As of writing, John has currently amassed 40 videos dating back to May 5th 2018 and is keen to add more subscribers to his burgeoning channel. It is extremely important to support independent media, so please visit 'John Kelly Profiler' on Youtube and click the subscribe button. You can also click the notification bell to be alerted when any new videos are published.
John Kelly, with numerous television and mass media appearances under his belt, is a renowned criminal profiler and forensic examiner whose extensive knowledge has been utilized by law enforcement in over 100 cases. The founder of S.T.A.L.K. Inc. (System To Apprehend Lethal Killers), he has recently initiated a Youtube channel entitled 'John Kelly Profiler', examining cases such as Jack the Ripper, the Golden State Killer, the Long Island Serial Killer and the Delphi Murders, to name but a few. In 2012 he teamed up with M. William Phelps, a crime author and researcher, for three seasons of the popular Discovery Network 'Dark Minds' series, delving into the sinister world of the serial killer with criminal profiling at its core.
As of writing, John has currently amassed 40 videos dating back to May 5th 2018 and is keen to add more subscribers to his burgeoning channel. It is extremely important to support independent media, so please visit 'John Kelly Profiler' on Youtube and click the subscribe button. You can also click the notification bell to be alerted when any new videos are published.
After many viewer requests, a 55 minute episode of the Zodiac Killer is now available, but be sure to check out the rest of John Kelly's informative Youtube channel.
The Zodiac Killer wrote copious communications to the newspapers throughout 1969 and 1970, finally ceasing sometime in 1971. It would be nearly a three year hiatus, when suddenly four communications in approximately five months landed at the doorstep of the San Francisco Chronicle. Is it reasonable to assume that the Zodiac Killer just reappeared in 1974 for his encore performance, or something or someone else was responsible for the four correspondences that year? Who, in San Francisco appeared in 1973, ran through 1974, and effectively disappeared by 1975? - the Symbionese Liberation Army is high on that list. "The United Federated Forces of the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) was an American left-wing militant organization active between 1973 and 1975 that considered itself a vanguard army. The group committed bank robberies, two murders, and other acts of violence". Wikipedia. In the previous article it was shown that the S.L.A letter was postmarked February 3rd 1974, not February 14th 1974 as widely touted. This changes the whole story surrounding this letter - now mailed one or two days before the kidnapping of Patty Hearst. Bearing in mind its contents, it's either an amazing stroke of good fortune for the Zodiac Killer, or it was most likely mailed by a member of the Symbionese Liberation Army, knowing that Patty Hearst was soon to be kidnapped from Berkeley, California.
Operating out of San Francisco and Los Angeles, the members of the S.L.A would have certainly been aware of the Zodiac Killer - and in someway mirrored his form of domestic terrorism.
"It wasn't until January 10, 1974 that Oakland Police found their first clues. Two men arrested during a gunfight with police in Concord had a truck full of Symbionese Liberation Army literature. Later that day in Concord, a house torched by arson was also full of SLA literature, a stockpile of weapons and two pipe-bombs. The police found a letter titled “The August Seventh Movement,” a group that claimed responsibility for shooting down two Oakland officers in a helicopter by sniper as well as a communique targeting state prison officials and their wives with death by cyanide. In November 1973, Superintendent Marcus Foster (the first black superintendent in the city) of the Oakland School Administration was shot and killed. Deputy Superintendent Robert Blackburn was seriously wounded. The attackers used bullets whose core had been removed and replaced with cyanide crystals. Letters and calls were made to the San Francisco Chronicle, the Alameda County Coroner's Office, and a Berkeley radio station by the Symbionese Liberation Army", Ghoulifornia.
The Symbionese Liberation Army, not only wrote threatening letters to the San Francisco Chronicle, but in similar fashion to the 'Phone call to Melvin Belli' on the Jim Dunbar KGO-TV show, the S.L.A mailed a cut-and-paste lettered correspondence to KGO-TV. Therefore, isn't it very likely a militant group, operating between 1973 and 1975, who wrote letters to the San Francisco Chronicle, would likely be responsible for the S.L.A letter mailed one day before Patricia Hearst's kidnapping. Or is it more likely that the Zodiac Killer just resurfaced after nearly three years?
On May 8th 1974, twenty-three days after the April 15th 1974 Hibernia Bank Robbery, the 'Badlands' or 'Citizen Card' was mailed to the San Francisco Chronicle from Alameda County, stating "In 1959 most people were killing time. Kit + Holly were killing people." In light of recent events, this kind of murder-glorification can only be deplorable at best (not that glorification of violence was ever justifiable) why don't you show some concern for public sensibilities + cut the ad? A citizen." It too ended with a rather benign 'signature', similar to "a friend" on the S.L.A letter, and may have been mailed to mock the authorities, flavored with insincerity.
S.L.A member James Kilgore was ultimately jailed in 2002 for his participation in the April 21st 1975 Crocker National Bank robbery that resulted in the murder of bank customer Myrna Lee Opsahl. “I accept full responsibility for my actions on that day,” said Kilgore, a former San Rafael High School honors student and one-time economics major who became an SLA bomb maker and eventually a professor at the University of Cape Town" ReligionNewsBlog. The July 8th 1974 'Red Phantom' letter was mailed from San Rafael, and the May 8th 1974 'Badlands' letter was mailed from Alameda County, where the County Coroner's Office received threats after the 1973 murder of Marcus Foster. The January 29th 1974 'Exorcist' letter was mailed from either San Mateo or Santa Clara County, completing a list of communications mailed from areas the Zodiac Killer had never previously dispatched his correspondence from.
Mike Rodelli, avid Zodiac researcher and author of the book 'The Inconceivable Double Life of a Notorious Serial Killer-The Hunt for Zodiac,' examined his suspect Kjell Qvale. It is a thorough and comprehensive analysis of every aspect of the Zodiac crimes from the perspective of his suspect, as well as a valuable resource on the case as a whole.
Mike Rodelli considered the wording on the S.L.A letter pertinent to his suspect from a Scandinavian perspective. The S.L.A letter read "Dear Mr Editor, Did you know that the initials SLAY (Symbionese Liberation Army) spell "sla", an old Norse word meaning "kill". a friend." Kjell Qvale was a Norwegian-American business executive and was one of the key figures in the creation of the Jensen-Healey. He became the first distributor for Jaguar on the Pacific West Coast.
The author of the S.L.A letter by referencing "sla" and "old Norse" was certainly indicating they may have had a Scandinavian connection, although stating "sla" meant "kill" rather than "strike" may have suggested a loose connection through family. Here is an English-Old Norse Dictionary. Sara Jane Olson (born Kathleen Ann Soliah on January 16, 1947) was a member of the Symbionese Liberation Army in the 1970s. She grew up in Palmdale, California, the daughter of Norwegian-American parents, Elsie Soliah (née Engstrom) and Palmdale High School English teacher and coach Martin Soliah. Engström, Engstrøm and Engstrom are surnames of Swedish and Norwegian origin. Was she responsible for authoring the S.L.A letter on February 3rd 1974, one or two days before the kidnapping of Patricia Hearst, which she most likely had knowledge of?
"Kathleen Soliah was born in Fargo, North Dakota, while her family were living in Barnesville, Minnesota. When she was eight, her conservative Lutheran family relocated to Southern California. After graduating from the University of California, Santa Barbara, Soliah moved to Berkeley, California, with her boyfriend, James Kilgore.
On April 21, 1975, SLA members robbed the Crocker National Bank in Carmichael, California, in the process killing 42-year-old Myrna Opsahl, a mother of four depositing money for her church. Patty Hearst, who was switch getaway driver during the crime, provided the original information that led the police to implicate the SLA in the robbery and murder; she also stated that Soliah was one of the actual robbers. According to Hearst, Soliah also kicked a pregnant teller in the abdomen, leading to a miscarriage. Several rounds of 9 mm ammunition spilled on the floor and found in Opsahl's body during the robbery bore manufacturing marks that matched that of ammunition loaded in a 9 mm Browning Hi-Power semi-automatic pistol found by police in Soliah's bedroom dresser drawer at the SLA safehouse on Precita Avenue in San Francisco. In 2002, new forensics technology allowed police to link these shells definitively to those found at Crocker Bank prior to charging the former members of SLA, including Soliah, with the crime. Prosecutor Michael Latin said that Soliah was tied to the crime through fingerprints, a palm print, and handwriting evidence. The palm print was found on a garage door from a garage in which the SLA kept a getaway car". Wikipedia.
The date the S.L.A letter was mailed changes the whole concept of what we can infer from its contents. On February 14th 1974 the Zodiac Killer is simply latching onto the publicity generated by the kidnapping of Patricia Hearst on February 4th 1974, but on February 3rd 1974 that whole dynamic changes. It now sheds much doubt on the Zodiac Killer being responsible for the S.L.A letter and a lot more besides.
S.L.A LETTER NOT ZODIAC - AND HERE IS THE FBI FILE TO PROVE IT
The Zodiac Killer stated in the March 13th 1971 'Los Angeles' letter "I do have to give them credit for stumbling across my riverside activity, but they are only finding the easy ones, there are a hell of a lot more down there". The November 29th 1966 'Confession' letter stated "She is not the first and she will not be the last. I lay awake nights thinking about my next victon. May'be she will be the beautiful blond that babysits near the little store and walks down the dark alley each evening about seven. Maybe she will be the shapely blue eyed brunett that said xxx no when I asked her for a date in high school" and "Beware....I am stalking your girls now". So, in the interest of impartiality, we shall look at a murder in the transition period between Riverside and the emergence of the Zodiac Killer.
On March 19th 1968 Elizabeth Lurene Ernstein (14) was heading back to her home in Redlands, near San Bernardino from Moore Junior High School in Mentone. The young, brown-haired girl, wearing a blue dress with white flowers, dark olive corduroy reversible coat and tennis shoes was last seen leaving the school at approximately 3:40 pm. The Desert Sun newspaper described her route home: "Elizabeth's school day passed without incident. She attended her last class, then left school at 3:40 pm, to walk home, a two-mile route through blossoming orange groves. She never arrived home. Somewhere along the lonely street, Elizabeth Ernstein vanished. A Redlands businessman thought he saw a girl resembling Elizabeth walking toward the corner of the street on which she lived".
Her body was discovered in 1969 in a shallow grave near Wrightwood, 33 miles northwest of Redlands (as the crow flies). "Located in a pine covered valley in the San Gabriel Mountains, the area was first developed as cattle ranches in the 19th century by Nathan and Truman Swarthout, then later the main ranch, owned by Sumner Wright was broken up into residential and commercial lots and by the 1920s a community took roots. Early ski enthusiasts discovered the north facing slopes of the San Gabriels above the Swarthout Valley. Until 1937 the ski area, originally known as Big Pines were part of a Los Angeles County Park". Wikipedia. The murderer had clearly chosen a remote location to conceal her body, likely traveling Interstate 215 and 15 from Redlands.
Elizabeth Ernstein's remains were unidentified until an exhumation in 2011, when DNA was matched to her younger brother, Jeff, finally completing the last but one missing piece of the jigsaw - who was the murderer of Elizabeth Ernstein? There is little, if anything, to connect this to the murder of Cheri Jo Bates in Riverside on October 30th 1966, or the Zodiac Killer, however, it is an unsolved murder in which the family of Elizabeth would undoubtedly like to see resolved. The assumed location of her "vanishing" is situated 13 miles east (as the crow flies) from the alleyway where Cheri Jo Bates was discovered on the Halloween morning of 1966, and occurred 11 months after the Bates letters claiming "there will be more".
Michael Cole, creator of the website Zodiac Revisited is anticipating publication of his book 'The Zodiac Revisited-New Insights into History's Most Enigmatic Serial Killer' sometime in 2019. After several setbacks, the book has now expanded into three volumes:  The Facts of the Case  Analysis and Fact-Based Speculation and  Tying It All Together.
Taking a neutral standpoint from the perspective of Zodiac suspects, Michael will be speculating on the motivation behind the killer regarding his murders and communications, that has fueled many a debate over the last fifty years. In typical modest fashion, Michael Cole states "Perhaps it will help to move the case forward and contribute to the eventual identification of the Zodiac. Or, perhaps it will be just another one of the too-many-to-count analyses that are continuously consumed by the black hole that is the case of the Zodiac. The answer to those and many other interesting questions await us in our shared future." Michael has kindly sent me a preview of 'A Methodology for Murder' from Volume II, which I enjoyed reading immensely, and therefore expect a good reception to his book when it is finally released in the coming months. If it takes any longer, I fully expect him to add a fourth volume!
In a recent article on his website entitled 'The Zodiac's 50th Anniversary-A Few Thoughts' he outlines the volumes and chapters from the upcoming book, and a little bit more - which I am sure will be a valuable addition to any Zodiac bookshelf.
With virtually no coverage of this crime on the internet other than a few newspaper clippings, I have attempted to expand on the murder of Patricia King (20) at Diablo Valley College, Pleasant Hill on March 5th 1970. The college layout has altered over the last 48 years, but we can pinpoint the key locations based on the wording in the newspapers. Patricia King of 2200 Lisa Lane, Pleasant Hill had attended Diablo Valley College for her gym class at 7:00 pm on Thursday evening. Her classmates informed investigators that Patricia usually only stayed for the first hour of her gym class, which is what transpired that evening, when the young woman left the building at approximately 7:50 pm. Her boyfriend was expecting her back at her home and became concerned when she didn't return by 8:15 pm.
Patricia King's body was found by a workman, Ernest Ellington, at 7:20 am the following morning in the DVC Vikings football stadium. She was wearing a black blouse and three-quarter length coat and had been strangled with her own gym tights. The newspaper reports stated "A purse (handbag) with her identification was found on the front seat of her car, in a lot adjacent to the stadium. A pair of leather sandals were on the floorboard. Her car keys were found on the Pleasant Hill campus parking lot Friday afternoon". Detective Sergeant Sam Ginsburg said "it was impossible to tell at this time if the girl knew her slayer. There was no reason for her to go into the stadium area coming to or from the parking lot to the class". If the gymnasium is located in the same position today, it is a short 300 feet walk from her class to the parking lot. It was later reported that no identification was found in her purse (handbag), but she was identified by a bus pass found in her clothing. Her wallet was apparently missing according to the newspapers, although Contra Costa sheriffs were in the process of interviewing her friends to discover if Patricia normally left her purse in the car, taking her wallet with her.
Although detectives initially thought she may have been sexually assaulted or raped, the chief medical examiner, Dr. William Bogart, said preliminary tests did not bear this out. Results were inconclusive.
Based on three newspaper statements of "A purse (handbag) with her identification was found on the front seat of her car, in a lot adjacent to the stadium", "The purse was left in her car parked near the body" and "The body was found across the college stadium's sunken football field from the women's gym structure", we can create a map of the likely locations within the Diablo Valley College campus.
The yellow rectangle is the likely location of the parking lot adjacent to the Vikings football stadium, with the gymnasium just 270 feet north of the stadium. Patricia King's body was discovered at 7:20 am on Friday March 6th 1970, but according to the newspaper reports, her keys were not found until Friday afternoon. This would indicate that it took police in excess of four hours to locate her keys, suggesting they were not discovered in close proximity to her vehicle, If they were found in the parking lot, one could therefore conclude they were likely found a distance from her car, on the route she took from the gymnasium towards her vehicle. There are many scenarios, but here are a couple:  She was attacked on the journey back to her car, or  She fled from her car dropping her keys as she was accosted heading in the opposite direction. The end result being, she was forced into the adjacent football stadium and murdered. Since she was murdered with her own gym tights, does this indicate that the murderer carried no weapon and it wasn't planned in advance, or that she knew her murderer?
The journey time from the gymnasium to the parking lot is 90-120 seconds, so either Patricia King was extremely unlucky to have crossed paths with a merciless killer in this short space of time, somebody followed her out of the gymnasium, or somebody, knowing she usually remained in her gym class for just one hour, lay in wait outside. Few leads transpired.
Cosette Ellison (15) disappeared from her 423 Canyon Road, Moraga residence (near Walnut Creek) on Tuesday March 3rd 1970, believed to have been forcibly taken from outside her home after getting off the school bus from Campolinda High School. She was dropped off by bus driver, Eugene Yee, at 3:20 pm, who saw her cross the road and remove some letters from the mailbox before heading along the driveway. The bus driver noticed a man sitting in a truck near the residence. On his return journey 10 minutes later, the truck had edged closer to the driveway of the Ellison household, but the occupant was no longer inside. Thirty minutes later, at approximately 4:00 pm, Mr and Mrs Richard Ellison returned to an empty house. Cosette's school books were not in their usual place and no mail had been brought into the house, suggesting something untoward had happened close to the time Eugene Yee passed the Ellison residence.
Three months earlier, on December 1st 1969, Elaine Davis (16) had been abducted from her 158 Pioneer Avenue residence in Walnut Creek. She was later found floating off Light House Point in Santa Cruz on December 19th 1969.
Police investigating her disappearance were contacted by a resident of North Gate Road, approximately 4 miles east of Elaine Davis' residence, stating her 17 year old daughter was being harassed. The Contra Costa Times stated "A resident of Northgate Road reported to the sheriff's office Tuesday that the man, described as between 30 and 35 years old, has been following her daughter for almost a week. Last Wednesday and Thursday afternoon, deputy sheriffs said, the man followed the petite mini-skirted high school girl home from a school bus stop. They said she received two suspicious phone calls Saturday morning, each time the caller attempting to find out if her parents were home. The girl finally told the caller her 19 year old brother was home, although she has no brother. She received no more phone calls. On Sunday, she was riding her horse in the yard of her home when the same man drove past in a small blue car. He later returned, stopped his car, but did not get out. About 6 pm, Monday, a car drove past the residence three times while the girl's parents were shopping. After the third time, there was a knock at the door and a man repeatedly said "I know you are home alone. Can I use your phone-my car has broken down". Lieutenant Holthus said the home was staked out but the man did not show up."
Was the man stalking this girl by trailing the school bus? Cosette Ellison had just been dropped off home, after returning from school, when she went missing. North Gate Road extends right into the Mount Diablo State Park foothills, which will become extremely relevant when we consider the location Cosette Ellison's body was discovered
On January 1st 1971, nearly a year after the disappearance of Cosette Ellison, her body was found in a ravine of the Mount Diablo foothills. The residences of 423 Canyon Road and North Gate Road are extremely rural and spread, with a reduced chance of being overseen in the commission of an abduction. This may have been a consideration for the perpetrator, who likely followed school buses to a more remote setting. The risky nature of forcibly removing somebody from outside their residence necessitates a lack of eyewitnesses.
Shortly after the Elaine Davis abduction on December 1st 1969, a resident of North Gate Road reported a suspicious male hovering outside their residence and stalking their daughter. Was North Gate Road familiar to the suspicious male - somewhere he would return three months later in depositing the body of Cosette Ellison in the foothills of Mount Diablo? The method employed by the perpetrator in both cases is eerily similar, choosing remote locations, and likely trailing, or waiting for the school bus to deliver his victim to him.
On December 10th 1969, Leona Roberts was abducted from her boyfriend's 749 Tormey Avenue, Rodeo residence. This deviates a little from the two cases above, however, in this case the perpetrator again targeted a residence and was observed numerous times between the front door and a blue station wagon, his likely getaway vehicle.
If you have any pertinent information regarding the abduction and murder of Cosette Ellison, please contact the Moraga, California, Police Department via their website. Thank you.
With extensive work done by AK Wilks on this topic, I would like to take a further look at the letter and code mailed to the San Jose Police Department on November 21st 1969. This came just ten days before the abduction of Elaine Davis from Walnut Creek on December 1st 1969. Her abductor traveling from the Bay Area, depositing her Navy peacoat just 26 miles south of San Jose, likely passing through it on his way to Light House Point in Santa Cruz. If the Zodiac was responsible for both letter and murder, then San Jose is a worthy avenue of interest. AK Wilks asked a pertinent question of the forum: "Does someone know of a recent murder case in San Jose that left someone a widow? Or a prominent widow who lived in San Jose in 1969? The police were seemingly able to determine who it was, so perhaps it was a well known case or person". The brief text in the letter clearly contained enough information for police to identify the woman and implement 24 hour surveillance on her residence. Was the author threatening to kill the 'widow' or abduct her from her residence?
The Zodiac Killer (or copycat) mailed a menacing postcard to Dr, Edward Adams in Orinda, California (near Walnut Creek) on October 12th 1970 stating "The Zodiac is going to change the way of committing murders. I shall announce when I shall commit my murders, The Adamses are Next you taught me to Mean it. ADAMS YOU ARE NEXT. ZODIAC."
As shown on the ZodiacKillerSite forum, Dr. Edward Adams and his wife featured in the newspapers prior to this threatening communication, so it is perfectly feasible that the author of the San Jose letter and code had identified his target in the days, weeks or months prior to the November 21st 1969 correspondence. Because of the nature of the redacted text, it appears that this letter was addressed specifically to a titled officer (possibly a Sergeant or Chief) of the San Jose Police Department. Bearing in mind the target of a 'widow' mentioned in the text, the author may be referring to a newspaper article involving the death of her husband, featuring commentary by the police official the letter is addressed to. The officer's name could be any number of characters in length depending on the title he holds, with the widow's surname just 5 or 6 characters in length.
Was the widow a prominent member of society as suggested by AK Wilks, possibly a policewoman or politician, titled like Dr. Edward Adams. The Zodiac, on December 16th 1969, had set his sights on a cop or "government life".
On the left is a December 22nd 1969 newspaper report from the San Mateo Times of somebody identifying himself as 'Zodiac' and threatening to kill five patrolmen and a family of five over the weekend, not dissimilar to his written threats in his trinity of July 31st 1969 letters: "I will cruse around all weekend killing lone people in the night then move on to kill again, until I end up with a dozen people over the weekend".
The phone call was received on Friday December 19th 1969 by San Jose police dispatcher Shirley Searcy.
The disputed December 7th and 16th 1969 Fairfield letters (not published in the newspapers) both contained threats to murder cops for the first time, with the latter threatening to murder one policeman in San Jose. Three days later, this call to a San Jose Highway Patrol station threatening to murder police is remarkable timing. Was the caller responsible for both Fairfield letters - and more importantly - was it the Zodiac Killer?
I have searched high and low for the identity of this woman, but without a newspapers.com account to aid in the search, I have failed to make any inroads. The author of the San Jose letter (if Zodiac) certainly didn't need a valid reason to target anybody, as shown by his murderous assault in the Bay Area, but the identity of the 'widow' could help to add legitimacy to both Fairfield letters mailed in December, dependent on her profession or previous relationship. The November 21st, December 7th and December 16th communications all contained short codes, the amateurish nature of which, has led many to believe these three letters are the work of an impostor. But these features may actually bolster the argument for Zodiac involvement, as all three were never attempting to mimic the previously polished 408 and 340 cipher, which somebody attempting to mimic the Zodiac would surely have done.
On December 20th 1969 the Zodiac Killer mailed the 'Melvin Belli' letter claiming he may "lose control again and take his ninth or possibly tenth victim". The Zodiac Killer last stated his victim count on November 9th 1969, when he claimed "This is the Zodiac speaking up to the end of Oct I have killed 7 people". Therefore victim number eight (if there ever was one) would have to fall between these two dates. However, in this article I will present some new information that could narrow down victim number eight to a period of just thirteen days, and add some intriguing connections to the murder of Leona LaRell Roberts (16) who featured in Robert Graysmith's 1986 Zodiac book.
Just four days before the 'Melvin Belli' letter arrived, the December 16th 1969 Fairfield letter was mailed to the San Francisco Examiner insinuating the author's involvement in the September 27th 1969 Lake Berryessa attack, by including a drawing and the wording "The Bleeding Knife of Zodiac." The same author had mailed a previous Fairfield letter on December 7th 1969 to the San Francisco Chronicle. This communication failed to acknowledge any current victim count, in conflict to the majority of his future correspondence - and he made no mention of victim number eight - leaving the very real possibility that victim number eight fell between the dates of December 7th 1969 and December 20th 1969. There are also three other mailings that point to the abduction and murder of Leona Roberts as a Zodiac victim, or at the very least, a claimed Zodiac victim, ending with the 'Melvin Belli' letter on December 20th 1969 (the first anniversary of the Lake Herman Road murders). But first, let's outline the story of Leona Roberts, abducted from her boyfriend's house on December 10th 1969.
On Wednesday December 10th 1969 Leona Roberts left her job at the White Front Discount Store in Pleasant Hill (560 Contra Costa Boulevard) at approximately 5:00 pm for the eleven mile journey to her boyfriend's (Greg V. Valo) apartment at 749 Tormey Avenue, Rodeo. This location is only 8 miles from the Lake Herman Road murder site. At about 5:50 pm a neighbor, Susan Clark, heard the sound of a girl screaming, followed by somebody running from the rear of the apartment. A suspicious male was observed many times between the front door and a blue station wagon, before he eventually drove away. The man was described as 25 years old, 5'8", short blond hair and wearing brown trousers and a jacket. A while later her boyfriend arrived home to find a disturbance inside the apartment, scuff marks near the back door and her red Volkswagen parked outside.
Here is an excerpt from Websleuths by Steph54 "On 28 December 1969, a man searching for driftwood on the beach at Bolinas Lagoon in Marin County found the nude body of Leona Roberts. It was later determined that a unique wristwatch was missing from the girl's wrist, but a Napa High School class ring given to her by a neighbor still remained on her finger. The tan dress she wore when last seen, along with two pairs of bell-bottomed pants, a blouse, a black purse and wallet, a key chain with car and house keys were also reported missing. There were marks on the wrists and ankles indicative of binding, but the coroner was unsure whether they occurred before or after death. The cause of death was reported as "due to viral infection of an unidentified species." It was also reported that there was "evidence of choking which could probably be linked to the virus." link.
Leona Roberts time of death has not been pinned down, but it has been estimated at approximately ten days to two weeks before her discovery, somewhere between December 14th and 18th 1969, just before the mailing of the 'Melvin Belli' letter. It is this letter that may contain a subtle clue to the abduction of Leona Roberts on December 10th 1969. The Zodiac Killer wrote in the 'Melvin Belli' letter "I will loose all controol of myself. Please help me. I can not remain in control for much longer" (edited). This mirrored closely a message written in lipstick on the wall of a murder victim in Chicago in 1945. The message read "For heavens Sake catch me Before I kill more. I cannot control myself". Frances Brown was discovered at her 3941 North Pine Grove apartment in Edgewater, Chicago. She had multiple knife wounds, along with a bullet wound to the head. William George Heirens would eventually be convicted for this and two other murders, and jailed for life. But why would the Zodiac Killer seemingly pluck the wording from a murder case 24 years prior? Was it a clue to his eighth victim? Frances Brown was discovered on December 10th, exactly the same date as the abduction of Leona Roberts from the 749 Tormey Avenue apartment. She was abducted and likely restrained for approximately one week before her eventual murder.
Bearing in mind the Zodiac Killer may have mailed the two Fairfield letters on December 7th 1969 and December 16th 1969, had he held the young girl somewhere in the vicinity of Fairfield, California, before eventually driving her body 65 miles to Bolinas Lagoon, located in the West Marin region of Marin County. There are another two potential Zodiac communications that may add weight to the Fairfield connection, mailed from Sacramento and Fairfield on December 10th and 11th of 1969.
On December 10th 1969 (again, the date of Leona Roberts abduction), the Cancer FLT 555 Paste-Up Message was mailed from Sacramento to the Sacramento Bee newspaper, containing the wording "Action Guide, Watch, Want, Zodiac, Birds Fly South, Hidden, FLT 555 and Magic Amulet." The word "watch" has some relevance, regarding the missing "unique wristwatch" from the body of Leona Roberts, however, the phrase "Birds Fly South" may hold the biggest clue of all. Was the 'Cancer' card representative of the abduction of Leona Roberts and the invasion of her 'home' by an unwanted presence? A deadly invader of sorts. Her "cause of death was reported as "due to viral infection of an unidentified species."
The following day, December 11th 1969, a similar paste-up message was postmarked Fairfield, and mailed to the San Francisco Newspaper Printing Company, P.O. Box 3100, Rincon Annex, San Francisco. If Leona Roberts was one day into her captivity and was to be held under duress for several days to one week, then the December 11th 1969 mailing was the most pertinent communication of all. It was entitled DAY-BY-DAY FORECAST FOR LEO, containing the words "A THRILLING PHENOMENON" and "C HARRY OTT can be Ridden", along with FLT Three of a kind, Hangups, Hidden, Train, time, Now, dangerous ride, warring love emotions and Ember's Lucky. If Leona Roberts was being kept "hidden" in Fairfield, was the Zodiac Killer preparing to give us day-to-day updates and forecasts regarding the captivity and current status of Leona Roberts? The title of the communication may be a play on words by the Zodiac Killer: "DAY-BY-DAY FORECAST FOR LEONA ROBERTS". Unfortunately, the forecast for Leona Roberts would turn out deadly in a matter of days.
The murderer of Leona Roberts may have known the location he was going to dispose of her body in advance. The phrase "Birds Fly South" could very well be a reference to his chosen dumping ground of Bolinas Lagoon, somewhere he may have frequented on a regular basis. "One of the main attractions at Bolinas Lagoon are the millions of shorebirds and other waterfowl that visit the mudflats and quiet waters each year. The lagoon is one of the most important stopover points for birds that migrate along the Pacific Flyway. The lagoon is also home to a thriving population of harbor seals that can always be seen at low tide when they haul out to rest and replenish their depleted oxygen supply. Wildlife at this preserve should be observed at a respectful distance; seals that are flushed into the water suffer if they aren’t allowed to spend a minimum amount of time drying out. Birds may be exhausted and near starvation after having traveled nonstop for several hundred miles to reach the safe haven of the lagoon". Marin County Parks.
Bolinas Lagoon is a tidal estuary, approximately 1,100 acres in area, located in the West Marin region of Marin County, California, United States, adjacent to the town of Bolinas. The Pacific Flyway is a major north-south flyway for migratory birds in America, extending from Alaska to Patagonia. Every year, migratory birds travel some or all of this distance both in spring and in fall, following food sources, heading to breeding grounds, or travelling to overwintering sites. Along the Pacific Flyway, there are many key rest stops where birds of many species gather, sometimes in the millions, to feed and regain their strength before continuing. Some species may remain in these rest stops for the entire season, but most stay a few days before moving on. Wikipedia.
So, we have the 'Melvin Belli' letter and the December 10th murder of Frances Brown and abduction of Leona Roberts, linked by the wording in the correspondence, the "DAY-BY-DAY FORECAST FOR LEONA ROBERTS" mailed on December 11th 1969, and the dumping ground of Bolinas Lagoon, where "Birds Fly South".
Other crimes loosely linked to the Zodiac Killer (and close to Bolinas Lagoon) involve the hanging of Pat Tan on Mount Tamalpais on April 19th 1970 (one day before the '13 Symbol' cipher communication) and the 'Tamalpais Valley Attack' on Isobel Watson.
Isobel Watson (33) had just got off the bus on the evening of April 7th 1972, and was walking home along Pine Hill Road, Tamalpais Valley, Marin County at 9.00 pm, when a light colored vehicle veered towards her, knocking her to the ground. The driver exited his vehicle offering to take her home, but after she had refused his offer of apparent help a second time, the concerned citizen suddenly became enraged, pulling out a knife and stabbing the woman in the neck and shoulder. Her screams alerted the neighborhood, forcing the assailant into a hasty retreat from the scene. She was treated at Marin General Hospital and fortunately survived the brutal attack. Her description of the man alerted investigators to a possible Zodiac connection - that of a man with heavy rimmed black glasses, in his early 40's, 5' 9" in height and short brown hair. It was not overlooked by police that the killer had attempted to lure the woman into his vehicle, not dissimilar to the method employed in the Modesto abduction of Kathleen Johns. Napa County homicide detective Ken Narlow believed in a greater than 50-50 chance of a Zodiac connection, bearing in mind the description given by Isobel Watson.
The Zodiac Killer's primary focus was attention from the media, who themselves also benefited from the extensive reporting of his murderous campaign, letter writing and extortion, in a form of symbiotic relationship. The murderer would use this to full advantage during and after his confirmed attacks dried up, often claiming or insinuating his involvement in certain crimes. The August 1969 Debra Gaye Furlong and Kathie Ann Snoozy stabbings, along with the 1970 murders of Robert Michael Salem, Officer Richard Radetich and Donna Ann Lass come to mind. But the killer was also prepared to mention other crimes, such as the murder of San Francisco police officer Brian McDonnell on February 16th 1970: "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." The Zodiac Killer wasn't averse to rubbing their "noze in their booboos" when adversity came their way.
The following is extremely speculative and probably way off base, but since it has never been suggested before (as far as I am aware), it is worth putting forward as a possible example of Zodiac piggybacking a crime unrelated to his murderous exploits.
At approximately 8:10 pm on October 19th 1970 Lieutenant Shaw and Sergeant Noren entered the Sosquel area of Santa Cruz, California responding to a fire on a hill between Rodeo Gulch Road and San Jose Road. The horror of what ultimately lay at 999 North Rodeo Gulch Road was yet to be unearthed.
The bodies of Dr. Victor Ohta (45) and his wife, Virginia (43), along with their two sons, Victor Taggart (11) and Richard Derrick (12), and secretary, Mrs Dorothy Cadwallader (38) were found murdered in the swimming pool of the residence. They had been callously executed.
Dr. Ohta had been shot in the back and under the arm, while the others had been shot in the back of the neck. It was literally a bloodbath. The victims had been bound and blindfolded with scarves before being murdered. The Ohta residence was then set on fire. When the fire crews arrived at the isolated estate they were hampered by Dr. Victor Ohta's Rolls Royce and Mrs. Dorothy Cadwallader's Lincoln Continental blocking the entrance.
Later that day Dr. Ohta's green Oldsmobile station wagon was discovered burnt out on railway tracks near Felton, approximately 18 miles northwest of the crime scene. Although not definitively linked to the other five murders, Thomas DeCecco (19), a service station attendant was found bound and shot in the head near Saratoga only hours after the initial crime, possibly bringing the victim count to six.
"KPIX News footage from October 20th 1970 with reporter Pat O'Brien featuring scenes from a house in Soquel, CA, in the aftermath of the mass murder of eye surgeon Dr. Victor Ohta, his wife Virginia, two sons Taggart and Derrick and secretary Dorothy Cadwallader. Includes aerial views of the Ohta home, the swimming pool in which their bodies were found." link.
A typewritten note was discovered under the windshield wipers of Dr. Ohta's Rolls Royce. It stated "Halloween...1970. Today World War III will begin as brought to you by the people of the free universe. I and my comrades from this day forth will fight until death for freedom, against anything or anyone who does not support natural life on this planet. Materialism must die or mankind will." Signed "Knight of Wands, Knight of Cups, Knight of Pentacles, Knight of Swords."
John Linley Frazier was arrested shortly after the murders and was sentenced to death on November 29, 1971. However, in 1972 the death penalty was abolished in California and his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. He committed suicide by hanging on August 13th 2009.
One week after the Ohta murders and typewritten note stating "Halloween...1970", the Zodiac Killer mailed the 'Halloween' card on October 27th 1970, featuring two skeletons, with twelve eyes added to its design. One eye peered from the knothole of a tree, surrounded by the words "peek-a-boo you are doomed". Why did the killer add twelve eyes to this card?
Dr. Victor Ohta was an eye surgeon (ophthalmologist), and six possible victims were reported in the newspapers (6 pairs of eyes). The skeletons on the card outer and inner also had the eyes highlighted in red, one in the form of a blindfold, in similar fashion to the victims thrown into the pool.
Zodiac researcher Tom Voigt 'floated' this idea on his message board in 2012: "I received an interesting observation of the Halloween card via e-mail recently -- it suggested the skeletons were meant to depict a water scenario, with the top skeleton being a diver (my guess would be the pumpkin representing swim trunks?) and the bottom skeleton floating under water, I'm guessing then the many eyes possibly representing bubbles?" What if the water was from the swimming pool at 999 North Rodeo Gulch Road.
The 'Halloween' card would emphasize four methods of death: By Fire, By Gun, By Rope and By Knife, three of which would feature heavily in the Ohta murders.
Had the Zodiac Killer read the coverage of the brutal murders at Sosquel and beyond, and fearing that his relevance was dwindling in the newspapers, used the crime of John Linley Frazier to piggyback himself back into prominence? If this was the case, unfortunately for him, nobody understood the connection, and the meaning of the 'Halloween' card was lost in translation. As an explanation for the October 27th 1970 correspondence, this is probably wide of the mark. It does, however, give us a flavor of some of the radical views that permeated California in the 1960s and 1970s, and the beginning of the end for the Zodiac Killer.
Zodiac researcher Mike Rodelli recalled a conversation with Alan Keel, Criminalist at the San Francisco Police Department, San Francisco, California from 1996 to 1999. He stated "In contrast (to earlier communications), Keel analyzes two other letters, one of which is the 1978 forgery, and finds that this letter and one of the 1974 letters are loaded with saliva and cells. He then easily extracts DNA from both of these letters using the more primitive DNA technology of that time and finds that the DNA matches between those two letters, thus proving that one person sent both."
For these two communications to be matched definitively using DNA, "proving that one person sent both", they must have revealed full DNA profiles, otherwise, a partial DNA profile in one could not have proved conclusive. The DNA tests conducted by the San Francisco Police Department in the late 1990s, indicated that subsequent to 1974, only the January 29th 1974 'Exorcist' letter had been processed and "cells found". There was no mention of the other 1974 letters being processed. Therefore, one could conclude that the two letters discovered to match one another (according to Keel), were the 1974 'Exorcist' letter and the April 24th 1978 letter - and therefore written by the same individual.
The 1978 letter is listed in the report as "not authentic Zodiac letter." If the San Francisco Police Department concluded the 1978 letter was not an authentic Zodiac letter, then the 'Exorcist' letter would not be either. This brings forth some interesting questions.
Michael Butterfield wrote an article entitled 'Zodiac DNA:The Magic Bullet' on his 'Zodiac Killer Facts' website, stating
"In the late 1990s, San Francisco police obtained DNA from a suspected Zodiac letter, and the DNA did not match Allen’s DNA"..
The San Francisco Police Department surely wouldn't have used the DNA obtained from the April 24th 1978 letter for comparison, as they themselves had deemed it "not authentic Zodiac correspondence" and it had long been considered questionable material. Therefore, they must have obtained this DNA from another letter they "suspected" was a Zodiac letter, to compare to known suspects. But, if the 'Exorcist' letter (as Mike Rodelli suspects) and the 1978 letter matched in DNA, were written by the same individual, and by association were considered "not authentic Zodiac correspondence", then which "suspected Zodiac letter" did the San Francisco Police Department use to compare to Allen's DNA.
In the San Francisco Police Department report, the only letters in which they stated "cells found", other than the 'Exorcist' letter, were the July 24th 1970 'Kathleen Johns' letter and July 26th 1970 'Little List' letter. Every correspondence tested prior to July 24th 1970 were labelled 'Envelope processed for DNA - few cells'. The 'Exorcist' letter came under scrutiny, alongside the 1978 letter, when Inspector David Toschi fell under the microscope in 1978 for forging one or both. So, would it be likely the 'Exorcist' or 1978 letter would be chosen by the San Francisco Police Department in the 1990s as a "suspected Zodiac letter" (and for the reasons given above), and used to rule out Arthur Leigh Allen's DNA? They surely would have turned to more credible sources. But they only had two other letters where "cells were found".
In 2002, Dr. Cydne Holt performed a new round of tests on some of the early 1969 Zodiac letters. Having failed to find suitable DNA on these letters (as suggested by the "few cells" findings of the 1990s), it has now come to light that the ABC Primetime documentary scoured the outside of the envelopes and stamps for DNA instead, thereby negating any findings as to the identity of the Zodiac Killer.
But why were they searching for Zodiac DNA, to compare to suspects such as Arthur Leigh Allen and Kjell Qvale, when:
"in the late 1990s, San Francisco police obtained DNA from a suspected Zodiac letter, and the DNA did not match Allen’s DNA".
The new round of tests performed in 2002, would now suggest that the DNA they found in the 1990s from a "suspected Zodiac letter", was no longer believed to be from Zodiac.
In 2018 "Vallejo police Detective Terry Poyser, who has worked the Zodiac case for four years, said his agency has submitted two envelopes that contained letters from the Zodiac Killer for a type of advanced DNA analysis that previously had not been available in the case. The department has three letters and two envelopes from the Zodiac, Poyser said. The envelopes each have a double stamp, which Poyser said was a trademark of the Zodiac. They originally were sent to the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Francisco Examiner, he said. The third letter was sent to the Vallejo Times-Herald, but does not have an envelope with it, he said." Sacramento Bee.
However, these are the July 31st 1969 envelopes and stamps already tested by Dr. Cydne Holt in 2002, which failed to produce any viable results. The hope is that more advanced DNA analysis may turn up something new. But what about the "suspected Zodiac letter" from the 1990s with "cells found." Couldn't this be examined using advanced DNA analysis? This letter has apparently already produced a DNA profile to rule out Allen, so why is it being ignored - or is it?
In a poll of 93 people conducted on this site, 85% believe the 'Exorcist' letter to be genuine Zodiac correspondence, whereas, in a poll of 94 people conducted on this site, only 54% believe the 1978 letter to be genuine Zodiac correspondence.
If Mike Rodelli's suspicions are true, then both the 'Exorcist' and 1978 letter are "not authentic Zodiac correspondence". If the San Francisco Police Department have long considered these two communications as not credible, then which "suspected Zodiac letter" was used to rule out Arthur Leigh Allen in the 1990s, and can it be used again for advanced DNA analysis?
We have long been led to believe the 'Exorcist' letter was the last confirmed communication by the Zodiac Killer. If the poll on this site were true of the entire Zodiac community, then 85% of people believe the 'Exorcist' letter to be genuine Zodiac correspondence. If the other 1974 letters were not tested or found to contain DNA (as the SFPD report suggests), then it is extremely likely a full DNA profile exists for the 'Exorcist' letter (shown at the top of this article).
For those who believe the January 29th 1974 'Exorcist' letter to be an authentic mailing from the Zodiac Killer with a full DNA profile, you should be asking "why hasn't this been run through GEDmatch."
Rex Bolt, author and avid Zodiac researcher, has made an excellent video on Youtube about his thoughts on the October 11th 1969 murder of Paul Stine, detailing with the use of a comprehensive slideshow the possible escape route of the Zodiac Killer.
It is a fantastic analysis of the area of Presidio Heights, with respect to the options Zodiac faced that night as he walked away from the intersection of Washington and Cherry. Of course, it was around 10:00 pm at night when the Zodiac Killer departed the crime scene, and the route ahead of him was far more claustrophobic.
Rex, from the perspective of a native of San Francisco, takes you on a journey from Mason and Geary, bordering Union Square (where Paul Stine picked up Zodiac) through to the crime scene and beyond.
With photographs showing the layout of Presidio park, Rex comes to the conclusion that Zodiac most likely headed east from Julius Khan playground to the dense wooded area by Presidio Boulevard.
The Zodiac Killer, now waiting for an opportune moment, had just a few hundred feet to escape the Presidio to his waiting vehicle.
The killer would now reach his vehicle, parked somewhere close to Broadway and the Lyon Street Steps. A relatively remote area for residential San Francisco and an ideal location to escape to Highway 101 and the Golden Gate Bridge in a matter of minutes.
You are now out of San Francisco and away.
There appears an impasse regarding the Zodiac case, as to whether any DNA is likely to be found behind the stamps or envelope seals mailed by the Zodiac Killer. A new round of testing on the Zodiac letters was initiated in late 2017, and widely reported upon in May 2018, bringing fresh hope to the 49-year-old case and its army of sleuths. In 2002, Cydne Holt performed DNA testing on the envelopes and stamps in an ABC Primetime investigation of renewed hope, when a partial DNA profile was discovered on a confirmed Zodiac letter. This hope has subsequently been dashed, after being claimed the DNA sample was lifted from the exterior surface of the letter, and thereby rendering it practically useless.
However, all is not lost. During the analysis of the letters a small section of hair shaft was discovered beneath the stamp of the October 13th 1969 'Paul Stine' letter, in which the Zodiac Killer confessed to the murder of the taxicab driver. He would also send a small piece of the victim's bloody shirt within the communication. If there is one correspondence in the Zodiac case, that without doubt came from the killer, this is it. This small fragment of hair may yet solve the Zodiac case, or at the very least rule out the many suspects suggested as the Bay Area murderer.
The three teenagers who witnessed the Zodiac Killer by the taxicab, described him as "a white male, 25-30 years old, 5'8" to 5'9", stocky build, reddish-brown hair worn in a crew cut, heavy rimmed glasses and dark clothing."
In the ABC Primetime documentary Dr Cydne Holt "discovers a reddish-brown hair stuck behind a stamp peeled from this letter". Since the Zodiac Killer can be inextricably linked to this correspondence, then he could very well be the donor of this hair. The hair didn't have any recognizable root structure, so nuclear DNA retrieval wasn't possible. The second option was mitochondrial DNA analysis, but no progress has been reported with regards to this, or if it is even possible on such a small sample size.
However, there is something that may soon break this case wide open. A relatively new forensic tool that will hopefully prove the identity of the Zodiac Killer once and for all.
If it doesn't identify the Zodiac Killer, then it could certainly rule out an individual as the donor of the hair on the October 13th 1969 stamp. This may not be the killer's hair, but in the absence of usable nuclear DNA on the letters, it is our best opportunity at present to incriminate or eliminate suspects by harboring this new forensic tool.
Researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California have harnessed the power of "ectracting genetic information from proteins found in hair that is remarkably reliable."
"Proteins are more stable than DNA and are also more abundant in hair. Mutations in DNA get translated to proteins and sometimes they can even change the protein structure by swapping out one amino acid for another. “We’re looking for those changes in protein structure and by doing that we can infer what was in the original DNA,” says Deon Anex, a chemist at Livermore and co-author of the paper. In other words, even when DNA is absent or is degraded by light, heat or other environmental factors, benign variations in the proteins found in hair can be used to identify individuals.
Anex and his team analyzed hair from 76 men and women, who were mostly of European descent, as well as six sets of skeletal remains from the 1700s and 1800s. They found 185 distinct patterns of amino acids, called markers, that allowed them to trace the individuals’ genetic identities. They also compared their protein identification method to known DNA samples from the individuals' blood and were able to correctly identify the person who shed the hair 98.3 percent of the time. The chance of getting a false positive from the protein analysis was just 1.98 percent." link.
'Scientists from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and a Utah startup company have developed the groundbreaking technique, providing a second science-based, statistically validated way to identify people and link individuals to evidence in addition to DNA profiling.
The new protein identification technique will offer another tool to law enforcement authorities for crime scene investigations and archaeologists, as the method has been able to detect protein in human hair more than 250 years old.
Once the method is optimized, the researchers believe they could use protein markers from a small number of human hairs, possibly as little as one, to distinguish an individual among the world’s population.
The researchers believe that the number of individual protein markers that can be used to differentiate people could go as high as 1,000. Protein markers also can be found in other tissue types, such as shed skin cells, bones and teeth, and the scientists have started studying how people can be identified using the latter two tissues.
Using their current sample sizes, the researchers are able to find enough markers to provide a unique pattern for an individual that would distinguish that person among a population of one million.' link.
With the small sample size required, these protein markers in the fragment of hair on the October 13th 1969 stamp may one day identify the Zodiac Killer. At the very least, it should certainly diminish the ever widening suspect pool.
This forensic tool may also shed light on the murder of Cheri Jo Bates in Riverside on October 30th 1966. Hair from a blood clot was found at the base of Cheri Jo Bates' right thumb.
Officer Armond Pelissetti arrived at the Washington and Cherry crime scene, spoke to the teenagers, took a description of the suspect and ushered the children across the street to their residence. He then checked on Paul Stine from the passenger side of the vehicle, who he was "99.9% certain was dead," informed "everybody else" of the updated description over the radio, asked his partner Frank Peda to secure the crime scene and then headed off in the last known direction of the suspect. After his unsuccessful search, he returned to the crime scene just before "P.E.H. ambulance #82 responded, steward Dousette, victim was examined and pronounced dead at 10:10 pm."
The main priority of responding personnel, including police officers and medical crew, was to head to the business end of the taxicab to check Paul Stine for signs of life. This would have taken place from the front right passenger door. Once the ambulance personnel had determined life extinct, the crime scene was photographed and then Paul Stine was extricated from the taxicab. There was absolutely no need for medical personnel (who one would like to think were wearing gloves), to then round the taxicab and deposit bloody prints on the dividing panel of the driver and rear left passenger door. Once Paul Stine had been pronounced dead, it is now a murder crime scene and therefore would have been managed as such.
Question marks have arisen over the bloody fingerprints, as to whether they were deposited by the Zodiac Killer. There was no reason for medical personnel to touch the dividing panel of the driver side door, and why would any police officer trained in securing a crime scene, rummage around the taxicab or Paul Stine without gloves, then commence to daub their fingerprints around the rest of the taxicab. Even if this hypothesis was believable, then the limited personnel who were present at the taxicab could be latterly screened and eliminated as the donor.
One of the reasons (but not the only reason) why these bloody fingerprints have been challenged, is the determination of individuals aligned with a particular suspect to place doubt on their origin. If their suspect has been ruled out of the investigation using these fingerprints, it is imperative that they cast doubt on the validity of such evidence by inferring medical personnel or police officers may have deposited the fingerprints. Was it a fingerprint already on the surface that was developed by blood, or from a bloody finger? This has also been touted as an explanation to negate the argument it was donated directly from the killer. However, this also requires attending personnel to cover themselves in blood, then round the taxicab and splash blood over an existing fingerprint. One would like to believe these people were trained in their profession to some extent, yet people who have immersed themselves in the belief their suspect is the Zodiac Killer would like you to believe otherwise.
Many latent fingerprints were retrieved from the taxicab, the payphones, the Volkswagen Karmann Ghia and the Zodiac Killer communications. These have also been questioned as originating from the killer, as supposedly no fingerprint has been matched between crime scenes or letters, despite suspects having been ruled out on the basis of such fingerprints.
On October 16th 1969, the Napa Register published an article entitled 'Zodiac Killer Link Affirmed' in which Undersheriff Tom Johnson was included:"Napa, Vallejo and San Francisco law enforcement officers are certain that the person who stabbed to death a college girl at Lake Berryessa last month and shot to death three youths in Vallejo during the past 10 months is the same man who shot and killed a cab driver in San Francisco last Saturday night.
By a preliminary match of fingerprints and handwriting, Undersheriff Tom Johnson said that it appears this is the same murderer. However, he pointed out that specialists have not completed, as yet, extensive examinations to verify that identity. "I'm fairly certain it's the same man," he added."
On October 17th 1969, the Lodi Sentinel stated "Johnson said preliminary analysis of partial fingerprints obtained from crime scenes in Napa County, Vallejo and San Francisco indicated they came from the same man. But he said the prints were not complete enough for an identification of the killer."
Fingerprints from a crime scene tend to be partial rather than a full rolled fingerprint as would be taken from an individual at the police station. They will then be entered into AFIS (Automated Fingerprint Identification System) and unlike the fiction of crime shows where one suspect pops up, there may be an array of possible matches. The number of distinguishing points on the fingerprint required to enable a match varies from country to country, and from individual to individual (12 to 20 is a good guide).
The more complete the fingerprint (with identifiable features) the less corresponding matches in the database should be achieved. If the fingerprint has less markers, the suspect pool will be magnified. In 1969 the police didn't have the benefit of an automated fingerprint recognition system, so everything was done by hand in a long and arduous process.
Undersheriff Tom Johnson stated "the prints were not complete enough for an identification of the killer."
This indicates that there were not enough distinguishing points on the fingerprints to definitively identify an individual. But this is not the same as the ability to rule out suspects based on the partial fingerprints they had collected. A full DNA profile can be matched definitively to a single individual, but a partial DNA profile cannot. However, it can be used to eliminate suspects.
A partial fingerprint can be approached in a similar manner - it may "not be complete enough for an identification of the killer", but it can be used to rule out suspects, particularly if fingerprints from different crime scenes "came from the same man."
In the diagram above, I have sectioned off the right edge of a fingerprint with five distinguishing points. This is just an example and not to be taken literally.
This portion of fingerprint would unlikely be "complete enough for an identification of the killer", but if this section of fingerprint was discovered through several crime scenes and/or letters, then it would greatly bolster the case that one individual was responsible for the Zodiac crimes.
If a suspect such as Arthur Leigh Allen or Ted Kaczynski (who have fingerprints on file) were then compared to this section of fingerprint, and there was no correlation between the two, then the chances of their involvement in the crimes rapidly fades away. A clear partial fingerprint (which still contains extensive detail) can be examined locally and compared to named suspects in the case.
The bloody fingerprints from the dividing panel of the taxicab are almost certainly those of our killer. The only person that can be definitively placed there, is the Zodiac Killer. The three teenagers described a killer attempting to haul the taxicab driver into an upright position behind the steering wheel from this location. The Zodiac Killer may have applied some caution when wiping down the door handles of the vehicle, but he may have overlooked the fingerprints from his right hand, when bracing himself against the taxicab door panel while lifting Paul Stine with his left.
Robbins kids statement: "They both watched and observed in silence as Zodiac pushed the driver to an upright position behind the steering wheel, exited the car and walked around the rear of the car and opened the driver's door. Stine had fallen over onto the seat and Zodiac pulled him back up into the seated position and had some difficulty keeping him upright. Once upright, he was seen to have a rag, or something like a handkerchief and began to wipe down the door area and leaning over the driver, part of the dashboard. When he was finished, Zodiac calmly walked to Cherry St. and walked north."
Tim Reiterman published an article entitled 'Zodiac: 4 years later. What happened to the killer who kept the city in terror?'
In the article Dave Toschi laid out his thoughts on the Zodiac case, with one notable section: "Although he took care to wipe his fingerprints and boasted that he took other precautions, Zodiac made mistakes. Toschi said "police have enough fingerprints from the Stine murder scene and from a Napa County telephone booth, where Zodiac once called police- to make a positive identification if he is captured or surrenders."'
Captain Martin Lee at the San Francisco Hall of Justice, during a KPIX News report from November 12th 1969 stated "We assume one day we are going to catch this man, and we are, and certain evidence must be kept from the public, as he cannot be tried in the press. The precise evidence I am speaking of, I cannot even describe to you, but I can say this much - that there is considerable evidence of many different kinds."
Fingerprints being one.
Zodiac- Mysteries at the Museum just aired on the Travel Channel on October 3rd 2018. The first 38 minutes is a routine retelling of the Zodiac case, leaving only the remaining 2 1/2 minutes of any note.
The narrator states "The actual Zodiac evidence was collected in a state laboratory in May 2018, who then sent it to a genealogical laboratory in Florida. Analysts then looked for similarities between the Zodiac profile and family members who have already submitted DNA to a public database. If they find a match, genealogists will then create a family tree that could eventually lead them to the Zodiac Killer."
If these statements were true (which hasn't been verified by an official source), then it implies that a viable DNA sample has been sourced from the Zodiac Killer stamps and/or envelope seals, and submitted to GEDmatch for entry into the genealogical database.
In May 2018, the Sacramento Bee stated "Investigators searching for the Zodiac Killer have submitted evidence to a private DNA lab in the hopes of obtaining a genetic profile of one of California's most elusive criminals — then tracking him down using the same kind of family-tree tracing recently used in the East Area Rapist case. Vallejo police Detective Terry Poyser, who has worked the Zodiac case for four years, said his agency has submitted two envelopes that contained letters from the Zodiac Killer for a type of advanced DNA analysis that previously had not been available in the case. Poyser declined to identify the lab, but said it would attempt to obtain a full DNA profile from saliva on the envelope flap and stamps. He said he expected to have results back from the lab as soon as in the next few weeks, and almost certainly by summer."
If this advanced DNA analysis was successful on the two July 31st 1969 envelopes, and created a Zodiac DNA profile of sufficient information to be submitted to a genealogy database, then it would be sent to GEDmatch in Florida in hope of a familial match. The 'Mysteries at the Museum' episode seems to suggest this has already been done, and would indicate that a viable sample of DNA has been recovered from the Zodiac letters after 49 years.
There have been many question marks over the validity of the tests conducted by Cydne Holt, General Manager and Chief Scientific Officer at Verogen, in 2002. Claims the DNA was sampled from the outside of the letters is unproven, but if true, it would certainly negate any findings, including the elimination of any suspects previously ruled out using such evidence. If a sufficient DNA profile in 2018 has been successfully generated, then the elimination, or otherwise, of suspects touted in the Zodiac case can begin again in earnest (assuming the DNA retrieved is that of our killer). Only a partial profile is required for the latter.
"California law enforcement investigating the Golden State Killer case uploaded the DNA profile of the suspected serial rapist/killer from an intact rape kit in Ventura County to GEDmatch. It identified 10 to 20 distant relatives of the Golden State Killer, and a team of five investigators working with genealogist Barbara Rae-Vente used this to construct a large family tree, which led them to identify retired police officer Joseph James DeAngelo as a suspect. Investigators acquired samples of his DNA from items he discarded outside his home, one of which definitively matched that of the killer. The process took about four months, from when the first matches appeared on GEDmatch, to when DeAngelo was arrested in April 2018." Wikipedia.
"As of early this year, more than 12 million people had undergone such tests, mostly from 23andMe and Ancestry DNA, and the number is growing by about one million each month. That’s reaching the point where nearly everyone in the US will have a close relative, cousin, or second cousin who has given a DNA sample. Users of GEDMatch are warned that they have no guarantee of privacy and that their data could be used for purposes other than genealogy." Technology Review.
In cooperation with American law enforcement organizations, Parabon NanoLabs, based in Reston, Virginia started uploading DNA evidence from crime scenes to GEDmatch in an attempt to identify perpetrators. Parabon said they found matches in 20 cases as of 2018.
On September 27th 2018, the third installment of Dr. Mark Hewitt's trilogy of Zodiac books was released, entitled 'EXPOSED: The Zodiac Revealed. He has also outlined the focus of 'Exposed', naming Theodore Kaczynski as the most likely candidate for the Zodiac Killer in a blogtalkradio edition of True Murder, hosted by Dan Zupansky.
Dr. Mark Hewitt has dedicated many years to the Zodiac field from the standpoint of neutrality, and his first two books 'Hunted' and 'Profiled' are well researched using sourced material, police reports and FBI files, to name but a few. That impartiality has now changed with the release of his latest book 'Exposed'.
When asked by the host Dan Zupansky the reaction he expects from the Zodiac community upon the release of his book, Dr. Mark Hewitt replied "I expect there will be a certain contingent of people who will be so wedded to their ideas that they won't take a serious look at my work, which they're free to do that. Some people are convinced that it is their father, their birth father or stepfather, other people are very convinced of this suspect or that suspect debated online. So, if you want to do research that contradicts my research - go for it - show me your evidence and explain to me how my arguments are wrong. I think I've been very reasoned and very careful about laying out facts using reason to come to the conclusions that I do. If my reasoning is faulty, or my conclusions are wrong, by all means point them out to me. There may be a contingent who say 'wow Mark you've been very thorough in your research and make a very compelling case.'"
I have not read the book as yet, but I am sure Mark has made a very compelling case for Theodore Kaczynski as the Zodiac Killer, as he is an extremely intelligent and thoughtful individual. There is certainly no way I could, or want to explain how his arguments are right or wrong, because opinions or arguments drawn from facts about the Zodiac case, are just that - an opinion. And as such, are perfectly acceptable. I could argue that the Zodiac Killer entered the Presidio Park after the murder of Paul Stine, and present many arguments to support such an opinion, but it can neither be proved right or wrong at this juncture.
I am confident Dr. Mark Hewitt's reasoning is not faulty, however, proving his conclusions or otherwise is akin to proving Zodiac didn't enter the park. Disproving Theodore Kaczynski as the Zodiac Killer, without DNA or conclusive fingerprint evidence, is as difficult as proving he was. Having seen many debates about suspects in the Zodiac case, the lack of certainty in the scientific evidence, means these sort of discussions produce little in the way of clarity or resolution one way or the other.
The best suggestion I could give to negate the premise of Theodore Kaczynski as the Zodiac Killer, would be to ask Mark to write a fourth book, presenting a solid case of why his suspect isn't the Zodiac Killer. I am confident Mark could achieve this, given his level of intelligence, and based on what I have read so far in his writings. Suspect driven books are wholly devoted to highlighting the arguments for the case, while the negative aspects that don't favor the suspect are routinely overlooked or casually ignored. That is the objective of any prosecutor or defense lawyer in most murder cases - presenting your case in the most favorable light - and as such, the true picture is rarely revealed. This extends to all aspects of the Zodiac case, including this website.
I am not sure what level of confidence Dr. Mark Hewitt could give to his belief that Theodore Kaczynski was the Zodiac Killer, but now, he has a lens through which he will view the case, as with all Zodiac researchers who align to a particular suspect. When you approach any topic in the case, your suspect may bias your answer. This is best explained when we consider the sketch drawn up from eyewitness recollections at Presidio Heights.
Proponents of Ross Sullivan will augment their belief in him as the Zodiac Killer by stating the unmistakable likeness to the Presidio Heights sketch, while playing down the significance of the height difference. Ross Sullivan was 6'2" (6'3" in shoes), but the eyewitnesses described the suspect as between 5'8"-5'10". Every effort is made to mention this likeness in every argument, while the height difference is routinely explained away by the angle the eyewitnesses viewed the suspect. The teenagers were 50-60 feet away, viewing top-down, while Officer Donald Fouke was seated in a moving police vehicle. Nevertheless, their recollection of facial features in dim lighting under the same circumstances is unquestionably and routinely taken as accurate.
If Ross Sullivan had been 5'9" tall, I am confident this height match would have been undeniably given as further corroborating evidence to support Ross Sullivan as the Zodiac Killer, not explained away. Had Ross Sullivan not looked like the sketch, then the eyewitness recollection based on facial features would have been equally argued against based on the above reasons - and this reasoning is always tailored to each and every suspect to keep them in the frame. This explains why having a suspect alignment clouds your judgement when approaching the Zodiac story. You view the different aspects of the case through the lens of your suspect.
Dr. Mark Hewitt stated "show me your evidence and explain to me how my arguments are wrong." Unfortunately, with the DNA findings in 2002 being routinely dismissed as manufactured, the fingerprint evidence (even from the taxicab) being questioned as originating from the hand of our killer, and the subjective interpretation of handwriting, I'm afraid there is probably little else that can be described as evidence to convince anybody their argument is wrong. It simply boils down to a matter of opinion.
I wish Dr. Mark Hewitt every success with his latest book, and am certain it will be a very clever and articulate presentation of Theodore Kaczynski as the Zodiac Killer, but without undeniable scientific corroboration linking an individual to the crimes, it will always remain a compelling case crafted by Dr. Mark Hewitt, until such a time.
Hunted: The Zodiac Murders - Revised Edition (The Zodiac Serial Killer Book 1)
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