Firstly, we will take a closer look into the possibility the Zodiac Killer placed three phone calls rather than the accepted two, beginning on December 20th 1968, shortly after the double murder of David Faraday and Betty Lou Jensen on Lake Herman Road.
Pierre Bidou, one of the responding officers to the Lake Herman Road murders was interviewed by the Benicia Herald, in which was stated "Bidou and his partner had served a warrant on a Lake Herman Road cabin Dec. 20, 1968, and were on their way to deposit some marijuana in the police department’s evidence locker when they were dispatched back to Lake Herman Road. Initially, they were told a woman was lying outside a car; they thought they were being sent to a crash. Police at first speculated it might have been a crank call, but the officers headed back north. But when they arrived, Bidou realized it was no crank call and no car accident. Instead, it was a sinister crime scene."
If true, somebody may have phoned the police to report a car accident- although it was perceived as a crank call.
Clearly, something must have triggered this belief, as a car accident is not something to be taken lightly, yet it was perceived as suspect. This phone call (if placed) must have been received between the time of the murders and 11.25 pm, the earliest time that Captain Daniel Pitta received the disturbing account of Stella Medeiros and then radioed in to police headquarters. There should be no conceivable reason why a respected officer of the law, radioing in on police frequency the account of Stella Medeiros about bodies on the ground, should be construed as a crank call, unless shortly before or around the same time they had received another incoming call pertaining to a car accident on Lake Herman Road. If this phone call had been placed by an unknown party, they would have rang police literally minutes after the murders.
The last person to pass the fateful turnout prior to the murders was James Owen, estimated between 11.09-11.14 pm. The phone call, if the murderer, would indicate the payphone used to have been approximately 10 to 15 minutes away from the Lake Herman Road turnout, had he traveled directly there. This is because Officer Pierre Bidou received the information about the crank call as he and his partner were "on their way to deposit some marijuana in the police department’s evidence locker," after which they immediately returned back to Lake Herman Road. We know his approximate time of arrival at the crime scene and therefore the approximate time he was dispatched to it. This ties nicely with a potential phone call from the Zodiac Killer, delivered from the exact payphone he used after the Blue Rock Springs Park attack on Michael Mageau and Darlene Ferrin. This payphone is 11-13 minutes traveling time from the Lake Herman Road turnout.
If he had spotted a potential eyewitness near the payphone, he may have instinctively changed the message from a double murder to a car accident, thereby avoiding any future ramifications had he somehow been traced. He then would have only been a concerned citizen. Did this influence his method of operation on July 5th 1969.
In the August 4th 1969 'Debut of Zodiac' letter he stated "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."
There are several reasons to believe the Zodiac Killer invented this eyewitness, but not the ringing payphone. The way he constructed this passage of text may be extremely well thought out, to give the impression he was still in his vehicle, as opposed to on foot. Had he parked his vehicle at his residence and walked to the payphone, the last thing he wanted to do is reveal this to investigators, as reconstructing the timeline would place his residence in the very near vicinity.
The first section of the passage is effectively true- he drove away from the scene of the crime in his car. He then immediately reinforces the idea to police that he is still in his vehicle, by offering up a potential eyewitness to the said vehicle and giving up unnecessary details about the eyewitness in an attempt to make him more real, such as his age range and mode of dress. Information that not only could be helpful to police in possibly tracking the eyewitness down, but also an eyewitness who potentially could reinforce the notion his vehicle was brown (knowing he would never be found, because he didn't exist). The Zodiac Killer, having read the newspaper reports of his vehicle being described as brown by Michael Mageau, is effectively using the negro male to corroborate the color of his vehicle- which may indicate his vehicle was anything but brown. A killer offering up useful information to investigators has to be viewed with suspicion.
Finally, just in case the police hadn't got the message, he delivers his car into the passage for a third time: "When I hung the phone up the damn thing began to ring & that drew his attention to me + my car." The phone rang, but there was no vehicle. The ringing payphone could have drawn attention to him in the early morning hours, and may have been the reason he left the receiver off the hook at 1231 Main Street, Napa, after the Lake Berryessa attack on Bryan Hartnell and Cecelia Shepard. The ringing payphone was the perfect opportunity to fictitiously place his brown car at the payphone and corroborate the 'fact' by an over-detailed description of an eyewitness. Using this hypothesis and the time of the shooting, would likely place the killer's residence within a 15-20 minute walking radius of the payphone. His experiences after the Lake Herman Road murders may have influenced his decision to place the phone call without his car in tow, and lessen the risk of his vehicle being connected to that location.
The Zodiac Killer in all likelihood didn't know any of his victims, but this cannot be totally ruled out. David Faraday was present on Sonoma Boulevard four hours prior to his murder. The 4th July 1969 annual parade in Vallejo began at 10.00 am and traveled south on Sonoma Boulevard. Darlene Ferrin went to the lighted boat parade the evening of her death.
Ricardo Gomez of MK Zodiac has written an excellent article on this topic, with a possible connection to the Zodiac 408 cipher and the Zodiac 'buttons'.
On page 31 of the LHR police report it states "Joe was interviewed at the Faraday residence, 1930 Sereno Drive. He was a personal friend of David. He states David had no enemies to his knowledge. David met Betty Lou approximately a week ago at the Pythian Castle where they were decorating the hall for a social event."
On page 53 it states "Mrs Faraday stated she did not know Betty Lou that she and David had only been going together for a short time, she had never met Betty Lou. She stated she did not know of any enemies David may have had. She stated that on Friday night at 7.10 pm David drove his sister Debbie to a meeting of the Rainbow Girls at the Pythian Castle on Sonoma Boulevard, and David came back home at 7.20 pm and left again at 7.30 pm. Responding officer talked to Debbie Faraday, WFJ 16 years, sister of David. She relates the following David told her on the afternoon of Friday 12/20/68 that he was going out to Lake Herman Road that night because a bunch of the kids were going out there that night."
What is the likelihood Zodiac resided close to the intersection of Springs Road and Tuolumne Street, and had crossed paths with some of his victims in this neighborhood. Did his profession give him intimate knowledge of the movements or plans of his young victims.
A serial killer usually begins his crimes close to home, somewhere he is familiar with, before he eventually gains in confidence and ventures further afield. So, if the Zodiac Killer had lived in Vallejo near the payphone, he would use victim availability, least effort principle and a buffer zone to select his first attacks (both on Friday), particularly if he worked 9-5, Monday to Friday, in which time constraints would obviously have a bearing.
A recent survey in Germany studied the locations of serial killer victims in respect to the killer's home residence and found that 63% of the time the killer lived within a 6 mile traveling distance to the crime scene. So putting all these factors together, we could expect the Zodiac Killer's first murders at Lake Herman Road on December 20th 1968 and Blue Rock Springs Park on July 4th 1969 to be only a matter of a few miles from his house. The payphone is 6.2 miles from the turnout at Lake Herman Road and 3.6 miles from Blue Rock Springs Park.
The Zodiac Killer's first two attacks in remote areas may have indicated that he trolled Lake Herman Road and Columbus Parkway looking to find victims. This would suggest a prior knowledge of these areas being frequented by courting couples.
"David told Debbie on the afternoon of Friday 12/20/68 that he was going out to Lake Herman Road that night because a bunch of the kids were going out there that night." Was the killer aware of these plans? Did he track Darlene Ferrin after the parade?
It may be unlikely, but these questions have to be asked.
Additionally, would a killer who didn't live in the near vicinity of the crimes, have such a good grasp of his spatial awareness.
In the July 31st 1969 letters he stated the "Girl was lyeing on right side feet to west," and contrary to popular belief, his payphone directions were also fairly accurate, if taken from either the payphone or police station. He stated "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" When you insert a break or comma after "east", the directions are perfectly fine, other than "one mile east" should have been "two miles east." Columbus Parkway is east of the payphone and police station. His compass directions were correct in both instances. He could of course (if unsure) have checked a map prior to the Blue Rock Springs attack, but that would rely on knowing in advance exactly where his attack was going to take place. He could have checked a map after the attack and before the payphone call. Or he could have known the area well.