It has been speculated that Donna Lass, who was nearing the end of her shift, was abducted from the parking lot of the Sahara Tahoe Hotel & Casino on September 6th 1970, having possibly been lured there by claim of a false emergency from her abductor and bundled into a waiting vehicle. Harvey Hines stated in the Tahoe Daily Tribune that "There was a lot of evidence inside the Sahara Tahoe Casino that she left directly from there. She was a very personal person and she left a lot of personal items behind; an opened letter, a dirty uniform, and on her log a pen was dragged from the last word she wrote on the page". The last entry according to Mary Pilker (Donna's sister) was "patient complains of". Ten months later, on July 13th 1971, Trudy Ann Hiler (22) went missing from Cal Neva Lodge & Casino after finishing her shift, reported as being bundled into a vehicle in the parking lot of the casino. It was situated on the northern tip of Lake Tahoe just three miles from Incline Village. Trudy Ann Hiler was found strangled and stabbed two days later under a rock ledge between the casino and lake shore. The man who found the body also reported the abduction. That man was Michael Anselmo (18 at the time of the murder), who worked as a busboy in the same casino as Trudy. The following year he received life in prison for the murder of the young woman. He spent 47 years in jail before being released. I wonder where he got the idea of her being bundled into a vehicle in the parking lot?
The Zodiac Killer mailed the Little List letter on July 26th 1970 setting out his search for "society offenders", but this lengthy communication was withheld from publication in the newspapers until October 12th 1970. Despite a comprehensive article in the San Francisco Chronicle on September 26th 1970 featuring the disappearance of Donna Lass from Lake Tahoe on September 6th 1970, the Zodiac Killer never raised his victim total of 13 from July 26th 1970 to October 5th 1970, when the 13-Hole postcard arrived. He never previously needed any prompting to falsely inflate his victim total in previous communications, yet a month after the abduction and likely murder of Donna Lass from the Sahara Tahoe Hotel & Casino, the Zodiac Killer kept his victim total static, suggesting at this juncture he was not claiming the young nurse as victim 14. That is, because he never murdered her. Besides, he would later retrospectively claim he had sought her as victim 12 in the March 22nd 1971 Pines card, while she was still present in San Francisco and working at the Letterman General Hospital by the Presidio.
Donna Lass would have been working as a nurse in the Presidio park in the relevant time period for her to be sought as victim 12. Bearing in mind that the Zodiac Killer was last seen entering the Presidio park after the murder of Paul Stine on October 11th 1969, he knew that by retrospectively claiming he had targetted Donna Lass in San Francisco before her eventual disappearance, it would carry more weight to his suggested involvement in her demise through the Pines card.
The punched hole in the top right corner of the Pines card was never a hint towards her burial location, because the Zodiac Killer had no idea where her body was located. The vague and cryptic phrases pasted on the Pines card were just designed to identify the name of Donna. When the "Sierra Club" was aligned over the Sierra Club of Clair Tappaan Lodge, the punched hole landed over the "Donner" of the Donner Memorial State Park. This was shown to be likely true when a similar pasted card, dubbed the Monticello card, arrived at the San Francisco Chronicle on July 13th 1971, again hinting at the identity of a murdered woman, that of Kathy Bilek. This time, the author pasted "Woods", "April" and "near Monticello" as a clue to her name. However, on this occasion, the sender would actually direct us to a burial site.
Buried in the Oak Hill Memorial Park & Cemetery in the Monticello neighborhood of San Jose was the resting place of Kathie Snoozy, claimed as a victim by the Zodiac Killer in the Dripping Pen card on November 8th 1969. She was the namesake of Kathy Bilek, who along with Debra Furlong, were all victims of the real murderer, Karl Francis Werner. The Monticello card followed the exact pattern of the Pines card, in which the Zodiac Killer retrospectively claimed the April 11th 1971 murder of Kathy Bilek in the Villa Montalvo woods of Saratoga, by pasting "shought victim 21" on the card. He never murdered Kathy Bilek and he never murdered Donna Lass. When Karl Francis Werner was credited with two of Zodiac's previously claimed victims, that of Snoozy and Furlong, he doubled down and more, by adding Kathy Bilek retrospectively in a vain attempt to discredit the notion of Werner being responsible for all three. This belated tactic was used to claim Donna Lass as a victim also, with the Zodiac Killer selecting a time period between the 10 victims on April 20th 1970 and 12 victims on June 26th 1970, while Donna Lass was still working at the Letterman General Hospital for a large chunk of this time. He knew this would add credence to his claim of involvement in her disappearance and likely murder, particularly when he noticed the proximity of her profession to the Washington and Cherry intersection in Presidio Heights.
In fact, the Halloween card, Pines card and Monticello card may have all been retrospective communications, with the Halloween card incorporating the murders of Kathie Snoozy and Debra Furlong into its design by the addition of two skeletons and the 4-TEEN on the card inner. The Zodiac Killer was only claiming four teenagers as murder victims by October 27th 1970, that of David Faraday, Betty Lou Jensen, Debra Furlong and Kathie Snoozy. We know that the Zodiac Killer wasn't responsible for the three victims eventually attributed to Karl Francis Werner, despite him valiantly trying to retrospectively claim all three on numerous occasions. Therefore, we should place little credence to his suggestion of involvement in the untimely disappearance of Donna Lass through the Pines card, especially when he had every chance to elevate his victim total on October 5th 1970. This should give you pause for thought when the Zodiac Killer retrospectively inferred his involvement in Riverside on March 13th 1971, four and a half years after the fact.
When the Zodiac Killer discovered that Karl Francis Werner was arrested on April 29th 1971 for the slaying of Kathie Snoozy, Debra Furlong and Kathy Bilek, he was understandably horrified that two of the victims he had falsely claimed in the Dripping Pen card on November 8th 1969 were now being stripped from his running victim count. He was now faced with a choice of being seen as a brazen liar with his previous claims totally discredited, or continue the facade of clinging onto victims he was never responsible for. He would choose the latter. His response was almost immediate, likely mailing a letter (and 148 character cipher) sometime in early May of 1971, responding to two newspaper articles (one by Paul Avery) published on April 30th 1971 and May 1st 1971. His response was effectively an admission that the "Aug" on the Dripping Pen card was referring to the two murdered San Jose teenagers on August 3rd 1969 (Snoozy & Furlong). Here is the communication:
The 148 character code was deciphered to read: "Tis the Zodiac Speacking. Why can't you stop me. I can't stop killing. Stop listening t(o) phonys. If this is not on your front page in a week I will skin 3 little kids and make a suit from the skin".
The two newspaper articles on April 30th 1971 and May 1st 1971 covered the arrest, arraignment and questioning of Karl Francis Werner, stating "He was immediately advised of his rights concerning any statements he may make and legal representation to which he is entitled, the detectives said. Werner was then taken to the scenes of the crimes. Late yesterday he was undergoing questioning. The detectives would not reveal what statements, if any, he had made concerning the killings of the three girls". The Zodiac Killer would respond with "Stop listening to phonys", desperately attempting to appeal to the San Francisco Chronicle and law enforcement that Karl Francis Werner was not the killer of the three girls. He was effectively telling investigators to not accept any admissions by Werner because he was the real killer. Up to this point, the Zodiac Killer had only claimed the murders of Snoozy & Furlong on August 3rd 1969, not the murder of Kathy Bilek, which occurred one month earlier on April 11th 1971 in the woods of Villa Montalvo in Saratoga. He now had to face the stark choice of abandoning the two victims he had claimed for nearly two years, or add Kathy Bilek to his ever burgeoning list. He had to either abandon two or embrace all three. It isn't surprising he chose the latter.
The headlines and text in the newspapers usually governed the majority of what he wrote in the communications he mailed. In this instance it was no different, utilizing the three headlines in the two newspapers. The headlines stated San Jose Student Held in Slaying of Three Girls, San Jose Student Held in Slaying of 3 Girls and Youth Arraigned in Knife Slayings of Three Girls. The Zodiac therefore promised to skin three kids if his latest letter was not published. He was effectively saying, give me front page coverage or you'll have another three young deaths on your hands.
The newspapers covered the severity of the injuries sustained by Snoozy, Furlong and Bilek, graphically describing the fact "Miss Bilek was stabbed 49 times with a short-bladed knife", while "Furlong and Snoozy were both stabbed more than 100 times with a similar weapon". The Zodiac callously responded, by not only threatening a further three kids, but by stating that he would "send a patch of human skin if their is some left over". This was obviously meant to suggest that after so many wounds on his victims, he would be lucky to find any undamaged skin left to mail.
The wording in the letter may also pinpoint the exact day this communication was postmarked. The two articles were published on April 30th 1971 and May 1st 1971, the latter of which was a Saturday. Therefore, his wording of "If this is not on your front page in a week" could suggest it was mailed over the weekend and postmarked Monday, May 3rd 1971.
The Zodiac Killer now had one thing left to do - retrospectively claim the April 11th 1971 murder of Kathy Bilek in the woods of Villa Montalvo in Saratoga. He would do this on July 13th 1971, when he mailed the pasted Monticello card to the San Francisco Chronicle with the wording "Near Monticello Shought Victims 21 ...... In The Woods Dies April". The only unanswered question about this card was the reference to "Near Monticello". If we travel a few miles east of where Kathy Bilek was murdered, we arrive at the neighborhood of Monticello in San Jose. The neighborhood of Monticello holds one crucial secret as to why the Zodiac Killer wrote this on the July 13th 1971 card. It is the burial site of Kathie Snoozy, laid to rest in the Oak Hill Memorial Park, and forever the phonetic namesake of Kathy Bilek (although Zodiac would have read the spelling of Kathie as Kathy in the majority of newspapers). The Monticello card was not only designed to suggest the Zodiac Killer was the murderer of Kathy Bilek, but it pinpointed the burial site of Kathie Snoozy and his connection to the San Jose murders on August 3rd 1969. The Monticello card effectively bound the murders of all three girls together. It was a sinister communication, but extremely well designed. This should give you pause for thought when considering the Pines card mailed on March 22nd 1971. When the Sierra Club section of this card is placed over Clair Tappaan Lodge on the north western edge of Lake Tahoe, the punched circle falls over the Donner Memorial State Park. Two names, Donna and Kathy, embedded in two pasted cards under the banner of "Memorial" - and designed as an epitaph to victims he wanted us to believe were his.
The Zodiac Killer gave directions to two of his attacks on July 5th 1969 and September 27th 1969. In many communications he teased us with his name, although he always either failed to follow through on this promise of a name or we failed to understand the communication. The Pines card was a blend of previous Zodiac activity, but on this occasion he coalesced both, to provide us with the name of the victim he was claiming through a set of directions, exactly as he did just four months later with the arrival of the Monticello card on July 13th 1971. Both postcards supplying a cryptic array of pasted text to identify the victim's name. The instructions he pasted onto the Pines card aimed at the police, whose home on March 22nd 1971 was located at Fremont Avenue and Mono Way on the south tip of Lake Tahoe. It was a simple affair of "passing the Lake Tahoe areas" on the west side of the lake to the "Sierra Club" at Clair Tappaan Lodge on Donner Pass Road. Then from the roadside edge *peek through the pines" to discover the Sierra Club lodge. Once we placed the pasted text of "Sierra Club" over the Clair Tappaan Lodge, the punched hole fell nicely over the Donner Memorial State Park. The entire card designed to intimate he was responsible for the disappearance and murder of Donna Lass, who could be found buried "around in the snow". EIther this was the case, or it was extremely fortuitous that the Sierra Club was located on Donner Pass Road, and the punched hole just happened to fall over Donner Memorial State Park.
The Zodiac Killer by reading the September 26th 1970, San Francisco Chronicle article of Nurse Vanishes -- A Tahoe Mystery, knew that Donna Lass was a resident of San Francisco and worked at the Letterman General Hospital as a nurse, before leaving in June for the Sahara Tahoe Hotel & Casino. Therefore, it wasn't that difficult for him to retrospectively claim he sought her as victim number 12, before the arrival of the Button letter on June 26th 1970 with the victim count now standing at 12. He was clearly intimating he had sought her prior to her move to South Lake Tahoe, having now finally caught up with her. The whole purpose of the card designed to coalesce his activity in San Francisco and South Lake Tahoe under the Zodiac umbrella.
The notion of an author spending a considerable amount of time choosing this particular card, methodically finding and pasting particular text from newspaper cuttings onto the card, and then punching a hole into a preselected position, to then get the victim total horribly out of sequence, doesn't hold any water. Anybody prepared to go to these lengths to design a postcard, to then be accused of failing to notice the innumerable newspaper articles featuring the Zodiac Killer claiming 12, 13, 14 and 17 victims, simply doesn't stack up. Not withstanding the fact, that the author wasn't claiming 12 victims, because he used the past participle of seek (in sought), thereby taking us back to an earlier time.
The Zodiac Killer wasn't responsible for the disappearance and murder of Donna Lass, however, this cleverly designed and thought out card was created to give the impression he was, by suggesting he had trailed her from state to state and wasn't to be denied. Just four months later he would use exactly the same technique when designing the pasted Monticello card. He again retrospectively claimed the murder of Kathy Bilek on July 13th 1971 when this card was mailed. Kathy Bilek was murdered three months earlier in the Villa Montalvo woods in Saratoga on April 11th 1971 - and hence why the Zodiac Killer used the past tense of "shought victim 21" one again. He was taking us back to an earlier time and claiming he had trailed Kathy Bilek before murdering her. We know he wasn't responsible for the murder of Kathy Bilek (because Karl Francis Werner was ultimately jailed for the crime), and so he was very likely not responsible for the Donna Lass murder either. In both cases he attempted to bamboozle us with cryptic text, to deflect from the reality that he had nothing to do with either crime.
The July 13th 1971 Monticello card was the mirror image of the Pines card. It contained a set of clues to the name of the victim it was referring to, such as "woods", "April" and "near Monticello". April was April 11th 1971, woods was the Villa Montalvo woods, and Monticello was the directional clue to her name. Just as the Pines card directed us to the Donner Pass Road and Donner Memorial State Park, this card directed us to the neighborhood of Monticello in San Jose, where another one of his previously claimed victim's was buried. Donna Lass was claimed to be buried "around in the snow", whereas the clue to the name of Kathy Bilek lay buried in the Oak Hill Memorial Park cemetery. Not only another victim of Karl Francis Werner, but the Zodiac Killer had previously claimed the murder of Kathie Snoozy by the addition of "Aug" in his Dripping Pen card. He chose the resting place of Kathie Snoozy rather than the burial site of Debra Furlong because Kathie Snoozy was the phonetic namesake of Kathy Bilek.
The Monticello card, just like the Pines card, contained a set of directional instructions which revealed a name - and both led to a Memorial Park. This level of ingenuity and thought, not the hallmarks of a casual hoaxer. The Monticello card was the culmination of a deception spanning nearly two years, but as of August 31st 2020 it has never been released into the public domain.
In two previous articles we analyzed the design of the Pines Card in association with the disappearance and likely murder of Donna Lass on September 6th 1970. There are multiple possibilities, notably  The Pines Card contained nothing of value  The punch-hole fell over the Donner Memorial State Park, hinting at the young woman's name in similar fashion to the Monticello Card four months later, but had no directions to her burial site  The Pines Card contained clues to her name and burial site  The Pines Card contained directions to something Zodiac placed for investigators or the public to find, thereby (if found) bolstering the notion he was involved in her disappearance and murder. This could have been placed at a predetermined location prior to the mailing of the Pines Card. Or the most likely,  The Zodiac Killer crafted the Pines Card, but had absolutely nothing to do with her demise. This is the route we shall take in the following examination.
I have come to the inescapable conclusion that the Zodiac Killer had nothing to do with the disappearance of Donna Lass from the Sahara Tahoe Hotel & Casino on September 6th 1970, and his willingness to suggest such an involvement was prescribed by the writings of the San Francisco Chronicle. On September 26th 1970, the disappearance of Donna Lass was extensively covered in a San Francisco Chronicle newspaper article entitled Nurse Vanishes -- A Tahoe Mystery. This must have been a goldmine for the Zodiac Killer, with all the ingredients contained in the article a compelling blend of circumstantial evidence just waiting to be picked. The Zodiac Killer knew that the circumstances surrounding the young woman's move from San Francisco to South Lake Tahoe was the perfect cocktail to convince investigators he was a viable candidate in her murder. The added benefit for the Bay Area killer was the suggestion of a link to the murder of another nurse, Judith Hakari, abducted on March 7th 1970, and later discovered in a shallow grave in Weimar. The Zodiac Killer could effectively link himself to two murders for the price of one.
Many murders passed through the pages of the Chronicle newspaper, but this story had everything the killer required. Of course, he must have realized by now, that if he had mailed a communication immediately after the newspaper article, stating an involvement in her disappearance, then it would appear all too convenient, with his writings likely dismissed as a killer just latching on to the latest crime story. But by waiting months, as he had done with Kathleen Johns, his claims (in his mind) may carry more weight with investigators. In other words, the publicity had died down regarding the disappearance of Donna Lass, yet he still had the crime in the forefront of his mind even after six months, thereby adding validity to such a claim.
Rubislaw32, a contributor to this site, touched on the idea that the March 22nd 1971 Pines Card may have been influenced by the abduction and murder of Judith Hakari. This idea carries much weight, when we consider the inspiration for the Pines Card was likely generated from the September 26th 1970 newspaper article six months earlier. The article was rich pickings for a killer who had previously murdered taxicab driver Paul Stine in the Presidio Heights area of San Francisco, so close to the Letterman General Hospital where Donna Lass had previously worked. The disappearance of a woman 150 miles from San Francisco, who had recent connections to San Francisco in the Presidio Heights district, must have been more than the Zodiac Killer could have wished for. Many disappearances and murders had occurred much closer to the Bay Area than the Lake Tahoe Mystery, but this one was covered comprehensively by the Chronicle and had the details the Zodiac Killer couldn't have failed to notice. We look for overlapping features in the Presidio Heights murder of Paul Stine by Zodiac, with the movements of Donna Lass and her eventual abduction from South Lake Tahoe, noting the location of the Letterman General Hospital with respect to the Presidio Park the killer escaped into. We then take the Pines Card depicting Incline Village and draw parallels to the crimes based on their locations, thereby concluding a possible Zodiac involvement in both. The problem being with this line of thinking, is the Zodiac Killer knew that these conclusions would be drawn when he created the Pines Card - because he had read the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper article and noted these comparisons himself. The Zodiac Killer was effectively forcing you into making an unwarranted connection, thereby bolstering a case for his involvement in the Donna Lass case. Everything required for the Pines Card sat in the September 26th 1970 pubication.
All the Zodiac Killer required was a map of Lake Tahoe and the above newspaper article to create the perfect ruse. He had noted that a connection was being considered between the cases of Donna Lass and Judith Hakari, with the Sutter Hospital nurse having been discovered "buried in a shallow grave in the Sierra foothills of Placer County". Therefore, to give credence to his claims in the murder of Donna Lass (and possibly Judith Hakari), what better way than to place the pasted phrase of "around in the snow" upside down, to give the impression Donna Lass is buried in a shallow grave, and thereby tying the two cases together in modus operandi. Then place the pasted location of "Sierra Club" on the Pines Card to subconsciously plant the seed of a link to the "Sierra" of "the Sierra foothills of Placer County", where Judith Hakari's remains were subsequently unearthed.
The newspaper article told us that Donna Lass worked at the Sahara Tahoe Hotel on the south side of the lake, so even a modicum of investigation to discover the location of the local police department, would allow the Zodiac Killer to direct the investigators "past the Lake Tahoe areas" to the the pine-laden wilderness and a likely burial site. Then came the pièce de résistance in the Pines Card, further forging a link between the Zodiac Killer, Donna Lass and San Francisco. The Zodiac Killer wanted investigators to draw the conclusion he had previously targeted Donna Lass in the Presidio area of San Francisco, and so driving them to the conclusion that he had traveled to South Lake Tahoe to complete his mission of killing the young woman Unfortunately, the Zodiac Killer may have overestimated the ability of police to discover the true meaning of "sought victim 12".
By using the past tense of seek in "sought", the Zodiac Killer was attempting to convince investigators he had previously trailed Donna Lass as victim number 12. The newspaper article gave us all the movements of Donna Lass, stating "Miss Lass became a first-aid nurse at the Sahara last June, living the previous five months in San Francisco and working at the Letterman General Hospital at the Presidio". The Zodiac Killer therefore knew that Donna Lass was in San Francisco in the January of 1970. He was only claiming 10 victims by April 20th 1970, and 12 victims by June 26th 1970, so it wasn't difficult for the Zodiac Killer to work out, that he could have "sought her as victim 12" before she left for South Lake Tahoe in June. The Zodiac Killer would have been seeking Donna Lass as victim number 12 sometime between April 20th 1970 and when she began her new job in June. By using the past participle of "seek", the Zodiac Killer was attempting to convince investigators his interest in Donna Lass had begun long before her disappearance - and in doing so, hopefully reinforcing a connection between San Francisco and South Lake Tahoe, with him as the common denominator between the two.
On March 19th 1971, the San Francisco ran an advertisement for condominiums at Incline Village by Lake Tahoe. The Zodiac Killer, having now waited the necessary time to authenticate his claim in the disappearance and murder of Donna Lass, lay the final piece of the jigsaw. His ruse was now complete.
Here we will take a further look at the disappearance of Donna Lass from the Sahara Tahoe Hotel & Casino on September 6th 1970, attempting to discover the approximate area she was disposed of or buried. The last article on this subject pinpointed an area along California State Route 89 by Pole Creek Trailhead. The Zodiac Killer (if responsible for her murder) had previously made two phone calls to police, directing them to the crime scenes at Blue Rock Springs Park and Lake Berryessa. When the Pines Card was mailed on March 22nd 1971 it held directions within its design, such as "Sierra Club", "pass Lake Tahoe areas" and a punch-hole on the right side. The postcard was mailed to the San Francisco Chronicle and was addressing the police.
Here is a snippet from the South Lake Tahoe Police Department website: "The South Lake Tahoe Police Department (SLTPD) was formed July 1, 1967. The first home of the department was on the southwest corner of Lake Tahoe Boulevard at “D” Street. This is currently the present location of the City Corp. Yard. By the spring of 1969, SLTPD had 33 officers, seven civilian positions, and nine vehicles. We needed a bigger facility. So during the tenure of John Crow, the second Chief of Police at the helm of SLTPD, the Police Department moved to a month-to-month rental facility at Fremont Avenue and Mono Way. This structure is now the home of Nel’s Hardware store. This building was not constructed as a police facility, and eventually another move was needed. In April of 1973, the department moved to its current location in the El Dorado County Government Center, on Johnson Boulevard".
All three of these locations sit under the south side of the lake, so the instructions on the Pines Card to "pass Lake Tahoe areas" can only mean one of two things - the police needed to travel along the east side of the lake using US Route 50, towards Incline Village (the area depicted on the Pines Card), or travel along the west side of the lake, towards the Donner Memorial State Park and the Sierra Club at Clair Tappaan Lodge (also depicted on the Pines Card). See below.
If the killer was living or vacationing on the south side of the lake, then he may very well have crossed paths with his target at the Sahara Tahoe Hotel & Casino, the Monte Verdi Apartments at 3893 Pioneer Trail (where Donna Lass lived), or somewhere close by. Whether he murdered Donna Lass first, then disposed of her body, or murdered her at the location he concealed her body, his most direct and convenient route of travel from the south side of the lake, is to "pass the Lake Tahoe areas" on the east or west side, via a major route. California State Route 89 and US Route 50 both skirt the lake on either side, and more importantly, head towards Incline Village and the Sierra Club at Clair Tappaan Lodge.
A newspaper article stated that 'the site depicted on the 'Pines Card' was from an advertisement published last Sunday by several newspapers. It was an artist's rendition of houses among the trees at a Boise Cascade Company project at Incline Village, where construction has just begun on the development. While much of the Sierra area is under several feet of snow, Incline Village has only two feet on the ground. Police went to the area to determine if a search is possible'. Chief Lauritzen added "There's no point to a search at this time. It's unlikely a victim would be uncovered before spring". This indicates that a search was to be initiated in this area, but it clearly failed to unearth the remains of Donna Lass. Parking your vehicle in the area of Incline Village under construction doesn't seem the most sensible choice to start digging a grave. When we consider that the July 13th 1971 Monticello Card revealed the name "Kathy" at the Oak Hill Memorial Park, and the Pines Card overlayed over the Sierra Club of Clair Tappaan Lodge revealed the name "Donna" (at the Donner Memorial State Park), it seems as though the Incline Village advertisement was used more as a template, rather than the actual burial site. The act of the Zodiac Killer adding "Sierra Club" to the postcard was clearly significant in this instance.
Using a sprinkling of geographic profiling and the words on the Pines Card, the Zodiac Killer would be "past the Lake Tahoe areas" at Tahoe City, where California State Route 89 breaks away from the lake. He now has to effectively bury Donna Lass between Tahoe City and the Donner Memorial State Park by Truckee. Is he going to risk performing this task by Alpine Meadows or Olympic Valley?, or travel to the much more secluded area by Pole Creek Trailhead, which is exactly mid-distance between Tahoe City and the Donner Memorial State Park - this is the first and logical choice to avoid detection. There are some other turn off areas in this region of California State Route 89 where the Zodiac Killer could have disposed of a body, but mid-distance in a secluded area and sitting under his crosshairs on the Pines Card overlay, seems as good as any.
If the Zodiac Killer was a native of the Bay Area and visited Lake Tahoe for recreational purposes such as hunting, fishing and hiking, then had he been responsible for the abduction and likely murder of Donna Lass on September 6th 1970, it seems a logical argument can be made for the killer disposing of his victim in an area he was familiar with. This area would be remote, free from prying eyes and somewhere the killer had previously frequented. Many killers will bury or conceal a victim in an area they feel comfortable spending the necessary time required for such a task, with limited or no fear of detection. If the Zodiac Killer was in Lake Tahoe for the wilderness and rugged terrain, he was probably familiar with the numerous hiking trails that surrounded the lake - and the many secluded areas at night, that would provide the perfect backdrop to bury a victim and lay a puzzle for the police. The burial site would likely be accessible by car, just off a hiking trail he knew well. It would be a reasonable distance from a main road, not too close to his residence, but not too far as to risk being pulled over with a body in his vehicle. The burial site of Donna Lass, as intimated by the March 22nd 1971 Pines Card fits all these criteria, and suggests (if the postcard is being truthful) that her body was hidden on the western edge of Lake Tahoe. The postcard itself, can be further backed up with the accuracy displayed by the July 13th 1971 Monticello Card. For those of you unaware of this correspondence, here is a brief recap.
The Monticello Card mimicked the Pines Card in the directional nature of the communication. The Monticello Card contained the phrases "in the woods" and "near Monticello", whereas the Pines Card stated "pass Lake Tahoe areas" and "Sierra Club". Both communications provided us with a specific location and directions, and it is my belief that both contained a punch-hole on the right-hand side of the card The combination of a punch-hole and directions should indicate that both these postcards were designed as an overlay, pinpointing a specific location. The Monticello Card read "Near Monticello Shought Victims 21 ...... In The Woods Dies April". The card was describing the murder of Kathy Bilek, who was brutally stabbed in the Villa Montalvo woods on April 11th 1971 in Saratoga. The location he pinpointed as Monticello, was a few miles east of the crime scene - but more important - was the reason he chose the neighborhood of Monticello in the first place. Immediately alongside the neighborhood of Monticello sat the Oak Hill Memorial Park & Cemetery where Kathy Snoozy was buried. The Zodiac Killer had previously claimed the murders of Kathy Snoozy and Deborah Furlong (San Jose) in his November 8th 1969 'Dripping Pen' card by the addition of "Aug" in his running total. The Oak Hill Memorial Park & Cemetery would have sat under the punch-hole on the Monticello Card. This punch-hole would not only be over a memorial park, but over a burial site. The only reason the Zodiac Killer identified this location in Monticello was to reveal the name of Kathy, the namesake of Kathy Bilek - and the final clue to the identity of the murder victim portrayed in the Monticello Card. The Pines Card followed exactly the same pattern, with the punch-hole again falling over a memorial park and the name of an alleged murder victim - that of Donna Lass. When the Pines postcard is positioned over the Sierra Club of Clair Tappaan Lodge, the punch-hole falls exactly over the Donner Memorial State Park. The Zodiac Killer gave us a memorial to Kathy and Donna in both instances.
But was it really that simple? The Monticello clue - although it identified a burial site - was not the burial site of the young woman that the Monticello Card was designed around (that of Kathy Bilek). Moreover, it was a clue to the name of Kathy. The punch-hole in the Pines Card may equally have been designed to give us the name of Donna, but not specifically denoting where she was buried. So, let us take an in depth look at the March 22nd 1971 Pines Card.
You will notice that the wording "Sierra Club" has been inadvertently or deliberately pinned to the largest tree, as to mimic a "flagpole" or "starting point". Directly opposite (and of equal size to the pasted text) the Zodiac Killer has placed the punch-hole. When the center of Sierra Club on the flagpole is positioned over the Sierra Club of Clair Tappaan Lodge, with the postcard overlayed onto a map, the punch-hole on the right side drops nicely over the entrance to Donner Memorial State Park. But nobody in their right mind (even Zodiac) would have contemplated burying Donna Lass so close to Interstate 80 and the Donner Pass Road. As stated above, the killer would likely dispose of the body with the least chance of detection, away from the major roads, and probably alongside a hiking trail he was previously familiar with.
There is only one route that fits the criteria of "pass Lake Tahoe areas" that runs directly from the south side of Lake Tahoe where Donna Lass was abducted from (Sahara Tahoe Hotel & Casino), to the area of the Donner State Memorial Park. From the Sahara Tahoe Hotel & Casino, a direct route from the crime scene to remote wilderness, could be achieved by taking US Route 50 and California State Route 89. It is approximately 30 miles from the casino along the south and west side of the lake, to the area I have identified. Furthermore, the area is alongside the Pole Creek Trailhead - a hiking trail the Zodiac Killer may have been familiar with. This location sits directly over the crosshairs of Zodiac on the Pines Card. I have drawn a green line from the location of the punch-hole (Donner Memorial State Park) to the crosshairs on the Pines Card. This green line straddles California State Route 89, with the crosshairs falling a few hunded metres to the west of Route 89, by the Pole Creek Trailhead, along Pole Creek Road. Shown here on Google maps.
This is obviously an estimation to the possible burial site of Donna Lass, but when we "pass the Lake Tahoe areas" on the west side of the lake, this trailhead presents itself. The Zodiac Killer could exit California State Route 89 just past the Silver Creek Campground and travel a few hundred meters along Pole Creek Road. This area offers quick egress from the Sahara Tahoe Hotel & Casino via US Route 50 and California State Route 89, and into remote isolation in as little as 40 minutes. More importantly, the Zodiac crosshairs fell over this area when the Sierra Club of Clair Tappaan Lodge and Donner Memorial State Park were aligned with the Pines Card. The Zodiac Killer pasted "pass Lake Tahoe areas" and "Peek through the Pines" next to the Zodiac crosshairs, so it is rather fortunate that Pole Creek Road is just past the Lake Tahoe areas on the western edge, and forged between the pine trees of California State Route 89 (see below).
Cragle, a conrtributor to the Zodiac Killer Site forum, brought up an extremely valid connection to the Lake of the Pines development in Auburn, Placer County with respect to the Boise Cascade Company. He stated "As we know Donna Lass was taken from Lake Tahoe, a card was then sent implying that she was buried at Incline Village on the north shore of the lake. Also a Christmas card was received with the quote 'St Donna & Guardian of the Pines'. Now what is the connection, Judith Hakari was abducted and then found near Weimar, CA. Weimar is next to Lake of the Pines. At the time Lake of the Pines was a brand new housing development which was still in the process of being finished. The developers of Lake of the Pines were the very same company that was responsible for Incline Village".
Western Lake Properties purchased three large ranches to create Lake of the Pines, including the Henry Pilliard spread, which was originally settled in 1860 on 1200 acres, and still had descendants running cattle on it well into the middle of the 20th century. Bulldozers carved into a natural basin of meadows and pasture land rimmed by pine forests and oak woodlands to cut out the imprint of the lake. The reservoir's dam was completed in 1966 and the 230-acre reservoir filled by April of the following year. In 1969, the Boise Cascade development company purchased the project, marketing the lots to older workers in the Bay Area and Southern California. While the developer continued construction on the common amenities, contractors were busy constructing spec houses aimed at retirees who were scaling down, and building custom vacation homes for buyers planning to use them as weekend getaways or future retirement villas. link.
On March 22nd 1971, the Zodiac Killer mailed a postcard insinuating his involvement in the disappearance and likely murder of Donna Lass in South Lake Tahoe on September 6th 1970. A newspaper report in March 1971 stated "the site depicted on the 'Pines Card' was from an advertisement published last Sunday by several newspapers. It was an artist's rendition of houses among the trees at a Boise Cascade Company project at Incline Village, where construction has just begun on the development. While much of the Sierra area is under several feet of snow, Incline Village has only two feet on the ground. Police went to the area to determine if a search is possible'. Chief Lauritzen added "There's no point to a search at this time. It's unlikely a victim would be uncovered before spring".
The body of Donna Lass was never recovered in the location of Incline Village despite an extensive search. However, the forum thread created by Cragle may have opened the door to another possibility regarding the Boise Cascade Company.
The similarity between the cases of Donna Lass and Judith Hakari cannot be overlooked, despite the fact the Zodiac Killer was likely responsible for neither. But that doesn't preclude him from claiming his involvement in both, through a link to the Boise Cascade Company. Choosing an advertisement from the newspapers about condominiums, appears a rather banal choice by the Zodiac Killer when we consider the flamboyant Halloween card that preceded it. If it wasn't chosen for the location of Incline Village as the burial site of Donna Lass, then was it chosen to supply a connection to a previous victim, thereby hinting he was responsible for both? If the newspapers could make the connection from Donna Lass to the murder of Judith Hakari, abducted from the Markston Apartments in Sacramento on March 7th 1970, then the Zodiac Killer was certainly not averse to pushing investigators down the same train of thought.
Both Lass and Hakari were nurses, abducted shortly after finishing their shift at the Sahara Tahoe Hotel and Sutter Hospital respectively. How long they were kept alive from the moment they were snatched is unknown, but the suspicious phone calls after the disappearance of Donna Lass stating she had been called out of town due to a family illness, may have served the purpose of buying time by her abductor. If the same perpetrator was responsible for both, could he have traveled Interstate 80 from Lake Tahoe to Sacramento, and therefore was familiar with forest regions spanning both. Judith Hakari's body was eventually discovered nearly two months after her disappearance (April 25th 1970) buried in a shallow grave aside Ponderosa Way. Could her killer have disposed of Donna Lass somewhere in this region?
The July 13th 1971 Monticello Card contained extremely similar pasted phrases to the March 22nd 1971 Pines Card, stating "Near Monticello Shought Victims 21 ...... In The Woods Dies April". The postcard was referring to the April 11th 1971 murder of Kathy Bilek in the Villa Montalvo woods, near the neighborhood of Monticello in San Jose. The Zodiac Killer chose Monticello for one reason alone - it sat alongside the burial location of one of his previously claimed victims, Kathy Snoozy. He had claimed her murder under the month of "Aug" in the November 8th 1969 'Dripping Pen' Card, killed in San Jose on August 3rd 1969 along with her friend Deborah Furlong. The funeral services and burial of Kathy Snoozy were held at Oak Hill Memorial Park at 300 Curtner Avenue, right next to the neighborhood of Monticello. This is why the Zodiac Killer chose "near Monticello" rather than any other location closer to Villa Montalvo. He was not only pinpointing this location to suggest he had a hand in the murder of the San Jose teenagers, but specifically chose the area by the gravesite of Kathy Snoozy because her forename was identical to that of Kathy Bilek. Not only was Kathy Bilek murdered in April, in the woods, near Monticello - but her name could be inferred in the Monticello card from the Oak Hill Memorial Park burial site of her namesake. The Pines Card may have served a similar function through the choice of Boise Cascade. It was discovered that by placing the Sierra Club phrase over the Sierra Club of Clair Tappaan Lodge (just west of Lake Tahoe), the punch-hole fell over the Donner Memorial State Park.
The March 13th 1971 'Los Angeles' Letter was mailed nine days prior to the Donna Lass Pines Card, so it was equally interesting to find a loose connection in this communication also.
The Vanishing Point film, which previewed in the January of 1971, had the usual trailers, and was released to the general public on March 13th 1971, the exact mailing date of the Los Angeles letter, presumably authored by the Zodiac Killer. Here is some of the wording from the trailer: "They want to get him and put him away, but there'll have to catch him first". The author of the Los Angeles letter stated "If the Blue Meannies are evere going to catch me, they had best get off their fat asses + do something". The trailer of the film continued with a radio host from KOW reporting the chase "And there goes the Challenger being chased by the Blue, Blue Meanies on wheels". So, was the Vanishing Point trailer the inspiration for the March 13th 1971 Los Angeles letter, with its mailing date deliberately manufactured to marry up with the release date of the film? The Los Angeles letter arrived six months after the disappearance of Donna Ann Lass, who vanished close to the end of her shift at the Sahara Tahoe Hotel & Casino, never to be seen again.
The final scene in the Vanishing Point movie was filmed in Cisco, Utah, but in the film it was portrayed as Cisco, California. This is the location that the film's main character, Kowalski, met his death. Cisco, California is 11.7 miles west of Clair Tappaan Lodge, the Sierra Club identified by former detective Harvey Hines as the location depicted on the Pines Card. Cisco was 15 miles west of the Donner Memorial State Park. In another strange quirk of fate, the officer overseeing the conclusion to Kowalski's death after he ran his 1970 Dodge Challenger into the roadblock of bulldozers, was the character Deputy Collins played by Robert Donner.
The Zodiac Killer linked the Monticello Card to a victim he had previously claimed (Kathy Snoozy) by choosing the location of Monticello - so had he done the same using the location of the Boise Cascade Company developments situated at Incline Village and Lake of the Pines? The Boise Cascade development at Lake of the Pines were marketing the lots to older workers in the Bay Area, which may have come to the attention of the Zodiac Killer from the newspaper coverage - and why he ultimately chose this particular advertisement regarding Incline Village. Lake of the Pines is situated just 4.4 miles west of the burial site of Judith Hakari alongside Ponderosa Way. Was the Zodiac Killer inferring a link to another victim through this advertisement, bearing in mind he had already been linked to the Hakari murder by the newspapers - or is it just a case of finding faces in the clouds?
Donna Lass lived at 4122 Balboa Street, San Francisco, just west of the Presidio, where she worked as a nurse at the Letterman General Hospital. It was the Presidio where Zodiac was seen entering just minutes after the murder of taxicab driver Paul Stine on October 11th 1969, never to be seen again. On June 5th 1970, Donna was preparing for her move to South Lake Tahoe to begin a new job at the Sahara Tahoe Hotel & Casino on June 6th 1970, temporarily moving in with Ann and Larry Lowe at 4054 US Highway 50, before taking up residence at the Monte Verdi apartments on 3893 Pioneer Trail Road. Exactly three months later, she would mysteriously disappear at the end of her shift on September 6th 1970. Her whereabouts have never been ascertained, but it is presumed she was murdered shortly after her abduction. Six months later, on March 22nd 1971, a postcard arrived at the San Francisco Chronicle containing a punch-hole and five pasted phrases - one of which stated "sought victim 12". Many have claimed this postcard was at the hands of a hoaxer because the victim total took a retrograde step, although it should be fairly obvious that somebody who was prepared to cut and paste this card, punch a hole and scallop the edges - who was equally determined to mimic the Zodiac Killer - would certainly have known the killer had already claimed 13, 14 and 17+ victims in his previous four communications. The past participle of the verb seek should have been the clue.
The sister card to the March 22nd 1971 offering, arrived on July 13th 1971 and was dubbed the Monticello Card. It was designed in similar fashion, stating "Near Monticello Shought Victims 21 ...... In The Woods Dies April". The author had once more used the past participle of the word seek, with the slight variation of "shought" - but was again suggesting that the victim had at one point in time been targeted. Kathy Bilek was being claimed by the Zodiac Killer, despite the fact that this murder had already been attributed to Karl Francis Werner. See here for details.
The Monticello Card was postmarked July 13th 1971 and Kathy Bilek was targeted and murdered in the Villa Montalvo woods in Saratoga on April 11th 1971. Therefore, a Zodiac Killer stating "shought victim 21", would be referring to a victim he targeted 94 days ago. In other words, he "shought" Kathy Bilek on April 11th 1971. This total of 21 would fit correctly in the Zodiac Killer sequence, because he claimed 17+ victims on March 13th 1971 when he mailed the Los Angeles letter. Let us apply this template of 94 days to the disappearance and murder of Donna Lass on September 6th 1970, to discover whether the "sought victim 12" would now fall into line with her being targeted in the Bay Area when she worked at the Letterman General Hospital.
If we deduct 94 days from the date of her disappearance on September 6th 1970, we get June 5th 1970 - the exact day she prepared for her move to South Lake Tahoe to begin work at the Sahara Tahoe Hotel & Casino. Was the Zodiac Killer effectively hinting that he had "sought" Donna Lass as victim number 12 in the Bay Area, but she had moved from San Francisco on June 5th or 6th 1970, thereby thwarting his plans? The April 20th 1970 '13 Symbol' cipher claimed 10 victims, which wasn't updated on the April 28th 1970 Dragon Card. The June 26th 1970 Button Letter had claimed 12 victims. Therefore, if Donna Lass had been "sought" as victim 12 by the Zodiac Killer, it would have fell somewhere between April 28th 1970 and June 5th 1970. Effectively, we are looking at the preceding month (May 1970) to when she packed up and left for South Lake Tahoe. This month could be pivotal in revealing the identity of the Zodiac Killer through the circles of Donna Ann Lass. Who were her close friends, colleagues or 'admirers' during this short window of time?
Through alliances with the Monticello Card, the Pines Card was almost certainly a Zodiac Killer offering - and therefore inconceivable that the phrase "sought victim 12" was simply a 'schoolby error' on behalf of the killer. Equally, a copycat with even the remnants of a brain, couldn't have made such a nonsensical mistake having made all the effort to mimic a Zodiac Killer communication in the first place. It wasn't like he was short of newspaper coverage. The retrograde step of the victim count to 12, in combination with the past tense of "sought" certainly wasn't a mistake - it was chosen for purpose. Possibly the day the Zodiac Killer's plans were scuppered as Donna Lass upped sticks and headed out of state to South Lake Tahoe.
There are innumerable theories on the October 27th 1970 Halloween card, including here on this site, but none have adequately explained the strange symbol on the upper left corner of the envelope or the foot of the card inner. The cattle branding was a good idea, yet it conveniently ignored the four dots present in the design. In both instances, on the envelope and card, the symbol was followed by the letter Z. This lends credence to the notion, it represents a statement followed by his signature. The Zodiac, from November 8th 1969 to March 13th 1971, was fairly consistent in giving us a running victim total, with the only two notable exceptions being the April 28th 1970 Dragon card and the July 24th 1970 Kathleen Johns letter. With respect to the Dragon card, he had given us 10 victims only eight days earlier, so clearly there was no update on the total, and with respect to Kathleen Johns, she survived the encounter so no update was necessary. The Zodiac Killer repeated the victim count of 13 on the October 5th 1970 '13 Hole' postcard because his previous letter proclaiming 13 victims had not been published in the newspapers at this juncture, The July 26th 1970 Little List letter proclaimed 13 victims, while the October 27th 1970 Halloween card issued us with the number 14, indicating that victim 14 possibly lay between these two dates.
We know the Zodiac Killer was responsible for 5 victims - the rest he inferred by increasing his total periodically. The only victim we know of between July 26th 1970 and October 27th 1970 that was subsequently claimed by Zodiac, was Donna Ann Lass, who disappeared from the Sahara Tahoe Hotel & Casino in the early morning hours of September 6th 1970. We know he was insinuating his involvement in her disappearance because of the March 22nd 1971 Pines card mailed to Paul Avery at the San Francisco Chronicle, just like this communication.
However, although believed murdered, the body of Donna Lass has never been found - and on October 27th 1970 she was still classified as missing. Therefore, any running victim total on this card may reflect the current status regarding Donna Lass within its design. The March 22nd 1971 Pines card teased us with the possible location of where her burial site may be found, by placing a punched hole in the top right corner. Why should this communication be any different, when we consider the design in the top left corner of the envelope and the same design placed within the card, not withstanding, that victim 14 should have fell between July 26th 1970 and October 27th 1970, which the disappearance of Donna Lass did.
The numerous eyes spattered over the entire card should have told us we need to be looking for something - or more specifically - looking for victim number 14. I have considered the possibility of the symbols being interpreted as "Zodiac Victims Fourteen" or "Zodiac Fourteen", but this doesn't adequately explain the four dots present in the design. It also doesn't make any sense with respect to the letter Z accompanying it on either the envelope or card inner. The phrase created would read "Zodiac Victims Fourteen, Zodiac" or "Zodiac Fourteen, Zodiac". There has to be another answer, incorporating the design of the card and the 13 eyes splashed all over its face. The 13 eyes suggestive of only 13 deceased victims, looking for the 14th victim. The Zodiac Killer would eventually claim his involvement in the disappearance of Donna Lass, so the Halloween card "looking for the fourteenth victim" makes perfect sense with respect to the dates. Take a look at the card below.
If we follow the green, yellow and blue rectangles in that order, it can be seen how this spells out "look for fourteen". If we follow the green, yellow and blue circles in that order, it can also be interpreted as "look for fourteen". The first part of the strange symbol isn't structured like the letter Z or the number 7, because the top angle is ninety degrees. However, it can be interpreted as the letter L. The four dots representing "four" or "for", with the F representing 14, as displayed on the hand of the skeleton and by the 4-TEEN above it. The phrase now reads coherently: "look for fourteen, Zodiac". In view of the fact that Donna Lass went missing on September 6th 1970, and his later Pines card communication insinuating his involvement in her disappearance, the running victim total (placed into this design) reading "look for fourteen, Zodiac" isn't so far-fetched.
With both of these communications (Pines and Halloween) being addressed to Paul Avery, it is easy to consider a correlation between the two, even if the Zodiac Killer was behind the disappearance of Donna Lass or not. The "sought victim 12" attribution on the Pines card a whole different story.
Using some material from previous articles, here we will show how the March 22nd 1971 Pines postcard was designed to pinpoint the name of Donna Lass by overlaying it on a map. That location being the Donner Memorial State Park. The reason I believe this was the meaning behind the Pines card, is because the Zodiac Killer mailed an extremely similar card just under 4 months later. The Monticello postcard was postmarked July 13th 1971, also containing pasted words on its face with familiar language. These postcards were designed with respect to Donna Lass, who disappeared from the Sahara Tahoe Hotel on September 6th 1970, and Kathy Bilek, who was murdered in the Villa Montalvo woods on April 11th 1971.
The Pines card:  Sierra Club  Sought Victim 12  Peek through the pines'  pass Lake Tahoe areas  around in the snow.
The Monticello card:  Near Monticello  Shought Victims 21  In the woods  Dies April.
It is my belief that the Monticello card, not only had some woods or trees on its face, but may have had a punch-hole in the top right corner, exactly like the Pines card. Both of these punch-holes designed to sit over the locations that inferred the name of two victims claimed by the Zodiac Killer, however, not Kathy Bilek, despite the postcard being designed with her in mind. Both postcards contain helpful directions, which both lead to a memorial for two claimed Zodiac victims. It may be helpful to read a previous article entitled The Story of San Jose, before proceeding.
The following is an excerpt from the unreleased 120-page Harvey Hines report, regarding his investigation into the missing Donna Lass: "After studying the card, I drove to Nordin, located on old Highway 40, north of Lake Tahoe, and found the SIERRA CLUB. I learned the club was not called the Sierra Club. It was named the Claire Tappaan Lodge and it was a private club for Sierra Club members only. I believed if I followed the directions on the postcard I would find Donna Lass' grave. I believe she was buried near the Sierra Club and most likely on the Donner Ski Ranch".
I believe Harvey Hines had the right idea, because Donner Ski Ranch is directly in line on the east-west axis with Clair Tappaan Lodge, exactly as "Sierra Club" is with the punch-hole on the Pines card. But I have reached the conclusion that the location isn't the Donner Ski Ranch, rather the Donner Memorial State Park. The reason lies in the wording "Donner Memorial", a bleak reference to her disappearance and likely death. If we "pass the Lake Tahoe areas" traveling west, we do reach the "Sierra Club" of Clair Tappaan Lodge highlighted by Harvey Hines. If we now position the Pines card into place over a map, it can be seen that "Sierra Club" sits over Clair Tappaan Lodge (which can be seen from the road if we "peek through the pines"), and the punch-hole sits directly over the Donner Memorial State Park.
I have now designed the Monticello card to what I believe it probably looks like. Using exactly the same process as the Pines card, we now have to follow its directions. In this instance, we know the murder victim referenced in the postcard was Kathy Bilek, murdered in April, in the woods, near Monticello (because the neighborhood of Monticello is 9 miles east of the Villa Montalvo woods). So (if it exists) what would the punch-hole in the top right corner of the Monticello card be directing us to in this instance? It is another clue to the identity of the murdered victim of Kathy Bilek in the Monticello card - by association with a previously claimed Zodiac victim.
If the Monticello card is to stay true to the Pines card, then the punch-hole must fall over another "memorial" with a potential name. The Pines card sat over a "Donner Memorial", so the Monticello card must sit over a "Kathy Memorial". Using the same technique as above, we will place the location of "near Monticello" over Villa Montalvo woods (because it's situated near Monticello). The punch-hole in my design would now sit over the Oak Hill Memorial Park & Cemetery in the Monticello neighborhood of San Jose, where Kathy Snoozy is buried. The Zodiac Killer claimed the murders of Kathy Snoozy and Deborah Furlong in the November 8th 1969 Dripping Pen card as "Aug". This was the final clue in the Monticello card, giving us the forename of Kathy Bilek by association with Kathy Snoozy, allied with the word "memorial" once again.
TO FULLY UNDERSTAND THIS ARTICLE PLEASE READ THE STORY OF SAN JOSE
AND THESE PREVIOUS ARTICLES ABOUT THIS TOPIC.
In the previous article we discussed the feature film Vanishing Point, which previewed in the January of 1971, had the usual trailers, and was released to the general public on March 13th 1971, the exact mailing date of the Los Angeles letter, presumably authored by the Zodiac Killer. Here is some of the wording from the trailer: "They want to get him and put him away, but there'll have to catch him first". The author of the Los Angeles letter stated "If the Blue Meannies are evere going to catch me, they had best get off their fat asses + do something". The trailer of the film continued with a radio host from KOW reporting the chase "And there goes the Challenger being chased by the Blue, Blue Meanies on wheels". So, was the Vanishing Point trailer the inspiration for the March 13th 1971 Los Angeles letter, with its mailing date deliberately manufactured to marry up with the release date of the film? The Los Angeles letter arrived six months after the disappearance of Donna Ann Lass, who vanished close to the end of her shift at the Sahara Tahoe Hotel & Casino, never to be seen again.
Nine days after the Los Angeles letter, another communication arrived at the San Francisco Chronicle entitled the 'Pines' card. Harvey Hines, a former detective, wrote "after studying the card, I drove to Nordin, located on old Highway 40, north of Lake Tahoe, and found the SIERRA CLUB. I learned the club was not called the Sierra Club. It was named the Claire Tappaan Lodge and it was a private club for Sierra Club members only. I believed if I followed the directions on the postcard I would find Donna Lass' grave. I believe she was buried near the Sierra Club and most likely on the Donner Ski Ranch. I would later have the pictures of the Sierra Club developed. Then using a copy of Zodiac's card, I cut out the phrases he had pasted on his card. Using these phrases, I overpasted them on the copy of the Sierra Club picture. It was striking similar to the original card".
Bearing in mind the Pines card was mailed just over a week after the Los Angeles letter, I considered whether the Vanishing Point film had any connection to the Sierra Club, Clair Tappaan Lodge by Lake Tahoe - and if Donna Lass could have been buried near to the lodge? Harvey Hines speculated that the young woman may have been buried near to this location, stating "I believe she was buried near the Sierra Club" - and the Zodiac Killer was leaving us a trail of breadcrumbs in the Pines card.
The final scene in the Vanishing Point movie was filmed in Cisco, Utah, but in the film it was portrayed as Cisco, California. This is the location that the film's main character, Kowalski, met his death. "Kowalski picks up the Challenger, plus a load of uppers, in Colorado and bets the dealer he can get from Colorado to San Francisco in 15 hours, which underpins and gives purpose to the mad cross-country chase. Serafian originally intended to end the film in San Francisco, somewhat reversing the notion of Bullitt's iconic chase scene by having cars race up the hills of the City by the Bay, rather than down. But after a visit, he and the production team didn't sense a warm welcome there, and weren't sure they could do the stunts and chase scenes that they wanted to. So they elected to bring the chase, and thus Kowalski's life, to an end in Cisco, California, a mostly abandoned town north west of Lake Tahoe" link..
Cisco, California is 11.7 miles west of Clair Tappaan Lodge. If you "pass the Lake Tahoe areas", including the lodge, you arrive at this location. Donna Ann Lass vanished from her place of work at the Lake Tahoe casino, but does the Vanishing Point film mirror the location of where her life came to an end, or possibly her final resting place, just like the death of Kowalski. Cisco, California is in Placer County, the burial site of murder victim Judith Hakari on March 7th 1970, also a nurse: 'At 11:30 pm. Hakari calls her fiance to tell him she's leaving Sutter Memorial Hospital where she works as a nurse. By 1:30 in the morning, she has still not come home. Her fiance, waiting at her apartment, begins to worry. "He went out to the apartment complex parking lot and discovered her car was parked in the assigned space that she had," Links said. But Judith was nowhere to be seen. She was found one month later, strangled and bludgeoned to death. "Some hikers discovered a body in a shallow grave up in the town of Weimar, in Placer County. And during their investigation they determined that it was Judith Hakari," Links said.' Fox40.com.
I would like to expand on a previously discussed topic, regarding two cards likely mailed by the Zodiac Killer on March 22nd 1971 and July 13th 1971, dubbed the 'Pines' and 'Monticello' cards respectively. The March 22nd 'Pines' card contained the phrases  Sierra Club  Sought Victim 12  Peek through the pines  pass Lake Tahoe areas and  around in the snow. The 'Monticello' card stated "Near Monticello Shought Victims 21 ...... In The Woods Dies April." One can see the similarities, with "sought" and "shought", "woods" and "pines", as well as "near Monticello" and "pass lake Tahoe areas". They were both directions to the location of a murder victim, but crucially, both postcards held the victims forenames within the design of each. They were so cleverly designed, it is difficult to believe they were not authored by the same individual, with two words linking both cards - Memorial Park. A memorial park is a designated area for remembrance of the departed.
In the case of the 'Pines' card, the author chose a postcard of "an artist's rendition of houses among the trees at a Boise Cascade Company project at Incline Village, where construction has just begun on the development". He then directed us to "pass lake Tahoe areas" to an area by the "Sierra Club". If we follow these simple instructions we find ourselves at two locations in close proximity. The first is Clair Tappaan Lodge on Donner Pass Road - but more importantly - the second is Donner Memorial State Park (preserving the site of the Donner Camp, where members of the ill-fated Donner Party were trapped by weather during the winter of 1846–1847, resulting in 39 deaths). Bearing in mind the 'Pines' card was thought to have been mailed by the murderer of Donna Ann Lass, this may be the motivation behind its design. The author was pointing us towards the Donner Memorial to signify the forename of his murder victim. Of course, this could be a simple coincidence and not the intended meaning behind the postcard. Therefore, if we can find the identical design or meaning within its sister card, mailed on July 13th 1971 (just 4 months later), then we can just call it a double coincidence, or quite possibly accept that the designer fashioned them both with the intention to give us the forename of the murdered women in question.
The July 13th 1971 'Monticello' card stated "Near Monticello Shought Victims 21 ...... In The Woods Dies April." So we need to be looking for a woman who was murdered in April, in the woods and near Monticello. On Sunday, April 11th 1971, Kathy Bilek (18) visited Villa Montalvo in Saratoga, having planned to read a paperback book (The Gabriel Hounds) and engage in a spot of bird watching in the seclusion of a remote, wooded portion of the park, near a small stream. Her body was found the next day by her father, Charles, while Santa Clara County Sheriff's deputies searched nearby. She had been stabbed 17 times in the back and 32 times in her chest and stomach. Villa Montalvo is situated 9 miles west of the neighborhood of Monticello. The author of the 'Pines' card directed us to a Memorial Park called Donner. In the case of the 'Monticello' card, the author didn't need to direct us to her body, because she wasn't missing - and therefore we have to discover the purpose behind him choosing Monticello. This has to be the clue to the woman's forename, as well as the destination of a Memorial Park, if we are to satisfy the template of the 'Pines' card.
Fortunately for us, another coincidence exists. Sitting in the Monticello neighborhood is Oak Hill Memorial Park, where one of Zodiac's previous claimed victims is interred. The Zodiac Killer insinuated his involvement in the brutal stabbing of Deborah Gaye Furlong (14) and Kathy Ann Snoozy (15), who were found murdered on August 3rd 1969 in the Bay Area of San Jose. By writing "Aug" on the November 8th 1969 'Dripping Pen' card, he was effectively laying claim to the Furlong and Snoozy murders - and the very reason he chose the location of Monticello on the July 13th 1971 postcard. Not only was Kathy Snoozy buried at Oak Hill Memorial Park, but she shared the same forename as Kathy Bilek. The Zodiac Killer was leading us towards a memorial park and forename in both postcards - Donna and Kathy.
Just like the July 13th 1971 Monticello card, giving us clues and directions to the murder of Kathy Bilek in April, near Monticello in San Jose, California, the March 22nd 1971 Pines card, in similar fashion, may have been designed to direct us to the deposition or burial site of Donna Ann Lass (25), who disappeared from Stateline, Nevada on September 6th 1970 having finished her shift that day at the Sahara Tahoe Hotel. Harvey Hines, a retired detective from Groveland, believed that Donna Lass was likely buried on the Donner Ski Ranch. He stated "After studying the card, I drove to Nordin, located on old Highway 40, north of Lake Tahoe, and found the SIERRA CLUB. I learned the club was not called the Sierra Club. It was named the Claire Tappan Lodge and it was a private club for Sierra Club members only. I believed if I followed the directions on the postcard I would find Donna Lass' grave. I believe she was buried near the Sierra Club and most likely on the Donner Ski Ranch. I would later have the pictures of the Sierra Club developed. Then using a copy of Zodiac's card, I cut out the phrases he had pasted on his card. Using these phrases, I overpasted them on the copy of the Sierra Club picture. It was striking similar to the original card." [see below left].
A newspaper article stated that "the site depicted on the 'Pines Card' was from an advertisement published last Sunday by several newspapers. It was an artist's rendition of houses among the trees at a Boise Cascade Company project at Incline Village, where construction has just begun on the development. While much of the Sierra area is under several feet of snow, Incline Village has only two feet on the ground. Police went to the area to determine if a search is possible".
If we use the directions given by the card from Incline Village, it tells us to "pass Lake Tahoe areas". To pass the areas of Lake Tahoe we have to travel westward, until we reach Clair Tappaan Lodge, "a private club for Sierra Club members only".
Howard Davis, a contributor to the ZodiacKiller.com message board can pick up the story here: "Incredibly, her [Lass] grave remained hidden until August 1976, when retired Norden postmaster Otto Fredricks is believed to have found it on Donner Summit. He was hiking past the SIERRA CLUB'S Claire Tappan Lodge, near Norden, when he came across the intricately contrived wooden symbols alongside the path: in the center was a triangle around a cross containing 13 stones, and that was surrounded first by a six foot square and then by a circle of wood with a 14 foot diameter". The 13-Hole postcard mailed on October 5th 1970 contained 13 punch holes and a red crucifix.
When they dug near the location of Clair Tappaan Lodge they allegedly found a pair of green tinted glasses, similar to a pair believed to have been worn by Donna Lass. It is not known for certain whether these glasses belonged to Donna Lass, or that the configuration was constructed by her murderer. Some believe the stone and wood configuration to be Rosicrucian in design, whereas The Foreigner on Zodiac Killer Site forum thought that Harvey Hines had misread the finding and it was a YMCA Ragger’s Point creation. Nevertheless, it is curious that "pass Lake Tahoe areas" takes us to the "Sierra Club" members of Clair Tappaan Lodge along Donner Pass Road, where we can "peek through the Pines" at the entrance to the lodge, and find some glasses buried in the ground. The entrance to Clair Tappaan Lodge looks extremely similar to the depiction of the 1974 Christmas card mailed to Mary Pilker, Donna Lass' sister. Once inside the grounds we search "around in the snow". This can be interpreted as "a round in the snow", meaning "a circle in the snow" (the circle of wood containing the crucifix). The alternative to finding meaning in the phrases pasted on the Pines card, is to believe the author pasted the text for no reason whatsoever.
The Monticello card was mailed four months after the Pines card by the Zodiac Killer, specifically referencing the murder of Kathy Bilek in San Jose on April 11th 1971.
San Jose is home to the "Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum, devoted to Ancient Egypt, located at Rosicrucian Park in the Rose Garden neighborhood of San Jose, California, United States. It was founded by the Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis (AMORC). The Rosicrucian Order continues to support and expand the museum and its educational and scientific activities. The museum holds the largest collection of ancient Egyptian antiquities in the Western United States, and is located next to the Rosicrucian headquarters". Wikipedia. The museum also had a purpose-built planetarium, where a budding Zodiac could add a knowledge of astronomy and the night sky to his search for the afterlife.
"Rosicrucian Grand Master Julie Scott talks about the ancient Egyptian concept of the afterlife and shows us around the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum in San Jose California". link.
But what if the murderer of Donna Lass added further directions using the crucifix, triangle, square and circle symbols as clues? Harvey Hines believed Donna Lass "was buried near the Sierra Club and most likely on the Donner Ski Ranch". So, were the symbols somehow related to the Donner Ski Ranch? Had the murderer of Donna Lass occasionally vacationed at Lake Tahoe, using the trails of Donner Ski Ranch? From 1964 to 1968 ski trails were rated on difficulty using a colored triangle, square and circle. Did the designer of the stone and wood configuration place the crucifix within the triangle, square and circle, using the glasses, to signify that Donna Lass was buried on Donner Ski Ranch along one of the trails? If the bottom left of the Pines card is placed over Clair Tappaan Lodge, the punch hole in the top right corner is facing the northeast, exactly where the ski lifts and trails are located. Was this the deduction of Harvey Hines?
I would have to say that The Foreigner is most likely correct, with the wood and stone configuration likely created by somebody other than the author of the Pines card (or Zodiac), and most probably a Ragger's Point creation. However, this doesn't preclude the Zodiac or an impostor using a pre-existing configuration as a burial site for the glasses. The wood and stone configuration would have been a perfect marker to direct the police towards, using the Pines card phrases from Incline Village.
Many people have attempted to understand the meaning of the December 27th 1974 Christmas card mailed to Donna Lass' sister, Mary Pilker, with the wording "Best Wishes, St Donna & Guardian of the Pines." Was it innocuous or a sinister message from the Zodiac Killer, forever connected to the disappearance of Donna Ann Lass from the Sahara Tahoe Hotel on September 6th 1970? The following is not an attempt to claim an answer to this mystery, but to throw out a few ideas regarding this subject. The title of 'Saint' is often attached to a person acknowledged as holy or virtuous and regarded in Christian faith as being in heaven after death. Therefore, the inference that can be drawn from this card, is that Donna Lass is likely dead and her spirit is somehow serving as a "guardian of the Pines", leading some to believe she is buried in a location around Lake Tahoe. Could the author of the 1974 Christmas card be referencing something in his past in the wording he chose?
A newspaper article stated that "the site depicted on the (March 22nd 1971) 'Pines Card' was from an advertisement published last Sunday by several newspapers. It was an artist's rendition of houses among the trees at a Boise Cascade Company project at Incline Village, where construction has just begun on the development. While much of the Sierra area is under several feet of snow, Incline Village has only two feet on the ground. Police went to the area to determine if a search is possible".
If the author of the 1974 Christmas card was the same individual as the 1971 'Pines' card, could he again be referring to vacation properties at a different location, where we can tie the words "Guardian", "Pines" and "Donna" together.
On December 15th 1971, a correspondence was mailed from Scottsville, New York and addressed to Mr J Edgar Hoover, first Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The communication would claim that with proper investigation it would disclose the name and identity of the infamous Zodiac Killer of California. In an article entitled 'The John Edgar Hoover Letter', a similarity in the handwriting between this communication and the 1974 letter was noted.
On August 1st 1973, a suspected Zodiac letter was mailed to the New York, Albany Times Union newspaper threatening to murder an employee/nurse at the local hospital during "shift change", reminiscent of Donna Lass, who disappeared near her end of shift three years earlier. Although it appears the 1974 Christmas card was mailed from Alameda County, California, could the Zodiac Killer have been living in New York from 1971 to 1974, or beyond, and occasionally commuting to the Bay Area? The 'Pines' card was mailed on March 22nd 1971, before a hiatus of nearly three years, when the 'Exorcist' letter arrived at the San Francisco Chronicle on January 29th 1974 and culminating with the Christmas card correspondence on December 27th 1974, tenuously linked to the Zodiac Killer. Can any link be forged to New York with respect to the 1974 Christmas card?
On October 18th 1969 Paul Avery ran a piece in the San Francisco Chronicle describing the Zodiac Killer as a 'latent homosexual'. Under the banner 'Zodiac-Portrait of the Killer' he stated "The killer of five who calls himself 'Zodiac' is a clumsy criminal, a liar and possibly a latent homosexual." Had the Zodiac Killer murdered young heterosexual courting couples as a result of his own suppressed homosexual leanings? This topic was explored in the article 'Skeleton in the Closet'. Had the Zodiac Killer moved to, or near an area of New York, akin to the Castro District of San Francisco, where he could explore his repressed identity? We now need to use a bit of that 'pattern seeking animal', in order to knit "homosexuality", "Guardian", "Pines" and "Donna" into one single location.
On the right is the 1952 brochure for 'Fire Island Pines'. It states "The original brochure from the Home Guardian Company of New York for the new Fire Island community called the Pines".
"Fire Island Pines (often referred to as The Pines, simply Pines, or FIP) is a hamlet in the Town of Brookhaven, Suffolk County, New York, United States. It is located on Fire Island, a barrier island on the southern side of Long Island.
Fire Island Pines along with the adjoining Cherry Grove, are the areas most strongly associated with the gay community on Fire Island. The island has been referred to as America’s first gay and lesbian town and served since the 1920s and 1930s as a refuge for vacationers and others who desired the more liberal attitude the island's occupants allowed.
The Pines, which has the most expensive real estate on Fire Island, has approximately 600 houses and a 100 unit condominium complex on its square mile of location. It has two-thirds of the swimming pools on Fire Island. Its summer seasonal population is between 2,500 and 3,000." Wikipedia.
This is the original brochure from the Home Guardian Company of New York for the new Fire Island community called the Pines, supplying bungalow sites and condominiums, much like the Boise Cascade Company project at Incline Village, Lake Tahoe.
The Zodiac Killer had taken the phrase "peek through the pines" from the Boise Cascade Company advertisement. Did his inspiration for the 1974 Christmas card have similar roots of the Home Guardian Company?
"The surveyor called it “Five Islands.” After a hundred years came another survey. By then the cuts had healed, giving this surveyor the impression of a beach entire; taking “Five” for a misprint he “corrected” it to “Fire.” Why fire? Because fires did appear, campfires of Indians (whose name for the island was “Seal” and “Raccoon”), fires of whalers rendering blubber, fires of salvagers luring ships aground, and more kindly ones as beacons warning them away, fires of runaways, survivors– perhaps even early Sierra Club Outings".
Pines History. Hurricane History at Fire Island Pines.
"Hurricane Donna was the strongest hurricane of the 1960 Atlantic hurricane season, and caused severe damage to the Lesser Antilles, the Greater Antilles, and the East Coast of the United States, especially Florida, in August–September. The fifth tropical cyclone, third hurricane, and first major hurricane of the season, Donna developed south of Cape Verde on August 29, spawned by a tropical wave to which 63 deaths from a plane crash in Senegal were attributed. The depression strengthened into Tropical Storm Donna by the following day. Donna moved west-northwestward at roughly 20 mph (32 km/h) and by September 1, it reached hurricane status. Over the next three days, Donna deepened significantly and reached maximum sustained winds of 125 mph (205 km/h) on September 4.
Donna brought tornadoes and wind gusts up to 100 mph (155 km/h), damaging or destroying several buildings in Eastern North Carolina, while crops were damaged as far as 50 miles (80 km) inland. Additionally, storm surge caused significant beach erosion and structural damage at Wilmington and Nags Head. Eight people were killed and there were over 100 injuries. Later on September 12, Donna reemerged into the Atlantic Ocean and continued to move northeastward. The storm struck Long Island, New York, late on September 12 and rapidly weakened inland".Wikipedia.
"The last major storm in the New York metropolitan area was in June 1972, when Hurricane Agnes tore for 10 days along the Eastern Seaboard". New York Times.
Was the Zodiac Killer invoking the spirit of Saint Donna from the afterlife as a Guardian of the Fire Island Pines, recalling memories from his formative years? Donna Lass disappeared on September 6th 1970. Hurricane Donna appeared and dissipated between August 29th and September 13th 1960, ten years earlier.
By coalescing various stories of homosexuality, Fire Island Pines in New York, the Home Guardian Company and Hurricane Donna, a perceived link can be forged back to the 1974 Mary Pilker Christmas card. But it's just a work of fiction like so many Zodiac claims on the internet.
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