The Kathleen Johns abduction lies on the periphery of the Zodiac crimes, but if her journey around the outskirts of Tracey, California into the early morning hours of March 23rd 1970 was at the hands of the Zodiac Killer, then she may have provided us with some vital information. She described the interior of his vehicle "as messy- she had noticed men's and children's clothing scattered about, books and papers, a black rubber handled flashlight, and two colored plastic scouring pads on the console dashboard. Kathleen estimated that the smaller patterned T-shirts were of the age range 8-12 years."
If these clothes were not part of his profession, he may have had children- adding another layer to consider when searching for a likely residence and home location. In an initial whittling down process, we could consider married men with at least one child in the age range of 8-12 years in 1970, living in the geographical area we have identified. Throw in what we think we know of the killer, such as age, weight, glasses, vehicle etc, and the suspect list would narrow to only a handful of people.
Kim Rossmo, the pioneer of geographical profiling, hit the nail on the head regarding one possible location, stating "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." Narrow the original pool down to just a few thousand, and a much smaller radius, and the needle becomes more visible. This is a much more viable option than widening the suspect pool year on year, further muddying the waters.
This will be collating several previous articles under one banner, throwing in a little extra for good measure, and then the book will be closed on this matter. We need to narrow the search, not widen it. That is why geographical profiling could be our last hope, using the mechanics of the human mind to unravel the pattern of the killer. None of the following is certain, but if we add brick by brick, we may reveal the house.
The serial killer generally begins his crimes closer to home- in the case of San Francisco, this is the Zodiac Killer's final crime- it therefore should be one of the furthest from his home location. Lake Herman Road is 5.17 miles from the Springs and Tuolumne payphone. Blue Rock Springs Park is 2.83 miles from the payphone. Therefore both crimes sit within a 6 mile radius. The Zodiac Killer may have made two phone calls from this location and therefore should be our first port of call.
If the killer had a normal Monday to Friday, 9-5 profession, it would be understandable that he would be less likely to venture any great distance on the Friday as compared to the Saturday (using the least effort principle). Which is exactly what he may have done in the commission of his first two crimes.
The phone call is interesting for a number of reasons, notably for the fact it was made approximately 40 minutes after the crime, despite the payphone being only 10 minutes from Blue Rock Springs Park. Many have claimed the Zodiac Killer wasn't familiar with this area of Vallejo, as he failed to mention Blue Rock Springs- only a "public park". The directions given in the phone call are equally used as evidence he was unfamiliar with the area. Many assume the Zodiac Killer was incorrect in his directions to Blue Rock Springs, thereby by default, assume that police dispatcher Nancy Slover was perfectly accurate in remembering the exact message word for word. She wasn't expecting that a killer claiming four victims was about to call that morning, and therefore cannot be expected to recall verbatim what he said, because according to her, he had spoken over her as she tried to get the details.
The message was recalled as "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". It was therefore deemed incorrect. However, if you just add a comma or break into the message, it makes perfect sense if the Zodiac Killer is directing the police from the station to Columbus Parkway.
"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."
Changing just one word, makes the message even clearer "I wish to report a double murder. If you will go one mile east...... on Columbus Parkway by 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." We assume Zodiac got the message wrong rather than Nancy Slover hearing or recalling the message wrong. We have no problem coming to this conclusion concerning the dispatcher taking an incorrect message at Presidio Heights, sending out a radio dispatch "to be on the lookout for a negro male adult."
The Zodiac Killer mailed three letters to the newspapers on July 31st 1969 with confirmation of the attacks at Lake Herman Road and Blue Rock Springs Park. The author stated "This is the murderer of the 2 teenagers last Christmass at Lake Herman + the girl on the 4th of July near the golf course in Vallejo." His compass directions were totally accurate in describing the position of Betty Lou Jensen in the turnout on December 20th 1968. He added "the girl was on her right side feet to the west." In the November 9th 1969 'Bus Bomb' letter after the Paul Stine murder, he again got his compass directions spot on: "The dogs never came with in 2 blocks of me + they were to the west" and "only 2 groups of parking about 10 min apart then the motor cicles went by about 150 ft away going from south to north west" (describing Presidio Boulevard in the park).
He knew the parking lot at Blue Rock Springs was near the golf course. He also was directing the police east from the station to Columbus Parkway. He clearly had knowledge of where the police station and Columbus Parkway were, and in relation to one another, despite the fact he had committed the attack only 40 minutes earlier. The killer had plenty of time after the Lake Herman Road and Presidio Heights murders to look at a map and get his compass directions correct, yet here, he had only 40 minutes before the payphone call. He could have studied a map before the Blue Rock Springs Park attack, but had this been the case, why would he have got the directions wrong, as many claim. Equally, had he studied a map beforehand, then he would have known the "public park" by name. The fact that he got his compass directions correct in every instance, it could be argued he was very familiar with the location of the police station, Columbus Parkway and very likely the parking lot.
Then he sent the 'Debut of Zodiac' letter, received on August 4th 1969- probably the most important correspondence he ever composed:
This is the Zodiac speaking.
In answer to your asking for more details about the good times I have had in Vallejo, I shall be very happy to supply even more material. By the way, are the police having a good time with the code? If not, tell them to cheer up; when they do crack it, they will have me. On the 4th of July I did not open the car door. The window was rolled down all ready. The boy was origionaly sitting in the front seat when I began fireing. When I fired the first shot at his head, he leaped backwards at the same time, thus spoiling my aim. He ended up on the back seat then the floor in back thashing out very violently with his legs; that's how I shot him in the knee. I did not leave the cene of the killing with squealling tires + raceing engine as described in the Vallejo paper. I drove away quite slowly so as not to draw attention to my car. The man who told police that my car was brown was a negro about 40-45 rather shabbly dressed. I was in this phone booth having some fun with the Vallejo cop when he was walking by. When I hung the phone up the damn thing began to ring & that drew his attention to me + my car.
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 srounded by high hills + trees. What I did was tape a small pencel flash light to the barrel of my gun. If you notice, in the center of the beam of light if you aim it at a wall or ceiling you will see a black or darck spot in the center of the circle of light about 3 to 6 inches across. When taped to a gun barrel, the bullet will strike in the center of the black dot in the light. All I had to do was spray them as if it was a water hose; there was no need to use the gun sights. I was not happy to see that I did not get front page coverage.
In the latter part of the correspondence dealing with Lake Herman Road, the author doesn't mention anything regarding the shots into the David Faraday Rambler, forcing the couple from the vehicle, or his headlights illuminating the turnout to aid his visibility. However, in his story of Blue Rock Springs Park, he uses the word "car" on four occasions.
He begins the 'message' by referring to the vehicle of Darlene Ferrin: "On the 4th of July I did not open the car door." He then reminds us about his vehicle as he leaves the parking lot, leading us into the payphone incident- almost selling it as one continuous sequence: "I did not leave the cene of the killing with squealling tires + raceing engine as described in the Vallejo paper. I drove away quite slowly so as not to draw attention to my car."
It is extremely strange that the killer didn't want to draw attention to his car, when in the very next sentence he is drawing attention to his car: "The man who told police that my car was brown was a negro." The police report and newspapers never mentioned any negro male eyewitness, so it was extremely generous of the Zodiac Killer to confirm Michael Mageau's testimony of a brown car, by offering up this valuable second eyewitness to the newspapers and police. One could believe this male negro eyewitness never existed, yet the Zodiac was to make sure he was real by adding valuable extra details. To prove he was the killer in the July 31st 1969 letters he gave "some facts which only I + the police know." In the August 4th 1969 'Debut of Zodiac' letter he was doing exactly the same thing: "The man who told police that my car was brown was a negro about 40-45, rather shabbly dressed. I was in this phone booth having some fun with the Vallejo cop when he was walking by." The age, color and attire of this eyewitness are entirely unnecessary details designed to convince the reader this man is real. So real, he even reported the Zodiac to police.
The author has now imprinted the word "car" in our head three times. Don't forget that he is still in his vehicle, despite the fact this payphone is only 10 minutes from the parking lot, and 40 minutes has elapsed at this point. But if you were in any doubt whatsoever that the killer is still in his vehicle, remember, the eyewitness "was walking by." The Zodiac missed a trick here.
He should have said "the very observant negro man was slowing walking by clocking the color of my car."
Then the Zodiac put the icing on the cake, mentioning his car for a fourth time: "When I hung the phone up the damn thing began to ring & that drew his attention to me + my car." How convenient that the phone rang and drew the attention of the eyewitness, who just happened to be walking by. The killer could have written "When I hung the phone up the damn thing began to ring & that drew his attention to me", but chose to add in his vehicle again, as if we'd forgotten he was in his brown car. The reason behind all this misdirection- is that the Zodiac Killer had driven from Blue Rock Springs Park to his residence first and walked to the payphone. He wanted the police to believe he was still in his vehicle, thereby not revealing that his residence was but a walking distance from the Springs and Tuolumne payphone.
There will be many that will disagree with this analysis, but it is designed as an example of narrowing the search field down to a few hundred or few thousand men, who we can then narrow further based on what we have learned about the Zodiac Killer to this point in time. Find the location and find the killer.
Using the geographic profiling developed by Kim Rossmo, such as 'buffer zones', 'least effort principle' and 'circle theory of environmental range,' we can give ourselves a more realistic search field, using the psychology of the human mind, or more specifically the mind of Zodiac to work against him. The alternative is to keep adding suspects year on year, taking the journey down many blind alleys, before you realize- it is the avenue you should be searching for. The End.