In a prominent newspaper article Michael Mageau described the vehicle as a "1958 or 1959 Falcon. The color was brown or bronze."
The poliice report on page 8 describes the vehicle five minutes before the shooting: "Dea turned the lights and motor off and had the radio playing. They were there just a very short time, a few minutes, and three cars pulled into the parking lot where they were. They were apparently young kids and they heard some laughing and carrying on and a few firecrackers were set off, then the three vehicles left within a short time. This was just a short space of time, a few minutes. Shortly after this and about 5 minutes before the shooting occurred, a vehicle pulled into the lot, coming from the direction of Springs Road and Vallejo. The driver turned the lights off on the car and pulled around to the left or east side of their car, approximately 6 or 8 feet away and sat there for a minute. He asked Dea if she knew who it was and she stated 'Oh, never mind'." He added "He could not see the car too clearly, however the shape of the car looked similar to the car that Dea owns, a Corvair. He could not see the color or anything as it was too dark out there".
On page 9 the vehicle returns: "Five minutes later the vehicle pulled up approximately 10 feet behind and to the right side of Dea's car. The vehicle's lights were left on and the subject got out and walked toward the car. He had a large high-powered flashlight, the kind you carry with a handle. He only saw the rear portion of it (as it left the crime scene), this rear part appearing to be a vehicle similar to or the same type as Dea's car, a Corvair. Also a very similar color, possibly a little bit lighter brown."
Although sketchy, he refers to the vehicle looking similar to Darlene Ferrin's Corvair on both occasions- but clearly, that doesn't mean it was.
One cannot deny that there were unexplained events at Lake Herman Road prior to the murders. Some will claim an absolute conviction of exactly what transpired on December 20th 1968, above all others. This is not possible- unless you were there.
There were several pertinent vehicles (at least three) in the run up to the double murder of David Faraday and Betty Lou Jensen, with an unknown number of occupants who failed to come forward in the ensuing police investigation. There may or may not be an innocent explanation for their failure to do so- as could be said of Blue Rock Springs, if the second vehicle observed by Michael Mageau was independent of the first.
Why would a stalker of Darlene Ferrin target the passenger side of the brown Corvair where Michael Mageau was sitting, having supposedly already driven up to the driver side of the Corvair only 5 minutes earlier. Why target Mageau at all?
Darlene Ferrin was struck 5 times directly, and Michael Mageau 4 times, of whom, most people believe received the initial two shots fired that night. The killer then retreated and returned, shooting both victims twice more. Once Michael Mageau had been shot twice and had retreated to the rear of the vehicle, with Darlene Ferrin completely disabled in the driver seat, there was little further threat from the male. On the face of it, both or neither appeared to be the primary target that night.
The act of driving away to survey Columbus Parkway for vehicles (suggested by some) and then returning back to the parking lot, leaves you in the identical position before you left, therefore makes little sense as an explanation to why the vehicle departed and returned 5 minutes later.
It has been speculated as to whether the couple were followed to the parking lot that night. Michael Mageau stated that after they parked up "Dea turned the lights and motor off and had the radio playing. They were there just a very short time, a few minutes, and three cars pulled into the parking lot where they were. They were apparently young kids and they heard some laughing and carrying on and a few firecrackers were set off, then the three vehicles left within a short time."
Where was the supposed vehicle trailing them to the parking lot? Had somebody followed them, surely they would have been present in the parking lot just after the couple parked up and before the young kids arrived, but Michael Mageau mentioned nobody else at this juncture, other than the young kids letting firecrackers off. The vehicle that pulled alongside them arrived at least five minutes after Darlene Ferrin first parked up. If this was the vehicle supposedly following them, the driver would presumably have parked alongside them, in the few minutes before the young kids arrived.
Robert Graysmith stated in his book that after Darlene picked up Michael, the young man uttered the words "we're being followed." Darlene sped off towards Blue Rock Springs. The car raced behind them at full speed. Darlene kept turning to lose the stranger. When they arrived in the parking lot, they sat in the parking lot only a moment, when the other auto, similar in design to the Corvair, pulled up alongside them. This is fiction.
There was no mention of them being chased in the police report, and apparently the kids letting off firecrackers had now mysteriously evaporated from the timeline.
In five minutes, the vehicle parked alongside the Corvair, assuming the Zodiac Killer didn't travel home to retrieve the weapon he already should have had, apparently is leaving and returning for no purpose other than hesitation. Unless the Zodiac Killer had second thoughts, which seems unlikely, one could assert the vehicle that parked alongside the Corvair five minutes prior to the attack is incidental and irrelevant to the murder that night- only becoming a vehicle of note because of what transpired a few minutes later. Michael Mageau's recollection of the vehicle, bearing in mind what he had endured during the attack, may have become more suspicious in his mind when he recounted the night's events at Kaiser Hospital.
Could Michael Mageau's description of the vehicle driving away after the attack been subconsciously transferred to the first vehicle, which had now moved suspiciously within 6 or 8 feet of Darlene Ferrin's Corvair, with extinguished headlights. The 'innocent' motorist observed in the parking lot on July 4th 1969 had suddenly become integral to the story that night, with imagination the key driver.
The same could be said of James Owen on Lake Herman Road. In his first statement to police he recalled that "he saw two cars parked near the entrance to the pumping station. He stated the car parked nearest was a 1955 or 1956 station wagon, boxy type, neutral in color. The other was parked to the right and abreast of the station wagon. The cars were about ten feet apart. He stated he could not give a description of the make or color of the other car."
In his second statement, the vehicles had closed up to a menacing 3-4 feet, with a shot now being heard about a quarter of a mile beyond the turnout.
The story of July 4th 1969 would be far simpler without the first vehicle 'appearing suspicious', but to move it further away from brown Corvair, with the headlights switched on, as inferred, could also be construed as imagination, which leaves us back to where we started.