One of the women recalled a man watching them from the edge of the trees for approximately 30 minutes, before the subject came down by the beach and passed within 20 feet.
Sergeant Kenneth Narlow dispatched Deputy Sheriff Raymond Land to interview the girls that evening. The following morning (September 29th) he reported his findings to his superiors. At 2.45 pm that day, the three young girls came to the police department and were interviewed by Sergeant Lonergan, Sergeant Snook and Captain Donald Townsend. A sketch of the suspicious man was ultimately created from the three girls recollections.
To this day, nobody knows for sure if this was the Zodiac Killer preparing for an attack on the young girls, before abandoning his plans and switching his attention to Bryan Hartnell and Cecelia Shepard some two hours later.
'Dean' contacted police at 4.20 pm, about 22 hours after the double stabbing by the lake. Had Deputy Sheriff Raymond Land and/or his superiors acted immediately after he interviewed the girls, and had took them back to the location where they saw the suspicious man standing/walking, then they could have compared the many boot prints leading from Bryan Hartnell's vehicle to the crime scene and back, with the boot prints of the suspicious man. This may have given us a definitive answer, on whether the murderer of Cecelia Shepard and the suspicious man were one and the same. It would also have given much more credence to the Lake Berryessa sketch over the Presidio Heights sketch, bearing in mind the length of time they viewed the man in daylight hours.
The police report stated "When they left their car they noticed a subject driving a late model silver blue Chevrolet, 2-door sedan, pull up behind them. What appeared to be a white male adult was sitting in the vehicle. They did not observe this subject leave the vehicle. The girls proceeded to the beach area and were sunbathing in their bikinis. After approximately one-half hour had passed, they observed what appeared to be the same subject standing within 40 or 50 feet of them, apparently observing them."
They described him to be 28-30 years of age during their interview at the police station. However, the day before, according to 'Dean', they had "described the subject as approximately 40 years old." If this were truly their initial recollections, it would place the subjects age bang in the center of the revised descriptions given by the eyewitnesses at Presidio Heights. The uncertainty in both crimes may represent the difficulty in pinning an accurate age on this subject, if of course, the subject at Lake Berryessa described by the three women, was in fact the Zodiac Killer.
This may be a subtle reference to the two words "by knife" written on the car door, which they withheld from the newspapers. Had a caller contacted the police and answered the question of what the full message contained, it would be an easy and quick way of ruling out the crank calls.
The October 1st 1969 Vallejo Evening News Chronicle, contained three paragraphs of great interest. It stated "Vallejo police were investigating a Vallejo man who was previously convicted of accosting "lovers lane" couples- and wore a hood while doing so.
While his molestations did not involve shooting or stabbing his victims, he has a streak of violence in him, police said. And his criminal activities resembled those of the slayer of four young persons.
This man is much older than descriptions of the killer. However, it was pointed out that fat-faced people often look much younger than their years. His general physical description tallied with that of the hunted man, officers said."
We must also remember that the Paul Stine murder was just 10 days in the making, in which eyewitnesses would ultimately settle on a man described as 35-45 years of age, older than currently believed.
One can't help thinking that a great opportunity was missed at Lake Berryessa. Had the boot prints of the subject viewed by the three girls matched the boot prints from the Lake Berryessa crime scene, it would have cast a very different light on the Presidio Heights sketch of the Zodiac Killer and changed our perceptions to this day.