Part One - Zodiac Killer Roundtable
Part Two - Zodiac Ciphers
Part Three - Zodiac Killer Letters
Part Four - Cheri Jo Bates
Zodiac researchers Michael Morford, David Oranchak and Michael Butterfield sat down with House of Mystery Radio - KKNW Seattle to produce a four part roundtable discussion about the 'unholy trail' of the Zodiac Killer. Each podcast, presented on the Youtube platform, is split into four 50 plus minute segments.
Part One - Zodiac Killer Roundtable
Part Two - Zodiac Ciphers
Part Three - Zodiac Killer Letters
Part Four - Cheri Jo Bates
"There are approximately 230 miles of levees protecting over 50,000 acres of marsh land in the Suisun Marsh. Only about a third of the Delta levees (385 miles) are part of a federal flood management project of the Sacramento and San Joaquin River systems. All of the Suisun Marsh levees – are local levees constructed and maintained during the past 130 years by local reclamation districts. Suisun Marsh and adjoining bays are the brackish transition between fresh and salt water. But the location of that transition is not fixed. Hydrologic studies suggest the Delta works like a giant washing machine agitator, with tidal forces and river flows constantly sloshing water back and forth."
Water Education Foundation.
"Suisun Slough is under the influence of tides. The most severe flooding along this waterway would result when very high tides and a large volume of stream outflow occur coincidently. In Suisun City, restrictive outlets into slough areas cause floodflows to pond in low-lying areas, and high tides may delay drainage for several days. Flooding occurred in Suisun City in 1940, 1950, 1955, 1963, 1966, 1967, 1969, 1970, and 1973. Extensive flooding along State Highway 12 occurred in December 1955. Floodwater rose to waist depth in a residential development when high tides slowed drainage. In January 1967, floodwater covered one-third of the streets, and was approximately 2 feet deep in the southern part of town. Flooding from Pennsylvania Avenue Creek and Union Avenue Creek had a recurrence interval of 15 years for the 1967 flood. A high tide and overflow from Laurel Creek and Union Avenue Creek caused flooding in January 1970." Flood Insurance Study.
"A flood damage survey was made during the January 1970 flood, but streamflow measurements and high-water marks are available for only the 1973 flood. Examples of flooding in the project area are shown in the photos. Newspaper articles, photographs and descriptions by local residents for the other flood years indicate substantial losses to residences, businesses, crops, and county roads. These floods caused many homes to be evacuated, disrupted community activities, and endangered the health and safety of residents and those involved in rescue operations." Fairfield Vicinity Streams.
"Those of you who have lived here since the 1970s or earlier may remember what the state-named streets in Fairfield looked like after a heavy rain and, if I remember correctly, a high tide. There was a tidal incursion on streets that have long since been redone and the flooding problem totally mitigated." Bud Stevenson, Solano Daily Republic.
The Zodiac mailed correspondence to the San Francisco Chronicle on April 20th 1970, in which he 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." Suisun City, Solano County, California can be seen via the link to border the city of Fairfield. But why is this relevant?
It has been suggested in previous articles that the Zodiac Killer may have resided near the payphone at Springs Road and Tuolumne Street, but we know that two letters were mailed from Fairfield to the San Francisco Chronicle on December 7th 1969, and to the San Francisco Examiner on December 16th 1969. If these were genuine Zodiac letters, then there is a possibility that he may have been a resident of Suisun City or Fairfield for the duration of the 7th to 16th of December and mailed his letters from this location. Was he a resident of this area beyond December 16th 1969, or did he reside here permanently? The Bay Area murderer may have had two residences, a vacation home, lockup or a business in this region of Solano County.
Just a matter of weeks after the final Fairfield letter, floods in Suisun City/Fairfield, "from Laurel Creek and Union Avenue Creek caused flooding in January 1970" resulting in the evacuation of many "residences and businesses" in the area. The Zodiac Killer then wrote to the San Francisco Chronicle in April, stating "that my bus bomb was a dud. I was swamped out by the rain we had a while back." But was he telling the truth?
# The population of Suisun City was only 2,917 in 1970.
# The population of Fairfield was 44,146 in 1970.
It is important when we examine the writings of the Zodiac Killer to view them in context to the news breaking during the time in which he put pen to paper. The 1970s were a turbulent period in San Francisco and the Zodiac certainly monopolized on this fact in at least three of his communications pertinent to this story. The Zodiac Killer also had a penchant for adding historical references to his material in order to convey the message. The Mikado by Gilbert & Sullivan, a Tim Holt comic book, The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell, and surprisingly, Moby Dick by Herman Melville to name but a few. To believe the Zodiac Killer's bomb threats may have been inspired by a man who borrowed the Moby Dick author's name, may take a bit of selling.
Samuel Joseph Melville was the principal conspirator and bomb setter in the 1969 bombings of eight government and commercial office buildings in New York City. He was born Samuel Joseph Grossman, but changed his name with respect to novelist and poet Herman Melville.
He had already committed four bombings prior to the November 9th 1969 Zodiac 'Bus Bomb' letter. It began with Grace Pier on July 27th, followed by August 20: Marine Midland Building, September 19: Federal Plaza and then an Army Induction Center on October 7th. These crimes received statewide coverage throughout America, but were they an inspiration to the Zodiac Killer in the power of large scale destruction as a tool for terror. The answer may have come five and a half months later.
But first we shall take a look at the April 20th 1970 letter, which stated
"I am mildly cerous as to how much money you have on my head now. I hope you do not think that I was the one who wiped out that blue meannie with a bomb at the cop station. Even though I talked about killing school children with one. It just wouldn't doo to move in on someone else's teritory. But there is more glory in killing a cop than a cid because a cop can shoot back. 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."
We know that the Zodiac Killer often referenced newspaper headlines - and this communication would be no different - denying his involvement in the murder of San Francisco police officer Brian McDonnell (44) on February 16th 1970. Person or persons unknown had placed a pipe bomb packed with fence staples on the window ledge of Park Police Station in Upper Haight (1899 Waller Street). Another eight police officers were injured. The Zodiac Killer was unlikely to have had any involvement in the bombing, however, he was keen to suggest that he was capable of such an act, but for "the rain we had a while back."
Two weeks prior to the April 20th 1970 Zodiac letter, on April 6th 1970, the deadliest day in the history of California law enforcement occurred, when two armed criminals managed to kill four California Highway Patrol officers in just under 5 minutes. Known as the Newhall Massacre, it hit the newspaper stands around the country.
One can't help thinking the Zodiac Killer was fully aware of this tragedy, when he cynically penned the words "there is more glory in killing a cop than a cid because a cop can shoot back." Or maybe, we give the Zodiac too much credit.
The Zodiac Killer may not have killed Sgt. Brian McDonnell on February 16th 1970, but his following correspondence on April 28th 1970, just eight days later, would certainly coalesce both Sam Melville and Park Police Station under one banner, when he wrote "If you dont want me to have this blast you must do two things. Tell everyone about the bus bomb with all the details. I would like to see some nice Zodiac buttons wandering about town. Everyone else has these buttons like, black power, melvin eats bluber, etc. Well it would cheer me up considerably if I saw a lot of people wearing my buton. Please no nasty ones like melvin's. Thank you."
The phrase "melvin eats bluber" was referring to the prominent lawyer and bon vivant Melvin Belli, who had earlier become the focus of one of Zodiac's letters. The Zodiac was referring to the 1960s fad buttons created by Irwin Weisfeld, but had altered the slogan from "Melville Eats Blubber" (Moby Dick) to "Melvin Eats Bluber".
Bearing in mind the introduction and tone of this card: "I hope you enjoy yourselves when I have my blast," and his choice of counterculture button, the following connection cannot be ignored.
The Zodiac borrowed the Melville Eats Blubber button and changed it for purpose, as did Sam Melville, when altering his name from Grossman to Melville before his bombing campaign. The crucial question, however, is where did Zodiac intend to have this "blast". The clue may be staring us square in the face (see image on right).
The Zodiac Killer wrote "I hope you enjoy yourselves when I have my blast" around the picture of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, the characters in a novel by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra.
These characters are situated only 3,650 feet (0.68 miles) from the murder site of Sgt. Brian McDonnell, both of which are situated in Golden Gate Park.
The Zodiac Killer, almost certainly, never had any intention of placing a bomb near the Don Quixote and Sancho Panza statue in Golden Gate Park, but the fact that this statue was in such close proximity to the bombing of Park Police Station on February 16th 1970, could be interpreted as a mischievous and insensitive offering to police. He was effectively rubbing their "noze in their booboos."
Then came the possible threat on Ingleside Police Station, two months later, on June 26th 1970, contained within the 'Button' letter and map code, and featured in the article 'The 32 Symbol Code-Hidden In Plain Sight'. The Zodiac Killer would again reference the slaying of another police officer - on this occasion Sgt Richard P. Radetich (25), who on June 19th at 5.25 am was gunned down by three shots from a .38 caliber revolver at point blank range through the driver side window of his vehicle, while in the process of serving a parking ticket. He was sat in his police car near 643 Waller Street, The same Waller Street as Park Police Station.
The proximity of these three consecutive communications to the area of San Francisco shown below, certainly shows us where the Zodiac Killer's focus was between April 20th and June 26th 1970. However, he wasn't finished just yet. The 'Little List' letter mailed on July 26th 1970 was the fourth and final piece of the jigsaw.
The Zodiac Killer gave us a map code on June 26th 1970, stating the "map coupled with this code will tell you where the bomb is set." To this day no bomb has been unearthed and the threat was likely an idle one, designed primarily to create fear within the American community. However, the map and code were real, and the answer to both has probably been sitting in plain sight for nearly fifty years. The Zodiac, aware that the '32 Symbol' cipher was unable to be broken because it had 29 different characters, gave us all the answers one month later when he mailed the July 26th 1970 'Little List' letter.
The numerous suggested bomb threats were all mailed to the San Francisco Chronicle, so it was evident that his threats were focused on San Francisco itself - which is why the Mount Diablo map included San Francisco and Vicinity rather than just the area around Mount Diablo. The 'Little List' letter was replete with all the information required to crack his map code.
In the 'Button Map and Code' letter the author gave us the "map coupled with this code will tell you where the bomb is set," and just one month later, clearly told us that the code "concerns Radians & # inches along the radians" Therefore, the code will at least contain the words "radians" and "inches" in the answer - and that may very well be the case. In fact, it tells us exactly where the intended bomb was to be set, within the design of the crosshairs with the bold black circle. With the threats geared towards schoolchildren and police it is apparent that these are the likely targets. The reference to SFPD = 0 being incorporated within the crosshairs, along with an accentuated black, bold zero suggesting a location, should be the biggest clue of all. His intended target was the San Francisco Police Department - the location of which can be found within this bold circle.
The Zodiac Killer referenced "radians" and "inches" (not parts of radians and inches), so with probably just the use of a ruler back in 1970 the Zodiac Killer would measure his intended target this way. Therefore, if he is one eighth of an inch off in his measurements we can forgive him this textual indiscretion. Fortunately, we have Google maps, so the task is much easier.
With an intended target in San Francisco, there is only one answer possible to the "radians" and "inches" conundrum, and it's governed by geography. 1 radian = 57.3 degrees, 2 radians = 114.6 degrees, 3 radians = 171.9 degrees, 4 radians = 229.2 degrees and 5 radians = 286.5 degrees. This is detailed crudely on the map below.
It is apparent that Zodiac wasn't referring to 5 radians, as a line subtended from Mount Diablo at this angle would pass north of San Francisco. The same applies to 3 radians which runs parallel to San Francisco. Therefore, the answer has to be 4 radians or 229.2 degrees. The lines drawn below are only approximations, so are not pinpoint. 4 radians or 229.2 degrees passes over San Francisco somewhere in the vicinity of the airport - but this isn't the answer. If we add back the magnetic north value of 17 degrees in 1970, it equals 246.2 degrees. After all, Zodiac stated on the map, it was "to be set to Mag.N."
How do we know 246.2 degrees is the correct angle to be subtended from Mount Diablo? The answer is simple - Zodiac told us so. Place the crosshairs above over a compass rose. A line subtended from the center of the compass rose passes exactly through the center of the bold black circle. In other words, the bold black circle is positioned at 246.2 degrees around the crosshairs. This is 4 radians + 17 degrees (magnetic north). Now all we have to do is find the inches subtended along the 246.2 degree line. This is even easier.
The map scale is 6.4 miles to the inch, so the geography of San Francisco is self-constraining.
It is approximately 26.5 miles to the eastern edge of San Francisco from Mount Diablo (using the angle of 246.2 degrees).
4 inches would equal 25.6 miles, therefore, 4 inches subtended from Mount Diablo would land in the sea. Unless the Zodiac Killer had a submarine to bury his bomb this is not very likely.
It is approximately 34 miles to the western edge of San Francisco from Mount Diablo (using the angle of 246.2 degrees).
6 inches would equal 38.4 miles and again would land in the sea.
Therefore, the answer has to be five inches along the 4th radian (plus magnetic north of 17 degrees). If this lands over the San Francisco Police Department we are in business. But first, we shall fill in the '32 Symbol' code using the words or clue given by the Zodiac Killer in the July 26th 1970 'Little List' letter.
The section below is almost the complete solution to the '32 Symbol' cipher. Note how the Zodiac Killer inserts a hashtag style character between the "&" and "inches", with an arrow pointing between these two pieces of text. He is telling us to insert something here. We know from the above calculation it must be five inches, thereby completing the phrase:
"P.S The Mt.Diablo code concerns Radians & five inches along the radians"
The Zodiac Killer wasn't totally accurate, because the phrase should have read "P.S The Mt.Diablo code concerns Radians & five inches along the radian". The five inches to be subtended along the 4th radian (plus magnetic north) = 246.2 degrees.
There are only three repeating characters in the code below, the triangle, the letter C and the letter O. With the inserted solution, these three characters are now represented by R, A, N, N, E and N.
It was there in the Zodiac Killer's words all along; "The Mt.Diablo code concerns...... Radians & inches along the radian"
The last thing we have to do is place the large crosshairs with the black circle over the map of Mount Diablo, San Francisco and Vicinity. The location where the intended bomb was to be set should be 246.2 degrees and 5 inches subtended along a line drawn from Mount Diablo. It should also land over something to do with the San Francisco Police Department. Bearing in mind this was 1970 and the Zodiac Killer was using a ruler over a map, one eighth of an inch or so would be an acceptable margin of error, based on a map scale of 6.4 miles to the inch. The center and style of the black bold circle may be representative of a designer who intended the target to fall within this circle.
There was no room on the map below, but we can see that if the superimposed crosshairs were expanded over the city of San Francisco, the center of the bold black circle subtended at 246.2 degrees for 5 inches would fall over the San Francisco Police Department at Ingleside Station.
Ingleside Police Station is 31.06 miles from Mount Diablo. There are 6.4 miles to the inch. So Ingleside is 4.85 inches along the subtended angle of 246.2 degrees. Allowing for the leeway of crude measurement, this is 97% accurate in respect to 5 inches over the distance involved. This is why the Zodiac Killer placed SFPD next to the bold circle - it represented zero in mocking fashion, but more crucially, it represented the location of where the bomb was intended to be set - Ingleside Station or somewhere close by.
Richard Radetich, the fallen officer, possibly referred to in the Zodiac Killer 'Button' letter was initially assigned to Ingleside Police Station, before moving to Park Station and eventually to Accident Investigation.
Just over a year ago we ran an article outlining the missing evidence at Lake Herman Road. Not only did a shell casing go missing from the crime scene to the submitted items at the Department of Justice, but a bullet was also missing from both the police report and the Department of Justice records.
Ten shots were fired that night- 5 shots to the back of Betty Lou Jensen, 1 shot into David Faraday, 2 shots into the Rambler and 2 were unaccounted for, believed to have missed their intended target. Betty Lou Jensen had five entry wounds and three exit wounds, however, only two bullets were ever recovered from outside the body of Betty Lou Jensen. These were noted in the police report and Department of Justice files below. In total, only seven bullets were ever retrieved. One bullet is missing from the record.
"But any doubts about the killer's identity were dispelled the next day when a letter from Zodiac arrived at the San Francisco Chronicle. With it was a bloodstained piece of the driver's shirt and a bullet from the same pistol that had killed Jensen and Faraday."
Had the Zodiac Killer walked towards the stricken Betty Lou Jensen to check on her status and retrieved a bullet from the turnout floor for 'future use"? This may explain why only two of the three exit wound bullets were recovered from Betty Lou Jensen at the crime scene.
The police reporting of Presidio Heights was less than transparent in the aftermath of the Paul Stine murder. It wasn't too difficult to confirm that the bloodstained piece of shirt came from the corpse of the taxicab driver, but if a bullet had also been mailed with the letter, this would require interdepartmental cooperation from police involved with the murder of Jensen and Faraday to run a ballistics check. This may be the reason the details of the bullet were withheld from the newspapers until confirmation was acquired, or left out altogether. The police have openly admitted some evidence has been withheld from the public domain.
The October 13th 1969 letter was only the second time the killer had announced himself as the 'Zodiac', so despite linking himself with the Stine murder using the swatch of shirt, he may have wanted to leave no doubt in the mind of investigators that he was also the "same man who did in the people in the north bay area." In effect, bringing all four crimes under the banner of the Zodiac Killer.
Tom Voigt made a good point regarding the Lake Berryessa attack on the Zodiackiller.com message board, stating "I've always felt that Zodiac might have written a letter regarding the Berryessa attack, perhaps to the Napa newspaper, and since it wasn't printed (for whatever reason) he decided to include physical evidence in future letters."
When Vallejo Police Chief Jack Stiltz asked the Zodiac Killer for more proof that the letter writer and killer were the same person in the August 3rd 1969 Sunday Examiner & Chronicle, the Zodiac Killer could have supplied the bullet at this juncture, but as we know, the Zodiac Killer didn't always play by the rules. This may point to the fact that the killer had a broader agenda and always intended to kill in San Francisco.
There had been a spate of taxicab robberies in San Francisco in the months prior to the Paul Stine murder, so by inserting a bullet from the murder of Betty Lou Jensen and David Faraday into the October 13th 1969 letter, this notion or connection would be completely dispelled.
The narrator in the 1995 'Great Crimes and Trials' documentary may have made a gross error in statement, but, to add to the Stine letter "a bullet from the same pistol that had killed Jensen and Faraday" from thin air, considering the missing bullet at Lake Herman Road, begs the question nonetheless.
It seemed rather fortunate that the 'Halloween' card mailed on October 27th 1970, if designed totally independently to the 340 cipher, that Paradice and Slaves could be found perfectly bisecting the 340 cipher, 17 by 17 characters. Not to mention the word "By" being found in all four quadrants. This is discussed in more detail in the article 'The Illusion of the 340 Cipher.'
The 'Halloween' card was almost certainly highlighting the Lake Berryessa attack on Bryan Hartnell and Cecelia Shepard, tied up with rope (plastic clothesline) and brutally stabbed sixteen times by the Zodiac Killer. The phrase "peek-a-boo you are doomed" referencing the children's game peekaboo, where 'hiding behind that tree' is sometimes added. This would also be the second time "by knife" would be used - linking the 'Halloween' card to the Volkswagen Karmann Ghia of Bryan Hartnell.
Since these two 'methods of death' (rope and knife) were instrumental to the attack on the young couple, we will focus on Paradice, Slaves, By Knife and By Rope.
On the 'Halloween' card it is apparent that "By" is written vertically for "knife" rather than horizontally, as displayed by the other 'methods of death'. Could this be a sinister inference to a knife being driven downwards and the predominant focus of this card?
If we color in the five characters underneath the 'Y' in the bottom left quadrant of the cipher, as is portrayed on the 'Halloween' card, it can be seen that the 'right facing V' would represent the 'E' of knife.
If we color in the four characters underneath the 'B' in the bottom right quadrant of the cipher, as is portrayed on the 'Halloween' card, it can be seen that the 'right facing V' would represent the 'E' of rope.
To complete the word Paradice and Slaves a 'left facing V' had to be found in the last section of both words for parity. In this instance a 'left facing V' represented the letter 'E'.
When the Zodiac Killer introduced his 408 cipher in the July 31st letters, he stated "Here is part of a cipher" or "Here is a cyipher." When challenged to design another cipher by D.C.B. Marsh in the San Francisco Examiner on October 22nd 1969, the 340 cipher arrived just over two weeks later. The article was entitled 'Cipher Expert Dares Zodiac to Tell Name'. Bearing in mind that the 340 cipher began with "Her," could it have started with "Here is a cipher" or "Here's a cipher" (to marry with the 'P' of Paradice) in direct response to cryptographic expert D.C.B. Marsh.
There are 10 'left or right facing' V's in the entire 340 cipher. If the latter hypothesis was correct, then at least 50% of these would be represented by the letter E, in respect of Here, Paradice, Slaves, Rope and Knife.
On December 30th 2013 Tahoe27 gave us the 'Wheel of Death' from the Tim Holt comic book. It contained a Rota Fortunae style game in which 'Redmask' would discover his fate based upon twelve methods of death.
The Zodiac Killer appeared to be inspired by the comic, either before or after his canonical crimes began on December 20th 1968, writing the words "by knife" on the car door of Bryan Hartnell's 1956 white Volkswagen Karmann Ghia. He may have hinted towards this comic when designing a crude code and drawing on the Fairfield letter, mailed on December 16th 1969. However, on October 27th 1970 the 'Halloween' card contained a design depicting four methods of death, all of which mirrored the cover of the Tim Holt comic book.
In total, the twelve methods of death ran around a Zodiac styled wheel: "In medieval and ancient philosophy the Wheel of Fortune, or Rota Fortunae, is a symbol of the capricious nature of Fate. The wheel belongs to the goddess Fortuna (Greek equivalent Tyche) who spins it at random, changing the positions of those on the wheel: some suffer great misfortune, others gain windfalls. Fortune appears on all paintings as a woman, sometimes blindfolded, "puppeteering" a wheel. The origin of the word is from the "wheel of fortune" - the zodiac, referring to the Celestial spheres of which the 8th holds the stars, and the 9th is where the signs of the zodiac are placed."
Nevertheless, the Zodiac Killer only chose four- death By Gun, By Rope, By Knife and By Fire. He also added a strange symbol to the card that has perplexed many an observer over the years - a symbol that has prompted many suggestions, including cattle branding, a depiction of Mount Diablo and a form of victim running total.
The symbol may possibly be a joined Z and F, indicating that Zodiac is claiming fourteen victims, or maybe a joined Z, V and F symbolizing Zodiac Victims Fourteen. However, the four dots accompanying the symbol have always been difficult to explain with any degree of confidence. We have four methods of death chosen by Zodiac, therefore the possibility exists that the four dots are somehow related. What we may be looking for, could be Zodiac Victims Fourteen By Gun, By Rope, By Knife and By Fire. The Zodiac Killer in all likelihood drew inspiration for his 'methods of death'/Paradice and Slaves configuration from the Tim Holt comic book, so why should the strange symbol be any different.
If we superimpose the strange symbol Zodiac designed over the four 'methods of death' on the wheel of the Tim Holt comic book, the four dots land squarely over the four prescribed methods of death.
The following is a little background information for people just starting to learn about the Zodiac case.
Approximately seventy minutes after the attack on Bryan Hartnell and Cecelia Shepard at Lake Berryessa, the Zodiac Killer made a payphone call to the Napa County Sheriff's Department from a payphone located near the corner of Main and Clinton Streets, just slightly north of the old Sam Kee Laundry Building, now a wine tasting bar called Vintner's Collective.
The phone call was received by stand-in dispatcher Dave Slaight who heard Zodiac speak the words "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. I'm the one that did it." After completing his message, the killer, probably learning from his experience at Blue Rock Springs, failed to hang up the phone. Dave Slaight contacted the Sheriff's Office to inform them of the call.
At approximately 7:45 pm the Napa County Sheriff's Office, unable to trace the call, asked for assistance- and a news director at KVON radio by the name of Pat Stanley sprang into action after hearing about the brutal attack on his police scanner.
He stated "The receiver on the phone the Zodiac used was put down, but not hung up. Technology then was not like it is today. The phone company could only report that the call came from a pay telephone somewhere between Lake Berryessa and Napa. The Napa County Sheriff's Department wanted to find the phone, and fast, so virtually any official with a radio was asked to help.
This reporter jumped into action. After a brief stop at the Sheriff's Department, I drove north on Main Street. Driving past a car wash and the historic Sam Key Laundry Building, I spotted a pay phone, but thought the call must have come from closer to the lake, nearly 30 miles away. At the last second, though, I swerved my car toward the phone booth and was shocked to find the receiver off the hook. I used my own two-way radio back to KVON where I instructed the on-duty deejay to call police. They, in turn, told me not to move until officers arrived."
Napa Valley Register.
The payphone receiver was found laying on the shelf where it had been placed down by the Zodiac Killer. The phone company couldn't trace the call using 'ring-back', as had been the case at Blue Rock Springs. So, when Pat Stanley arrived, how could he be certain that this was the correct payphone used by the Zodiac Killer. This is where Dave Slaight helps out.
In the 2007 Zodiac documentary he stated "As I sat there I could hear voices in the background and traffic. So I called the Sheriff's Office on another line and kept the one line open. The Sheriff's Office had broadcast, I had possibly broadcast, I'm not exactly positive, that this person had left the phone off the hook. As it turned out one of the local reporters for the newspaper had heard this broadcast on his scanner, and so he started driving around the city of Napa to see if he could find the phone, and he was the one who actually saw the phone. He was then yelling "can you hear me, can you hear me," and I could hear the voice, and that's how we located the phone."
They were able to confirm that this was the correct payphone because police dispatcher Dave Slaight kept the connection alive, making contact with Pat Stanley.
However, when Pat Stanley yelled "can you hear me, can you hear me" to Dave Slaight, had he picked up the receiver, accounting for the fresh palm prints recovered by police upon arrival, or was Pat Stanley simply shouting down the phone as it lay on the shelf. Some accounts state that the latent prints were effectively useless because of how they were recovered. One would suspect that responding personnel would have cross examined Pat Stanley as to whether he had handled the phone, thereby eliminating him as the contributor of any latent prints lifted from the receiver.
Why though, had the Zodiac Killer chosen this payphone? It wasn't located directly en route to Vallejo (assuming he lived there), suggesting the killer may have had some previous knowledge of downtown Napa. Perhaps he had previously frequented some establishments in the area of the payphone.
The quickest and most direct route from Lake Berryessa to downtown Napa is via California State Route 121. Then you have to break off west and travel 1,100 meters (0.68 miles) away from State Route 121 to find the payphone. The alternative is heading west along Lincoln Avenue or Francis Street, then traveling south on Soscol Avenue, which brings you out on Clinton Street by the payphone.
One would have thought that there were more readily accessible payphones, had the killer been traveling directly back to Vallejo. It may suggest he knew of this payphone beforehand, and had it earmarked in advance of his Lake Berryessa attack. It certainly provides a good buffer zone from the Springs and Tuolumne payphone in Vallejo - fifteen miles south of this location. But, did he continue south and head towards Springs Road for a third time?
The long held narrative of Lake Herman Road is of a couple, David Faraday and Betty Lou Jensen, pulling into the Gate #10 turnout and parking on the east side facing the field. They remained parked here throughout, when at sometime after 11:10 pm the Zodiac Killer parked alongside them and forced them from their Rambler with two shots striking the right rear window and headliner of the vehicle. The problem is that none of the eyewitness testimony supports this being the case. It is easy to write off eyewitness testimony because it makes the overall story difficult to explain, however, you do so at your peril. This was the case with Robert Connelly, who testified twice on December 21st 1968 and December 26th 1968. In his first statement the police detailed "a light colored 1960 Rambler S/W that was parked at the gate. It was parked southwest of where we finally found the car. This discrepancy wasn't noted at first." In the second interview "Connelly insists that the Rambler was parked on the bank. That would be the south side. He did not see any person in the car." Detectives concluded this was probably due to the victims having reclined the seat and were in a prone position. The seat was later found in this position at the crime scene.
Rather than conforming to the story depicted by Peggy and Homer Your, James Owen and Stella Medeiros, he maintained and insisted the Rambler was parked alongside the west bank, facing south towards the gate/fence. This was turned into a crude sketch.
The dimensions of the sketch are not totally accurate with respect to the road, however, the Rambler has moved position from that described by Peggy and Homer Your, who headed to Benicia only a matter of minutes before Robert Connelly and Frank Gasser.
As they passed the turnout Peggy Your would recollect in the police report: "As they were driving west on Lake Herman Road at the turn off to the Benicia Water Pumping Station, she observed a Rambler station wagon parked with front end heading east, there were two Caucasians in the front seat, male and female, when the lights from the car came upon the station wagon, the male sat up in the seat. Mrs Your said it was a cold night and she noticed no frost on the station wagon". She went on to say "at the time she saw the boy sitting in the driver's seat and the girl against his shoulder. When the lights of their car flashed on the Faraday car, the subject in the driver's seat put his hands on the (steering) wheel of the car. Mrs Your had noticed this action. When the Your's returned a few minutes later, after having turned around, subjects in the Rambler were still sitting there in this position. The car was facing east towards the field at the left side of the gate."
David Faraday and Betty Lou Jensen had been parked in the turnout for a considerable period of time at this point- so why would they change the position of the vehicle in the turnout. The Rambler's seats were in the reclined position, after all, they weren't in the turnout playing scrabble- they wanted some privacy, hence their choice of location. Peggy Your described David Faraday sitting up in the vehicle on one occasion, and also described him placing his hands on the steering wheel. Clearly he was disturbed by the headlights and approach of vehicles on Lake Herman Road. The next eyewitness along the road was Robert Connelly, who not only described the change in position of the Rambler, but that he didn't see any occupants in the Rambler.
It is perfectly reasonable to assume David Faraday moved the Rambler into a position seeking more privacy, reversing the vehicle across the turnout onto the west bank, facing south. From this location the Rambler would be free from encroaching headlights in either direction. The reason Robert Connelly saw no occupants in the Rambler can be explained by the vehicle being shrouded in relative darkness, or that the couple were in the reclined position. This hypothesis isn't foolproof, but it would explain the movement of the Rambler immediately after Peggy and Homer Your headed to Benicia, and before Robert Connelly passed the turnout for the final time.
Using the measurements given in the police report, it is not too difficult to discover that the Rambler also changed position from the sketch based on Peggy Your's positioning of the Rambler, to the final sketch of the Rambler as police would have found it.
This lends credence to the Robert Connelly sighting of the Rambler, having reversed across the turnout to the west bank, before returning back to the position found by police (different from Peggy Your's). This contradicts the long held narrative of a static Rambler throughout, and is supported by the actual statements of the eyewitnesses.
The testimony of James Owen, the last person to pass the turnout before the murders, also depicts a Rambler devoid of occupants, but a Rambler flanked by an unknown vehicle. Therefore, we have consecutive eyewitnesses detailing a Rambler without any visual on the occupants inside. If the Zodiac Killer arrived at the turnout from Vallejo, he could easily have approached the Rambler from the rear, as it was sitting on the west bank, thereby forcing David Faraday back across the turnout as he attempted to leave. The turning circle of the Rambler may have required this movement. The Zodiac Killer then pulled up alongside the Rambler and forced the couple to halt their vehicle in its tracks with shots to the window and headliner.
"Lunblad said the bullets were small caliber, that it appeared the Faraday youth stopped his car when a slug was fired through a rear side window of the family station wagon he was driving. Once the vehicle stopped, the two young people were helpless at the hands of the slayer." Vallejo Times-Herald 12/22/68.
These shots could be argued unnecessary had the killer immediately parked alongside using the current narrative. Why not immediately point the gun towards the passenger side window? But the James Owen testimony puts a massive spanner in the works.
James Owen was traveling towards Benicia and reported seeing no vehicles ahead of him.
On the right is a straight section of Lake Herman Road before the ill-fated turnout. It is 765 meters (0.475 miles) of unobstructed road. Traveling at 30 mph (calculated based on police reports of a 19 minute journey), this section of road would take approximately 50 seconds to negotiate. So if Zodiac had traveled from Vallejo in the same direction as James Owen, then he had to be in excess of 50 seconds ahead of James Owen as he pulled into the Gate #10 turnout. Had Zodiac been closer to James Owen, he would have seen his taillights ahead of him.
If the Zodiac Killer had approached the turnout from the Benicia end, then James Owen as he approached from Vallejo would have had unobstructed eyes on the turnout entrance at least 282 meters (0.175 miles) before arriving at it. That is at least 20 seconds viewing time. James Owen never saw the Zodiac Killer enter the turnout, so at a bare minimum it is reasonable to argue that Zodiac had already been present in the turnout for approximately half a minute prior to James Owen passing it. It may have been longer.
When James Owen passed the turnout he saw no occupants in either vehicle parked on the east side. When you consider the reaction of David Faraday when Peggy Your drove past the turnout earlier: "When the lights of their car flashed on the Faraday car, the subject in the driver's seat put his hands on the (steering) wheel of the car" and "when the lights from the car came upon the station wagon, the male sat up in the seat," it doesn't make any sense whatsoever that a strange vehicle occupied by the Zodiac Killer could actually pull into the turnout alongside the Rambler, and David Faraday doesn't react at all- continuing his romantic tryst in the reclined seats of the vehicle for a bare minimum of 30 seconds. Additionally, why had Zodiac just sat in his vehicle for the corresponding amount of time doing nothing. The obvious thing for Zodiac to have done, would have been to pull up alongside the Rambler and strike immediately, not read a newspaper first.
Had he done this, James Owen would have seen the victims on the turnout floor.
The idea the couple were forced from the vehicle and hidden out of sight makes equally little sense. James Owen reported seeing no car doors on either vehicle open. Had Zodiac shut the Rambler door when he observed James Owen's vehicle approaching and hidden the couple behind the vehicles, why was the Rambler door discovered open by responding police officers. James Owen also never heard the two shots into the Rambler window or headliner, as he claimed to have possibly heard one shot a quarter of a mile past the turnout. If he did hear this shot, why didn't he hear the two shots on his approach.
He may have been out of range on his approach to the turnout to hear the initial two shots. But the further he is away, the longer Zodiac did nothing after forcing the couple from the Rambler.
The testimony of James Owen provides a major stumbling block in creating a reasonable narrative for the happenings of December 20th 1968.
Without the presence of the second vehicle it doesn't help matters, because the couple were back over on the east side of the turnout without being forced there. We would have to believe they moved to the west bank for privacy, as described by Robert Connelly, then decided to move back across the turnout into a similar position (but not the same), as described by Peggy Your.
The long held narrative of a killer arriving alongside the Rambler on the east bank, exiting his vehicle, shooting at the Rambler and executing the young couple almost immediately after they exited their vehicle, doesn't work. David Faraday and the Zodiac Killer would have displayed at least 30 seconds or more of inactivity upon their encounter in the turnout, and this makes little sense from either perspective.
On December 20th 1968 the Zodiac Killer, supposedly acting alone, pulled into Gate #10 just off Lake Herman Road and parked his vehicle alongside the Rambler of David Faraday. The headlights of each vehicle were illuminating the field beyond. It was a handful of minutes after 11:00 pm, close to freezing, with the turnout in near pitch darkness. The Zodiac Killer then fired at least two shots towards the Rambler to force the young teenage couple from the vehicle- Betty Lou Jensen exited the passenger side of the vehicle first, followed immediately by David Faraday. The Zodiac Killer then did something that belied the situation.
From what we are led to believe, the Zodiac Killer was apparently more cautious of the male, dispatching them first, before venting his hatred on the female victim. He shot Michael Mageau while he was effectively trapped in the confines of Darlene Ferrin's Corvair, kept his distance from Bryan Hartnell, ordering Cecelia Shepard to tie her companion securely, and blindsided Paul Stine, execution style from behind. This man is likely not afraid of the male, albeit, he is applying common sense in completing his mission without being disarmed or thwarted. The attack on David Faraday and Betty Lou Jensen was committed in near complete darkness. If we are to believe eyewitness James Owen, the Zodiac Killer didn't even park behind the Rambler to illuminate his prey.
Fortunately for the Zodiac Killer, he came prepared with a small pencil flashlight, in which 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."
What an extremely cunning move- that is- until you walk forward towards your victim- in this case David Faraday. The closer you get, the smaller the circle of illumination becomes. When you finally press the .22 caliber handgun to the left ear of David Faraday, the light has effectively become extinguished. The turnout has now, in essence, been plunged back into darkness. From a killer apparently wary of the male, this, on the face of it, appears rather a foolish choice under the circumstances experienced at Lake Herman Road that night. Why not just approach David Faraday and shoot him in the head from 2 or 3 feet away with your extremely accurate pencil flashlight. Why get within contact range and not only risk being disarmed, but lose a visual on Betty Lou Jensen? From a man who carefully crafted a 340 character cipher, took the time to construct a sighting implement for his nighttime weapon, and applied caution towards his intended male victims, this seems a rather odd choice to say the least. Unless, it didn't happen this way.
The Lake Herman Road police report stated "he had been shot in the upper portion of the left ear by a small caliber bullet which penetrated the ear and head. There was what appeared to be powder burns on the left ear where the bullet had entered. There was a large lump on his right cheek and the hair on the left side of his head was matted with blood."
There was absolutely no need for the Zodiac Killer to negate the use of his 'claimed' pencil flashlight and make contact with David Faraday. He supposedly has them herded together just outside the open door of the Rambler, and cannot afford for them to be separated into the darkness. The idea of Betty Lou Jensen making a dash for freedom and being targeted accurately by Zodiac at least five times, while David Faraday is still alive and standing behind him, is extremely problematic and unlikely. Seemingly, David Faraday had moved little since being forced from the vehicle. He was found lying perpendicular to the Rambler, with his feet just shy of touching the rear right wheel. It appears he was shot, execution style in close proximity to the vehicle.
There is every indication, based upon the reasoning suggested, that the Zodiac Killer was not alone in the turnout that night- he had an accomplice. With two assailants, possibly goading one another into action, the idea of removing the couple from the Rambler is paradoxically not without reason. Why extricate the couple from the vehicle in near pitch darkness, when you have them exactly where you want them, just like at Blue Rock Springs Park. The Zodiac Killer had never taken liberties with his victims in any of his subsequent attacks.
The Department of Justice, Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation stated 'All bullets submitted were Western copper coated .22 long rifle bullets, although some were damaged, it was possible to determine ALL but Item  had 6 right hand groove class characteristics.'
Item  was removed from the brain of David Faraday.
If the bullet removed from David Faraday exhibited different class characteristics to all the others, then it may become problematic from the standpoint of a lone gunman.
If a left-handed, second assailant, had David Faraday secured around the neck alongside the Rambler for the duration of the attack on Betty Lou Jensen, with a gun pressed to his left ear, then the ejected cartridge case could be the one discovered on the front passenger floorboard of the Rambler by responding officers.
This cartridge case was missing from the D.O.J. report. If it was to be found, then the story of the Zodiac Killer could turn on its head.
This website contains no advertisements. To help keep it running, any donations, however small, would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. Richard.
This site is constructed and authored by Richard Grinell from Coventry, England.
On a cold, dark night back on December 20th 1968, a young couple were enjoying a late night out, parked up in their Rambler, on a lonely gravel turnout, just off the unlit, narrow winding road of Lake Herman, when an unknown assailant shattered the tranquil night time air, gunning down both David Faraday and Betty Lou Jensen in cold blood and unleashing an unparalleled horror on a community, the like of which had never been seen before.