The 'Zodiac Killer' pseudonym may never have existed had it not been for the skepticism of Vallejo Police Chief Jack E Stiltz, who insisted the three time murderer send more details to prove he was the 'cipher killer'. It was reasoned that something Zodiac read in the Sunday August 3rd 1969 San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle, inspired him to repackage himself from "the murderer" to "the Zodiac". So, what drove the killer of David Faraday, Betty Lou Jensen and Darlene Ferrin to include a cryptogram alongside his deadly deeds and threats. The short answer is, nobody knows for sure- but we do know it took the Lake Herman Road double murderer just over seven months to finally begin his letter writing campaign. Was the killer always planning to kill again and write to the newspapers, or was it the extensive press coverage that inspired him to rise to the picture being painted of him.
It seemed Detective Sergeant Leslie Lunblad beat a lone furrow in the pursuit of the murderer, but he was ably assisted throughout by many agencies, including the Criminal Investigation Bureau in Sacramento, Vallejo Police Department, Napa and Sanoma County sheriff's departments and Sergeant Jack Richard Oller, an investigator in the Fairfield office of the sheriff's department. Jack Oller moved to Oakland, California in 1929 and served in the U.S. Army as a combat engineer in Europe. In 1978, he retired from the Solano County Sheriff Department with the rank of lieutenant.
Along with the Zodiac murder of Paul Stine on October 11th 1969 and the November 21st 1969 San Jose letter and cryptogram, we effectively had the entire shopping list of threats tabled in the 'Fairfield' letter, mailed on December 16th 1969. His threat of 'this state is in trouble..I will go for the Goverment life' may be traced back to a Sunday Times-Herald article on March 30th 1969, in which these law enforcement agencies were pivotal in the search for the Lake Herman Road murderer, including Sergeant Jack Oller. The Zodiac Killer's threat on police in the 'Fairfield' letter centered around Fairfield, Sacramento and Oakland.
The inspiration behind the July 31st 1969 letters and cryptogram is difficult to ascertain, but often with the Zodiac Killer throughout, it was something he read that triggered a response, such as the 'Debut of Zodiac' and 'Bus Bomb' letters.
The Sunday Times-Herald article on March 30th 1969 may or may not hold the answers, however, it was published four months prior to the July 31st trinity, and did contain some noteworthy passages. Whether these were the trigger for the murderer to begin his letter writing campaign is pure speculation, but in the absence of alternatives, it was worth considering.
Here is the newspaper article in full:
Now nearly 100 days later, sheriff's investigators concede they are only a bit nearer to the solution of the crime than they were when they arrived on the scene of the grisly slayings that cold Friday night in December. Sheriff's Sgt Leslie Lunblad worked nearly around the clock in the first days following the murders, attempting by some means to produce the clue that would lead him to the killer. He hasn't found it. "There isn't a day that goes by that I don't work on it" the veteran investigator declared. "I've got a case file about four inches thick-all the information I have been able to turn up-and I have a fairly sizeable evidence locker."
The horrifying crime may very well be the most celebrated murder mystery currently under investigation in California, and Lunblad has received aid and offers of it from a score of law enforcement agencies in the state. Those which have given him particularly large measures of support include the Vallejo Police Department, his own sheriff's department, the Benicia Police Department, the Napa and Sanoma County sheriff's departments, and the Fairfield Police Department. " An investigator in San Diego forwarded me information on a case in which he was working which had marked similarity to these two killings, but there was no connection" Lunblad revealed. In the course of his investigation, Lunblad has filed reports of interviews he and Deputy Russ Butterbach have had with at least 50 persons, many of them friends of the slain pair, "I guess we've talked to at least 100 people on various matters, some of them several times" he added. But for all the searching and probing, he has yet to come up with one feasible suspect, and this might well be because the murders have all the aspects of being motiveless, and possibly were committed by a hopelessly deranged person.
The youngsters parents are in complete agreement with this theory. They can think of no one who conceivably hated their children to an extent that would result in cold-blooded murder. Cold-blooded it was: David was killed with a single slug fired behind his left ear. Betty Lou was shot five times in the back as she tried to flee from the assailant. "It's one of those things that just leaves me speechless" said David's mother Mrs Jean Faraday, who talked in her home at 1930 Sereno Dr. "I have been able to think of nothing that would point to David. He was easygoing and friendly, never seemed to have any trouble in school."
"Last summer, he discovered girls" Mrs Faraday reminisced "but he hadn't done much dating- for one thing he could use the car only when I didn't need it to go to work." She is employed in the passenger reservations department at Travis Air Force Base. She said that when he did take the car for a date "he was good about observing curfews" (12.30 on Friday nights). "So I didn't think a thing about it that night. I was asleep when the phone rang at 3 am."
Mrs Faraday conversed with total composure, although the wounds haven't healed and won't. The same was true of the Jensens. Nothing in his 21 years as an army officer had prepared Lt Col. Verne Jensen for the shock of his younger daughter's death, however. He retired in 1963, decided to remain in Vallejo and now is employed as supply officer for the General Services Administration in San Francisco. The Jensens, with their elder daughter, Melodie, live at 123 Ridgewood Ct. " I don't feel vindictive" he mused "but I am apprehensive. I feel some nut is on the loose."
His words could have been uttered by Mrs Faraday, who said her principal concern that the killer be found was not based on vengeance but on her fears there may be further victims. "And, he'll find it easier the next time."
She said the other three Faraday children Debra, Robert and Steven "have handled the situation very well, I think. Presumably they have long and happy lives ahead of them, and they've got to live them."
The Jensens' lives remain clouded by the tragedy. "We'd like to have her back" Mrs Jensen said wistfully. "It took a lot to bring her this far."
At Hogan High Betty was an excellent student, a junior, she was hopeful of winning an art scholarship and she worked extremely well in several forms, some of which were displayed as I talked to the family. All three shook their heads negatively when asked if they had any ideas to the perpetrator. "We know he's a nut, but what kind of nut" Mrs Jensen replied. She added she was dubious about anything worthwhile could be gained in once again turning the spotlight on the murder case. "But we'll do anything we can to help" she declared.
As for the investigation's progress, Lublad said there has been considerably more than might be gleaned from news accounts of it. "If I talk to a suspect, I'll know positively whether he was there that night" he said cryptically. Beyond that, he would not comment.
David Faraday's mother summed up her fears: "who said her principal concern was that the killer be found, not based on vengeance but on her fears there may be further victims. "And, he'll find it easier the next time."
She wouldn't have to wait long for the killer to live up to her fears, promising he would "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."
Detective Sergeant Les Lunblad's support may too have not gone unrecognized, with his assistance from a "score of law enforcement agencies in the state," including Sergeant Jack Richard Oller and the Fairfield Office.
If this newspaper article was the last major feature regarding the Lake Herman Road slayings, before the killer began his July 4th 1969 attack on Michael Mageau and Darlene Ferrin at Blue Rock Springs, then it is rather unusual that the Sunday Times-Herald article on March 30th 1969 would finish with the thoughts of Detective Sergeant Les Lunblad:in such a manner:
"If I talk to a suspect, I'll know positively whether he was there that night" he said cryptically.
Four months later, the murderer stated "I will not give you my name because you will try to slow down or stop my collecting of slaves for my afterlife," and he too said it cryptically.