It is difficult to say which, if any, serial killers inspired the murderous acts of the Bay Area murderer, but one may have inspired the seventh confirmed code (cryptic offering) of the Zodiac Killer.
Edward Theodore Gein, known as the Butcher of Plainfield, was only convicted of the murder of Bernice Worden, who disappeared from her local hardware store on November 16th 1957, despite his confession to the murder of Mary Hogan in 1954. The inevitable search of his house in Wisconsin would unearth a house of horrors, with trophies and keepsakes fashioned from the skin and bones of exhumed bodies from the local graveyards. Authorities found chairs made from human skin, skulls adorning the bedposts, a corset made from a female torso, leggings made from human skin and a lampshade made from a human face. However, this was just a fraction of the unspeakable imagery that greeted investigators when they arrived at the remote dwelling. Ed Gein's descent into madness began after the death of his mother, Augusta, in 1945, igniting a desire within him to create a suit from the skin of middle-aged women dug up from their graves. A suit of human skin that he would begin to craft into the embodiment of his mother, so he could effectively crawl into her skin. The Ed Gein story would ultimately enter American popular culture and inspire the 1959 novel, Psycho, by crime author Robert Bloch. The story then hit the big screen on June 16th 1960, produced and directed by Alfred Hitchcock, starring Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh. It would also inspire later films, such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) and The Silence of the Lambs (1991).
But the Ed Gein story may have also inspired the writings of the Zodiac Killer in the middle of 1971 (possibly May), when he composed his 148 character cipher and letter, trying desperately to keep hold of the murders of Debra Gaye Furlong (14) and Kathie Reyne Snoozy (15), who were each found brutally stabbed in excess of 100 times on August 3rd 1969 in the Bay Area of San Jose. Having claimed them in his running victim count on November 8th 1969, he now faced having them deducted from his total, when Karl Francis Werner was arrested and interrogated on April 29th 1971 for their murders, and the recent murder of Kathy Bilek (18). The murder of Kathy Bilek in the Villa Montalvo woods on April 11th 1971, the Zodiac Killer would eventually claim on July 13th 1971 when the Monticello card was mailed to the San Francisco Chronicle. The Zodiac Killer would make reference to all three girls in his 148 character and letter, asking investigators not to listen to "phonys" such as Werner, and warning them he would "skin three little kids and make a suit from the skin", and "send a patch of human skin if their is some left over". I wonder what inspired the Zodiac Killer to threaten to make a suit from the skin?