Tom Voigt was recently interviewed by CBS8 News in San Diego regarding the 1962 Ray Davis and 1964 Swindle murders, and their possible connection to the same individual responsible for the Zodiac Killer murders in Northern California in the late 1960s. Tom Voigt is correct when he says he doesn't "understand why agencies withhold information after all this time. The police departments aren't that forthcoming. They are not doing the victims any justice, as they can still get a prosecution. The guy could still be alive". The same could be levelled at the Riverside Police Department, sitting on information with respect to the murder of Cheri Jo Bates on October 30th 1966. Although this case, along with aforementioned murders are heading towards the 60-year mark, the suggestion that the Zodiac Killer may have been responsible and could have made mistakes in the infancy of his murderous career, is a reasonable assertion. The majority of serial killers will learn from their mistakes with time, often refining their approach to avoid capture. However, there is a possibility that towards the back end of their reign, they begin to feel impervious to capture and begin to take greater risks. This too could provide an opening.
Tom Voigt is again correct that the answers could possibly lie outside of the four canonical attacks, which have literally been examined to breaking point. Rather than solely pinning our hopes on the search for DNA within the Zodiac communications, it is imperative that we don't put all our eggs in one basket. Linking the Zodiac Killer through different cities and using geographic profiling to pinpoint locations within those cities, could provide a common name to investigate. Tom Voigt also stated "It's amazing to me that the murder of Ray Davis was not to linked the Zodiac until earlier this year. There was nobody in the Zodiac world, professional or amateur detectives - nobody had ever heard of the murder of Ray Davis (which) it's clear is probably a Zodiac murder. I think there are other cases like that in Southern California in the early 1960s, and I think it's crucial to focus on that area in that time period". While I agree again, there appears a contradiction when investigating the Zodiac case for potential leads. While the Ray Davis murder has rightly been hailed as a good avenue to pursue, there is another case that has been routinely ignored by virtually all amateur sleuths, despite the fact it has thirty pieces of ballistic evidence and an accompanying Zodiac letter. Not only does it have viable cartridge cases and bullets, it also has closer parallels to a known Zodiac murder than that of Ray Davis. Yet this crime lies virtually abandoned.
The two murders occurred on April 22nd 1986, and were featured in a Zodiac letter just two weeks later. I won't expand on this particular case any further, not only because it has been covered multiple times before on this site, but because no agency I have contacted is the slightest bit interested. Tom Voigt was amazed that nobody had linked the Ray Davis murder to the Zodiac until earlier this year, yet the Sacramento murders on April 22nd 1986 have been linked to the Zodiac Killer since 2013, but have essentially been ignored, gathering dust to this day. The constant search for answers down south is certainly an avenue worth investigating, yet the search for answers on the doorstep of the Bay Area under the Zodiac umbrella, seemingly appears an avenue worth ignoring. The contrast in approach to these two cases couldn't be more stark within the Zodiac community. It isn't just the police agencies we should be looking at. Cooperation is lacking at every level.
Using the words of Mike Oh from That Chapter, this old story involves a man who isn't the Zodiac Killer, but has probably more going for him than 99% of the suspects ever named. Those old coincidences just keep following this bloke around northern and southern California. He first came to the attention of the newspapers on October 21st 1969 regarding the Zodiac case, when he underwent six hours of questioning in Ukiah, California. Bruce Kenneth Swanson (30) was arrested by California Highway Patrol for speeding along Highway 101 (120 mph) just north of Ukiah, suspected of failing to pay a Ridgewood Motel bill. When his vehicle was searched they found a 14-inch knife, a bloody shirt and pair of shoes, and a woman's handbag. They also noted a resemblance to the infamous Zodiac Killer sketch (presumably from Lake Berryessa). However, after Napa law enforcement had traveled to Ukiah for a sit-down with Bruce Kenneth "Gift of the Gab" Swanson, the police allowed him on his merry way, satisfied with his explanations. Wouldn't you just loved to have been a fly on the wall in that interrogation room - but never mind - it probably went something like this: Bruce: "I was driving along the road like a maniac and hit a deer crossing the road, which I had to drag onto the verge, getting blood all over me. Fortunately, I happened to have a change of clothing with me because I was staying at the motel overnight. I bought the 14-inch kitchen knife and the woman's handbag for a female acquaintance of mine". Police Officer: "Ok, sounds reasonable, on your way lad".
Bruce Kenneth Swanson grew up in San Bernardino County, was a 1957 graduate of Pacific High School, married his wife Barbara Ann Gaines at the Holy Rosary Catholic Church, honeymooned in Santa Barbara and then moved into 1267 Mt. View Avenue, San Bernardino. If this is the correct location. it is 7.5 miles from the Redlands home of Elizabeth Lurene Ernstein (14), who went missing on March 19th 1968, heading back home from Moore Junior High School in Mentone. The home of Bruce Kenneth Swanson was also 11.6 miles from Terracina Drive, the location of Cheri Jo Bates murder. Map.
Tragedy then struck the family of Swanson, with his wife apparently committing suicide and killing their three children. "Mother, 28, Kills 3 Children, Self UPLAND (AP) A 28-year-old woman killed herself and her three small children Saturday by carbon monoxide poisoning, police reported. Officers said Mrs. Barbara Ann Swanson ran a hose from the exhaust pipe of her car into the vehicle and then closed the windows. The children were identified as Eric Edward, 4; Elisa Marie, 3; and Keith Kenneth, 1. Mrs. Swanson's husband, Bruce, 27, earlier had filed a missing person report and was apparently out looking for her the time the deaths occurred, police said." San Bernardino County Sun, December 19th 1966: "The tragedy which destroyed the family of Bruce K. Swanson, 27, occurred after an apparent happy ride in the car by the mother and her children. A service station attendant in La-Verne told Upland police Mrs. Swanson had asked directions to the nearest hamburger stand. The children were dressed in pajamas and bathrobes, the attendant said. In answer to his request that she 'come back soon,' Mrs. Swanson said that she would. But 12 hours later, Mrs. Swanson's husband, worried and tired after an all-night search for his family, walked into a lemon grove adjacent to the yard and found the station wagon".
Much of these details can be found online, but after a bit of brain-storming and endless sleepless nights, I have managed to make potential Zodiac communications and murders follow this man around like a proverbial shadow, turning him into one of those "good old Zodiac suspects" who never was - and will never be the Bay Area murderer in a million years. Off went Bruce Kenneth Swanson from southern California to northern California sometime in the late 1960s, just in time for the Zodiac murders and communications to begin, and nestled himself in Pleasant Hill, Contra Costa County, Despite the fact he wasn't the Zodiac Killer or a murderer, coincidence would seemingly follow him around.
On December 1st 1969 Elaine Davis (17), a Pleasant Hill High School senior disappeared from her 158 Pioneer Avenue home in Walnut Creek, believed to have been forcibly removed from the residence by one or more assailants, while in the presence of her three-year-old sister, Heidi. Her glasses and her purse containing four dollars were still in the home. Her parents described Elaine as shy, with no boyfriend or relationship problems at the time of her disappearance. Her mother had driven to nearby Concord at 10:30 pm to pick up her husband from work and was out of the residence for just 45 minutes - and it is during this period of time that Elaine Davis vanished.
On December 19th 1969 the body of a young woman (in 2000, eventually identified as Elaine Davis after an exhumation) was discovered floating off Light House Point near Santa Cruz, CA. The body was decomposed with extensive damage, described as a partial torso with arm-bones and parts of the legs. Santa Cruz's deputy county coroner, Luther Young stated "We'll work on this case until we run out of leads, but right now we have nothing that would indicate any identification. I wouldn't venture to say the body is that of Elaine Davis. We have never ruled on that possibility and we have never ruled it out".
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 friend's apartment (Greg V. Valo) 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.
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. 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.
Patricia King (20) was murdered while attending 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".
I have placed the relevant locations of these young girls in respect to Pleasant Hill in the Google map above.
Returning back to the Vallejo News Chronicle article reporting on Swanson being quizzed for six hours the morning of October 21st 1969, it stated "He had been arrested by the California Highway Patrol Monday (20th) on US 101 north of Ukiah", obviously with "squealling tires and raceing engine" so as to attract everybody to his car in Mendocino County. The following morning, after his release by Ukiah law enforcement, somebody was driving on Lake Mendocino Drive at 3:00 pm that same day (October 21st 1969) just north of Ukiah and threw a note attached to a twig at an eight-year-old girl. The crudely printed note read "You're Next - Z". A few minutes later, a man asked another eight-year-old girl in Bargain Lane what color panties she was wearing. There had also been a spate of "Zodiac sightings" in nearby Anderson Valley.
The San Francisco Chronicle ran an article on November 8th 1969, stating "The string of sadistic calls began on October 23rd 1969 (the day after the Jim Dunbar Show call). On one occasion, the caller told Williams he had gone to a Martinez school in search of victims but had left when he found police there. Another time, the teacher said the caller, whose voice he described as muffled as if speaking through a handkerchief, said he was going to "kill the lady in the blue house". These calls began two days after the Ukiah incidents.
Daniel Williams (24), a teacher at Salesian High School in Richmond, told police the caller talked of how he intended to kill several persons, then last; Sunday said: “You’re the dead duck.” Williams went out and when he returned home found someone had pried open the screen on a back door. However, a police search showed nothing was missing. But after the officers left and Williams took a drink from a bottle of opened soft drink in his refrigerator, he found it tasted “metallic” and immediately spat it out. Police reported Friday that the bottle contained more than enough arsenic to kill a human being. Williams said the caller identified himself as the still sought Zodiac Killer of five, but police discounted the idea. The caller would “sob and complain of headaches". Williams said, and on one occasion said he had gone to a Martinez school in search of victims but left when he found police there. Williams said the caller told him: “I’m too smart for them".
If the caller had told Daniel Williams that "he had gone to a Martinez school in search of victims", then he didn't have far to travel if he lived in Pleasant Hill. The city of Martinez is only 6 miles to the north, with the residence of Daniel Williams at 1234 Bush Street a mere 5 miles away.
Approximately eleven months later, a pasted card, mimicking the 13-Hole Postcard was mailed to the home address of Dr. Edward C. Adams at 102 Camino Don Miguel, Orinda, California, postmarked October 17th 1970 from Berkeley. Edward C. Adams was a psychiatrist. The card read "Mon Oct 12, 1970. Edward Adams. 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". The home address of Dr. Edward C. Adams is 8 miles from Pleasant Hill.
Seven-and-a-half months later, on June 1st 1971, a woman from South Dora Road, Ukiah complained she had received a series of threatening phone calls from an adult male, one of which stated "This is Zodiac - you're next". Her residence at South Dora Road is only 4 miles from where the threatening note of "You're Next - Z" was thrown to the eight-year-old girl walking on Lake Mendocino Drive. One man is relevant to all these locations, particularly on October 21st 1969. The city of Ukiah is 115 miles from San Francisco, yet here we have two reports of similar threats with extremely similar phraseology, separated by over a year-and-a-half, when the peak of Zodiac activity had subsided.
We have taken Bruce Kenneth Swanson from the Riverside area and the murder of Cheri Jo Bates and Elizabeth Ernstein in 1966 and 1968, through the sad demise of his wife and children, into the heart of northern California and the Pleasant Hill connected murders of Elaine Davis (12/01/69), Leona Roberts (12/10/69), Cosette Ellison (03/03/70) and Patricia King (03/05/70). We have shown the Ukiah connection through two threatening messages of "You're Next - Z" and "This is Zodiac - you're next", to the ominous communication and phone call to Dr. Edward C. Adams in Orinda and Daniel Williams in Martinez. However, Bruce Kenneth Swanson is not the Zodiac Killer, or likely the murderer of any of these young women. This presentation was put together to show how easy it is to create a series of events to paint a picture of perceived involvement in murder. The reason today we have hundreds of suspects in the Zodiac case, many of which are staunchly presented as the Zodiac Killer, is perfect testimony to the frailty of techniques such as this. If these coincidence building techniques were reliable in identifying the Zodiac Killer, everybody would have reached the same conclusion as to who the Bay Area murderer was. The fact we have hundreds of Zodiac Killer's today, is evidence that this approach to case building is wholly flawed. Of course, it goes without saying, that everybody has a better case for their suspect than the one I have presented here.
Inspired by the savage knife murders of Kathy Snoozy (15) and Deborah Furlong (14) on August 3rd 1969, the Zodiac Killer drove away from the shores of Lake Berryessa to the corner of Clinton and Main Streets in Napa. By November 9th 1969, the Zodiac Killer had retrospectively added the San Jose murders of the two teenagers into his running victim count. Just twelve days later he was claiming an eighth victim, when a letter arrived at the San Jose Police Department on November 21st 1969 with the insertion of November = 8. Bearing in mind the Zodiac Killer had now switched to brutal knife attacks, whether he was claiming them or participating in them, there is a distinct possibility that victim number eight was along these lines. He had no involvement in the Snoozy and Furlong murders, but the ferocity of the attack which left both victims absolutely brutalized, was ideal for a killer intent on stoking fear in the psyche of the American people. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that "the Snoozy youngster had 150 wounds on her back, 50 on the front and a "storm" of punctures on her neck. Deborah's body had about 100 wounds on her back and upper front and a dozen on her neck". The location of the attack was another advantageous feature for the Zodiac Killer, keen to bolster his burgeoning reputation as the most feared sociopath in the Bay Area. It was imperative that the Zodiac Killer chose his next victim wisely.
It is extremely unlikely that the Zodiac Killer was responsible for the murder of Reet Jurvetson (19) on November 14th 1969, found in dense undergrowth alongside Mulholland Drive two days later, but he was claiming victim number eight by November 21st 1969. Like the Snoozy and Furlong murders, Reet Jurvetson had been viciously stabbed 157 times in the neck, chest and torso, yet apparently transported to this location and thrown down the canyon from the roadside edge. Her body was discovered just north of Kimridge Avenue, only eight miles west of her last known address, at 5311 Melrose Avenue in Hollywood. The journey would have been west on Melrose Avenue, before heading north on Loma Vista Drive to Mulholland Canyon.
This, coupled with the fact she had consumed a meal just two hours prior to her death, could have given police an indication of where that meal had been eaten, bearing in mind the journey time from 5311 Melrose Avenue to the location of her body is about 25 minutes, and her apartment (by all indications) wasn't the site of her murder. That leaves approximately 90 minutes for events to unfold. Accounting for the fact that somebody had to murder the young woman by way of 157 stab wounds, carry or drag her body to a waiting vehicle and drive to Mulholland Drive, it is very likely she was murdered not long after seemingly being at ease in taking a meal. The victim's body showed no evidence that this crime was the result of robbery, or driven by a sexual motive. Drag marks at the crime scene indicated Reet Jurvetson had been transported to the crime scene in an upright position within a car and rolled down the ravine where she snagged in the brush just a short distance down, resulting in her being discovered by a 15-year-old birdwatcher. Her identity remained unknown until 2016.
Had the Zodiac Killer read about the case of the woman alongside Mulholland Drive, noted the similarity in the ferocity of the attack to murders he had already claimed - and so insinuated his involvement by adding November = 8 in his November 21st 1969 communication? The last time he had written the months of his murders, he was also attempting to deceive.
The November 21st 1969 communication was postmarked five days after Reet Jurvetson's body was discovered, claiming an eighth victim, but was postmarked the exact day that Doreen Gaul and James Sharp's bodies were found on November 21st 1969 at around 11:00 PM in an alley behind the residence at 1138 South Magnolia, Los Angeles. They were murdered elsewhere and stabbed in excess of 50 times. This may not seem that unusual, until we consider that Doreen Gaul and James Sharp's bodies were found less than 3 miles (by crow) from the residence of Reet Jurvetson at 5311 Melrose Avenue. Even more curious that a typewritten letter from the supposed Zodiac Killer was discovered in the room of Doreen Gaul stating "You are too beautiful to live and I must kill you". And even more unusual that the Zodiac Killer purportedly mailed a threatening letter to the Albany Times Union newspaper on August 1st 1973 claiming his next victim would be from the Albany Medical Center, only 350 feet from 570 Myrtle Avenue, the street on which Doreen Gaul had previously lived. Then we have the May 2nd 1978 Channel 9 letter mailed to KHJ-TV Studios at 5515 Melrose Avenue - also purported to be from the Zodiac Killer - and located just 437 meters from the once residence of Reet Jurvetson (pointed out to me by Toots). The murders of Kathy Snoozy, Deborah Furlong, Reet Jurvetson, James Sharp and Doreen Gaul bound by the savagery of excessive knife wounds, with the Zodiac Killer never seemingly far away. Certainly not responsible for the murders of Kathy Snoozy and Deborah Furlong - and unlikely the murderer of Reet Jurvetson, James Sharp and Doreen Gaul - but the Bay Area murderer appears to have an uncanny sense of timing and location.
I have found a little bit more information on the April 22nd 1986 murders of Laotian couple Koy Ien Saechao (48) and Choy Fow Saelee (40), who were gunned down by 15 rounds of small caliber fire on Highway 99, near downtown Sacramento. They were traveling back from a Merced County hospital, likely in the dark, early hours of Tuesday, when they were either ushered to the side of the freeway by a trailing motorist, or happened upon as they were parked up in their 4-door, light-blue 1983 Mercury. They had been mercilessly struck by a fusillade of shots through the driver side window of their vehicle and discovered upright in their seats by a person described as a "hitchhiker" in the Sacramento Bee and Santa Cruz Sentinel newspapers. He described finding the couple shortly after sunrise, at 6:30 am. Therefore, it is extremely likely the couple were murdered sometime during the early hours of April 22nd 1986. This crime bears the hallmarks of both the questioned Kathleen Johns abduction and the attack at Blue Rock Springs on July 4th 1969.
In two newspaper reports, the "hitchhiker" is described as notifying an East Nicolaus Highway Patrol officer of, what he described as an accident. There are further newspaper reports stating that the "hitchhiker" informed authorities in Marysville, Yuba County. However, we are led to believe this "hitchhiker" was never traced. These two accounts of a "hitchhiker" reporting the couple dead in their vehicle to an East Nicolaus officer and to authorities in Marysville, California, appears to suggest that this person was just a concerned citizen traveling from, or through Sacramento to Marysville on a direct route from south to north. The notion of a nefarious criminal (or Zodiac Killer) twice playing games with officialdom, appears the less likely narrative regarding the murders of Koy Ien Saechao and Choy Fow Saelee.
Assuming the "hitchhiker" reported his discovery of the couple at the 316 6th St, Marysville Police Department, then he would have reported their demise just 1.5 miles from their residence in Dorman Avenue, Yuba City. Koy Ien Saechao and Choy Fow Saelee would have been only 40 minutes from home.
The distance between the crime scene and East Nicolaus is approximately 22 miles. Had the "hitchhiker" continued north to Marysville Police Department, this would have been a further 15 miles. It appears that this person was just a helpful citizen, notifying authorities of his tragic discovery, rather than a Zodiac Killer playing "cat and mouse" games with the police. However, the newspaper reports may have been the inspiration behind the author of the May 6th 1986 "Zodiac" letter, claiming "The Blue Meannies almost caught me". This may exempt the "hitchhiker" being responsible for the crime, but doesn't necessarily preclude the Zodiac Killer being the orchestrator behind the double murder of the Laotian couple.
One can only speculate with such scant material on this case, that Koy Ien Saechao and Choy Fow Saelee had likely traveled back from the Merced County Hospital in the early hours of Tuesday, April 22nd 1986 after visiting their son, because he may have been receiving specialist care. Hence the 155 mile (2 1/2 hour) journey from Dorman Avenue to the Merced hospital. It would have been fairly dark on their return journey along Highway 99, when the killer struck. The exact time of their departure from the Merced hospital and time of their murder has not yet been nailed down, but it appears to be have been sometime before sunrise on Tuesday morning.
We have to weigh up the probability of the couple opting to take a rest by the side of Highway 99 just 40 minutes from home, with the likelihood they were flagged down by a trailing motorist, akin to the ruse supposedly orchestrated on Kathleen Johns near Modesto in 1970. This, allied to the style of the attack at Blue Rock Springs Park on July 4th 1969, is enough to pause for thought. Exactly two weeks after their murders, a letter arrived at the San Francisco Chronicle offices on May 6th 1986 claiming responsibilty for the crime, stating "I want you to know about my latest slaves I collected about two weeks ago up by Sacramento. They were killed by a freeway".
This letter has been unequivocally linked to the author of the October 28th 1987 letter, which has been equally linked to the July 31st 1969 Vallejo Times-Herald letter, detailing the murders at Blue Rock Springs Park and Lake Herman Road in Vallejo and Benicia respectively. This indicates that the origin of the 1986 "Freeway" letter lies squarely at the hands of the Zodiac Killer. Whether he was the actual murderer of Koy Ien Saechao and Choy Fow Saelee is an entirely different matter. But the crime itself, bearing in mind the limited publicity it received, appeared rather a fortuitous discovery by the Zodiac Killer had he not been present on Highway 99 in the early morning hours of April 22nd 1986.
The brutal stabbing and murder of Robert Michael Salem on April 15th 1970 is so much more compelling as a potential Zodiac crime compared to other outlier murders linked to the Bay Area killer. I will do a brief run through of what we know so far, before adding a little more to the equation. This additional information will include the Good Citizen letter mailed to Sergeant John Lynch on October 7th 1969, just four days before the murder of Paul Stine in Presidio Heights.
The Melvin Belli letter mailed on December 20th 1969 appeared to invoke the Frances Brown murder scene on December 10th 1945 at her 3941 North Pine Grove apartment in Chicago. She had been stabbed multiple times, with the knife discovered protruding from her neck. Her killer (supposedly William Heirens} had left an ominous message written in red lipstick on the wall of her apartment stating "For heavens Sake catch me Before I kill more. I cannot control myself". The Zodiac Killer had written on the Melvin Belli letter "I will loose all controol of myself. Please help me. I can not remain in control for much longer". The message on the wall of Frances Brown's apartment was written above a table lamp. It was therefore uncanny that the Zodiac Killer's next correspondence arrived on April 20th 1970, on the same day that the San Francisco Chronicle published details regarding the murder of Robert Salem, in which the killer wrote a message on the wall in blood -. and Robert Salem was a lamp designer, having them displayed in museums and art fairs around the world. If the statement of "I hope you have fun trying to figgure out who I killed" on the April 20th 1970 letter wasn't Robert Salem, it is extremely fortunate timing off the back of the Melvin Belli letter four months previously.
For a copycat killer to read into the wording contained within the Melvin Belli letter, authenticated as Zodiac correspondence, and place Zodiac on the wall of Robert Salem's 745 Stevenson Street, San Francisco apartment in similar fashion to the Frances Brown murder scene, would take a special form of insight. Unless of course, it was the Zodiac Killer who murdered the lamp designer. This drives to the heart of the question - of whether the Zodiac Killer had crossed paths with Robert Salem in the preceding months to his murder - and was specifically targeted by the Bay Area murderer. By murdering somebody of relative acclaim and scrawling his pseudonym on the wall, he could certainly expect front page coverage in the Chronicle. We have speculated that the Zodiac Killer had a penchant for the dramatic, with his references to The Mikado, his Lake Berrryessa costume and the style of his communications. He certainly appeared to have artistic leanings. If the Zodiac Killer had befriended Robert Salem, then it may have come through a mutual love of the arts, either through a museum, the theater or an arts and crafts fair.
The San Francisco Chronicle article on April 20th 1970 stated that "Salem's designs have been exhibited in England, Japan and Russia under State Department cultural exchange programs. Until last year (1969) he had been the lighting designer for restoration of the historic Haslett Warehouse on Hyde Street". In fact, the address is given as 680 Beach Street at Hyde, Russian Hill, San Francisco. It is situated just 1.5 miles from where Paul Stine began his fateful journey on October 11th 1969. Here is the view of the Haslett Warehouse from 700 Beach Street, just across the intersection of Hyde Road.
"During the 1960s, California was the site of many outdoor art fairs, which nurtured a culture of independent artists and craftspersons. At this time there was an effort to sell crafts on the sidewalks of the liberal Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco. Artists and street performers who illegally set up in public areas were frequently harassed and arrested by the police. In the 700 block of Beach Street adjacent to Victorian Park and near Fisherman's Wharf, between 15 and 25 artists would set up their displays and use lookouts to alert them to the arrival of the police". Wikipedia. This certainly would have attracted the attention of somebody like Robert Salem, who was working at the Haslett Warehouse just yards away. Is it possible the Zodiac Killer crossed paths with Salem at an art and crafts fair such as this? I wouldn't normally attempt to use such a speculative link but for October 7th 1969 Good Citizen letter, possibly mailed to Sergeant John Lynch from the Zodiac Killer.
With immense gratitude to Rubislaw32, this correspondence was mailed on October 7th 1969, just two months after the "concerned citizen" card and four days before the murder of Paul Stine in Presidio Heights on October 11th 1969. It has been dubbed the "good citizen" letter, postmarked San Mateo and signed ''A good citizen", with a footnote from Sergeant John Lynch. It stated that the writer has a strong feeling of ESP. While having these feelings, the writer writes with a pencil. On occasion, while thinking of the code letters, the pencil wrote: ''Go to 56 Beach Street. I get the name Jerry, perhaps he knows people or his name is XXXXXXX''. This letter referenced Beach Street, where Robert Salem worked during the latter months of 1969. So we have four intersecting points of interest - an art and crafts fair on Beach Street, where artist Robert Salem likely worked during the mailing of the October 7th 1969 "Beach Street" letter, with Paul Stine picking up his killer just 1.5 miles south, only four days later. It may not be compelling, but the possibility exists that the Zodiac Killer crossed paths with the lamp designer before April 15th 1970 and murdered him at his 745 Stevenson Street apartment, all while inspired by the December 20th 1969 Melvin Belli letter some four months earlier.
On December 10th 1969 a paste-up horoscope communication was mailed and postmarked PM from Sacramento entitled Day-By-Day Forecast for Cancer, followed by a similar communication mailed and postmarked PM from San Francisco on December 11th 1969 entitled Day-By-Day Forecast for Leo. Not published in the newspapers, it was clear that both of these communications had the same author just one day apart. The following is a summary of the abduction and murder of Leona LaRell Roberts by Steph54 on Websleuths:
On Wednesday, 10 December 1969, 16-year-old Leona Larell Roberts worked her first day at a part-time job at the White Front Discount Store in Pleasant Hill. After her 1-5 p.m. shift, she drove to her boyfriend's apartment (749 Tormey Ave, Rodeo) where she planned to cook him dinner. At the time, Leona attended K's American Beauty College in Napa, where she also lived with her mother. Within 15 minutes of arriving at her boyfriend's apartment, a neighbor heard a girl scream. The neighbor called the sheriff and soon after heard someone running down the stairs at the back of the apartment house followed by the slam of a door from the direction of the downstairs apartment where Leona's boyfriend lived. When the boyfriend arrived, he saw Leona's red VW out front but did not find her inside the apartment. The apartment was dark and the back door was unlocked. He noticed scuff marks on the wall near the back door. He found that a pair of his pants had been removed from the bedroom closet and left on the living room couch, the belt missing. He noticed Leona's work smock crumpled on the couch. A sheriff's deputy arrived 30 minutes after the call. Another neighbor told the deputy of seeing a white male, about 25 years old, short blonde hair, acting suspicious. He walked several times from the front door to the rear of a blue station wagon before driving away. 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.
From the postmark dates and times it is extremely likely the Forecast for Cancer communication was mailed prior to the abduction/murder of Leona Roberts, with the Forecast for Leo communication likely mailed after her abduction/murder. This meant that the author of the Cancer communication on December 10th in Sacramento traveled to San Francisco to mail the second correspondence. The most direct route is shown below and uses only Interstate 80. This journey between communications passes just 0.9 miles from the 749 Tormey Avenue residence from where Leona Roberts was abducted.
Less than 24 hours after the abduction/murder of Leona Roberts, the Forecast for Leo communication arrived. Was the perpetrator using a play on words to hint that her forecast was in his hands? The Forecast for Cancer communication was emblazoned with the pasted text of Zodiac - and we know that the Bay Area murder has become synonymous with abduction and murder. How many abductions and murders occurred in the Bay Area on December 10th 1969? Yet here we have two sinister communications mailed in Sacramento, followed by San Francisco, where the most direct route using Interstate 80 passes just 0.9 miles from the abduction site of Leona Roberts, which is then followed by a communication entitled Forecast for Leo. If this is a coincidence, it is one hell of a lucky one.
The question arises though - was the author of the two communications the Zodiac Killer or an impostor? Had somebody close to Leona Roberts planned her murder, and by mailing these communications with the word Zodiac in bold lettering, attempted to shift the focus of the investigation onto the Bay Area murderer, thereby making him the convenient fall guy? However, if the author of the Cancer and Leo communications wanted to achieve this goal, why would he be so cryptic? By sending a correspondence with nothing more than a heading of Day-By-Day Forecast for Leo, you are leaving open the possibility that investigators will not make the connection between the communication and the abduction of Leona Roberts. If you are attempting to lay the abduction squarely at the feet of Zodiac, then you simply create a communication using the pseudonym Zodiac and mentioning Leona Roberts by name, thereby creating no ambiguity. This may put the ball back in Zodiac's court.
But it doesn't end there. Two more Zodiac communications were mailed either side of the above two forecasts. The first was mailed on December 7th 1969 from Fairfield, with the second arriving from Fairfield on December 16th 1969. These again fall directly along Interstate 80. If the four communications were the work of the Zodiac Killer, then we have a murderer mailing a correspondence from Fairfield on December 7th, before traveling northeast to Sacramento, then abducting Leona Roberts in Rodeo and continuing on to San Francisco, before heading back to Fairfield on December 16th. The author of four consecutive communications would possibly be using one direct route back and forth.
The Bus Bomb letter mailed on November 9th 1969 claimed seven victims, while the Melvin Belli letter mailed on December 20th 1969 claimed a search for number nine and ten. The December 7th 1969 Fairfield letter claimed no update to victim seven, leaving open the possibility that the abduction and murder of Leona Roberts on December 10th 1969 was victim number eight.
The nearly nude body of Nancy Darlene Feusi (23), a separated mother of five, was discovered by a fisherman at 6:30 am on July 22nd 1973 alongside Pleasant Grove Road and Steelhead Creek, approximately half a mile north of West Riego Road in Sutter County. Dressed in a miniskirt and bikini-style briefs, with a blouse discovered nearby, she had been brutally stabbed 29 times in the stomach, chest and arm in what appeared a sexually driven crime. Shoe prints and tire tracks were discovered close to where the young woman was found, opening up the possibility she was murdered elsewhere and transported to the scene of the crime.
Earlier that morning she had been dancing at Plumbers Hall, 5841 Newman Court in East Sacramento, with her last sighting alive at 43rd Street and 11th Avenue, about 2 miles southwest of Plumbers Hall. This sighting was only 3 1/2 hours prior to her body being discovered alongside Pleasant Grove Road, 15 miles north. It was clearly evident she had been transported to the location she was ultimately found by a vehicle, which investigators surmised would have been heavily bloodstained. Therefore, the location of her murder was considered to lie elsewhere, possibly close to the area she was last seen alive.
Below I have added the relevant locations regarding Nancy's last known movements that morning.
The quickest route from downtown Sacramento to Pleasant Grove Road is via Interstate 5 and Highway 99, before turning east at the interchange of West Riego Road, traveling 2.74 miles to Pleasant Grove Road and then heading north for just half a mile to the body deposition site. Clearly, the murderer had many earlier opportunisties to dispose of her body on the 15-mile journey north, so one could be forgiven for believing that this location was familiar to the killer as a safe option. This opens up the possibility that the murderer was actually traveling home that morning and dropped off the body of the young woman, not only somewhere he had likely previously visited, but en route to his residence, slightly further north. Continuing north at the interchange for just 10 miles, brings you to the the census-designated place of East Nicolaus that may be familiar to some with respect to the murders of Koy Ien Saechao and Choy Fow Saelee.
On Tuesday April 22nd 1986, Laotian couple Koy Ien Saechao (48) and Choy Fow Saelee (40) were traveling back on the two-and-a-half hour journey to their residence in Dorman Road, Yuba City after visiting their son in a Merced CA hospital, situated in the area of the San Joaquin Valley of Northern California. They were only 45 minutes from home when it was believed they had opted to take a rest on the roadside edge (or ushered over by a second vehicle), near the interchange of Highway 99 and I-5 Sacramento and attacked without remorse. How the killer approached is open to question, but the assailant unleashed a barrage of gunfire into their car blowing out both front side windows, testimony to which, was the 15 small caliber shell casings scattered and retrieved from beside the vehicle. The couple suffered multiple shots to the head. Two weeks later, a letter arrived at the San Francisco Chronicle purportedly from the Zodiac Killer laying claim to the savage killings. There were reports in the newspaper that an unidentified "hitchiker" flagged down an East Nicolaus patrol officer and directed him to the murder site, although only describing it as a car accident. In the 1986 Letter the author stated "The Blue Meannies almost caught me", bringing forth the notion he was describing the encounter with the patrol officer and effectively taunting the police.
The distance between the crime scenes (as the crow flies) of Koy Ien Saechao and Choy Fow Saelee, to the deposition site of Nancy Feusi, is just 8 miles - and on both occasions the perpetrator may have been heading to East Nicolaus or somewhere nearby. Of course, the two crimes are separated by thirteen years and therefore probably unrelated to one another, but it was important to put the murder of Nancy Feusi into perspective from a Zodiac standpoint.
Judith Hakari was a nurse at Sutter Hospital, who disappeared heading back to the Markston Apartments on March 7th 1970 and later discovered murdered. At 11:30 pm. Hakari calls her fiance to tell him she's leaving Sutter Memorial Hospital where she works as a nurse. By 1:30 in the morning, she has still not come home. Her fiance, waiting at her apartment, begins to worry. "He went out to the apartment complex parking lot and discovered her car was parked in the assigned space that she had," Links said. But Judith was nowhere to be seen. She was found one month later, strangled and bludgeoned to death. "Some hikers discovered a body in a shallow grave up in the town of Weimar, in Placer County. And during their investigation they determined that it was Judith Hakari," Links said.
Sutter Hospital is just two miles from the location where Nancy Feusi was last seen - although it appears the murderer in the respective cases headed in different directions to conceal the body.
Nancy Feusi was last seen at approximately 3:00 am on July 22nd 1973 and discovered at 6:30 am, just 3 1/2 hours later. The journey time by vehicle from 43rd Street and 11th Avenue in Sacramento to Pleasant Grove Road is about 30 minutes, thereby leaving a shortfall of 3 hours. Had she befriended her killer at Plumbers Hall while dancing and met her demise shortly afterwards? Had this been the case, it is likely the murderer headed to somewhere he was sure he wouldn't be spotted while disposing of the body, while minimizing the time he was driving around with a body in the bloodstained vehicle. The fact that he drove just 15 miles to this "out of the way" location, could suggest it was somebody familiar with the area and quite possibly somebody who didn't live too far beyond.
Thanks to Chaucer from Zodiac Killer Site forum for bringing this case to my attention.
Doreen Gaul (19) and James Sharp (15) were murdered on November 21st 1969, their bodies discovered in a Los Angeles alleyway, between Arapahoe Street and Magnolia Avenue. A threatening typed letter signed "The Zodiac Killer" was discovered in Doreen Gaul's belongings with the message "So you think you can fool the old killer, ha ha. I know all your movements and the time they are made. Time is short, enjoy life while you can. You are to beautiful to live and I must kill you".
On August 1st 1973, a letter postmarked Albany, New York was mailed to the Albany Times Union newspaper declaring "You were wrong, I am not dead or in the hospital. I am alive and well and I'm going to start killing again. Below is the name and location of my next victim. But you had better hurry because I'm going to kill her August 10th at 5:00 pm when the shift change. Albany is a nice town". It contained a code stating "(name) Albany Medical Center this only the beginning". The Albany Letter was a direct response to a New York Daily News article about the Zodiac Killer.
The two-page news article was published on July 22nd 1973, speculating on whether the Zodiac Killer was in "a mental hospital or dead", so it wasn't too surprising that the author of the Albany Letter replied just nine days later and began with "You were wrong, I am not dead or in the hospital. I am alive and well". And then added a cryptogram threatening a medical center. But was the Zodiac Killer or hoaxer a resident of Albany, New York, or had traveled there for family or business? Albany Medical Center was 350 feet from Myrtle Avenue, the street on which Doreen Gaul previously lived. The exact address was 570 Myrtle Avenue, shown here on Google Maps.
Five months after the Albany Letter, The Exorcist film was released in the USA on December 26th 1973 - a supernatural horror movie showcasing the fight between good and evil through the practice of exorcism and the Catholic Church. Sixteen or seventeen days later, on January 11th/12th 1974, somebody claiming to be the Zodiac Killer telephoned the San Francisco police and several news outlets, stating they had killed a woman and placed her body in a Daly City church. Despite an extensive search, no such victim was discovered. This newspaper cutting is courtesy of Seagull from the Zodiac Killer Site forum.
Was the release of The Exorcist film the trigger for the phone calls? These telephone calls arrived at about the same time as a San Francisco Chronicle publication on January 11th 1974 by Paul Avery, entitled "Weird Goings-On At the Movies" and describing the audience reaction to The Exorcist film. The Zodiac Killer may have been responding to this Paul Avery newspaper article by phoning the police and applying a religious angle to his threats. A movie featuring Catholicism and exorcism, shortly followed by the claim of a "murdered woman in a church" would be remiss to ignore. The 01/29/74 Exorcist Letter postmark has been linked to San Mateo County, California, in which Daly City is the largest city.
On July 10th 1972, Jan and Brian Neven requested the assistance of psychics, reporting that paranormal activity and fires were spontaneously occurring in their home in Daly City (bordering San Francisco). This "poltergeist activity" eventually drew the services of Greek Orthodox priest Father Karl Pazelt, renowned for performing exorcisms.
This story was featured heavily 18 months later in a New York Times article on January 25th 1974, stating "Father Pazelt said the family members were reportedly the victims of peculiar forces that he labeled as “exterior signs of the devil.” At times, he said, the devil choked them by the throat, knocked them unconscious, threw knives and glasses through the air and caused objects to break, burn, move, and fly.” Father Pazelt concluded that After receiving permission from San Francisco Archbishop Joseph T. McGucken, Father Pazelt performed 14 exorcisms of the Nevens family and Dr. Freda Morris in 1972-73". If the Zodiac Killer (or impersonator) had been living in New York (in or near Albany), could this New York Times article only four days prior to the mailing of the Exorcist Letter on January 29th 1974, coupled with The Exorcist film, have been the inspiration behind the Exorcist communication? The Daly City escapades of Father Karl Pazelt also appeared in a January 19th 1974 Watertown Daily (New York) feature, describing the unfolding drama in the Nevens family home.link.
With the former home address of Doreen Gaul, the typed letter and her eventual murder, the Albany Letter, and the New York publications regarding Father Karl Pazelt occurring in the ten days run-up to the Exorcist Letter, can we argue a case for the Zodiac Killer in New York on these dates? Or was he firmly resident in the Bay Area and vicinity, claiming a "church murder" as a response to Paul Avery or the recent release of the Exorcist film - or both?
Nikki Alexandra Benedict (14) had left her friend Kathie Gomski's house in Halper Road, Poway on May 1st 1967 shortly after 6:00 pm, to walk the 2 1/2 mile journey to her home at 13530 Olive Tree Lane, when approximately 25 minutes into her journey her life was cruelly snatched away. She was just passing the intersection of 12784 Poway and Carriage Road, traveling along a dirt pathway that straddled the Poway Road, when a man laying in wait leapt from a grassy depression and viciously attacked the young teenage girl with a short-bladed knife. She had a knife wound to her neck and bruises on her elbows and knees, but the fatal injuries were two stab wounds that penetrated her heart. The young girl did not succumb to her injuries immediately, with a trail of blood extending 200 yards to the west side of Carriage Road as she desperately sought help near a local shopping center. At approximately 6:30 pm, an 11-year-old boy, Ronald Fisk, discovered the critically injured girl and raced away on his bicycle to seek help from his father, who worked at a nearby market store. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of responding personnel, Nikki Benedict would be pronounced dead upon her arrival at Palomar Hospital.
Nikki Benedict would usually travel the 2.3 mile journey home from Meadowbrook Junior High School on the school bus, however, on this Monday she visited her friend Kathie in Halper Road to discuss an art project. Kathie was planning to escort Nikki along the initial part of her journey home, but was unable to accompany her friend because she had to stay home for her dinner. Nikki Benedict would have traveled south, before heading east alongside the Poway Road toward home, or traveled southeast from Halper Road to the intersection of Poway and Carriage Road, near to where her body was discovered. Whether she had been trailed by her attacker or had walked into his path has yet to be fully determined, but the attack was swift and deadly, with no robbery or sexual interference apparent. One eyewitness recalled a white man fleeing the scene, although no solid suspects have subsequently emerged from this sighting and the case has remained relatively trapped in time for just over 52 years.
Links have been forged to the Riverside murder of Cheri Jo Bates on October 30th 1966, some six months earlier. She too was savagely attacked with a short-bladed knife, with the Zodiac Killer belatedly laying claim to her murder on March 13th 1971 when he wrote to the Los Angeles Times, stating "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". Poway, San Diego is 83 miles south of Terracina Drive in Riverside, where Cheri Jo Bates body was ultimately discovered on Halloween morning by Riverside City College caretaker, Cleophus Martin.
I always find it helpful to provide a map regarding any crime scenes, so below I have identified the relevant locations in the murder of Nikki Benedict, despite the fact the topography has changed over the last half-century.
On the map I have highlighted a second attack - that of Patricia Lee Kuzara (7), who was murdered while walking home on Saturday, September 28th 1974, with her badly beaten body discovered the following morning in a field just off Midland and Hilleary Road, Poway, just alongside the First Baptist Church. She was just a few blocks from her home in Putney Road when the attacker struck, inflicting numerous blows to her head with a blunt instrument. She had been staying with family friends/babysitters approximately 2 1/2 miles away and had left shortly before dusk (6:30 pm) according to the friends. Why on earth a babysitter would allow a seven-year-old girl to walk this distance unaccompanied I have no idea? Four days after her body was discovered, a 40-inch long angle iron with pieces of wood attached was found on Hilleary Road. It was believed to have been innocently moved from its original location in the field.
Sergeant Doug Clements was of the opinion that the killer probably lived nearby, creating understandable apprehension in the local community. The killing of Patty Lee Kuzara was only a mile from the murder site of Nikki Benedict, and both were attacked alongside the Poway Road in a grassy area. Both young girls lived only 660 meters from one another. Investigators in a press release stated that the Patty Lee Kuzara murder appeared sexually motivated, so whether any connection exists to the murder of Nikki Benedict is sheer speculation. Had the murderer of Nikki Benedict failed to complete his objective that day because of the vigorous defence she displayed in countering his attack, and therefore had chosen easier prey in his subsequent attacks? (if any). Of course, the two may be totally unrelated.
The question for most Zodiac sleuths, is whether any credence can be placed in his Los Angeles Letter of March 13th 1971, of "a hell of a lot more down there". The Zodiac Killer certainly claimed or insinuated many more murders than the canonical five attributed to him, so whether his exploits took him to Poway on May 1st 1967 is wholly dependent on which side of the fence you sit. The timeline bridges the gap between Riverside and Lake Herman Road - and the April 30th 1967 Bates' letters were mailed only one day before the murder of Nikki Benedict - and did promise "there will be more".
Here is a complimentary video venerating the memory Nikki Benedict. Zodiac Killer Insights.
In two previous articles we analyzed the design of the Pines Card in association with the disappearance and likely murder of Donna Lass on September 6th 1970. There are multiple possibilities, notably  The Pines Card contained nothing of value  The punch-hole fell over the Donner Memorial State Park, hinting at the young woman's name in similar fashion to the Monticello Card four months later, but had no directions to her burial site  The Pines Card contained clues to her name and burial site  The Pines Card contained directions to something Zodiac placed for investigators or the public to find, thereby (if found) bolstering the notion he was involved in her disappearance and murder. This could have been placed at a predetermined location prior to the mailing of the Pines Card. Or the most likely,  The Zodiac Killer crafted the Pines Card, but had absolutely nothing to do with her demise. This is the route we shall take in the following examination.
I have come to the inescapable conclusion that the Zodiac Killer had nothing to do with the disappearance of Donna Lass from the Sahara Tahoe Hotel & Casino on September 6th 1970, and his willingness to suggest such an involvement was prescribed by the writings of the San Francisco Chronicle. On September 26th 1970, the disappearance of Donna Lass was extensively covered in a San Francisco Chronicle newspaper article entitled Nurse Vanishes -- A Tahoe Mystery. This must have been a goldmine for the Zodiac Killer, with all the ingredients contained in the article a compelling blend of circumstantial evidence just waiting to be picked. The Zodiac Killer knew that the circumstances surrounding the young woman's move from San Francisco to South Lake Tahoe was the perfect cocktail to convince investigators he was a viable candidate in her murder. The added benefit for the Bay Area killer was the suggestion of a link to the murder of another nurse, Judith Hakari, abducted on March 7th 1970, and later discovered in a shallow grave in Weimar. The Zodiac Killer could effectively link himself to two murders for the price of one.
Many murders passed through the pages of the Chronicle newspaper, but this story had everything the killer required. Of course, he must have realized by now, that if he had mailed a communication immediately after the newspaper article, stating an involvement in her disappearance, then it would appear all too convenient, with his writings likely dismissed as a killer just latching on to the latest crime story. But by waiting months, as he had done with Kathleen Johns, his claims (in his mind) may carry more weight with investigators. In other words, the publicity had died down regarding the disappearance of Donna Lass, yet he still had the crime in the forefront of his mind even after six months, thereby adding validity to such a claim.
Rubislaw32, a contributor to this site, touched on the idea that the March 22nd 1971 Pines Card may have been influenced by the abduction and murder of Judith Hakari. This idea carries much weight, when we consider the inspiration for the Pines Card was likely generated from the September 26th 1970 newspaper article six months earlier. The article was rich pickings for a killer who had previously murdered taxicab driver Paul Stine in the Presidio Heights area of San Francisco, so close to the Letterman General Hospital where Donna Lass had previously worked. The disappearance of a woman 150 miles from San Francisco, who had recent connections to San Francisco in the Presidio Heights district, must have been more than the Zodiac Killer could have wished for. Many disappearances and murders had occurred much closer to the Bay Area than the Lake Tahoe Mystery, but this one was covered comprehensively by the Chronicle and had the details the Zodiac Killer couldn't have failed to notice. We look for overlapping features in the Presidio Heights murder of Paul Stine by Zodiac, with the movements of Donna Lass and her eventual abduction from South Lake Tahoe, noting the location of the Letterman General Hospital with respect to the Presidio Park the killer escaped into. We then take the Pines Card depicting Incline Village and draw parallels to the crimes based on their locations, thereby concluding a possible Zodiac involvement in both. The problem being with this line of thinking, is the Zodiac Killer knew that these conclusions would be drawn when he created the Pines Card - because he had read the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper article and noted these comparisons himself. The Zodiac Killer was effectively forcing you into making an unwarranted connection, thereby bolstering a case for his involvement in the Donna Lass case. Everything required for the Pines Card sat in the September 26th 1970 pubication.
All the Zodiac Killer required was a map of Lake Tahoe and the above newspaper article to create the perfect ruse. He had noted that a connection was being considered between the cases of Donna Lass and Judith Hakari, with the Sutter Hospital nurse having been discovered "buried in a shallow grave in the Sierra foothills of Placer County". Therefore, to give credence to his claims in the murder of Donna Lass (and possibly Judith Hakari), what better way than to place the pasted phrase of "around in the snow" upside down, to give the impression Donna Lass is buried in a shallow grave, and thereby tying the two cases together in modus operandi. Then place the pasted location of "Sierra Club" on the Pines Card to subconsciously plant the seed of a link to the "Sierra" of "the Sierra foothills of Placer County", where Judith Hakari's remains were subsequently unearthed.
The newspaper article told us that Donna Lass worked at the Sahara Tahoe Hotel on the south side of the lake, so even a modicum of investigation to discover the location of the local police department, would allow the Zodiac Killer to direct the investigators "past the Lake Tahoe areas" to the the pine-laden wilderness and a likely burial site. Then came the pièce de résistance in the Pines Card, further forging a link between the Zodiac Killer, Donna Lass and San Francisco. The Zodiac Killer wanted investigators to draw the conclusion he had previously targeted Donna Lass in the Presidio area of San Francisco, and so driving them to the conclusion that he had traveled to South Lake Tahoe to complete his mission of killing the young woman Unfortunately, the Zodiac Killer may have overestimated the ability of police to discover the true meaning of "sought victim 12".
By using the past tense of seek in "sought", the Zodiac Killer was attempting to convince investigators he had previously trailed Donna Lass as victim number 12. The newspaper article gave us all the movements of Donna Lass, stating "Miss Lass became a first-aid nurse at the Sahara last June, living the previous five months in San Francisco and working at the Letterman General Hospital at the Presidio". The Zodiac Killer therefore knew that Donna Lass was in San Francisco in the January of 1970. He was only claiming 10 victims by April 20th 1970, and 12 victims by June 26th 1970, so it wasn't difficult for the Zodiac Killer to work out, that he could have "sought her as victim 12" before she left for South Lake Tahoe in June. The Zodiac Killer would have been seeking Donna Lass as victim number 12 sometime between April 20th 1970 and when she began her new job in June. By using the past participle of "seek", the Zodiac Killer was attempting to convince investigators his interest in Donna Lass had begun long before her disappearance - and in doing so, hopefully reinforcing a connection between San Francisco and South Lake Tahoe, with him as the common denominator between the two.
On March 19th 1971, the San Francisco ran an advertisement for condominiums at Incline Village by Lake Tahoe. The Zodiac Killer, having now waited the necessary time to authenticate his claim in the disappearance and murder of Donna Lass, lay the final piece of the jigsaw. His ruse was now complete.
Here we will take a further look at the disappearance of Donna Lass from the Sahara Tahoe Hotel & Casino on September 6th 1970, attempting to discover the approximate area she was disposed of or buried. The last article on this subject pinpointed an area along California State Route 89 by Pole Creek Trailhead. The Zodiac Killer (if responsible for her murder) had previously made two phone calls to police, directing them to the crime scenes at Blue Rock Springs Park and Lake Berryessa. When the Pines Card was mailed on March 22nd 1971 it held directions within its design, such as "Sierra Club", "pass Lake Tahoe areas" and a punch-hole on the right side. The postcard was mailed to the San Francisco Chronicle and was addressing the police.
Here is a snippet from the South Lake Tahoe Police Department website: "The South Lake Tahoe Police Department (SLTPD) was formed July 1, 1967. The first home of the department was on the southwest corner of Lake Tahoe Boulevard at “D” Street. This is currently the present location of the City Corp. Yard. By the spring of 1969, SLTPD had 33 officers, seven civilian positions, and nine vehicles. We needed a bigger facility. So during the tenure of John Crow, the second Chief of Police at the helm of SLTPD, the Police Department moved to a month-to-month rental facility at Fremont Avenue and Mono Way. This structure is now the home of Nel’s Hardware store. This building was not constructed as a police facility, and eventually another move was needed. In April of 1973, the department moved to its current location in the El Dorado County Government Center, on Johnson Boulevard".
All three of these locations sit under the south side of the lake, so the instructions on the Pines Card to "pass Lake Tahoe areas" can only mean one of two things - the police needed to travel along the east side of the lake using US Route 50, towards Incline Village (the area depicted on the Pines Card), or travel along the west side of the lake, towards the Donner Memorial State Park and the Sierra Club at Clair Tappaan Lodge (also depicted on the Pines Card). See below.
If the killer was living or vacationing on the south side of the lake, then he may very well have crossed paths with his target at the Sahara Tahoe Hotel & Casino, the Monte Verdi Apartments at 3893 Pioneer Trail (where Donna Lass lived), or somewhere close by. Whether he murdered Donna Lass first, then disposed of her body, or murdered her at the location he concealed her body, his most direct and convenient route of travel from the south side of the lake, is to "pass the Lake Tahoe areas" on the east or west side, via a major route. California State Route 89 and US Route 50 both skirt the lake on either side, and more importantly, head towards Incline Village and the Sierra Club at Clair Tappaan Lodge.
A newspaper article stated that 'the site depicted on the 'Pines Card' was from an advertisement published last Sunday by several newspapers. It was an artist's rendition of houses among the trees at a Boise Cascade Company project at Incline Village, where construction has just begun on the development. While much of the Sierra area is under several feet of snow, Incline Village has only two feet on the ground. Police went to the area to determine if a search is possible'. Chief Lauritzen added "There's no point to a search at this time. It's unlikely a victim would be uncovered before spring". This indicates that a search was to be initiated in this area, but it clearly failed to unearth the remains of Donna Lass. Parking your vehicle in the area of Incline Village under construction doesn't seem the most sensible choice to start digging a grave. When we consider that the July 13th 1971 Monticello Card revealed the name "Kathy" at the Oak Hill Memorial Park, and the Pines Card overlayed over the Sierra Club of Clair Tappaan Lodge revealed the name "Donna" (at the Donner Memorial State Park), it seems as though the Incline Village advertisement was used more as a template, rather than the actual burial site. The act of the Zodiac Killer adding "Sierra Club" to the postcard was clearly significant in this instance.
Using a sprinkling of geographic profiling and the words on the Pines Card, the Zodiac Killer would be "past the Lake Tahoe areas" at Tahoe City, where California State Route 89 breaks away from the lake. He now has to effectively bury Donna Lass between Tahoe City and the Donner Memorial State Park by Truckee. Is he going to risk performing this task by Alpine Meadows or Olympic Valley?, or travel to the much more secluded area by Pole Creek Trailhead, which is exactly mid-distance between Tahoe City and the Donner Memorial State Park - this is the first and logical choice to avoid detection. There are some other turn off areas in this region of California State Route 89 where the Zodiac Killer could have disposed of a body, but mid-distance in a secluded area and sitting under his crosshairs on the Pines Card overlay, seems as good as any.
The Zodiac Killer mailed the Bus Bomb Letter on November 9th 1969, opening with the lines "This is the Zodiac speaking up to the end of Oct I have killed 7 people. I have grown rather angry with the police for their telling lies about me. So I shall change the way the collecting of slaves. I shall no longer announce to anyone. When I committ my murders, they shall look like routine robberies, killings of anger, + a few fake accidents, etc". Then on page 6 he gives us the Zodiac crosshairs with five X's marked on the circumference, accompanied by "PS. Be sure to print the part I marked out on page 3 or I shall do my thing". These X's are meant to be the areas he is threatening to target if his demands are not followed. The crosshairs can be spun around and placed over a map to correlate with the attacks at Lake Herman Road, Blue Rock Springs, Lake Berrryessa and Presidio Heights, like so. But this only accounts for four attacks and five murders, when clearly the Zodiac Killer is claiming five attacks and seven murders at this juncture. The additional attack he was claiming, was the August 3rd 1969 double stabbing of Kathy Snoozy and Deborah Furlong in San Jose, to which he added "Aug" on the November 8th 1969 'Dripping Pen' card. Furthermore, the inaccuracy of attempting to transfer the crosshairs from the Bus Bomb Letter, to overlay onto a map, is extremely problematic. The Zodiac Killer had placed very small dots around the crosshairs to represent the numbers on a clock face. Therefore, to be far more accurate, we need to place the perfect circle of a clock face over a map and locate the five X's he has placed around the circumference.
One thing to remember here, is that many people have centered these crosshairs over Mount Diablo, when by November 9th 1969 the Zodiac Killer had never referenced Mount Diablo in any of his communications. We would have to wait until June 26th 1970 for the Zodiac Killer to send us the Phillips 66 Road Map with his crosshairs centered over Mount Diablo. These crosshairs had the numbers 3, 6 and 9 around its face, also suggestive of a clock face. So, although the Bus Bomb Letter crosshairs came with no indication of where they (or a clock face) should be placed, it is apparent in hindsight they were to be placed over Mount Diablo. There is also no indication in the Bus Bomb Letter that we should try in any way to rotate the five X's around to suit our needs. Below, I have placed a clock face over Mount Diablo to locate the positions 6, 8, 9, 10 and 11, marked out by the Zodiac Killer
Interestingly, the Zodiac Killer was claiming five attacks by November 9th 1969, and positions 1 to 5 are vacant on the clock face. The first X falls over position 6, which heads off towards San Jose, the site of the murders he was claiming just one day earlier. Position 10 on the clock face passes directly over Rodeo, the location where Leona LaRell Roberts was to be abducted from in one month from now, on December 10th 1969 (the date matching the clock face). Position 11 passes directly over Pacific Union College in Angwin - the college significant to the attack at Lake Berryessa on September 27th 1969. Position 8 passes over Oakland, brought into play, when on June 18th 1970 a letter was mailed from somebody claiming to be the Zodiac Killer, enclosing two Oakland A's tickets for Gerald Tagert. Position 9 passes directly over Tamalpais Valley, 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.
I don't know whether these examples highlighted were the intention behind the five X's on the circumference, but it can be strongly argued, based on the Zodiac Killer's introduction in the Bus Bomb Letter, that he was threatening more attacks without announcing the murders he was to accomplish. The statement next to the crosshairs of "PS. Be sure to print the part I marked out on page 3 or I shall do my thing", suggests that these five X's would be the result of non-compliance, rather than the attacks he had already carried out. The Zodiac is split into 12 signs just like a clock face - beginning at zero degrees longitude - which is maybe why the Zodiac Killer attributed zero to the north face of his crosshairs on the June 26th 1970 Phillips Map. Had the Zodiac Killer originally intended to commit 12 attacks when he began his murderous campaign of terror, thereby completing the circle he had created for himself? Something to which he would later realize was simply unachievable.
After the final flurry of communications had ceased in 1971, many have speculated on a killer who upped sticks and left the state of California. One dubious Zodiac letter was received nearly a decade later in 1981, postmarked Atlanta, Georgia and mailed to the television station WXIA-TV "11 Alive" at 1611 West Peachtree Street, 30308 on March 8th. Wayne Williams was a serial killer attributed with twenty plus murders in Atlanta between 1979 and 1981, primarily that of children. However, Wayne Williams was only ever convicted in the murders of Jimmy Ray Payne (21) on April 23rd 1981 and Nathaniel Cater (27) on May 22nd 1981, both of whom were adults. This has led some people to question whether Wayne Williams was responsible for any or some of the murders attributed to him. Wayne Williams wasn't arrested until June 21st 1981, which in retrospect, makes the alleged Zodiac letter on March 8th 1981 claiming he was responsible for some of the Atlanta child murders even more interesting. This letter was mailed 3 1/2 months prior to the arrest of Wayne Williams. Is it possible the Zodiac Killer was responsible for some or any of the child murders just over 2,300 miles from California, bearing in mind the doubt that has surrounded the crimes? Let us examine the letter and a similar threat received in the same timeframe.
Two black children and three black adults were murdered in March that year, with the three adults aged between 20 and 23 years, murdered between March 20th and March 25th of 1981. The letter stated:
Hello its me. Haven't you people figured out who is killing these little people yet. I'll give you a hint, I used to be in San Francisco. I used to stalk women, but I like to kill children now. At all my victims bodies I have left certain clues, but I guess it's too much for you Rebels to handle. So I guess I'll have to tell you. I'll (to) kill children because they are so easy to "pick off: Buy the way, if you still have letters from the other murders, I am not writing in the same hand writing.
Both letters contain racist overtones, with the use of the capitalized Rebels and the demand to stop Forced Bussing.
Patriots (also known as Revolutionaries, Continentals, Rebels, or American Whigs) were those colonists of the Thirteen Colonies who rejected British rule during the American Revolution and declared the United States of America as an independent nation in July 1776. Their decision was based on the political philosophy of republicanism as expressed by spokesmen such as Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Thomas Paine. They were opposed by the Loyalists who supported continued British rule. Soldiers fighting for the southern states in the American Civil War were called rebels. Wikipedia. Therefore, by invoking the title of Rebels may indicate the identity or character of the person behind the letter, particularly if he was also responsible for the short note, stating "Please stop forced bussing or I will kill 3 more black boys in Atlanta in March".
Busing, also called desegregation busing in the United States, was the practice of transporting students to schools within or outside their local school districts as a means of rectifying racial segregation. Although American schools were technically desegregated in 1954 by the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision handed down in Brown v. Board of Education (1954), in practice they remained largely segregated owing to trends in housing and neighbourhood segregation. Busing came to be the main remedy by which the courts sought to end racial segregation in the U.S. schools, and it was the source of what was arguably the biggest controversy in American education in the later 20th century.
With extremely limited information available to be gleaned from these communications, we have to consider the possibility that the author chose the WXIA-TV "11 Alive" Station at 1611 West Peachtree Street because he may have lived or worked somewhere close to this location. Because the letter was mailed on March 8th 1981, we shall look at three of the recent victims from January 22nd 1981 to March 2nd 1981 - that of Terry Pue (15), Patrick Baltazar (11) and Joseph Bell (15), who were last seen at 4796 Memorial Drive, 201 Courtland Street and Westview Drive respectively. These locations are all within an 8.5 mile radius of the television station. But it is the abduction and murder of Terry Pue on January 22nd 1981 that we will concentrate on, primarily because of the telephone calls that accompanied this crime. Telephone calls with a racist overtone, similar to the correspondence above. These calls and letters could have been a diversionary tactic to throw off police, employed to place the murders squarely at the feet of the Ku Klux Klan or some other white supremacy group, but equally we have to consider the Zodiac Killer because of the claims in the letter - however slim that possibility.
An excellent website covering the Atlanta Child Murders is http://atkid.weebly.com, from which this excerpt has been taken: "Terry Pue's body was found off Sigman Road in Rockdale County by a passerby. This was where an anonymous man, on January 8th, called to tell police to find a boy's body. When police came up empty handed, the man called again, claiming he put another body there, just before Pue was found. Another call, believed to be from the same man, was traced to North Indian Creek Drive. A couple years later, a second skeletal body was found in this area".
These were the sort of 'cat and mouse' games employed by the Zodiac Killer - although it is extremely difficult to sell this notion on the basis of a few telephone calls - even if they did contain a racial element to their content. This was featured in episode six (season 2) of the Mindhunter series by Joe Penhall. The author of the letter stated that he had left "certain clues" at all his victims bodies. If this were the case in respect to Terry Pue, what could he have possibly meant?
Earlier this year, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Atlanta police chief Erika Shields announced that, following advancements in DNA technology, the city would be retesting evidence associated with the Atlanta child murders, a series of gruesome killings of more than 25 black children and adolescents in the late 1970s and early 1980s. During the press conference, Shields said there were boxes of evidence associated with the case, some of which had never been tested, and that the department believed it had a responsibility to the families of the victims to reopen the case. Rolling Stone.
Terry Pue was discovered strangled near to Interstate 20 on Sigman Road, wearing a blue windbreaker with the name "Kim" in red lettering on its rear, with dog hairs adhering to his clothing. But I doubt these are the sort of clues that Zodiac would have left behind for the police. The phone calls in the run up to the discovery of Terry Pue's body are an interesting feature of this crime, with the caller in one instance traced to the area of North Indian Creek Drive. This location is approximately 8.5 miles east of 1611 West Peachtree Street Northeast.
Two pasted communications were mailed in close proximity to one another (or possibly in unison), postmarked December 10th and December 11th 1969. The first was the Day-by-day forecast for Cancer, and the second was the Day-by-day forecast for Leo, mailed from Sacramento to the Sacramento Bee newspaper and from San Francisco to the San Francisco Newspaper Printing Company, P.O. Box 3100, Rincon Annex, San Francisco respectively.
When trying to understand these communications, we have to consider why the author (or Zodiac) didn't just opt to paste the words on a postcard or greeting card in similar fashion to the '13 Hole' Postcard or Pines Card. In this instance he chose an astrology backdrop with dates for both communications, suggestive that the numerical dates were the key ingredient for the message to be understood. In a recent article we investigated the possibility that the Day-by-day forecast for Leo was in reference to the abduction and murder of Leona Roberts, hence why it was mailed at about the same time as her abduction on December 10th 1969. The same goes for the Day-by-day forecast for Cancer communication which I have added below.
Rubislaw32, a contributor to this site, was correct when he stated that the pasted section FLT 555 on the Cancer communication was taken from State Express 555 Filter cigarettes, When you consider the title of the communication Day-by-day forecast for Cancer and realize that the font used on the State Express cigarette packets is identical to the pasted triple 5 below, along with FLT being an acronym for filter, then it leaves little doubt as to the origins of this phrase. The bigger question is, why did the designer of the pasted communication place it originating from the position of November 9th, and what new purpose had he adopted the acronym for, if any? As stated in the previous article, we are dealing with an abduction and murder in December, so it is the numerical values that we likely have to focus on.
If you take a quick peek at the Leo communication, you will notice that the pasted wording FLT Three of a Kind (meaning 555) also begins at the 9th of the month. Two phrases, FLT Three of a Kind and FLT 555, both beginning on the 9th. Is that really just accidental? This was the numerical day before the abduction of Leona Roberts. The connection is speculative at best, but we have to consider that the FLT (the common strand between both communications) having been placed next to this date twice, has some relevance to the 9th - and quite possibly the impending abduction date of Leona Roberts. Find, Locate and Target, or Find Leona at Tormey, akin to the acronym of BTK used by Dennis Rader several years later, is one possibility for this pasted section. However, there are multiple possibilities pertaining to the motivation and meaning of the communication's designer.
Another link to the State Express 555 cigarette company (albeit questionable) is where the designer of the Leo communication places the word Train - in the same section of dates as FLT Three of a Kind (see here). Obviously, Express and Train can be linked through the railways, but here is an extract from Wikipedia: "The idea for the State Express brand came from the U.S.in 1893. Sir Albert Levy, a London tobacco merchant, was visiting the United States. While in New York State, Levy was a passenger on the Empire State Express train, which allegedly broke land speed records as locomotive No.999, the “Queen of Speed” sped its way from New York City to Buffalo".
In this communication we have Action Guide, Want, Watch and Birds Fly South all touching the date of November 18th. This date featured in the previous article with respect to the release date of the 1969 film 'Run a Crooked Mile', which was pasted beginning on November 18th 1969. I will merge the two communications together using three of the pasted sections and state that "I will consult my action guide, because I want to watch the film Run a Crooked Mile". Of course, I have no idea if this was the intention of the designer of both communications, which is why your input is invaluable in making some sense of these seemingly senseless pastings. One would reasonably expect them to have some purpose - particularly with regard to the dates and the phrases attached alongside them.
One of the most prominent features on this communication is the pseudonym Zodiac, placed beginning on the date of the 20th. The next confirmed communication from the Zodiac Killer was the Melvin Belli Letter mailed on December 20th 1969. The connection to Leona Roberts was speculated upon in the last article: "On December 20th 1969, the Zodiac Killer mailed the Melvin Belli Letter, mimicking the words written in lipstick (supposedly by William Heirens) on the apartment wall of murder victim Frances Brown. She was discovered shot and stabbed multiple times in her 3941 North Pine Grove apartment in Edgewater, Chicago. The date of Frances Brown's murder was December 10th - the exact date that Leona Roberts was abducted from 749 Tormey Ave in Rodeo".
In the Leo communication the designer has placed a cross inside a circle on the dates of the 3rd, 4th and 5th. In this communication he has pasted Magic Amulet continuing onwards through the 6th, 7th and 8th. The only relevant Christian amulet I could find that looked similar to the design on the Leo communication "is the well-known amulet among Catholic Christians, that of the Saint Benedict medal which includes the Vade Retro Satana formula to ward off Satan. This medal has been in use at least since the 1700s, and in 1742 it received the approval of Pope Benedict XIV. It later became part of the Roman Catholic ritual". Wikipedia. If this was the intended symbol placed on the Leo communication, I have no idea why, other than a vague resemblance to the crosshairs of Zodiac, or the design on the December 16th 1969 Faifield Letter and October 27th 1970 Halloween Card.
All of the above are simple word association games involving numerical values, that may have no resemblance to the meaning of both the Day-by-day forecast for Cancer and Day-by-day forecast for Leo, but the possibility of a connection between the dates and words is a tangible one.
The following is a summary of the abduction and murder of Leona LaRell Roberts by Steph54 on Websleuths:
On Wednesday, 10 December 1969, 16-year-old Leona Larell Roberts worked her first day at a part-time job at the White Front Discount Store in Pleasant Hill. After her 1-5 p.m. shift, she drove to her boyfriend's apartment (749 Tormey Ave, Rodeo) where she planned to cook him dinner. At the time, Leona attended K's American Beauty College in Napa, where she also lived with her mother. Within 15 minutes of arriving at her boyfriend's apartment, a neighbor heard a girl scream. The neighbor called the sheriff and soon after heard someone running down the stairs at the back of the apartment house followed by the slam of a door from the direction of the downstairs apartment where Leona's boyfriend lived. When the boyfriend arrived, he saw Leona's red VW out front but did not find her inside the apartment. The apartment was dark and the back door was unlocked. He noticed scuff marks on the wall near the back door. He found that a pair of his pants had been removed from the bedroom closet and left on the living room couch, the belt missing. He noticed Leona's work smock crumpled on the couch. A sheriff's deputy arrived 30 minutes after the call. Another neighbor told the deputy of seeing a white male, about 25 years old, short blonde hair, acting suspicious. He walked several times from the front door to the rear of a blue station wagon before driving away.
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." The coroner estimated that she had been dead 4-7 days (December 21-24) prior to recovery, and he theorized that she had been alive 10-14 days after her abduction. Articles reported the coroner's theory that Leona had been kept bound for a period of time, died as a result of the viral infection, and was disposed of by her abductor(s). Pathological and toxicological tests did not find any drugs or alcohol in her system.
The day after the abduction of Leona Roberts, on December 11th 1969, a pasted message entitled DAY-BY-DAY FORECAST FOR LEO was postmarked San Francisco, 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 for some time yet, then the December 11th 1969 mailing contained some very interesting information. The pasted forecast was for the month of November. If a perpetrator (or Zodiac) was responsible for her abduction and the pasted communication, it cannot be overlooked that the communication began with part of her name - Day-by-day forecast for Leona Roberts (Leona is a female variant of the name Leo or Leon). But this is just the beginning of the story - starting with an observation by Soze, a contributor on the Zodiac Killer Site forum. He stated "The paste before "Mystery". I can make out what appears to be the word "Mile". Combing the two, I did a search on "mile mystery" and included the date "1969". I found in the November 18, 1969 Redlands Daily Facts from Redlands, California on Page 14, a mention of "Run a crooked mile mystery". It was a TV movie that debuted that day. just wondering if anyone thinks it possible that the paste reads "run a crooked mile mystery"?
I wondered if Soze was on to something, so I checked the Internet Movie Database for the film and it returned with 'Run a Crooked Mile (1969)'. Here is a brief summary of the plot by Ralph Cabrerar: "A man witnesses a murder in a secluded mansion. When he reports it, there's no evidence of the murder, or that anyone was there. He finds a key on the floor and goes to his boss to get help when he's struck from behind. He wakes up in a hospital room after a polo accident to find he's had amnesia for two years, is now married, and living in Switzerland. He still has the key and the memories of the murder. He goes back to England to try to resolve the mystery". It was noted that a key chain with car and house keys were reported missing from Leona Roberts, however, this wasn't the point of interest regarding the pasted wording of the film - it was its position on the Day-By-Day Forecast. This got me thinking that the communication was some type of word search puzzle, with the words deliberately placed in specific positions relative to the dates on the communication. The "run a crooked mile mystery" was pasted over the beginning date of November 18th 1969 on the forecast (the exact date of the film). Obviously, if any of the other wording had relevance to the abduction of Leona Roberts in December, then we would have to focus in on the numeric dates of the forecast, rather than the month. Below I have featured the pasted forecast communication.
There are only two sections of dates obscured by the pasted words on the entire communication. The red rectangle above highlights the first two obscured dates of the 10th and 11th, accompanied by the pasted word of NOW. These were the dates of Leona Roberts abduction and the mailing of this communication, emphasized by the word now. The second set of dates obscured are highlighted by the green rectangle. They are the 25th, 26th and 27th, accompanied by the word HIDDEN. Obviously, the author of the communication would be projecting forward to these dates. A reasoned guess, is that these would be the dates he was intending to hide her body (but obviously not too hard, so it could be found and prove the communication correct). Leona Roberts body was discovered on December 28th 1969. The coroner estimated that she had been dead 4-7 days (December 21-24) prior to recovery. If she had been murdered on December 24th or thereabouts, then it is logical that the killer may have 'disposed or hidden' her body on December 25th, 26th or 27th, to be found on the 28th - and why he pasted the word HIDDEN on the communication in the area he did. It is curious that the first unobscured date after this section, is the 28th - the day she was found on Bolinas Lagoon beach. Three sets of dates were accompanied by a pasted word - all of which had relevance to that particular word - and thereby bringing forth the notion of a word search puzzle, akin to the 340 cipher on November 8th 1969.
On December 20th 1969, the Zodiac Killer mailed the Melvin Belli Letter, mimicking the words written in lipstick (supposedly by William Heirens) on the apartment wall of murder victim Frances Brown. She was discovered shot and stabbed multiple times in her 3941 North Pine Grove apartment in Edgewater, Chicago. The date of Frances Brown's murder was December 10th - the exact date that Leona Roberts was abducted from 749 Tormey Ave in Rodeo.
For black and white issue..