Phyllis O'Brien Carson (32). was a young mother of four children, last seen after a night out at the Francis Truck Stop, French Camp, San Joaquin County, California. French Camp is a small community situated approximately a ten minute drive south of the town of Stockton CA and 15 minutes north of Manteca CA. Since the construction of California State Route 120, Manteca had become a popular choice for workers from the main towns and cities, along with the Bay Area, as rising house prices forced people to search for cheaper alternatives. Interstate 5 and State Route 99 are integral commuter routes through California and the I-5 is the main highway on the west coast of America, with links to San Diego, Los Angeles and Sacramento. San Francisco lies 80 miles and a one-hour twenty minutes drive due west from French Camp.
Phyllis had visited the popular bar, along with her brother and sister on October 27th 1970 and later on during the evening placed a phone call to her home residence to check on her children, stating she was to receive a lift home from a friend. Sadly for Phyllis O'Brien Carson and her family, her journey home was never realized. She had vanished without a trace, that is until family members received the heartbreaking news, just over three weeks later, on November 21st 1970, that her body had been discovered laying down an embankment near to Yettner Road, only five miles from the family residence. The cause of death and perpetrator remains unknown, but foul play was certain, as her body was partially clothed, apparently thrown from a vehicle. However, robbery was likely ruled out, as her belongings were untouched. Nobody from the bar has ever come forward to this day with a name of the mystery friend that Phyllis was supposed to have left with that night.
The Modesto abduction of Kathleen Johns, whether or not this has a Zodiac connection, provides the closest link, in that the perpetrator of this crime chose to subject his victim to what appeared to be an aimless drive around the countryside of Tracy, CA, after which she escaped to a nearby field. Where the abductor was ultimately heading may never be known, but Tracy CA, San Joaquin County is a mere 15 to 20 minute drive from Yettner Road and only 15 miles due west from Manteca CA, so a familiarity with the area remains plausible. Does the possibility exist that the Zodiac Killer relocated from the Vallejo/Benicia area sometime in late 1969 or early 1970, somewhere within this region.
Modesto, Yettner Road, Pleasanton, Tracy and Mount Diablo (detailed on his June 26th 1970 Button letter and Phillips Road Map}, along with the Little List letter on 26th July 1970 are all encompassed within an approximate 70 mile radius of one another, near Highway 99. If the Modesto abduction was a Zodiac Killer crime, was he cruising Highway 99 for just the right moment. It lies roughly 93 miles from Vallejo, an awfully long distance to travel for a chance encounter, unless he was returning from somewhere. That is unless, he lived closer by. This crime began in the dying hour of March 22nd 1970, not unusual for the Zodiac Killer. However, after he had taken Kathleen Johns on a two-hour mystery tour through the outskirts of Tracy, CA, he would have backtracked to burn out her car, rather than continue straight on to the Vallejo area. Is this because he was not actually backtracking or putting himself out at all - it was nearer home?
Shortly after the disappearance of Donna Lass and two days prior to the Halloween card, on October 25th 1970, Nancy Bennallack, a court reporter was found murdered, brutally stabbed numerous times in her own apartment. This, if indeed it was the Zodiac Killer, would suggest a marked deviation from his previous crimes. However, she was described as strikingly similar in appearance to Judith Hakari and was murdered just one block away.
Sacramento is just 53 miles north of French Camp, where Phyllis O'Brien Carson was last seen and 78 miles north of Modesto, easily accessible via Highway 99 and Interstate 5. And that leads us on to the brutal double murder of Laotian couple Koy Ien Saechao (48) and Choy Fow Saelee (40) who 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, near the interchange of Highway 99 and I-5 Sacramento - and unfortunately for them, a merciless killer was in the vicinity. How the killer approached is open to question, but the assailant unleashed a barrage of gunfire into their car blowing in both front side windows, testimony to which was the 15 small caliber shell casings scattered and retrieved from around the car. The couple suffered multiple shots to the head.
The Los Angeles letter, postmarked Pleasanton, CA and dated March 13th 1971 was the last confirmed letter from the Zodiac Killer until the Exorcist letter arrived nearly three years later on January 29th 1974. Had the Zodiac Killer ever relocated during this period of activity, or did his profession dictate his movements throughout? I doubt we will ever know.