It is a tragic case of two young sweethearts who had set off around noon to a remote beach on June 4th 1963 for a spot of sunbathing, yet it was to have devastating consequences. The following day the bodies of Domingos and Edwards were discovered by Highway Patrolman Paul Schultz in shack close to the beach stacked on top of one another. Within the shack police found several lengths of pre-cut cord, several boxes of Winchester Western Super X long rifle ammunition and strewn matches, along with scorch marks to the shack, indicating there may have been an attempt to set fire to the shack once the bodies had been placed there.
It has been ascertained that once the couple had been felled by the original onslaught, the killer reloaded his weapon and stood over the victims before he fired off the remaining rounds at point blank range. Robert was struck 11 times and Linda 8 times. The killer was particularly merciless. Their bodies were then dragged at least 30 feet (10 yards) to the position they were found inside the shack. Drag injuries to the bodies suggested Robert Domingos was dragged face down and placed in the shack first, before Linda was dragged face up and positioned on top of Robert. The killer then cut the bathing suit of Linda Edwards exposing her breasts, although it is documented that no sexual interference took place. The modus operandi of this crime has inevitably drew parallels to the Zodiac Killer's Lake Berryessa attack on Bryan Hartnell and murder of Cecelia Shepard just over six years later on September 27th 1969.
The most unusual aspect of this crime is the killer's need to have hauled each victim up an incline a distance of 30 feet. In other words, the perpetrator dragged both bodies a minimum of 60 feet (20 yards) in total through rough terrain. This is certainly not an easy task by any means, suggesting the killer was physically in good shape, or there was more than one assailant. Why not just leave the scene of the crime immediately? If the purpose of dragging the couple to the shack was to imply concealment, then why set fire to the shack and effectively draw attention to the location. The positioning of the bodies in the shack with Linda Edwards breasts exposed seemed designed to illicit a reaction when they were eventually discovered, however, the attempted destruction of the shack by fire effectively nullifies this premise. If the perpetrator/s were attempting to destroy evidence by burning down the shack, then it ultimately failed - so why did they just leave the boxes of ammunition and rope behind? Why would a killer carry boxes of ammunition to commit a crime, when a couple of clips would have sufficed (as testified to by the rounds fired), or was the responsible already at this location when Robert and Linda arrived? There are many unusual aspects of this crime that take some explaining.
The couple had accessed the beach area by parking in the median of the northbound and southbound routes of Highway 101, which would have accommodated a few cars back in 1963. They would then have traversed the Southern Pacific Railroad tracks, before negotiating the decline to the beach, a journey time of approximately 6-10 minutes (approximately 600 feet). It is notable that access to this remote beach area would not have been widely known to a stranger unfamiliar to the area, let alone the shack, suggesting our killer or killers may have had previous knowledge of this location.
Would Linda and Robert, seeking privacy have entered the beach location with an unfamiliar car already parked in the median or other persons in the area? Was their 1957 Pontiac the only car in the median when they arrived? Did the killer arrive later, or were they trailed from Lompoc? The burning of the shack makes little sense from the perspective of the killer wanting a covert exit from the crime scene, unless performed primarily for evidence destruction. Additionally, there is nothing to suggest the attempt to burn down the shack was done by the killer immediately after the murders. The scorch marks evident on the shack may have been done at a previous time by children, transients or any visitor to the area, and subsequently assimilated into the crime scene of July 4th 1963.
In the Los Angeles Letter mailed by the Zodiac Killer on March 13th 1971, he stated "This is the Zodiac speaking. Like I have allways said, I am crack proof. If the Blue Meannies are evere going to catch me, they had best get off their fat asses + do something. Because the longer they fiddle + fart around, the more slaves I will collect for my after life. I do have to give them credit for stumbling across my riverside activity, but they are only finding the easy ones, there are a hell of a lot more down there. The reason I'm writing to the Times is this, They don't bury me on the back pages like some of the others."
The movement of the victims bodies was something the Zodiac Killer never did - and the ammunition boxes left at the crime scene pours further doubt on an already confusing set of events. The Zodiac Killer may have been responsible for these early murders - it is something we have to consider. It was a brutal attack on a lone couple by use of a gun, knife and some prepared pieces of rope, however, this alone is simply not enough to unequivocally rule in the Zodiac Killer as the perpetrator.
The possibility exists that this was a personal crime, as most victims are known by their killer. It is entirely reasonable to consider that the couple may have been followed to this location, or the perpetrator/s had knowledge of their whereabouts that afternoon. They could have parked alongside the Pontiac and proceeded to the location with preconceived intent, and knowing the area well, the decision to place the bodies in a shack known to have been frequented by George Gill would inevitably throw suspicion in a particularly staged direction. The interaction with the bodies, dragging them a combined distance of 60 feet and placing them in the tiny shack seemed totally unnecessary, unless you were centering the focus of the investigation to this particular spot for a reason. Whatever the case, hopefully John Averitt, along with everyone else with close ties to Robert Domingos and Linda Edwards, eventually get the justice they deserve, in a case that has remained unsolved for far too long.
To view five videos detailing the entire case visit https://www.youtube.com/user/DOMINGOSEDWARDS
If you have any information regarding this case contact http://www.santabarbaraca.gov/gov/depts/police/