We shall start with eyewitness recollections taken shortly after the brutal attack and the description of a lone male spotted close to the vicinity of the crime, having caught the attention of several key parties.
Earlier on in the day, the three girls from Pacific Union College "parked their vehicle at a location two miles north of the A & W Root Beer stand on Knoxville Road". The Sugar Loaf Park A & W was situated at 5100 Knoxville Road. They would have parked their vehicle somewhere in or between the region of Smittle Creek Trailhead and Smittle Creek Day Use Area. They arrived at 3:30 pm.
As they left their vehicle to go sunbathing, a white male, driving a silver or light blue Chevrolet 2-door sedan with California plates pulled up to the rear of their car, bumper to bumper, yet remained inside his vehicle. This man would seemingly remain in his vehicle for approximately 30 minutes before they spotted him again, observing them from about 40 to 50 feet away while they were sunbathing. Each time they looked at him he seemingly evaded eye contact, thus drawing suspicion from the three women. He was described as being between 28 and 40 years, 200-225 pounds, 6 feet tall, styled black hair, with rounded eyes and thin lips - he was good looking, with a muscular or stocky build, wearing dark pants and a dark pullover shirt. He remained observing them, by their accounts, for between 30-45 minutes and then left. At 4:30 pm they decided to leave the shores of Lake Berryessa and noticed his vehicle had gone. But in a curious observation, one of the girls thought he was wearing a white belt around his back - or possibly what could have been a tee shirt hanging out. Another girl stated he was wearing a black short sleeved sweater shirt, bunched up at the front, again describing a white tee shirt hanging out the back.
Could the descriptions given by two of the girls, describing a white belt around his back or white T-shirt 'hanging out', actually have been the cut lengths of plastic clothesline trailing from his rear pocket in anticipation of a prepared attack on the girls, but for whatever reason got cold feet, changed his mind and turned to Bryan Hartnell and Cecelia Shepard approximately two hours later. This is not a new concept but deserves more consideration. In both instances, if indeed this was the Zodiac Killer, he appeared to be observing the potential victims for some time at a distance, possibly waiting for the right moment to don his disguise and ready his attack.
During a later interview with Bryan Hartnell, a transcript revealed that the assailant had apparently stated: "I'm on my way to Mexico, I escaped from Deer Lodge Prison in Montana, Deer Lodge. I need some money to get there", and continued "I killed a couple of guards getting out of prison. And I'm not afraid to kill again". After the senseless attack on the young couple, the Zodiac Killer uses a marker pen and writes the dates of his murders on the car door of Bryan Hartnell's white Karmann Ghia, yet despite dating the attacks of Lake Herman Road, Blue Rock Springs and the current attack, he fails to attribute the apparent murder of these two guards. That is because it is likely fiction, introduced into the conversation with Bryan Hartnell to indicate that he was not to be messed with.
Was the man the three girls observed on this fateful day, the Zodiac Killer? - where the unusual observation and innocence of a hanging T-shirt may actually unearth the killer's true intentions during the afternoon of September 27th 1969, a day the world sadly cannot forget, yet at the same time should always be remembered.
Descriptions of the eyewitnesses:
#1. "A subject driving a late model silver-blue Chevrolet, 2-door sedan. This subject was described as 6' tall, weighing 200/210 pounds, muscular build, rather nice looking."
#2. "Vehicle described as a 1966 or 1967 light blue Chevrolet with California plates. Witness believes the vehicle was a 2-door sedan and described the headlights as long rather than round."
#3. "Subject was described as approximately 28 years of age, 6'1" to 6'2" tall, 200/225 lbs, black hair possibly styled, with a part on the left, rounded eyes, thin lips, medium nose, straight eyebrows, small ears, well built, rather nice looking."
#4. "Vehicle was described as a late model Chevrolet, sky blue in color. The rear taillights appeared to be long rather than round. She described the subject as 6' tall, stocky build, about 200 lbs, black short-sleeved sweater shirt, dark blue slacks, and straight dark hair neatly combed. She guessed his age at approximately 30 years."