The Exorcist Letter appeared a curious blend of two productions; The Mikado (1885), a satirical portrait of Victorian England, and the horror classic The Exorcist (1973), ironically labeled "the best saterical comidy that I have ever seen' by the Zodiac Killer. The Exorcist Letter appears a mismatch of genres, an unholy alliance of mixed messages, unless of course it was designed this way to provide us with a hidden clue to his identity or name.
After a line such as 'Signed, yours truley,' one would expect the sender to provide us with a name, yet here the Zodiac Killer gives us a line from the Mikado's On a tree by a river, part of Act Two.
Is his name concealed within these lines?
In the article 'The Best Saterical Comidy,' this idea was explored. The name William can be abbreviated to Will, Bill, Billy, Willy, or Willie. It can be seen that these lines contain the names 'Bill and Will' several times. This of course is meaningless on its own, until you wrangle with the unusual alliance of The Exorcist and The Mikado.
The Exorcist is an American horror film released in 1973, directed by William Friedkin and adapted for screenplay by William Peter Blatty, based on his 1971 book. The Mikado was created by Gilbert and Sullivan, however, one half of the duo was Sir William Schwenck Gilbert, to effectively give us the three William's in the excerpt above, and tempt us with the phrase 'Signed, yours truley, William.' The inspiration for William Peter Blatty's novel The Exorcist (1971) was the real life exorcism of Roland Doe, a 13 year old Maryland boy, in 1949. Father William S. Bowdern, S.J. was central to this exorcism, assisted by Walter Halloran and William Van Roo, a third Jesuit priest, bringing our total to five.
In the San Francisco Chronicle article 'Gilbert and Sullivan Clue to Zodiac,' Paul Avery wrote 'Sheriff's detective sergeant Kenneth Narlow of Napa County has fruitlessly followed up another 900 tips to Zodiac's identity since September 27th 1969." Did the Zodiac take this line and incorporate it into the Halloween Card, using the pumpkin fruit to effectively reveal his identity, deliberately placing the pumpkin over the groin and then removing it, to expose his identity. The groin becomes fruitless, yet reveals a name. I'm afraid you've guessed it, Willy.
This is highly improbable, although, the Zodiac Killer did present a rather immature element in much of his correspondence. In an attempt to reinforce this identity, we shall proceed. The Halloween Card is obviously a reference to the Western Christian celebration of All Hallows Day on October 31st, hence the use of the spiders web, skeletons and pumpkin within the card. The most notable addition to the card was the pumpkin, so other than its deliberate positioning, has it any further significance to the Zodiac Killer's identity. The pumpkin itself, is carved out on Halloween to create a spooky or ghostly face and lit on the inside to create a menacing glowing effect. This is termed a 'Jack o' lantern' or 'Will o the wisp', an atmospheric ghost light seen by travelers at night.
'Blind Bat', a member on the Zodiac Killer Site forum displayed an interesting connection to the Halloween Card, involving the 'peek-a-boo' phrase the author added to the greeting card. The picture on the right demonstrates this perfectly with the Zodiac-like letter K and the eyes and eyelashes eerily similar to the depiction on the Halloween Card itself.
William V Peekaboo Pennington Senior was a San Francisco private detective, described as a cattle man, private investigator, theater owner, building contractor, oil man and member of the Eastern Star, a freemasonry related order established in 1850 by Rob Morris. He moved to San Francisco in 1924 and performed investigative duties for prominent lawyers and attorneys, including Melvin Belli, who became closely embroiled in the Zodiac Killer case. The Halloween Card provides us with two full, and two abbreviations of William, when we consider the following.
He places the letter Z on the envelope and the inside of the card, but in addition to this, the Zodiac Killer places a Zorro style mask on the skeleton. Is this a further clue. Had the Zodiac spent his formative years in the 1950's, Zorro would have been a high profile television series, made into two Walt Disney films, The Sign of Zorro (1958) and Zorro, the Avenger (1959). The Disney television series ran from 1957 to 1959, and this, along with the two movies starred Guy Williams.
Revisiting the subject of Melvin Belli, the Zodiac Killer wrote a personal correspondence to the prominent lawyer on December 20th 1969. In this correspondence he stated "I will loose all controol of myself and set the bomb up. Please help me I can not remain in control for much longer." This phrase is remarkably similar to a message scrawled on the wall of a murder victim.
Frances Brown was discovered on December 10th 1945 at her 3941 North Pine Grove apartment, in Edgewater, Chicago. She had multiple knife wounds, in fact a knife was found present in the victims neck, along with a bullet wound to the head. The killer had left a calling card, in the form of a message written in lipstick on the wall. See here.
It said: :For heavens Sake catch me Before I kill more. I cannot control myself. The Zodiac Killer wrote (edited) I will loose all controol of myself. Please help me. I can not remain in control for much longer.
The killer William Heirens, known as the 'Lipstick Killer', was convicted of the murders of three females over a seven month period. Was the letter mailed to Melvin Belli a plea for help or just another subtle clue to his identity.
In the article 'Gilbert and Sullivan Clue to Zodiac', Paul Avery wrote "Zodiac is still at large today. And he is now claiming he has murdered thirteen persons. Homicide detectives who've been hunting Zodiac for nearly two years frankly admit he is as much an enigma now as he was on December 20th 1968, when he chalked up his first two victims."
In chalk-like writing the Zodiac would now be claiming a potential fourteen victims in the Halloween Card, but was it revealing a lot more than initially thought.
The Little List letter mailed on July 26th 1970 heavily featured two portions of The Mikado. The seventh line of Mikado Act One Part 5a As some day it may happen reads "All children who are up in dates, and floor you with 'em flat." The Zodiac Killer paraphrases this verse to "All children who are up in dates and implore you with im platt." It could simply be, that he was attempting to write the letter F, and accidentally formed the letter P, but if not.........