnote of the Exorcist letter stating "Me-37 SFPD-0", is a reference to his murder count so far. If we believe that his victim total was in any way realistic, then who and where are all his victims, and why the three year hiatus from his previous correspondence? If the killer was incarcerated during this period, then murder on this magnitude is frankly implausible, if we are to believe the Exorcist letter as genuine Zodiac material. Kevin Robert Brooks believes that the reference to "Me-37" is relevant to the age of Donald Lee Bujok, who would have been 37 years of age on January 29th 1974. Donald Lee Bujok was born on July 6th 1936
The strange characters drawn by the author of the Exorcist letter have been rearranged by Kevin Robert Brooks to form the words 'To Kill !" (shown in the image below). Kevin Robert Brooks believes that the dyslexia he has become accustomed to, has provided him with a unique perspective on the Exorcist letter, thereby enabling him to 'decode' the characters at the foot of the correspondence. This unique perspective may have been shared with the Zodiac Killer. Five days later, on February 3rd 1974, the Zodiac Killer mailed the SLA letter from Los Angeles to the San Francisco Chronicle, in which he again emphasizes the word "kill". This may have been a possible hint to the workings of the previous correspondence. Note the similarity of the letter K in both communications, to The Mikado stylism shown above. The Zodiac Killer was widely believed to have an affinity towards The Mikado, a two-part comic opera by Gilbert and Sullivan, which opened to the public on March 14th 1885, being hugely successful and running for 672 performances at the Savoy Theatre in London.
Donald Lee Bujok's early life was beset with problems. He suffered from a bi-polar disorder - a form of depression punctuated by mood swings - along with a speech impediment, to which in later years he gained some form of control by speaking in a slow deliberate tone However, this resulted in the young Bujok being bullied by other schoolchildren, which created a degree of social detachment.
Determined to lay claim to some meaning in life, Donald Lee Bujok joined the army in 1954 and was stationed at Fort Ord on Monterey Bay. His brief time in the army, according to Kevin Robert Brooks, became pivotal in his later correspondence - manifesting itself in the construction of The Halloween card and envelope, and detailed extensively by Kevin Robert Brooks in a Youtube video.
But another tantalizing clue lay in something Donald Lee Bujok could have retained from his brief spell at Fort Ord, before his medical discharge - notably the writing paper used at the military base.
Possibly the same paper used to author the Zodiac letter mailed to the San Francisco Chronicle on July 31st 1969, described on page 446 of Robert Graysmith's Zodiac Unmasked. The paper was described as so thin, that the overleaf became visible, and measured exactly 7 and 1/8 inches by 10 and 1/2 inches, identical to the Fort Ord stationary that Donald Lee Bujok would have had access to.
Kevin Robert Brooks, through careful and diligent research, is steadfast in his belief that Donald Lee Bujok is the Bay Area murderer - more confident than ever, that the breath of his killer is the one that condensed in the chill of the Lake Herman Road night of December 20th 1968.
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