Two other sets of eyewitnesses, Dr Rayfield and his son, and the three young women, all may have seen the killer that day, possibly from the near identical location around Smittle Creek. This location being 0.8 miles from the 1956 White Volkswagen Karmann Ghia of Bryan Hartnell. To get an overview of the crime scene we must use details given in the police report - and in addition to this - use the Zodiac Killer's phone call to Dave Slaight to pinpoint the likely location of his vehicle that day. These are some of the crucial measurements:
The Zodiac Killer stated in the phone call to police, "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. I'm the one that did it". The victims were in fact 0.7 miles north of Park Headquarters. The three young women who potentially saw Zodiac, "parked their vehicle at a location two miles north of the A & W Root Beer stand on Knoxville Road." The Sugar Loaf Park A & W was situated at 5100 Knoxville Road. The second set of eyewitnesses saw the Zodiac later that day: "Dr Rayfield and his son stated that they did not notice a vehicle in the area of their vehicle and only this subject at a distance of about 100 yards. This location was approximately 8/10ths of a mile from the scene of the victim's vehicle. There are four coves of water between the scene of the crime and the area where the doctor saw the subject". Using these statements we can now create the relative positions of everybody that day, using the measurement tools on Google Maps.
One page later in the police report, it stated "The three girls left the area about 4:30 pm and the subjects vehicle was gone". This discrepancy is not crucial to the remaining timeline, so we will estimate the time the man left at 4:45 pm, with the girls shortly after. If the Zodiac Killer was preparing an attack on the three girls, then he certainly had second thoughts and departed the scene, not unlike his attack at Blue Rock Springs on July 4th 1969 and his switch of intersections at Presidio Heights on October 11th 1969. In both of these examples he was not to be denied, and continued on with his murderous intentions. There may be good reason to believe he had the very same intentions here. The reason being:
By the time they reached the beach and then noticed the man, it was likely closer to 6:45-6:50 pm. There is a very good chance that the individual they saw that evening was the Zodiac Killer - and the dark shirt he was wearing "with red in it" was likely the blood of Bryan Hartnell and Cecelia Shepard. The Zodiac Killer was returning to his vehicle from the crime scene 0.8 miles south. The killer was effectively traveling from south to north, and likely had to pass the location of Dr Rayfield and his son to reach his vehicle.
We have established that this is virtually the same location the three girls were present earlier that afternoon. Therefore, when the three sunbathing girls saw the man leave up the hill at approximately 4:45 pm, it could be argued he drove northwards, just beyond this location, which is why he had to pass this area after the brutal double stabbing of the young couple. The journey time on foot from the Volkswagen Karmann Ghia (6:30 pm) to the location of Dr Rayfield and son, is approximately 20 minutes along the hillside, This ties in with the estimated time of the David Rayfield sighting, given earlier as 6:50 pm. But why did the Zodiac Killer leave the scene of the three girls and park a short distance north of their location? This cannot be fully established - but he may have had second thoughts about murdering the three girls with his vehicle in such close proximity to the scene. There is every chance he left with the full intention of returning 15 minutes later with a 'buffer zone' in place. However, the girls had left shortly after him, and his murderous plot was foiled. I have made a calculated guess on the position of the Zodiac Killer's vehicle that afternoon and evening, based on his possible movements after leaving the Volkswagen Karmann Ghia, the fact an off-road parking area is present at that position on Google Maps (and maybe 1969), and the phone call he made from 1231 Main Street - which we shall return to later.
His journey time back to his vehicle, past Dr Rayfield and his son, would have taken roughly 25-30 minutes, which placed him entering his vehicle at approximately 6:55 to 7:00 pm for his 28 mile return journey towards the Napa payphone. Traveling at near 40 mph, he would have arrived at the 1231 Main Street, Napa payphone circa 7:35-7:40 pm and the exact time the call was logged by police dispatcher Dave Slaight. The phone call contained the ominous message "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. I'm the one that did it". However, Park Headquarters was only 0.7 miles from the crime scene, not 2 miles as he had claimed. So how could the killer make such a pronounced error, particularly if he was familiar with the area.
If the Zodiac Killer had parked at the Smittle Creek Day Use Area, left it there, and trawled the hillsides of Lake Berryessa traveling south, while looking for potential victims, then on his return from the attack on Bryan Hartnell and Cecelia Shepard he would have to pass by Dr Rayfield & Son at Smittle Creek Trailhead to reach his vehicle. That is why they spotted a suspicious man traveling across the upper reaches of the hillside sometime after 6:30 pm, wearing a shirt with red in it. The Zodiac Killer traveled a further 600 meters to the Smittle Creek Day Use Area, got in his vehicle and drove 1.83 miles south along Knoxville Road past the Park Headquarters. When he reached the payphone at Napa he mistakenly described this distance of 1.83 miles as "two miles north of Park Headquarters", accidentally giving away the location of where he parked his vehicle on September 27th 1969. Or maybe he was just terrible at distances - but great at cryptograms, codes, maps and radians. We all have to be bad at something.
Deputy Ray Land and Sergeant David Collins were dispatched directly to the crime scene from St Helena and Napa respectively. Sgt David Collins spoke on the documentary 'This is the Zodiac Speaking' "It took us a half hour from Napa and/or St Helena to arrive at the location. And we later found out of course that crime had occurred at least half an hour before we were notified." They were notified at 7:10 pm, so arrived en scene at approximately 7:40 pm.
The Zodiac Killer would have exited the Berryessa-Knoxville Road literally minutes before they entered it.
LAKE BERRYESSA- A KILLER'S TIMELINE [PART TWO]