In two previous articles 'The Lost 20 Minutes' and 'East to Benicia', two different base locations have been identified as the possible residency of the long sought after Zodiac Killer, but this time we will predominantly be examining his logical exit routes away from each of the murder sites using the premise that the Zodiac Killer would immediately head for a secure or safe location after each crime, usually home, to destroy or dispose of any incriminating evidence transferred during the commission of his evil acts. This article will back up the 'East to Benicia' article, in so far that his likely residence may possibly be in the Benicia area or slightly further south, in the region of Martinez CA or Concord CA.
The Zodiac Killer's movements directly following the shooting of David Faraday and Betty Lou Jensen on Lake Herman Road appeared the most telling, The Zodiac Killer was estimated to have left the gravel turnout at 11.15 pm, the same time Stella Borges left her ranch. If the Zodiac Killer had turned west to Vallejo he would have passed Stella Borges, however she reported passing no vehicles, lending weight to the hypothesis the Zodiac Killer headed east in the direction of Benicia or beyond.
The Zodiac Killer also appeared, on the face of it, more familiar with the Lake Herman Road and Presidio Heights areas, as opposed to Blue Rock Springs Park and Lake Berryessa regions, as he reveals in his correspondence with authorities. In the San Francisco Chronicle letter mailed on July 31st 1969 he refers directly to Lake Herman Road, even pointing out that Betty Lou Jensen's feet were facing west, which indeed was correct. In the 'Debut of Zodiac Letter' mailed on August 4th 1969 he recalls 'Last Christmass In that epasode the police were wondering how I could shoot + hit my victims in the dark. They did not openly state this, but implied this by saying it was a well lit night + I could see silowets on the horizon. Bullshit that area is surounded by high hills + trees'.
His final confirmed murder, that of Paul Stine on October 11th 1969, portrayed the picture of a man confident in these surroundings. Committing the crime in a built up area, close to 10.00 pm at night and escaping from the scene, showed distinct elements of pre-planning and a knowledge of the area. However in both of the Zodiac Killer's phone calls to police after Blue Rock Springs Park attack and Lake Berryessa, his directions were questioned on both occasions. He fails to mention Blue Rock Springs at all, only Columbus Parkway, stating 'I wish to report a double murder. If you will go one mile east on Columbus Parkway to a public park, you will find the kids in a brown car. They have been shot by a 9 mm Luger. I also killed those kids last year.... Good-bye'. In his Chronicle letter he only refers to Blue Rock Springs as 'near the golf course in Vallejo'. If it were the case that his knowledge of Lake Herman Road and Presidio Heights were greater, then his two southernmost crimes were possibly the areas he frequented the most, although all are punctuated by lakes or expanses of water. Indeed, Blue Rock Springs is only four miles from Lake Herman, the greatest distance any major body of water lies from any of the crime scenes. If the Zodiac Killer resided in Benicia, Martinez, Concord, Lafayette or somewhere around the vicinity of Walnut Creek, then his knowledge of Lake Herman Road would logically be greater. This may suggest ease of access both to the Benicia and Vallejo areas, as well as to San Francisco via the Oakland Bay Bridge, where he may likely have worked or at the very least traveled to mail the majority of the Zodiac letters. It is only a 37 mile journey from Martinez to Presidio Heights and only 27 miles from Walnut Creek..
If this chain of events were the likely scenario, and the Zodiac Killer lived in the southern regions of Benicia or Martinez, then the maximum window of 40 minutes would exist to travel home and return to the payphone.
Although this gives us a further problem. Are we to believe the Zodiac Killer, after murdering Darlene Ferrin and seriously injuring Michael Mageau would traverse the Vallejo and Benicia areas, over the Carquinez Strait to home and then return all the way back to the payphone at Springs Road and Tuolumne. It appears to make the 'least effort principle' look like hard work, and criminals are like the rest of us, in some aspects at least, that the easier option is the preferred choice. Despite the fact the Zodiac Killer seemed determined to place the phone call, obviously the least time he was in the public spotlight, not only carrying a murder weapon for one part of the journey, but heading back to an exposed intersection, the better.
The thought of the Zodiac Killer heading towards the Benicia area and beyond, reaching the safety of home, then making the choice to place himself back into the firing line and return to the close proximity of the crime for a second time, would make even a madman look irrational. As explained in the 'East to Benicia' article, a further option exists.
If he lived in Benicia or somewhere in that region, as his movements suggested after the Lake Herman Road double murder, then knowing the phone call would place him at greater risk, it is conceivable to believe he discarded the weapon before making the phone call to Nancy Slover, but not at home, in his mind reducing the risk of being stopped carrying the 'smoking gun'. So the next thing to do is examine his possible movements during this timeframe.
He was familiar with Lake Herman Road, and in near isolation, dark and free from prying eyes, it would have been a perfect disposal site for his weapon, particularly bearing in mind Lake Herman was situated near to his first murders. A round trip from Blue Rock Springs to Lake Herman, with time spent to exit his vehicle, possibly remove his gloves, change clothes, wipe down the weapon and toss the evidence into Lake Herman, before returning to the payphone at Springs Road and Tuolumne, in total 10 miles, would have taken approximately 30 minutes, obviously dependent on time spent at the lake, however nearer the time of 12.40 am, the time the call was logged. Any stop by police now would have held far less risk.
After killing Paul Stine the logical approach, considering he may well have been covered in blood, would have been to return to his waiting vehicle and get the hell out of San Francisco as quickly as possible. So presuming his apparent knowledge of the obscure Lake Herman Road and his movements towards Benicia after the double slaying of David Faraday and Betty Lou Jensen, what was his likely exit route away from San Francisco.
After the murder police vehicles would have converged towards the Presidio Heights area from the southerly, westerly and easterly directions, so the least time he spent in San Francisco from a safety aspect, would have been the most preferable option. If his vehicle was located somewhere near the Jackson and Maple Street intersection, then the obvious choice would have been to remove himself from any contact with approaching vehicles, by accessing West Pacific Avenue, creating this buffer zone between him and the police. His next logical step to depart the San Francisco area in the fastest time possible, would have been the Golden Gate Bridge, past the Sausalito area, towards and across the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge and the 20 mile journey back from Richmond to Martinez.
Another interesting aspect of the Martinez and Concord areas is concerning the Modesto Abduction of Kathleen Johns on March 22nd 1970, if you believe this to be a Zodiac crime. After she entered the assailant's vehicle, he drove her around through the the countryside of Tracy, CA before she made her escape across a field. The route from Modesto to Tracy and on to Martinez, Benicia and Vallejo is virtually a direct route as the crow flies.
Finally and probably the most controversial crime attributed to the Zodiac Killer, was the costume driven attack on Bryan Hartnell and Cecelia Shepard on September 27th 1969. This would be the furthest the Zodiac Killer would ever travel in search of a victim.
His phone call to police dispatcher Dave Slaight, again appeared to show little in depth knowledge of the area, although in all likelihood he had probably visited the area at least a few times from a recreation standpoint, possibly fishing being one of his pursuits, when he wasn't out murdering people. After brutally stabbing both victims he made his second phone call from 1231 Main Street in downtown Napa, stating "I want to report a murder, no, a double murder. They are two miles north of Park Headquarters. They were in a white Volkswagen Karmann Ghia" and after a brief pause uttered the words "I'm the one that did it". However the location of the attack is only 0.7 miles north of Park Headquarters. The simplest route back from Napa is California State Route 29, past American Canyon, directly through to the bay area, north of the Carquinez Strait. This would provide easy access to and from the Lake Berryessa region.
Placed altogether, the movements of the Zodiac Killer after the Lake Herman Road murders, his direction of travel in the Modesto Abduction, as well as the direction taken from Lake Berryesssa to Napa, including the 'buffer zone' phone call at the mid point, before continuing on to the Benicia region or beyond, and his logical exit route from Presidio Heights, centers the focus squarely in the region either side of the Carquinez Bridge. But who said murderers make sense.