We have previously examined the possibility of a payphone call being placed after the Lake Herman Road double murder at the exact same payphone located at Springs and Tuolumne, described as a 'crank call' by Pierre Bidou. It was determined that if this was the Zodiac Killer, it had the possibility of shifting the timeline of the Lake Herman Road murders approximately 5-6 minutes earlier than previously thought, allowing the killer to head in the direction of Vallejo before Stella Borges left her ranch and explaining why she had passed no vehicles en route to Benicia (that included the Zodiac Killer}. This being the case, it would mean that the Zodiac Killer would be heading toward Springs Road after both the Lake Herman Road and Blue Rock Springs Park attacks, turning west and heading for the payphone at Springs and Tuolumne to place his call, before taking refuge at his residence. The formative murders of a serial killer are more likely to be closer to home, before they gain in confidence and venture further afield, thereby increasing the significance of this particular payphone.
Michael stated two things in the police report. Firstly: That the "Subject appeared to be short, possibly 5'8", was real heavy set, beefy build. States subject was not blubbery fat, but real beefy, possibly 195 to 200, or maybe even larger. Stated he had short curly hair, light brown, almost blond. He was wearing a short-sleeved shirt, blue in color. Cannot remember if it was light or dark blue". Secondly: "States that he tried to climb over the back seat to get away from the shooting and subject kept shooting him again and again. States subject finally quit shooting him and apparently turned the gun on Dea and started shooting her again and again. States subject then turned around and started to walk back to his vehicle which still had the headlights on. Michael stated he could not tell if he meant to yell at the subject or if he just yelled from pain, but he let out some kind of yell. At this time, the subject apparently hearing him, came back to the car and shot Michael two more times, once in the back and once in the left leg. States the subject then turned the gun on Dea and shot her twice more". This final action by the killer may unwittingly have changed the course of the next 40 minutes.
The time of the year couldn't have been more different from the Lake Herman Road attack - as the murders at Lake Herman Road were committed in sub-zero temperatures of 22 degrees Fahrenheit, and conversely, Blue Rock Springs in very agreeable temperatures that averaged above 80 degrees Fahrenheit for much of the day. This is why the killer was described as "wearing a short-sleeved shirt, blue in color" by Michael Mageau - something he was unlikely to have been wearing the night of December 20th 1968. It is my guess that the assailant's shirt was relatively light in color - and when Michael Mageau "let out some kind of yell" - it forced the killer into something he hadn't planned to do. He would return to the Corvair and fire off four more shots into the victims, causing him to interact closely with the crime scene.
The first shots at Michael Mageau struck him in the neck (facial area) and once in the shoulder, before he clambered over the front passenger seat to the rear of the vehicle in an attempt to escape the initial barrage. The killer also fired three direct shots at Darlene Ferrin, but struck her far more, as the bullets exited Michael Mageau and entered her right side.
Michael Mageau would have been bleeding heavily at this point, more than likely coating the passenger seat in blood as he clambered over it to seek refuge in the rear of the vehicle. The killer after firing the first five shots, headed back to his vehicle, but upon hearing Michael Mageau cry out in pain, he returned to the Corvair, leaned into the open passenger window and over the front seat, in all likelihood smearing blood on his "light blue short-sleeved shirt" and arms, that had been transferred from Michael Mageau thrusting himself across the top of the seat. To angle the gun, striking Michael Mageau in the lower regions, and leaving two spent casings on the rear floorboard of the Corvair, he likely had to lean a reasonable distance into the vehicle. He then switched focus and delivered the final two shots into Darlene Ferrin, who was clinging to life at this point. This final action by the killer may very well have created blood transfer to his shirt and body, and ultimately to his vehicle a few moments later. The wise choice now, is not to make his planned phone call immediately after departing the scene of the crime, by exiting his vehicle and entering the payphone covered in blood, but to travel home and get cleaned up, thereby minimizing the obvious risk when placing the call.
Nearly one month later, the Zodiac sent three coded segments in three letters on July 31st 1969 to the San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco Chronicle and Vallejo Times-Herald, giving details of the first two crimes to prove he was the actual killer. However, the Zodiac Killer was doubted as to whether the letter writer and killer were one and the same, with the Vallejo Police Chief, Jack E Stiltz, asking the killer through the newspapers for more proof he was the responsible. This was detailed in the Saturday, August 2nd 1969 San Francisco Chronicle - and the following day - on Sunday, August 3rd 1969 in the San Francisco Examiner.. He requested that the writer send another letter "with more facts to prove it." This may have proved the perfect opportunity for the killer to switch the emphasis away from his home locality.
He created the perfect phantom witness of a "negro about 40-45 rather shabbly dressed," who he would not only describe in unnecessary detail, but describe a witness that would conveniently verify twice that the Zodiac Killer was in his car - and it was brown in color. The Zodiac Killer has never been so forthcoming. By placing himself in his vehicle, he gives the impression he could have lived anywhere, as opposed to a killer who probably walked to the payphone. The unaccounted time between the Blue Rock Springs Park attack on July 4th/5th and the placement of the phone call at 12:40 am, may be indicative of a killer who returned home and removed his bloodstained clothing, that resulted from his return to Darlene Ferrin's Corvair for the final four shots. And Michael Mageau yelling out was the trigger.
Kim Rossmo talked about the possible home locations for the Zodiac Killer using Rigel: "There's a number of possibilities. But remember, Rancho Vallejo was possibly 26,000 people at that time, of which only 13,000 will be male, and only a certain proportion of those are of the correct age, and a certain portion of those are only going to be white. Then we start looking at the neighborhoods involved, we have a pretty small subset. Then we start combining that with some of the personal and behavioral descriptors, and then we work in the vehicle information. If this case was active today, it would not be too difficult to find this person". Apply this to a 10-20 minute walking radius around the payphone and the possibility of locating the Zodiac Killer increases exponentially.
See also: A Stone's Throw Away.