The Tuscaloosa News ran an article on October 17th 1969, just 20 days after the Lake Berryessa attack on Bryan Hartnell and Cecelia Shepard. It stated 'Then the man said "I'm going to have to stab you people." Hartnell said "Please stab me first, I'm chicken. I couldn't stand to see her stabbed." The man told him "I'll do just that." He stabbed Hartnell until he passed out. The poor girl, she just had to watch. Then he knifed her until she fainted. When he stabbed Hartnell it was deliberate. When he stabbed the girl he laughed in a frenzy. Hartnell had been stabbed 10 times with a thin 12-inch blade. Miss Shepard, whose writhing provoked her attacker to laughter, had been stabbed 24 times.'
One can see the embellishment in the fact the newspaper reported 34 stab wounds as opposed to 16, so did the killer really laugh in a frenzy during his attack on Cecelia Shepard.
The second article involves the Argosy Magazine dated September 1970 and the murder of Paul Stine on October 11th 1969, two weeks after the Berryessa attack. The following is extremely unlikely, but was a section of the October 13th 1969 letter omitted from public consumption in similar fashion to the phrase 'by knife' written on the car door of Bryan Hartnell's Karmann Ghia, to provoke a reaction from the killer. It is highly doubtful, and likely sensationalized reporting, however this magazine article actually adds a phrase attributed to the killer, written in the October 13th 1969 Paul Stine letter to the San Francisco Chronicle. The article read 'Four days after the murder of Paul Stine yet another scrawled letter arrived at the San Francisco Chronicle. With it was a bloodstained piece of cloth, later established by laboratory technicians as a small part of the missing swatch ripped from Stine's shirt. The rambling letter, signed with the crossed-circle symbol, began, as had the others, with "This is the Zodiac Speaking." The writer went on to say that he was the killer of the cabbie-student, adding "and to prove it, here is a piece of his shirt." The letter also disclosed that the fugitive, from some nearby hiding place, had watched with uncontrollable amusement while police searched the area. He said "they could have caught me if they had done it right, instead of dashing around waiting for me to come out of cover. I like to died laughing."
The Front Page Detective Magazine article of February 1970 stated "He (the killer) dropped to his knees and slowly, deliberately, forcefully plunged a 12-inch, double edged knife into Bryan's back 10 times. When the youth fainted in pain, the killer turned on the girl. His demeanor changed, kneeling beside her, he laughed wildly as he plunged the dagger 20 times into her back in a frenzied assault."
In April of 1974 Detective Cases Magazine covered the Berryessa stabbing: "He ordered Miss Shepard to tie up Hartnell, then he bound the girl, hands and ankles. The gun had been replaced with a knife and when both victims were securely trussed, the hooded monster began plunging the weapon repeatedly into first, the man, then, the girl, accompanying each thrust with a maniacal laugh. For what seemed an eternity to the horrified, screaming, helpless victims, the merciless butchery continued. Their torturer first slashed, then stabbed as his hideous laughter echoed along the banks of the lake."
Officer Pierre Bidou also recalled this 'car accident' to Zodiac investigator Michael Butterfield. “…we got the call from the dispatcher that an accident, or something, had occurred on Lake Herman Road, so we turned around and came by.” Source.
This is from a previous article: 'When Stella Medeiros observed the crime scene at 11.20 pm, she raced off to seek help in Benicia, eventually locating Captain Daniel Pitta at the Enco Gas Station on East 2nd Street. This is 3.4 miles from the turnout, an estimated journey time of 5 minutes on Google Maps. She is obviously driving faster than normal and flags down Captain Daniel Pitta probably slightly shy of 11.25 pm, allowing her to give her account and for Captain Daniel Pitta to head to the crime scene by 11.28 pm. In the course of this, the information would have been relayed to Benicia Police Department.
So where did the supposition of a crank call or a car accident originate from. The description given by Stella Medeiros may have been interpreted as a car crash originally and relayed this way, but why would a radio message from a respected officer of the law be interpreted as a crank call. He was a captain reporting an incident on official police channels. Betty Lou Jensen and David Faraday are lying prostrate in the turnout, whether a crash or not, why would Pierre Bidou be under any illusion of a crank call, unless a payphone call had come in slightly earlier than the radio message from Captain Daniel Pitta. The Zodiac Killer made phone calls after both his subsequent attacks, so why not this one. The only difference being, he called it in as a car accident, unwilling to show his hand as the murderer.
This is where the 'laughing killer' and the phone call intersect in the aftermath of the Lake Herman Road murders. The Argosy Magazine wasn't finished yet. It continued on further '"The man in the hood" had laughed diabolically as he plunged his knife again and again into Miss Shepard beside the lake. He had also laughed in his phone call to Vallejo Police in December 1968.' Does this validate the claim by Pierre Bidou. If the Zodiac Killer had laughed down the phone, could this be why the dispatcher had interpreted it as a crank call. Additionally, the article stated the phone call was made to Vallejo Police, exactly as the phone call would be 6 1/2 months later, after the Blue Rock Springs Park attack on July 4th 1969.
Russell Butterbach of the Solano County Sheriff's Department and his partner Wayne Waterman were just heading onto Lake Herman Road, when they received a call from the sergeant to go to the Hells Angels pad on Warren Avenue, Vallejo. After approximately 30 minutes they then received a double 187 on Lake Herman Road.
If a crank phone call from the killer was received after the Lake Herman Road double shooting, then the time of this call, likely just before 11.25 pm, ties in perfectly with a 10-12 minute journey from the turnout to the Springs and Tuolumne payphone.
This wasn't the only time that the Zodiac Killer may have directed police to the scene of an accident.