The young couple had traveled to East Beach, Santa Barbara, near East Cabrillo Boulevard on Saturday afternoon, with John telling his parents he was to spend the day with his fiancee. Sandra had informed her parents that they "wouldn't be gone long." When they didn't return home that night the families were understandably concerned.
Their bodies were discovered early Sunday morning by beachgoers, fully clothed underneath a blanket. They had been brutally beaten and stabbed, predominantly in the back and face. John Hood had been stabbed eleven times, but it appears Sandra Garcia suffered far worse, not dissimilar to the attack on Bryan Hartnell and Cecelia Shepard at Lake Berryessa on September 27th 1969. Had the Zodiac Killer returned to a familiar method of execution after his venture into the heart of San Francisco, and was the Melvin Belli letter the foreboding of a man who had lost control once again.
The Oxnard Press Courier of John Franklin's home town reported the murders on February 23rd 1970: "Oxnard Man, Fiancee Murdered Victims. Bodies Found on Beach; Man was decorated veteran John F. Hood found slain with fiancee. The brutally stabbed and beaten bodies of a highly decorated Vietnam veteran from Oxnard and his attractive fiancee were discovered Sunday on an east side Santa Barbara beach just below a cemetery. Police identified the victims as John Franklin Hood, 24. who was discharged from the Army last month with the rank of staff sergeant after a combat-filled year in Vietnam, and Sandra Garcia, 20. of Santa Barbara. Early-morning beachgoers discovered the fully-clothed bodies under a blanket and hailed a passing patrolman. Police immediately closed off the area and later gave some brief details. However, they did not release some information for what they termed was a “good reason.” Detectives have questioned relatives and friends of the victims in an effort to trace the steps that led them to that beach."
Both bodies were discovered face-down, apparently left that way to give the appearance that the victims were sleeping, authorities said.
The Hood family drove to Santa Barbara last night to be with Sandra's parents, Mr and Mrs Cruz Garcia, 3088 Calle Pinon, who were reported under heavy sedation. The families said "they had no idea" as to what happened at the beach. There were no difficulties and neither of the victims had any enemies as far as the families knew. Police said their investigation would continue.
The eldest of six children, Hood was born in Seattle. He came to California with his family in 1950. He attended El Rio Elementary School and graduated from Camarillo High School in June, 1965. After graduation, he worked at Wimpy's Drive-In in Oxnard and then joined the Army in January 1966. He spent two years in Germany with the 64th Armored Division after boot training in Ft. Bliss, Texas, and then returned home for leave before being sent to Vietnam. While on leave, Hood met Sandra while they were both vacationing in Tijuana, Mexico. An expert marksman, Hood was sent to Vietnam on January 6, 1969 with the 64th Armored Division. Hood was closed-mouthed about the combat-filled year he spent there and about the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart and other medals he had received for valor. After returning to Oxnard, he went back to work for the drive-in eatery. Although Hood and Sandra were planning to be married, they had not set a wedding date.
Besides his parents, Hood is survived by his sisters, Mrs Linda Jean Ortiz, 19, Lauretta Ann Hood, 16, and Virginia Sue, 13; and two brothers Jerry Allen, 18, and Joseph William, 10. The elder Hood is employed with the Associated Concrete Co, Saticoy, and Mrs Hood drives a small school bus. Hood's fiancee had been an employee of the State Motor Vehicle Department in Santa Barbara. Her father is the owner of the Garcia Auto Wrecking Co, Besides her parents, she is survived by three brothers." Oxnard Press Courier, February 23, 1970.
Oxnard Press Courier, February 24, 1970.
Whether this was the Zodiac Killer venturing south to commit this double murder may never be known, but bearing in mind the murders were in the correct Zodiac timeline, the only reasonable approach with such limited information available is to examine his following correspondence- the April 20th '13 Symbol' cipher.
This correspondence and cipher has been analyzed with a view to the code giving us a name.
However, the introduction: "This is the Zodiac speaking. By the way have you cracked the last cipher I sent you. My name is ------," leaves us with the possibility we are not looking for a name within the code, we were in fact, simply supposed to fill in the blank. Later in the communication he states "I have killed ten people to date" and "I hope you have fun trying to figgure out who I killed." Was this a subtle clue - that we are supposed to be figuring out a date, to unlock who his ninth and tenth victims were. By the sheer law of averages of his known victims, he attacked a couple 75% of the time. He also never claimed a ninth victim independently between December 20th 1969 and April 20th 1970.
The Zodiac Killer used symbols in his ciphers, so we will strip the '13 Symbol' cipher back to basics to attempt to uncover his intentions. He gave us three Taurus symbols and an Aries symbol reversed. He also gave us three circles.
The '13 Symbol' cipher was mailed on April 20th, which is the exact date the star sign switches from Aries to Taurus.
The blank or white circle is the symbol for a full moon. See 1970 calendar. The astrological signs and full moon symbol are both relevant to the calendar.
The Zodiac Killer has placed the Taurus symbols within the circles - so by simple wordplay we have 'full moon in Taurus'.
The only 1970 full moon in Taurus is April 21st. If we are 'trying to figure out who he killed,' the figure 21 isn't a bad place to start. The next thing to tackle is the reasoning behind the Zodiac Killer giving us three full moon symbols. Because he is challenging us to discover who he killed, it isn't unreasonable to assume the three full moons play a significant part in this game. The '13 Symbol' cipher gave us the first full moon, so we will look back at the last two Zodiac events.
Kathleen Johns was 'abducted' just before midnight on March 22nd 1970 and escaped at approximately 1.50-2.00 am on March 23rd 1970. March 22nd was as full moon. This is our second full moon. The third, with the figure 21 in mind, must be the date that Zodiac was asking us to "figure out". Therefore, we will travel back to the previous full moon.
John Franklin Hood and Sandra Garcia were not only are a couple, but a couple who were murdered under the Lake Berryessa template, which fell on the full moon day of February 21st 1970, to give us our third full moon as depicted in the '13 Symbol' cipher.