He would insinuate a connection on March 22nd 1971 when the 'Pines' card addressed to Paul Avery arrived at the San Francisco Chronicle. Donna Lass had been working as a nurse at the Sahara Tahoe Hotel & Casino, where she curiously vanished from, at approximately 1.45 am, just before her shift was about to finish at 2.00 am. She had not traveled to work that day in her Chevrolet Camaro convertible, but chose to walk to work from a previous residence. Her abductor or abductors seemingly targeted the end of her shift, and in the hours after the crime rang her employer and her landlord to state she had been called away due to a family illness. A story that was subsequently proved false. This certainly suggested the phone caller was buying time before any investigation got underway, thereby strongly indicating a connection between Donna Lass and her assailant. The delay generated by such a call would enable the assailant to dispose of Donna Lass and/or possibly remove incriminating evidence from their vehicle or home address. This would heavily lean towards one thing- that the murderer was close enough to Donna Lass to expect the police to be knocking on his door sooner rather than later.
After the Lake Herman Road double murder of David Faraday and Betty Lou Jensen on December 20th 1968 he waited 6 1/2 months to communicate with the public. After the disputed Modesto abduction of Kathleen Johns on March 22nd 1970 he waited 4 months to lay claim to the crime. And finally, in the disappearance of Donna Lass it would be again 6 1/2 months before the 'Pines' card would arrive at the Chronicle. After Blue Rock Springs it was 27 days. After Lake Berryessa it was a matter of minutes, with the writing on the car door of Bryan Hartnell. The murder of Paul Stine in Presidio Heights, his last confirmed crime, was followed by correspondence only 2 days later.
Were the delays in communication after Lake Herman Road, Modesto and Lake Tahoe indicative of applied caution on behalf of the Zodiac Killer. Lake Herman Road may be understandable, if indeed this was his first venture into murder. But what of Modesto and Lake Tahoe? Was the Zodiac Killer temporarily stationed in these areas through employment, and waited to return to the Bay Area before communicating with the newspapers to apply separation from the area.
Many people believe the Zodiac Killer lived in Vallejo, or in close proximity to it, while posting his correspondence from San Francisco on his way to and from work. His profession is an avenue worth exploring regarding the Modesto abduction of Kathleen Johns and the Lake Tahoe disappearance of Donna Lass, particularly in light of his delayed communications. Had he traveled to either of these locations on a 'day trip', with no connection whatsoever to each area, then there would be no need for a combined delay of 10 1/2 months before his contact with the newspapers. The implication being, that these areas had greater significance to the killer than he would like us to know. This may be further borne out by the customary Zodiac phone call, but this time used to delay the investigation into the disappearance of Donna Lass, because he knew her enough to believe the police may pay him a visit.
Can we connect San Francisco, Modesto and South Lake Tahoe in terms of the Zodiac Killer's profession. The Naval Air Station Alameda is situated on San Francisco Bay, close to the Oakland Bay Bridge. However, during and since World War 2 it became headquarters for a system of auxiliary airfields, that included Crows Landing Naval Auxiliary Air Station and Fallon Auxiliary Airfield.
The Naval Auxiliary Air Station Crows Landing is only 25 miles from the area where Kathleen Johns was abducted. If you exit NASA Crows Landing heading north on Interstate 5, it then joins Highway 132 only 1.4 miles before the point where Kathleen Johns was flagged over and where the vehicle was ultimately found burnt out. Zodiac would have entered Highway 132 just behind Kathleen Johns and trailed her for approximately 2 minutes, before he made his move. Fallon Auxiliary Airfield is on a direct route through South Lake Tahoe to the east, on U.S Route 50.
If the Zodiac Killer knew Donna Lass, he may have been stationed at this auxiliary airfield and frequented South Lake Tahoe. Investigators in Riverside also pursued the idea that the murderer of Cheri Jo Bates on October 30th 1966 may have worked at the March Air Reserve Base, Riverside, situated only 14 miles from the Terracina Drive crime scene. This was considered because of the military heel print discovered in the alleyway by the body of Cheri Jo Bates. This coupled with the military Wing Walker boot impressions found at Lake Berryessa on September 27th 1969, may indicate an Air Force connection, or indeed airplanes in general. After all the Zodiac Killer did introduce himself with "This is the Zodiac speaking."
The immediate correspondence after the disappearance of Donna Lass was the '13 Hole' postcard on October 5th 1970. However this was likely mailed in response to his 'Little List' letter of July 26th 1970 not being featured in the newspapers. Both claimed 13 victims, so Donna Lass having been abducted after July 26th cannot be the "big thirteenth".
If she truly was a Zodiac victim, then she had to be victim number 14, dispelling the idea that the 'Halloween' card was a veiled threat towards San Francisco Chronicle reporter Paul Avery.
There is some validity to the idea the 'Halloween' card was indicating the murder of Donna Lass. This and the 'Pines' card were both addressed to Paul Avery, and both made similar references. The 'Halloween' card featured a tree with an eye in the knothole, with the accompanying phrase "peek-a-boo you are doomed." The 'Pines' card held the phrases "peek through the pines," and the upside-down "around in the snow." Likely indicative of a burial or disposal site, hence the choice of skeletons on the 'Halloween' card almost two months after the crime.
Did the Zodiac Killer work as an auxiliary at Riverside, Patterson, San Francisco and Fallon. The FBI certainly considered this possibility in a least three of the locations.